PROVO — BYU basketball coach Dave Rose has a luxury. Or is it a challenge?
He has a veteran senior team captain in Houston transfer L.J. Rose, a steely, unshakable personality with plenty of experience to steady the rudder of one of the youngest BYU teams in decades.
Then, he’s got freshman TJ Haws, whose explosive scoring ability and talent for finding open teammates make it almost a necessity to have the ball in his hands, possession by possession.
L.J. is solid, little flash. TJ is flash, finishes and can bomb away.
L.J. is a safe Chrysler Town and Country ride. TJ is an all-terrain Land Rover.
It’s a good point guard problem to have.
There isn’t a wrong choice, but there could be a wrong weapon at the wrong time.
Before the season began, Dave Rose spoke of this situation and how he didn’t plan to place labels on players or roles, whether it be on his point guards, shooting guards, small forwards or even the idea of playing four guards at a time.
Rose averages 27 minutes, averages 6.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and almost a steal per game. His shooting accuracy is .345 from the field, .317 from 3-point land and 86 percent from the line.
Haws gets 31 minutes a game. He averages 13.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.2 steals. When it comes to shooting, he is 43 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc and 82 percent from the line.
Rose and Haws are both starters, then minutes get worked out from there. Defensively, it may be a wash. But with the shot clock winding down, Haws is clearly the most dangerous.
Here are a few other observations on the local scene:
FOR THE FIRST time in WCC history, the league has two programs ranked in the top 25 in both the AP and the USA Today Coaches polls. Undefeated Gonzaga is fifth in both and Saint Mary’s is 21st in both rankings.
THE PAC-12 has four teams ranked by AP, including No. 4 UCLA, No. 13 Oregon, No. 16 Arizona and No. 25 USC.
THE MWC appears wide open with 4-0 Boise State followed by 3-1 Nevada and Colorado State. What is missing from the top are traditional powers UNLV, San Diego Stage and New Mexico. USU’s Jalen Moore ranks fourth in scoring with a 17.3-point average.
UTAH HAS EARNED the title as the Pac-12’s most dominating rebounding team, a trademark under coach Larry Krystkowiak. The Utes lead the league in rebounding at plus 8.7 per game. The Utes are second in field goal percentage at .502 behind UCLA (.534).
GONZAGA’S Nigel Williams, a transfer from Washington, had a monster week, even while playing with the flu. The 6-foot-3 guard scored 36 points, went 12 for 15 from the field, hit 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, was 9 for 9 from the line. He also had 11 rebounds, six assists and a steal in a win over San Francisco.
BYU’S ERIC MIKA is battling Portland’s Alec Wintering for scoring leadership in the WCC. Wintering has the edge with a 21-point average to Mika’s 20.5. Cougar Nick Emery is the only player in the league averaging more than two steals a game at 2.06.
UTAH VALLEY ranks first in the WAC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.2, first in defensive rebounding at 30.7 per game and first in 3-point field goals per game at 9.4.
WEBER STATE leads the Big Sky Conference with a 2-0, 7-6 record and is first in scoring (69.7) and 3-point field goal percentage (.408). Wildcat Dusty Baker is the best 3-point shooter in the league on 13 for 24 shooting (60 percent) and teammate Jeremy Senglin is No. 1 in 3-point field goals made per game (4.3). Southern Utah leads the league in offensive rebounding (11.9).