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BYU basketball notebook: Cougars rest before playing 4 games in a week

Published: Thursday, Jan. 12 2012 10:08 p.m. MST

PROVO — With no mid-week game on the schedule, BYU hasn't played since last Saturday, when it posted an easy 81-56 home victory against San Francisco.

But for guard Brock Zylstra, it seems like it's been longer than that.

"It feels like we haven't played in a month," he said Thursday. "It will be good to get back into it. I think the coaches like to have more practice days and the players like to have more game days. The players like it a little bit better when we're playing often."

The Cougars return to the court Saturday when they host Santa Clara, beginning a stretch of four games in a week. BYU visits San Diego on Monday, hosts Loyola Marymount on Thursday and travels to Pepperdine the following Saturday.

"It seems like it's been a long time since we played," said coach Dave Rose. "It's interesting how it works. Seems like those games come right on top of each other. When you have a day or two off, it stretches things out a little bit."

So how have the Cougars spent this week?

"We've had a couple of days where coaches have gone out recruiting and seen some games," Rose said. "We had a great practice on Monday. We gave the guys (Tuesday) off. (Wednesday) we practiced really well, it was really competitive. (Thursday) we started working on Santa Clara."

Forward Stephen Rogers, who returned to action last week after missing a month due to a knee injury, is eager to get back to playing games on a regular basis.

"It's a process coming back, but it's going well," he said. "It's a lot different taking that month off. It was interesting. But it felt good last week to get into the games and get in the flow again. I expect this week will be a lot better. Each game will get better."

Rogers said the team is energized, and rested, for the upcoming string of games.

"(The break) gave us a chance to focus on ourselves for a while. The last couple of days we focused on what we needed to do better and the improvements we need to make. It's always good to regroup as a team and get ready for another stretch of games. Earlier this season we've had three games in a week, so I think we're ready. I think we'll be able to handle it."

LEAGUE RACE: The West Coast Conference's lone undefeated teams, Saint Mary's (4-0) and Gonzaga (3-0) met late Thursday night.

BYU currently sits behind the Gaels and Bulldogs with a 3-1 record, and the Cougars were planning to watch the Saint Mary's-Gonzaga showdown on television.

"The majority of us will watch it," said Zylstra. "We're well aware of the games that are going on."

Meanwhile, BYU's next two opponents, Santa Clara and San Francisco, also met Thursday night.

"At this time, though, I think we're more concerned with Santa Clara and San Diego playing," Zylstra said. "But it will be great to see Gonzaga and Saint Mary's play."

"The most important game to me is San Diego at Santa Clara," said Rose. "Those are our next two opponents. But it will be interesting to see how the league plays out. If Saint Mary's plays like they played against us, they will be really hard to beat. But Gonzaga has been in there quite a few times and has had pretty good success."

ASSISTED LIVING: In BYU's blowout win over San Francisco last Saturday, the Cougars had 27 assists on 29 made shots. On the season, they have an assist-to-field goal ratio of .653 (343 assists on 525 baskets).

This year's BYU team is on pace to break the school record in that category. The current record was established by the 2007-08 squad, with a ratio of .648 (587 assists on 906 baskets).

"We rely a lot more than just our point guard to assist the ball," Rose said. "As a staff, we're pleased with the progress that we've made in that area. But you can always get better. 'One more pass' has been the theme and motto of the program since we started. I think this group is kind of catching on."

jcall@desnews.com

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