PROVO — Jonathan Tavernari might come off the bench again tonight for BYU when it hosts Arizona State at the Marriott Center, or he could be back in the Cougars' starting lineup.
Coach Dave Rose was undecided after practice Monday because of how the Cougars match up with the Sun Devils.
Tavernari, who has played mostly at the four position the past two seasons, matches up pretty well with Arizona State's starting four, 6-foot-6 Rihards Kuksiks.
"Their four man is almost just like JT," Rose said.
But Tavernari's size (6-foot-6) could also present some matchup problems for the Sun Devils off the bench, who are three to five inches shorter than him at the two or three spots.
One person who doesn't seem to care one way or another, whether he starts or comes off the bench again like he did Saturday against San Francisco, is Tavernari.
"Whatever I need to do, I'll do, because the team is the most important thing," he said. "I won't put my head down and I won't be disappointed, because I know it's what's best for the team."
Following BYU's loss to Utah State last week, a game in which Tavernari made only 1-of-11 shots, the senior from Brazil went into Rose's office and suggested that possibly a lineup or role change would be best for the team.
"I'm not performing as well as I can or as well as I should be, and as a result I'm affecting the team. I've been hurting the team," Tavernari said.
The main issue seems to be how teams are guarding Tavernari when he plays the four. Defenders are not giving him the space he used to get and they're not leaving him alone as much as they used to do. When Tavernari posts up, he's been posting up against taller defenders.
"This shows me that he wants to be a really, really good player," Rose said. "He's always been a team player and has always put the team first. He wants to play at the highest level that he can possibly play."
In recent practices, and against San Francisco, Rose has been experimenting with playing Tavernari at the two and three positions more where he can face up to the basket, play a little bit farther away from the basket, and come off screens more.
"We're trying a few different things, but I know coach Rose has the best interest of me in mind and the best interests of the team in mind," Tavernari said.
Growing up, and in high school in Las Vegas, and with the Brazilian National Team, Tavernari has mainly played at the two.
"That's my natural position. That's where I've been the most successful and that's what I'm most comfortable with. But what matters is if that's what's best for the team," he said.
Playing a different position, and coming off the bench, might help Tavernari get a better feel for the game and see how teams are defending.
"I want him to be just as aggressive and play with that same competitive spirit that he has been, and to play on attack, and I think he'll be able to do that," Rose said.
Tonight's game is a chance for the Cougars to get some redemption from last year's controversial loss to the Sun Devils at the University of Phoenix Stadium, in which the officials waved off what would have been a game-winning shot at the horn.
"They're sharing the ball really well, they're running their offensive sets really well, and defensively they guard well together," Rose said of the Sun Devils.
The Cougars need to respond in similar fashion.22 comments on this story
"What's really important is for us to move the ball and when we we're open, jump up there with confidence and stick it in," Rose said.
The players, however, say there's no revenge factor from last year's game coming into play tonight.
"That's a game that's gone, out of the memory. We're just looking forward to the chance to play another good opponent," said Charles Abouo, whose put-back toss in the last meeting was ruled late.
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Arizona State (6-2) at BYU (6-1)
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