Provo • BYU’s basketball team figured to be one of the more height-challenged squads in Dave Rose’s 13-season tenure. It got even shorter Thursday, when the Cougars opened their first practice without 6-foot-11post player Ryan Andrus.
Rose announced that Andrus, who missed all of last season with some nagging knee injuries, has taken a medical retirement and will no longer be with the program.
“Ryan wasn’t cleared to participate, so he was actually advised by his doctors to probably move on,” Rose said. “And so he is going to school here and [will] try in the next semester to get into the business school and move forward with that part of his life.”
Andrus played in 21 games as a freshman in 2014-15 and averaged 1.9 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. After a mission to Pennsylvania, he injured his knee before the 2017-18 opener and played in only an exhibition game last season.
“Pretty unfortunate, and it was tough on him,” Rose said. “But he is doing well. I talked to him the other day. He will still be around, but he won’t be a part of this group.”
Andrus’ departure leaves the 2018-19 roster with no player taller than 6-10 senior Luke Worthington. Other potential post players are 6-8 junior Yoeli Childs, 6-9 returned missionary freshman Gavin Baxter and 6-9 redshirt freshman Kolby Lee.
Rose said the Cougars will probably play in long stretches with just one post player.
“We have done that a few years since I’ve been here,” Rose said. “We have usually been a two-post offensive and defensive team. I think it puts a little bit of extra pressure on guys like Kolby and Gavin. But we’ve got Luke and Yoeli to hold those spots down, and then I think Yo can really help us on the perimeter this year, too.”
Rose said that they will make up for it with big wings, including 6-7 Zac Seljaas, 6-7 Dalton Nixon, 6-6 Rylan Bergersen and 6-6 freshman returned missionary Connor Harding, who made several outstanding plays in the five minutes or so that the media was allowed to watch Thursday’s practice.
“We will just see how it all plays out,” Rose said.
Worthington and guard McKay Cannon are the only seniors on the roster, a year after the Cougars had none.
Worthington said the Cougars will miss Andrus, but believes they will be “just fine” in the post.
“Down low, we have got a lot of experience with the older guys and and we’ve got some fresh dudes, these freshmen, who really want to get after it,” Worthington said. “These incoming freshmen are some of hardest working guys on the team. … I am not concerned with the post play. I think we have the dudes we need to get the job done.”
Rose said the Cougars will play similarly to how they have over the years, perhaps a bit faster than last year now that defense-oriented Heath Schroyer has moved on to become McNeese’s head coach.
“Our game will be maybe more free-flowing,” Rose said. “We will probably be a little bit more up-tempo. The way our roster breaks down will kind of dictate that.”
On the guard line, the Cougars will rely on returning starters TJ Haws and a slimmed down Jahshire Hardnett until Nick Emery returns from a nine-game suspension. Rose said nobody in practice has been able to stay in front of the lightning-quick Hardnett. Haws drilled an NBA-range 3-pointer as the last scrimmage of the practice concluded.