BYU basketball tips off

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The BYU basketball team held its second annual media day to officially kick of the 2012-2013 basketball season, and there was plenty of excitement to go around.

[media-credit name=”Elliott Miller” align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]Coach Dave Rose kicked things off by holding a press conference and is looking forward to the team’s first real practice on Friday.

“I feel that our players are prepared,” Rose said. “I like our guys. I like the way they look physically.”

A new NCAA rule has helped give the BYU coaches two hours a week  for up to eight weeks over the summer to work with the players. Rose has seen this as a great benefit to the team. Before the rule, coaches had limited contact, which was more academically based.

One of the biggest concerns being addressed over the offseason was outside shooting. The Cougars have been hard at work to improve in this area.

Senior guard Craig Cusick said Coach Mark Pope challenged each player to shoot at least 500 shots a day as part of practicing 3 hours a day.

“We’ve all worked really hard,” Cusick said. “We’re here to play for each other this year.”

The Cougars will have to replace two key starters last year to graduation, Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo, but have many familiar faces returning.

Brandon Davies, Brock Zylstra, Matt Carlino, Anson Winder, Nate Austin, Stephen Rogers and Josh Sharp were all with the team last year and cannot wait to get back on the court.

“All of us feel like we have the urgency to step up and do better than we did last year,” Zylstra said.

Even with a team having little experience in general, the Cougars pulled off a 26-9 record last year and won their first round game in the NCAA tournament.

Another new but old face will be Tyler Haws, who returned from his mission this past April and has been working hard to get back on the court.

“I’m ready,” Haws said. “Wherever coach needs me, I’m ready to contribute and help out in anyway I can.”

Haws loves the unity on the team and feels this team is a special but competitive group that will come to play.

“You can expect some big things,” Haws said. “We’re going to come in and play hard every second. We want to win.”

BYU has also added two new junior college transfers: Agustin Ambrosino, a 6’8” forward from Salt Lake Community College and Raul Delgado, a 6’2” guard from Western Nebraska Community College.

Both these players, along with a good group of young freshmen that includes Ian Howard, a 6’11” center, and Cory Calvert, a 6’3” guard, look to have an immediate impact on the team.

Coach Rose also hopes they will have an impact and contribute in establishing a well-rounded team.

“I hope balance will be our strength,” Rose said. “Last year we really relied on our two post players to carry us through, but in order to be more consistent, our balance needs to be better.”

According to Rose, the team is in great position to establish that balance with more experience, a strong offseason and a few player additions.

During the offseason, the Cougars did face some setbacks.  Demarcus Harrison joined Clemson. Chris Collingsworth had to call it quits on his injury-filled college career, and Stephen Rogers is still recovering from a torn meniscus back in December. Nate Austin also had some surgery over the offseason on his labrum, but Rose said he has recovered much better than Rogers.

The Cougars hope to get some more attention this year with the difficult schedule they have.  The team will face high-caliber teams such as Florida State, Baylor, Iowa State, Virginia Tech and either Notre Dame or Saint Joseph as part of its non-conference schedule.  The conference schedule will also give the team all it can handle, especially with Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s.

Fans can get their first look at the team October 24 at 7 p.m. for the Cougar Tipoff or October 26 for the first exhibition game against Southeastern Oklahoma State.

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