PROVO — With the regular season behind him and who knows how many postseason games ahead, Dave Rose is faced with a dilemma that every coach would love to have.
With the offensive emergence of freshman center Brandon Davies, combined with a season of steady defense from senior center Chris Miles, the BYU coach now has a tough decision in determining how many minutes to play each of his two capable big men.
One thing he does know is that the renewed battle for playing time in the post is sure to make both big guys play harder, practice harder and improve.
Rose said "matchups and the flow of the game" will determine who plays how many minutes and didn't indicate that Miles will lose the starter job he's had for all 32 games.
However, in BYU's past three games Miles has averaged about nine minutes and only two points, while Davies averaged more than 12 points and 20 minutes.
"We're really pleased with how Brandon is playing right now," Rose said.
The 6-9 freshman from Provo, who is fully recovered from his early February appendectomy, admits to feeling more confidence than ever.
"I think everyone does when they come off a big game," Davies said. "You start thinking that you can repeat that effort in the following game."
Davies believes that if he continues to contribute at the same level that he has of late, the coaches will reward him.
"The coaches can tell when you're playing good and they know when to get guys in there that are playing good," he said.
Davies has also improved recently in making free throws, and in avoiding foul trouble.
"I get into foul trouble when I get lazy or kind of take a break, but I was doing that mostly early in the season and I feel like I've come away from playing like that," he said.
Actually, Davies gives Miles a lot of credit for his recent success and improvement.
"We battle against each other every day in practice, and whoever gets the most minutes doesn't really matter as long as we're playing well as a team and we're winning. We both have that mindset," he said.
Miles, even though he's proud of how Davies has improved, says he's determined to not lose his role on the team with only a few games remaining in his BYU career.
"I think there are tons of ways where I can help this team," Miles said. "And watching (Davies play more minutes the past three games) gave me a taste of just how bad I want to play and how I want to work harder than everyone else so I'm able to do everything I've wanted to do this season. So that's where I'm sitting, that's how I feel and that's the plan. I'm ready to play now."
STAYING PAT IN THE POLLS: There were no changes for BYU in the national college basketball rankings released Monday. The Cougars (28-4) remain at No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
The Cougars, who routed Utah on the road last Wednesday by 20 points and then blasted TCU on Saturday by 30 points in Fort Worth, were leapfrogged in the AP poll by Wisconsin. The Badgers, also with two wins last week, moved up to No. 13 from 15. Vanderbilt, with a loss Sunday to South Carolina, dropped from No. 13 to No. 20.
NO GARDEN PARTY NEXT SEASON: The four-team field for next season's Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York City is set, and it won't include BYU. The four teams invited to play at Madison Square Garden are Pittsburgh, Maryland, Illinois and Texas.31 comments on this story
Many felt BYU, considering coach Rose's battle last summer with pancreatic cancer, would be a good fit for the tournament. However, the field was set before it was learned that Rose had cancer.
"As you can imagine these events are planned far in advance so when Dave's condition came to light, this year's field was already established, just awaiting final signed contracts," tournament director Ray Cella said. "We would gladly look at BYU for future events."
BYU's staff was hopeful for an invite because it would have given junior Jimmer Fredette a chance to play in front of friends and family in his home state. BYU is working with officials from Glens Falls, Fredette's hometown in New York, to play next season at the 7,000-seat Glens Falls Civic Center.