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5 questions facing BYU basketball program

Published: Thursday, April 7 2011 1:27 p.m. MDT

BYU's Charles Abouo (1), sends his bench into a frenzy, including coach Dave Rose, left, after making another three point shot during the second half of their 80-67 victory over San Diego State in an NCAA college basketball game in San Diego, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011.

Associated Press

PROVO — BYU coach Dave Rose admits that his program faces some uncertainties. The Cougars are preparing to enter their first season in the West Coast Conference. They’ve just lost senior guards Jimmer Fredette, the national player of the year, and Jackson Emery, one of the best defenders in school history, to graduation.

"There are a lot of unknowns going into the future," Rose said. One thing is certain — Rose, who signed a five-year contract extension Wednesday, will remain at the helm of a program that has won at least 25 games the past five seasons. One of the hallmarks of Rose's tenure has been embracing challenges, and he's eager to get back to work.

"Those are all things that are exciting to me, to get on to the next task," Rose said about those challenges. He added that he was "excited to get back in the gym" as his players would start individual workouts this week. Here are five questions facing the BYU basketball program:

Will Dave Rice leave BYU? It's looking like Rice, who has served as Rose's lead assistant the past six seasons, could land the UNLV head coaching job. While losing Rice would be a blow to the staff, Rose is very supportive of Rice and his career.

"Right now, I'm really excited for Dave because he is a candidate at his alma mater," Rose said. "We'll see in the next week or so how that plays out. He's very deserving of an opportunity to be a head coach. It's my personal opinion that he'll be a terrific head coach. Whoever decides to make that decision and hire him, whether it's this year or next year or some other time, they'll have themselves a great future because I have a lot of faith in him. Dave and (wife) Mindy are great friends of ours and we'd hate to see them leave. But if it's for an opportunity that they think it's great for them and their career, we'll support them 100 percent."

Rice has been an invaluable member of the staff, coordinating the team's offense and recruiting efforts. Asked about the possibility of Rice going to UNLV, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said, "There's great chemistry on this staff. Anything that would detract from that, or cause an end to that, would be something to overcome. It would be an obstacle."

If Rice does leave, who will be hired to replace him? Among the candidates, in no particular order, are former Cougar Austin Ainge, who is currently the head coach of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA's Developmental League; Quincy Lewis, who played for Rose at Dixie State College and has guided Lone Peak High to four state championships; and former Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer, who served as a BYU assistant with Rose under Steve Cleveland a decade ago.

What vision do Holmoe and Rose have of the future of the program? The way Holmoe sees it, the future is bright. The Cougars are coming off their first Sweet 16 appearance in 30 years and are looking to build on that accomplishment.

"I just have to smile," Holmoe said, when thinking about the future. "I was here when coach Rose was an assistant coach, and I saw what he did on that level. I know about his past and experience as a coach at the high school and junior college levels and as an assistant at the Division I level and as a head coach now. What we see is a continual climb. When we see that, we extrapolate into the future. We want to be able to be there and lay the groundwork for what he and his staff and players can accomplish. There will be a number of things that we'll look at that we haven't done in the (past), that we will be able to do in the future that we'll work toward. From this day on, we'll start to put those future plans and visions together."

"One thing that should be really clear is that our vision for this program is in alignment," Rose said. "We want to continue to put a great product on the floor, to be extremely competitive, to win championships and to qualify and advance in the NCAA Tournament. Hopefully that's what we can continue to do."

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