By SAM NEFF
The BYU men’s basketball team will play its last exhibition game Tuesday night in the Marriott Center. The game shouldn’t resemble last week’s blowout victory against the Australian club team.
The Cougars take on the EA Sports All-Stars, a team that is made up of former college stand-outs. The EA All-Stars recently played against Fresno State and lost the game 78-69. The All-Stars led by as many as ten points in the second half before Fresno State took control.
Tuesday’s game will give the Cougars one final chance to fine tune their game before kicking off the season on Saturday. The Cougars found little resistance last week against the Nunawading Spectres, winning the game by almost 50 points.
“This will be a completely different experience,” said head coach Steve Cleveland. “That game (against the Spectres) didn’t give any indication of where the team’s at.”
Cleveland said he knows the team has improved from practice, but is still concerned how the undersized Cougars will fare in the rebounding department.
“I feel really good about our defensive efforts,” Cleveland said. “But it doesn’t matter if your defensive effort is good if you can’t rebound. We’re not a real big team, so we need real disciplined block-outs.”
Offensively, the coach said he will look for a good offensive flow and improved screening from his players.
The Cougars lost another big man last Thursday when 6-foot-11 center Bret Jepsen announced he is leaving the team. Jepsen is quitting because of periodic relapses from a head injury and concussion he received last year. Jepsen received a blind-sided elbow from Arizona’s Eugene Edgerson that knocked him out at midcourt.
“Bret has experienced severe headaches and it has made it very difficult for Bret to focus on the physical aspects of the game,” Cleveland said. “BYU’s medical staff and trainers have met and consulted with Bret and the decision was made to discontinue playing basketball. His absence will affect us depth-wise; we’re already thin on the front line.”
The headaches and nausea also made it difficult for Jepsen to complete schoolwork and other related activities. Jepsen will remain on scholarship and plans to graduate in April.
Before coming to BYU, Jepsen was a McDonald’s All-American at Roswell High School in New Mexico. He holds the state high school record for blocked shots in a game, 18. Last year he averaged 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds for the Cougars.
Tuesday’s game will tip off at 7 p.m. The Cougars will play their first official game of the season Saturday Nov. 20, against UC Riverside.