BYU head coach Mark Pope looks out at the floor after a foul call as BYU and Washington State play in the NIT quarterfinals at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Washington State won 77-58.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
How close is BYU’s Mark Pope from reloading for the coming season?
Well, he’s got his work cut out for him. He’s a hybrid club shot away from the green.
He could use an experienced rim protector/post offensive threat taller than 6-foot-9. He could use a couple of guards and possibly a swingman. He needs shooters and consistent scorers.
Let’s take a look back at the night of Dec. 1, the game against crosstown Utah Valley. That game illustrated why BYU didn’t make the NCAA Tournament despite a 24-11 record.
Fresh off wins over Cleveland State, San Diego State, Oregon and Utah, the Cougars were considered a top-20 team. In the first minutes of that game in Orem, Pope lost Gavin Baxter to injury and then got pummeled by Mark Madsen’s team 72-65. In that game, UVU’s 6-11 Canadian sophomore, Fardaws Aimaq, had 24 points and 22 rebounds. The Cougars defense couldn’t handle guard Justin Harmon (24 points) after Alex Barcello found himself carrying the load.
The Cougars were soaring in late November, then turned into an above-average team after UVU put a dent in their season. Aimaq ended up the No. 3-ranked double-double creator, and the No. 2 rebounder in the nation. He used the transfer portal to land at Texas Tech in Big 12 Conference oil company NIL territory.
Pope’s season ended with a disappointing seed in the WCC tournament and a three-game run in the NIT.
He could claim success and momentum in the development of freshman Fousseyni Traore as an inside scorer and rebounder. But his team needs big-time, elite outside scoring to make the NCAAs next year and it has to come from multiple bodies, not just a Barcello replacement alone.
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Source:: Deseret News – Sports News
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