PROVO — After two strong seasons as a reliable backup at the 2 and 3 spots, junior swingman Charles Abouo is hoping to finally crack into BYU's starting lineup.
"Obviously that's something that every player wants to do, and that is one my goals," Abouo said after spending a good share of the summer practicing and playing with the Ivory Coast national team. "But ultimately, my goal is for this (BYU) team to be as good as it can be and to have another successful season."
If Abouo continues to play the way he did in Wednesday's scrimmage — where he scored 19 points, hit 11 of 11 free throws, grabbed five rebounds and had two steals — it's going to be difficult for Cougars coach Dave Rose to keep Abouo off the floor.
"Whatever role I'm going to have is going to play out. But I'm going to continue to play hard and contribute as much as I can to making this team better," Abouo said.
Just as it was the past two seasons, however, the competition for playing time at the 2 and 3 is again stiff. Sophomore Brock Zylstra's game is improved, juco transfer Stephen Rogers gives the Cougars a lot of flexibility, and freshman Utah Mr. Basketball Kyle Collinsworth is surely going to earn some playing time somewhere in Rose's rotation.
"I really like the effort I'm seeing, and I really like the depth of this team," Rose said.
Abouo feels he's coming into the season more prepared and skilled than ever.
"Playing against that level of talented (with the Ivory Coast national team) really helped me out personally and is really going to make a difference in my game," he said.
The most meaningful time for earning starting jobs and main back-up roles begins tonight when the Cougars host Laval from Quebec City, Canada, at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. The two teams also played an exhibition game in 2007, with the Cougars winning 91-60. Guard Jimmer Fredette, then a freshman, left that game early after a collision with teammate Ben Murdock resulted in a cut that required 13 stitches.
INJURIES: Junior forward Noah Hartsock is still nursing a sore hamstring and won't play tonight. Transfer swingman Stephen Rogers banged a knee in Wednesday's scrimmage, but did practice on Thursday. He's listed as a game-time decision for tonight.
TREATS FOR THE GHOULS: Prior to tonight's game (6-7 p.m.) there will be a Halloween celebration for fans, with games and treats, on the Marriott Center concourse. Those wearing a costume (minus any masks or weapons) will be admitted to the game for $1.