BYU men’s basketball faces its first outside competition of the season as it hosts a Division II team, the Midwestern State Mustangs, in an exhibition game on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center.
Midwestern State advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II tournament last season, losing to eventual champion Bellarmine. The Mustangs are led by a familiar face to BYU fans, former Cougar Michael Loyd Jr., who played for BYU from 2007-2010.
While a member of the Cougars, Loyd added a much needed spark at crucial moments in games against New Mexico, Utah and in the first round of the NCAA tournament versus Florida. In the tournament game with Florida, Loyd scored 26 points, including 10 straight, lifting the Cougars to their first NCAA tournament victory since 1993.
Loyd left the team after the 2010 season in what was called a mutual agreement between himself and the coaching staff.
Even though Loyd will sit on the opposing team’s bench, BYU coach Dave Rose is excited to see his former player.
“It’ll be fun to see Mike, I haven’t seem him in quite a while,” he said. “He had a really terrific season last year… and I’m happy for him. It’ll be fun to catch up with him and see how he’s doing.”
Rose also thinks facing a quick, talented team like Midwestern State will help the team further its preparation for the rest of the season.
“It’s a really good opportunity for our team because of how they play,” he said. “They’re very athletic, an uptempo, a dribble-drive, penetration team. One of the things that is really difficult for us to guard defensively is really athletic, aggressive, penetrating dribblers, so that will be good for us to put in the scouting report.”
The Cougars face the Mustangs after playing their annual Blue and White scrimmage, where Blue defeated White 74-71 behind the play of senior Noah Hartsock. Also playing well in the scrimmage were returners Brandon Davies, Stephen Rogers, Charles Abouo and Brock Zylstra. These returners will be accompanied by many newcomers, including nine freshmen, as the team starts its exhibition season.
Hartsock and the rest of the Cougars hope to use the upcoming exhibition games to continue improvement and preparation for the rest of the season.
“We’re a young team,” Hartsock said. “We have things we need to get better at, I think we have a lot to learn and a long ways to progress. But we are competitive and that’s really the basis of what we are right now.”