Rose faces alma mater when Houston comes to Marriott Center

November 24, 2018

Once a Cougar, always a Cougar.

BYU’s Dave Rose will coach against his alma mater on Saturday when the Houston Cougars come to town for a key preseason matchup. It’s the kind of game specifically scheduled to give BYU a chance to shine up their resume against a quality opponent.

At several points during his coaching career, Rose imagined himself on the sidelines for the red Cougars.

“There was a time in my life when there wasn’t too many days that went by where I didn’t think about actually being the coach there someday,” Rose said. “My path didn’t lead that direction. The last eight to 10 years I’ve just followed them with great interest. I’ve gone to a couple of reunions down there when the Final Four was there.”

Rose was a co-captain on the 1983 “Phi Slama Jama” teams that included NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwan and Clyde Drexler. He’s only coached against Houston one time — in the first round of the NIT in 2006 following his first season as the head man at BYU. The two Cougar programs will meet again in 2019 in Houston, where Fertitta Arena is being renovated.

“I’m really excited to see the new arena,” Rose said. “They played all their games last year at Texas Southern and I think they’ll get into their new arena sometime next month.”

Houston is 3-0 this season after winning 27 games last year, losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Michigan by one point.

Rose said he is very familiar with Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, now in his fifth season.

“We’re obviously dealing with one of the best coaches who has ever coached at this level,” Rose said. “I know a lot about where he’s been and what he’s done. I had players that played for me in junior college (Dixie State) who signed with him when he was at Washington State. I have some good friends who have coached with him.

“He’s really turned the whole program around. He got them to the NCAA Tournament last year. I have a ton of respect for Coach Sampson. He’ll have his guys ready to play.”

L.J. Rose was a grad transfer from Houston two seasons ago who played for Rose at BYU.

The blue Cougars are coming off their best offensive performance of the season, shooting 55 percent from the field in a 105-78 blowout against Rice. Houston topped Rice 79-68 on Nov. 14 in a game that was close until the final five minutes. Junior guard Amoni Brooks is averaging 20 points per game and senior Cory Davis Jr. is averaging 17.7 for the red Cougars.

“It should be a fun atmosphere here on Saturday,” BYU junior guard T.J. Haws said. “It’s good for Coach Rose as well. They’re a great team. We’re going to have to play really well. We’ve had a few good games here now at home. We have confidence and we’ve been in rhythm. It should be a fun game.”

Stepping up

Junior guard Jahshire Hardnett scored a career-high 20 points against Rice, making 6-of-7 shots (3-of-4 from the 3-point line) and 5-of-5 from the foul line. Last season, Hardnett averaged six points and shot 46 percent from the field. This year, he’s up to 12.7 points and shooting 48 percent after six games.

“My teammates are getting me the ball in good situations where I can get up shots and score,” Hardnett said. “I was getting shots up day by day this summer and then coming back in after practice. It’s just about getting shots up. I knew eventually I’d start seeing bigger than what I’d been seeing.”

A good feeling

Rose was asked about Gonzaga’s two-point win against No. 1 Duke on Wednesday at the Maui Classic.

“That’s good for the league,” he said. “Our league has had some great wins. San Diego beat Colorado last night. The one thing I’ve always said about our league, we get some real national attention with Gonzaga.

“I’m glad to see the ’Zags finally beat a No. 1 team. We were able to do that a couple of years ago, and so I’m glad they got to beat one. That’s a good feeling. I know how that feels.”

Two seasons ago, BYU went into the McCarthey Center in Spokane and knocked off top-ranked Gonzaga, 79-71, ruining the Bulldogs unbeaten season. Gonzaga went on to advance to the NCAA title game before it lost to North Carolina.

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