For a change, BYU basketball coach Roger Reid isn't looking at an upcoming season that involves a major rebuilding project.
All he has to do is replace three of his top four guards.BYU loses four players to graduation - point guard Nate Call (probably the team's most valuable player), three-point specialist Mark Heslop, backup point guard Mark Santiago and forward Robert Jones, and one to a mission, Justin Weidauer.
What that leaves is a guardline of Nick Sanderson, the JC transfer who will be a senior; third-string point guard Kurt Christensen, who played 37 minutes all season; and two returned missionaries - Ryan Cuff and Randy Reid, the coach's son.
That gives the Cougs just four guards for next season, but Reid isn't looking frantically around the country for a JC guard to bolster the group.
"We're not talking about two mediocre guards here," Reid said of Cuff and Reid. "After six or seven games, they'll be as good as any JC guards in America."
Reid pointed out that it took Call some time last season to recover his form, yet he developed into a second-team All-WAC performer - with first-team credentials.
"We're talking about guys who are going to be good for a long time," Reid added.
In other words, he plans to play them together and let them develop together. Reid has said before that he plans to use them interchangeably at the point- and shooting-guard positions. If it works, it's bound to cause problems for BYU's opponents.
As for the frontline, BYU looks solid even before being bolstered by the return of 6-7 Mark Durrant and the arrival of 6-7 freshman Tony Woods, a highly sought recruit from Rome, Ga. If anything, the Cougars seem to have a glut of forwards.
Where Reid hopes to see the most noticeable improvement in his team next season is in conditioning. Players like Russell Larson, Shane Knight, David Astle and even All-WAC center Gary Trost need to muscle up, while Kevin Nixon needs to get in shape to play more minutes.
"They've just got to get stronger," he said. "To go up a notch they have to work harder than they ever have."
As for players like Jared Miller and John Fish, Reid said he'd like to see them work on perimeter shooting.
One thing Reid said his team can't count on is continuing to surprise the rest of the conference. Over the past three years, the Cougars have defied predictions of middle-of-the-pack finishes to claim two regular-season crowns, two tournament titles. Reid thinks the rest of the league may be catching on.