BYU men’s basketball has secured national coverage for the 2018-19 regular season with eight games to be aired on ESPN through the West Coast Conference’s partnership with the network. Seven of these games will come from conference play, in addition to coverage of the BYU versus UNLV game.
Last year, the Cougars had eight regular season games shown on ESPN networks. Seven of those games were WCC play and the other was the BYU versus University of Utah game. Like last year, the 2019 WCC tournament in Las Vegas will also include five ESPN covered games, meaning BYU could potentially receive additional national exposure.
“The ESPN coverage of the games can only help ourselves as well as the conference to be noticed more and become popular in the eyes of those around the country,” said Nate Austin, an alumnus of BYU men’s basketball and graduate assistant coach for the men’s team this year.
The WCC is already in the public eye with three teams ranking in the top 60 of ESPN’s Preseason BPI poll, No. 2 Gonzaga, No. 32 BYU and No. 54 St. Mary’s. Austin said BYU’s ranking shows that the specialists, analysts and media respect the current men’s team, what they have previously done and the team’s prospects for the upcoming season.
“To me, that ranking just shows we have a great potential and capability to do something special this year: to compete in the WCC and to reach our goal of making the NCAA tournament,” Austin said.
Kevin Milligan, BYU alumnus and Cougar fan of 25 years who lives in San Antonio, Texas, expressed his excitement for the ESPN coverage, as it will allow him to watch the Cougars from home. He said he hopes this year’s team wins the West Coast Conference, makes it to the NCAA Tournament and wins a couple of games in the tournament.
“I think that would start us toward getting the basketball program back to the competitive nature that it was when Jimmer was there about 10 years ago,” Milligan said.
Jimmer Fredette is Milligan’s all-time favorite BYU basketball player, but his current favorite is Yoeli Childs. He said Childs can carry the team in certain parts of the game, is fun to watch and has a lot of passion and desire to win, which Milligan said he likes in BYU players.
“It’s rare for BYU basketball to get someone with a talent level that can equal up to those of premier programs for the most part,” Milligan said.
Austin emphasized the time and hard work Childs and his teammates have been putting forth in the gym, practices and workouts to prepare for this season. As a previous player, he explained the effect fan attendance can have on the team and their performance.
“There is nothing better than playing in front of a sold out crowd in the Marriott Center or up in Spokane or against St. Mary’s,” Austin said. “As a competitor and player, there’s no better environment than that.”
Austin said he hopes for sold out conference and non-conference games this season and encourages fan participation.
“We love our fans,” Austin said. “We love them to have a lot of energy and excitement, and we hope to put a good product on the court for them and make it a special year.”
The full schedule of ESPN coverage of Cougar basketball can be found on byucougars.com.