Cougars face riled-up Tar Heels
LAHIANA, Hawaii - Not only does Brigham Young have to face a talent-laden North Carolina basketball team, it has to play a bunch of angry Tar Heels.
A supposed tuneup for this week's Maui Invitational turned into disaster Friday, as fourth-ranked North Carolina lost to Santa Clara in the Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland, Calif. The Tar Heels dropped their opener for only the fifth time since 1930.
"I've got to do a heck of a lot better job and do the little things we've talked about all along," said coach Roy Williams. "We are extremely disappointed. Ticked off is what I am, but I'm ticked off at myself, not at the kids."
BYU opens its season today against the storied program at 7 p.m. MST on ESPN2. The Cougars, who return only two full-time starters, introduce three freshmen and three junior college transfers.
They play three games over the next three days, before returning home early Thursday.
"It'll be tough," said coach Steve Cleveland. "It's an opportunity for a lot of new guys to get a feel immediately what it's like to play at the highest level."
The three new starters are point guard Terry Nashif, guard Mike Rose and center Jared Jensen. Both seniors, Nashif and Jensen have started at times the last three years.
Rose, who had an illness that cut short a church mission last summer, will split time with Sam Burgess. Before serving a church mission, Burgess played one season at Snow College.
Mike Hall and Garner Meads are entrenched as the starting forwards.
"Hopefully, the ones that have been waiting their turn are going to step up and play their best immediately," Cleveland said.
Jensen might be the key to BYU's season. Playing out of position at forward the last two seasons, he was constantly in foul trouble.
He also encountered foul problems in BYU's exhibition games.
"It's really important for me to go out there and keep my composure," Jensen said. "I need to play smart and stay out of foul trouble, so I can lead these guys and just be an example out on the floor."
BYU has nothing proven behind Jensen. The backups are sophomore Derek Dawes, who redshirted last season after serving a misison, and freshman David Burgess.
Freshmen Trent Plaidsted and Chris Miles are each 6-foot-11.
"The backup five is going to be by committee depending on what the needs are," Cleveland said. "Every day one of them plays well. With freshmen, you get a lot of ups and downs.
"They're just going to have to be patient and take their opportunities when they come. They're all going to have a chance to play."
Cleveland moved sophomore transfer Keena Young to power forward behind Meads. He said the 6-6 Young is BYU's best offensive rebounder.
Hall is BYU's only proven offensive weapon, and will be the first option.
"He's going to be on the floor 30 to 35 minutes," Cleveland said.
BYU vs. North Carolina
BYU MEN'S BASKETBALL
At the Lahaina Civic Center
Tipoff: 7 p.m. MST
Radio: KSL-AM (1160)
Records: BYU 0-0, UNC 0-1
Series: UNC leads 3-0
Last meeting: UNC 97-65, 1993
Line: North Carolina by 11 1/2
About the Cougars: Lee Cummard, a shooting guard from Arizona, has returned home early from a mission. After graduating from high last spring, he left on a mission. He is deciding when to enroll in school but said his commitment to BYU remains firm. . . . They play either No. 25 Stanford or Tennessee on Tuesday. If they win, Tuesday's game is at 7:30 p.m. MST on ESPN. If they lose, the game is at 2 p.m. MST and will not be televised.
About the Tar Heels: They lost 77-66 to Santa Clara last Friday. G Raymond Felton was serving an NCAA-mandated one-game suspension.