It could be called the coach’s shuffle.
Each season, BYU coach Dave Rose comes into a season with a full roster, which includes 13 scholarship players and two non-scholarship players. Then the season happens and like magic his players disappear. But after 12 years as the head basketball coach at BYU and more than 20 years of coaching college basketball, Rose is accustomed to the roller coaster ride known as his roster.
“Get used to it! That’s all I do. It’s my life,” Rose said. “My wife wants me to get used to something else like going out to dinner or watching a movie. This is what I do.”
Rose’s most recent roster rupture came Wednesday afternoon when BYU announced that BYU forwards Braiden Shaw and Ryan Andrus were both out for the remainder of the season. Shaw, a junior, has suffered two left ankle sprains on which he will have a season-ending surgery later this week. He was able to play in only one game during the 2017–18 season. Andrus, a sophomore, has sat out the entire season with knee issues. He is undergoing physical therapy and rehab for his left knee, which he recently had scoped. Both players will now redshirt this season.
The one lucky thing for Rose — if you can call it lucky — is that he has been playing down forwards for the majority of the season, making the necessary adjustments on the court. When a third forward, Dalton Nixon, was injured on Dec. 6 against Illinois State, sophomore Zac Seljaas switched from the left guard to forward. Now Seljaas has started the last two games for the Cougars.
“We’re pretty set on how we want to play and who we want to play and where we want to play them,” Rose said. … “You just have to anticipate things — illness, injury, sickness, a lot of different things that come up — and hopefully you’re deep enough to be consistent and manage it.”
Nixon is slowly recovering from his foot injury. At practice Wednesday, Nixon even ran up and down the court. But Rose said the trainers have to see how Nixon feels the next day before he will be able to once again play in a game.
Of course, Rose lost more players earlier in the season. Recent transfer guard, Kajon Brown, decided to transfer from BYU in late December. Prior to that, junior guard Nick Emery dropped out of school and left the team a day before the conference season began. Now Rose is down four scholarship players.
But, fortunately, Rose plans for his roster to get rocked. Rose uses the two non-scholarship spots on his roster to expect the unexpected.
“I’ve used those two spots to try and protect in those areas of concern,” Rose said. “Those have worked out over the years. It’s amazing how many of those guys have actually stepped in and played, Craig Cuisick, Gavin Guinn and now McKay (Cannon). It’s a challenge. The mission creates a challenge. Injury creates a challenge. This year marriage created a challenge. We’ve had a lot of issues.”
Despite the losses, Rose finds hope in the little victories in the short season.
At the end of November, BYU received approval to play transfer guard McKay Cannon. Cannon has worked his way into the rotation on the court. He averages 23 minutes of play for the Cougars and averages 5.8 points.
Now the Cougars sit with an 11-man roster for the 2017–18 season. And BYU has one more trick up their sleeve, but the coaches hope they don’t need to use him. Freshman forward Kolby Lee joined the team in January.
“His status will stay the same for now and then we’ll see what the future holds,” Rose said. “It’s a tough situation for him, not playing five or six months and then throwing him right into a season that’s halfway through. He is an eligible player, if that’s what we need to do we can.”
Even though Rose has a unique scenario with LDS missions — causing him to juggle eight recruiting classes — Rose says the simple task of recruiting once is a thing of the past.
“The days of having five sophomores that turn into five juniors that turn into five seniors, the same guys playing all those year, there will be very few schools that are running their program that way,” Rose said.
A note on the opponents
BYU gets back-to-back home games this week. First, BYU takes on Loyola Marymount at 9 p.m. MST on Thursday, Jan. 18. LMU’s talent will be a new challenge for the Cougars.
“His newer guys are really carrying the team in this case,” Rose said.
Rose is especially concerned for LMU guard James Batemon, forward Eli Scott and guard Joe Quintana, who are carrying the offensive load for LMU.
“It’s a team that, for us to match up against and guard, it’s really difficult,” Rose said. “Hopefully we’ll have an advantage on the other end and make them make some adjustments that might help us a little bit.”
The BYU-LMU game will be broadcast on ESPNU. BYU then plays San Diego on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. That game will be broadcast on BYUtv.