BYU Basketball preparations aim to give Cougars advantage when season begins

BYU Basketball is continuing to practice and prepare for its season, despite not having an official start date from the NCAA.

“We know there’s going to be a time when we’re going to play. We don’t know when, we don’t know how long it’s going to be, we don’t know where, but I think as a team, collectively we all want to be ready,” freshman Caleb Lohner said. “We want to get every advantage we can on the rest of the country, so we’re working as hard as we can now, because we know there’s going to be a time when all of that is going to pay off.”

The Cougars are very grateful for the opportunity they have to practice, including UVU grad transfer Brandon Averette. “We’re all excited that we’re just able to still be in the gym and continue to get better because we know there are schools in the country that can’t even work out right now or can’t even practice as a team.”

The Cougars are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the team is healthy when the season finally does begin.

“(Coach Mark Pope) basically wanted it to be like a bubble,” center Matt Haarms said. “It’s just a bit of a tunnel going from wherever your apartment is to the (Marriott Center) Annex. That’s kind of the way we prefer it right now. So we’re just doing everything to keep safe.”

Practices have evolved since initial workouts this summer. Averette said originally only two players were allowed in the gym at once, with one player at each basket.

Lohner talked about what practices are like now. “It’s different, but Coach Pope and the staff have done a great job of splitting us up into groups, working and getting us better, even with all the precautions and the different things they have to follow.”

Haarms echoed the appreciation for the coaching staff and how they have handled practices during the pandemic. “It’s been awesome to see how creative the coaches have been in just making sure we’re all staying safe while still being able to get really good work in.”

Practicing as if the season will start normally has helped the Cougars to stay motivated. “We’re not really thinking about when the season will start,” Averette said. “We’re just waiting to hear the answer and focusing on continuing to get better every day.”

In an interview with BYU Sports Nation last week, head coach Mark Pope spoke on the unique nature of preparing for season like this one. “Everything is so dynamic, so it changes every hour, but our expectation is we’ll start on Nov. 25th. That was the recommendation made by the oversight committee.”

The NCAA’s men’s and women’s basketball oversight committee met on Sept. 11 and changed that proposed Nov. 25 start date to Nov. 21. The committee will meet this week on Sept. 16 to vote on that start date and discuss the details of the upcoming season.

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