PROVO — Fans of BYU basketball will get their first glimpse tonight of how the returning Cougars have progressed since last season's 30-6 campaign and how the new faces on the roster will fill the voids created by the loss of five key players.
The annual Cougar Tipoff, free to the public, will tip off at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center with the 13-man roster split into blue and white squads. After Monday's practice, coach Dave Rose said he had not decided on the rosters of each squad, but junior forward Noah Hartsock likely won't play because of a tweaked hamstring.
"Hopefully, we'll get them in here, run them up and down the floor, and get a nice feel for what we can expect on Friday," Rose said.
Friday will be the Cougars' first test against an opponent when they host Laval at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. The Cougars' second exhibition will take place Nov. 5 against BYU-Hawaii, with former BYU assistant John Wardenburg now assisting with the Seasiders.
"Last year, we had a shorter period of time between the exhibition games, and we just felt as a staff that we wanted to have a little bit more time to evaluate things in between games," Rose said.
Cougar fans are anxious to see if guards Jackson Emery, Jimmer Fredette and Charles Abouo are as good, if not better, than they were last season. Also, post players Brandon Davies and James Anderson should have bigger roles, as should reserves Logan Magnusson and Brock Zylstra.
What fans really want to know, however, is who will get the minutes from last year's graduated seniors Chris Miles, LaMont Morgan and Jonathan Tavernari. Someone has to take over for starter Tyler Haws (who left on an LDS mission) and backup point guard Michael Loyd, who transferred to Midwestern State after finishing strong last season.
"I'm really impressed with our two returned missionaries, Nick (Martineau) and Chris (Collinsworth). Both of them are in really good shape and they've jumped right back in as far as grasping our system, and both play really hard," Rose said.
Chris Collinsworth, 35 pounds heavier than when he played for the Cougars as a freshman, should challenge Hartsock and Davies for starting time on the front line.
"I'm going out there and staying within my limits and trying to do what I do best. I feel like I do a lot of things that help the team," Collinsworth said.
Who will back up at point guard is another decision that lies ahead for the coaching staff, but Rose said he hopes to settle on one guy and not rely on a backup by committee. Freshmen Kyle Collinsworth and Anson Winder, along with Martineau, are fighting for that job.
"Physically, I'm just about there," Martineau said. "Mentally, I'm way ahead of where I was before. I'm better prepared for the whole stress of traveling and games, practicing every day and taking care of myself."
Through 10 practices, Kyle Collinsworth has actually seen time at three positions — point guard, shooting guard and small forward.
"He's had flashes of really consistent, high-level play," Rose said of last year's Utah Mr. Basketball from Provo High.
Junior college transfer Stephen Rogers has also opened some eyes as he competes for time at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Rogers is proving to be a sharpshooter from outside, with a variety of shots around the basket that allows him to post up.
"I like him. I think that he's really going to help us," Rose said.
The BYU women's basketball team will be introduced to fans at halftime of tonight's scrimmage. Following the contest, players and coaches from both teams will remain on the court to sign autographs.