As you can read in this article posted online last night, BYU's basketball program signed a pair of junior college transfers on Wednesday night as the spring signing period began.
The Cougars signed Raul Delgado, which wasn't a surprise. They also added Agustin Ambrosino of Salt Lake Community College by way of Argentina and a junior college in Florida. That was a surprise to most who follow BYU recruiting.
The signings mean that the Cougars have one available scholarship left. As I noted on Twitter last night, the official release sent out by BYU about the signees concludes with an interesting statement: "The Spring signing period continues through May 16 and the BYU coaching staff will continue to look to add depth to the roster for the 2012-13 season."
Does that mean the lone remaining scholarship won't go to walk-on Craig Cusick?
Oddly enough, I asked coach Dave Rose about Cusick's status in our meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
"Craig and I have had that discussion, and that will be something that will be ongoing during the offseason. We will probably address it again in the fall. But there hasn't been a decision made yet," Rose said.
Here's what the coach said when I asked him whether there were any players out there the Cougars were still targeting (this was before they announced the Delgado/Ambrosino signings):
"Yeah, we are still involved with quite a few guys. I am excited for our spring season. I think that if things go as planned, I think we will feel really comfortable with the group that we have. But you never know. You don't really know until you get them signed and they are here."
Here are Rose's complete comments as they relate to the question of whether the 2012-13 roster as constituted is talented enough to contend for a WCC title and another NCAA Tournament berth:
"The challenge for our staff this offseason is to increase the talent and depth at every position, OK? I think you can do that through three different ways. I think that recruiting is obviously a huge factor in trying to increase your talent. Then strength and conditioning, which all our returning players will be involved in. And the skill development is the third.
So those returning guys will all spend hours and hours and hours trying to get better.
What we will do as coaches is we will try to bring in as many players as we feel who can increase the talent and depth on our roster. And that's kind of our challenge.
I feel right now that we need to be more talented at every position. So I don't think we can say we need to get a guard, or we need to get a post guy. I think that what we are trying to do, is every position on our roster, we believe that the challenge for next year is to be a little bit more talented at every position."
When asked if there's a specific position he would like to see improved, he said:
"Actually, we are looking for every position. That's the key -- we have experienced guys returning at the guard line. And we have some really good talent up front, along with Brandon [Davies], who is experienced. But when you look at the last two years, we lose Jackson and Jimmer and Noah and Charles. Those are some guys who have logged a lot of minutes in a lot of wins.
That's where I feel a real sense of urgency, right now, to increase the talent throughout the roster."
I asked Rose if recruits are more or less reticent to listen to BYU now that it is in the West Coast Conference.
"Hasn't been an issue with any recruit, except for the fact that they ask us, as a coaching staff, how we feel about it. But other than that, you wouldn't know we have changed leagues, as far as our recruiting is concerned. They want to know what it is like. I think all of our recruits are very familiar with Gonzaga and their national reputation. I think that has made it a really seamless change, as far as the change has gone."
Moments after the Cougars lost to Marquette in the NCAA Tournament, Rose said there will be an emphasis this offseason on improving the players' outside shooting. Obviously, they took steps Wednesday into solving that problem with the additions of Delgago and Ambrosino. What else will they do?
"I think experience can really improve us," Rose said. "I think these guys in their repetitions and their skill development [can improve]. I think conditioning is a real issue in shooting. I think we need to be in better condition. But the time and repetitions they get in, knowing what it is like -- you can't facilitate that in a guy's mind, and say, 'OK, here's the pressures of the season,' until they have already been through it.
Another way is to challenge them. We will do that, and then we will bring in other guys who, from their skill set, their strength, is to be pretty good shooters. So we will try all three of those things to try to figure out a way to improve our shooting. We still want to pay inside-out. I think if we can improve our perimeter shooting and become more consistent from the perimeter, our inside guys can be even more effective than they were this year."
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