With Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery graduated, BYU leaving the Mountain West Conference for the West Coast Conference and nine incoming freshmen on the team, there is a lot of change in the BYU basketball locker room this season. One thing that has not changed is the team’s expectations.
“Whatever conference we’re in, our expectation is to win the championship,” junior Brock Zylstra said. “That’s not something that’s going to change because we’re moving conferences. We think we’re a great team and we think we can win a lot of games and so we’re looking at winning the conference just like any other year.”
The past two seasons have seen the most wins ever recorded by BYU basketball in a two-year span, but coach Dave Rose wants his coaching staff and team to look forward and not back.
“We have the championship trophies in our office, but that’s about it,” Rose said. “We move on.”
The team will face an unprecedented challenge this season with the loss of its graduated senior backcourt, but Rose believes his guards are up to the challenge.
“These guys have improved their game,” he said. “It’s probably going to be a little unfair because they’re being compared against one of the best backcourts that ever played here.”
The team spent some time together during the summer in Greece, where they recorded a 2-2 record against professional and national teams. Official team practice begins this Friday, but the players are ready to go now.
“I’m ready. It’s been a really long summer,” Stephen Rodgers said. “We had a great time in Greece. Now I’m ready to get in there and help this team get as far as we can.”
With the loss of valuable senior leadership and heading into the WCC, seniors Noah Hartsock and Charles Abuo both feel confident the team’s newcomers will help to continue the tradition of BYU basketball.
“We’re coming in this year with a new team, new players, but we’re excited with what we have,” Hartsock said. “We know it’s a tough conference but we’re excited to be a part of it. We’re going in there with expectations to win games and to play well there.”
“We have a lot of new guys and a lot of young players,” Abuo said. “But I think we’re going to do really well and be really competitive. It is a really good conference but we have a lot of confidence in what we do on our team.”
The Cougars tip off in their annual Blue and White game on Oct. 26 and play their first exhibition game against Midwestern State on Oct. 29.
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