PROVO — Although BYU is set to play its first home game in nearly a month and the Cougars having lost four of their last five games, the biggest question for coach Dave Rose Wednesday was the status of junior guard Jahshire Hardnett.
A website report surfaced earlier this week that Hardnett had quit the team due to "dissatisfaction with his role" and was going to transfer. Hardnett did not participate in practices Monday and Tuesday.
“Jahshire’s practicing. He’s excited. Jahshire and I talk every week. We have long conversations,” Rose told reporters after Wednesday's practice session. “We’ve got a really good relationship as far as understanding each other. I know exactly what he wants and he knows exactly what I want. We’re both committed to the same thing. I’m looking forward to moving on.”
During last Saturday’s 88-66 loss at Saint Mary’s, Hardnett, who had been relegated to a reserve role a week ago before the start of the conference schedule, played only five minutes and was visibly frustrated.
Rose said Hardnett will be available to play Thursday (7 p.m., MST, BYUtv) when the Cougars host Portland in their West Coast Conference home opener.
Asked if the situation with Hardnett had blown over, an irritated Rose asked reporters, “I don’t know what you guys are talking about. What are you all talking about?”
Told about the report of Hardnett transferring, Rose responded, “A report from the university?”
Rose was told no, it was not.
“OK,” he said. “Let’s just move on.”
Will Hartnett start Thursday?
“I don’t think so. He didn’t start the other night and I don’t think he’ll start,” Rose said. “But that hasn’t been determined. We’ll figure it out when we put our final game plan together.”
The team’s latest personnel issue with Hardnett could could have a galvanizing effect.
“We’ve had our fair share of challenges. We’ve had different guys at different points who have had things they’ve had to work through for all sorts of reasons across the board,” said team captain Luke Worthington. “Fortunately, we know how to handle them. The only way to handle them is to take one practice at a time, one day at a time and just continue to try to get better. We had really great energy today. These last few days of practice have been really good. We’re looking forward to a couple of home games and (being) back here at the Marriott Center. The best way to remedy any issue with the team is to continue to fight and play together and build on each other’s strengths.”
Team captain TJ Haws agreed that the adversity the Cougars have faced this season has "absolutely" helped unify them.
“That’s one thing that Coach has really emphasized all year — sticking together,” he said. “He’s said it during timeouts, he’s said it before games, he’s said it after games. Right now it’s time to come together. Like Luke said, we’ve had our fair share of challenges. But I think we’ve had another great week of practice and I think we’re coming together and we’re ready to fight.”
BYU last played at home on Dec. 12 against Portland State. The 29 days between home games marks the second-longest stretch in the Rose era. The Cougars went 30 days between home games during the 2010-11 season.
“I’m really excited to be home and I think that our guys are excited to be home, too. When we put (the schedule) together, we knew it would be a tough run,” Rose said. “I didn’t expect the outcome to be what it’s been but knew it was a possibility. With that, we’ll learn from the experience as far as this group binding together and attacking the next issue. We’ve got eight home games and six road games as far as the league is concerned. Hopefully, we can prepare and play well enough to win them all.”
“It’s a good experience to play on the road and play in tough environments,” Haws said. “I’m really excited to be home and play in front of our fans and have a few home games. It’s going to feel really good. We’ve been looking forward to it all week, for sure.”
Portland (0-1) opened WCC play with a 76-64 loss at Loyola Marymount last week.16 comments on this story
“Their guards are really good. They spread the ball really well and they can shoot it from deep. What worries me the most is their penetration,” Rose said of the Pilots. “JoJo Walker and Marcus Shaver are both guys that can put it on the deck, get past defenders and in between guys and then other guys can get open. Hopefully, we can stay in front of them, we can find ways to keep them on the perimeter and challenge their 3s.”
Portland (7-9, 0-1) at BYU (9-8, 1-1)
- Thursday, 7 p.m., MST
- Marriott Center
- TV: BYUtv
- Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM