By Daniel Whitehead
Cougar basketball fans got their first glimpse of the 2008-09 men”s basketball team Wednesday night at the Marriot Center. Fans were treated to a rousing hour-long Cougar Tipoff in which junior forward Jonathan Tavernari and center Chris Miles led the BYU white team to a close 59-51 victory over the BYU blue squad.
“Our guys are working hard to prepare for the season,” head coach Dave Rose said. “I believe our fans will enjoy watching this team play. We will be aggressive and play with a lot of passion.”
Tavernari paced the white squad with 23 points, shooting 5-for-11 from three-point range and 9-for-15 from the field. Miles finished with 14 points, shooting 6-for-11 from the field. Senior leader Lee Cummard made big shots through the game to help sustain the lead as he finished with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting.
Redshirt junior college transfer Lamont Morgan and Michael Loyd, Jr., handled the point guard duties well for the white team, finishing with five and six points, respectively.
The blue squad was led by sophomore Jimmer Fredette, who ended the game with 11 points, going 3-for-11 from the field and 1-for-4 from outside the arc. Freshmen Charles Abouo and Matthew Pinegar scored 11 points apiece and sophomore Jackson Emery finished with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting.
Recently returned missionary Noah Hartsock was given the ominous task of guarding Tavernari as the forward from Brazil picked up right where he left off last season.
Senior Gavin McGregor switched out his jersey at halftime, providing the blue team with a boost and a big dunk off an assist from Fredette. Things got more exciting in the second half when both teams recorded back-to-back points, culminating with Tavernari hitting a 3-pointer to give the white team a 39-27 lead
Rose is excited for a new season, he told fans after the first half.
“As you can see, we have some work to do,” he told the crowd at halftime. “We want to make the Marriott Center to be like it has the past few seasons. These guys are working hard and are ready to defend their Mountain West Conference championship.”
The festivities began with a lights-out introduction of the men”s team and the women”s team was introduced at halftime. Fredette and a Cougar fan won the Mad Dog two-ball shootout, beating out Cummard, Tavernari, and sophomore Michael Loyd and their partners. Both teams stayed after the scrimmage to sign autographs and visit with fans.