BYU basketball: Cougars savor great experience in Greece

Published: Monday, Aug. 29 2011 9:54 p.m. MDT

BYU's Brock Zylstra (13) drives to the basket between Air Force's Zach Bohannon, left, and Taylor Stewart (15) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at Air Force Academy, Colo., on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. BYU beat Air Force 90-52. (AP Photo/ Ed Andrieski)

Associated Press

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PROVO — Fresh off its 10-day, five-game trip to Greece, the BYU men's basketball team is already looking forward to the upcoming season.

While in Greece, the Cougars spent time on beautiful beaches in Crete, ate delicious food, played two of the best international teams in the world (falling to the national teams from Greece and Italy), and saw the emergence of unsung junior Brock Zylstra, who led the team in scoring.

"It was a great opportunity for us to get together and bond and see what our identity is as a team going forward," Zylstra said.

True freshman DeMarcus Harrison and transfer Josh Sharp, who has recently returned from a mission, also made key contributions.

"Both of them had times during games where you could really see a lot of potential," said coach Dave Rose. "I think both of them will have a big part in this year's team."

Still, it was a much different squad than the one that will take the floor for most of this year for BYU.

And it was a much different team than last year's, which boasted Jimmer Fredette, Jackson Emery and Logan Magnusson, and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

"We have a lot of guys that can score in different spots. The team will be a lot more versatile," said Rose. "From what I think right now, the first five or six games of the season will be really important for the development of our team. I think we have the pieces in place to have a terrific season.."

Point guard Matt Carlino went with the team to Greece, but cannot play for BYU until mid-December due to NCAA transfer rules. Forward Chris Collinsworth is still recovering from knee surgery.

Not long after returning home, the Cougars learned that junior forward Brandon Davies, who was suspended last March for an honor code violation, has been reinstated to the team.

"We're excited for him to be back," Zylstra said. "He's a big piece of our team."

"I know he's really excited and so are we. It was a very difficult situation that he handled with honor and integrity and we're happy to have him back," Rose said. "It's what he wanted from the very beginning. He wanted to make things right, get back to BYU and help his team."

Davies has changed as a person since the suspension, according to Rose.

"I see a much more serious student," the coach said. "I just think that he has kind of turned a corner as far as his ability to focus and achieve things that are really important to him."

Rose added that he is "very proud" of Davies.

"A lot of things happen in your life that you don't expect," Rose said, "and how you handle those things is probably a pretty good definition of your character and I think that the way he handled this was as good as it could have been."

The addition of Davies, Carlino and Collinsworth will bolster a team that features veterans like Zylstra, Noah Hartsock, Charles Abouo, and Stephen Rogers.

The Cougars will begin holding official practices in mid-October. BYU's first exhibition game is Oct. 29 against Midwestern State.

email: jeffc@desnews.com

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