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BYU head coach Dave Rose constantly dealing with the challenge of roster changes

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Dave Rose in the huddle during a timeout as BYU and Illinois State play in an NCAA men's basketball game in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. BYU won 80-68.
Brigham Young Cougars head coach Dave Rose in the huddle during a timeout as BYU and Illinois State play in an NCAA men's basketball game in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. BYU won 80-68.
Scott G Winterton,

Loyola Marymount (6-11, 1-5) at BYU (15-4, 4-2)

Thursday, 9 p.m. MST Marriott Center


Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM

PROVO — Dave Rose has worked at BYU for 20 years, both as an assistant coach and as the head coach, and he’s always dealing with personnel issues, whether it’s before the season starts, during the season, during the postseason or after the season.

“It’s all I do,” Rose said.

Over the past few months alone, Rose lost guard Nick Emery, who withdrew from school days before the start of the season in the wake of an NCAA investigation and a recent divorce.

Then Rose saw guard Kajon Brown transfer in late December. And, Wednesday, Rose announced that two forwards, Braiden Shaw and Ryan Andrus, won’t be available for the rest of the season due to injuries.

Right now, the Cougars are down four scholarship players that they had before the season began — Emery, Shaw, Andrus and Dalton Nixon, who has been out for more than one month with a foot injury.

On the other hand, it’s not all bad. Weber State transfer guard McKay Cannon was suddenly ruled eligible at the end of November and he has been a big contributor this season.

“McKay’s situation was really good for us,” Rose said.

And, in December, forward Kolby Lee joined the program, though he may or may not play this season.

Coming off a dominating 84-50 victory at Santa Clara last Saturday, BYU hosts Loyola Marymount Thursday (9 p.m., MST, ESPNU).

In past seasons, Rose has had to make adjustments to his roster, and his starting lineup, on the fly after injuries or off-the-court issues involving high-profile players like Tyler Haws, Brandon Davies, Noah Hartsock, Kyle Collinsworth and Anson Winder.

“You have to anticipate things, illness, injury, a lot of different things that come up,” Rose said Wednesday. “Hopefully you’re deep enough to be consistent and manage it.”

BYU also faces roster additions, and roster attrition, because of LDS missions, with some players choosing to serve before they enroll and others choosing to play one year or two before leaving. And some players who plan to serve end up not going on missions while others who didn’t plan to serve end up leaving for two years.

There are no seniors on this year's team. Only four players from last year's squad — TJ Haws, Elijah Bryant, Yoeli Childs and Payton Dastrup — returned this season.

Rose handles unexpected personnel moves by “trying to organize my roster,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge. We have eight or maybe nine (different) recruiting classes on this team. Think about that. You take all those recruiting classes and pieces from each one and try to get a handful of guards, a couple of point guards, some forwards, and keep that balanced enough so that when you do have issues, you have a way to continue to play.”

The NCAA allows 13 scholarships on the 15-man rosters. Rose uses those two non-scholarship spots “to help protect areas that could be areas of concern. Those have worked out over the years. It’s amazing how many of those guys have actually stepped in and played — Craig Cusick and Davin Guinn and now McKay. It’s a challenge. Missions create a challenge. Injuries create a challenge. This year, marriage created a challenge. We’ve had a lot of issues.”

Of course, most college basketball teams across the country are trying to figure out their own personnel concerns due to the rash of transfers.

“The one thing that you really learn to appreciate is we went on a five- or seven-year run where that was not the main concern of every team,” Rose said. “We’re in a run right now (of a lot of roster changes) and I think it’s going to continue just because of rule changes. They’re meeting right now to talk about transfer rules that could really turn everything upside down. The days of having five sophomores turning into five juniors turning into five seniors — the same guys playing together — there will be very few schools running their programs that way.”

Meanwhile, BYU is looking to build on its modest two-game winning streak. The Cougars have won nine consecutive games against LMU, dating back to January 2014.

The Lions’ leading scorer is guard James Batemon, who averages 17.1 points per game. Forward Eli Scott averages 13.1 points and 6.9 rebounds while guard Steven Haney averages 12.6 points per contest.

Rose is hoping the players he has at his disposal will be able to produce a strong finish to the season.

“We’re pretty set,” Rose said, “on how we want to play and who we want to play and where we want to play them.”