Our guys are excited to play. We’ve been practicing for a long time. —BYU head coach Dave Rose
PROVO — For weeks, the BYU basketball team has been practicing in preparation for the upcoming season.
The Cougars will take the floor in front of a crowd for the first time when they participate in the annual Papa John’s Cougar Tipoff Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Marriott Center.
“I think we’re coming together great right now. We’ve made great improvements each day in practice,” said guard TJ Haws. “Our practices have been physical and tough. We’re getting after it. So I’m really excited to get out on the court under the lights in front of a few people and have fun.”
On Friday, BYU opens its exhibition season with a charity game against New Mexico in Albuquerque.
“Our guys are excited to play. We’ve been practicing for a long time,” said coach Dave Rose. “It’s time to play somebody else. We’ll play ourselves (Wednesday) and after that we’ll be coaching one team.”
The Cougars will also host two exhibition games, on Nov. 1 against Westminster and Nov. 8 against Colorado College.
“I just hope we can find good chemistry in our games,” Haws said. “That’s going to be a big thing for our team. Hopefully we can find a little bit of that in these games.”
Forward Luke Worthington said these games will be a good opportunity for players to get used to playing with each other.
“That’s one of the biggest things — guys finding their roles,” he said. “Coach said, ‘I just want players to make the right play. If you’re concerned about where you fit on this team, be the guy to be the right play.’ Everyone has a certain skill set, but, if we make the right play individually, we’ll be as successful as we can be.”
CHARITY GAME: The BYU-New Mexico game will benefit victims of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Houston area in late August. Houston is Rose’s hometown, and proceeds from the game will go to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
Rose initiated the process of scheduling this game against the Lobos.
“When we found out the NCAA would allow us to do this, we wanted to play a charity game,” Rose said. “I watched that hurricane really close because I have a brother and a sister that live in the city. I have a lot of former teammates and friends there. It was amazing to see the place where I grew up 10 feet under water. I wanted to do something.”
Rose and his staff reached out to a number of schools — and UNM responded.
“When this opportunity came, we called around. When New Mexico expressed a real interest, I thought it was a perfect fit,” Rose said. “They’ll put people in there. Lobo fans love to watch the Lobos play BYU. I played the national championship game in there with our team from the University of Houston. Hopefully we can raise a lot of money. This is a good opportunity for us.”
INJURY UPDATE: In recent weeks BYU has been healthy with one exception. Forward Ryan Andrus hasn’t been practicing due to a knee injury.
“I’m not really optimistic to see him for a month or so,” Rose said.