Mark Pope leads a team huddle on the first day of practice in preparation for the 2020 season. Pope and the Cougars announced on Oct. 14 they will play in the Legends Classic multi-team event. (BYU Photo)

BYU Men’s Basketball confirms Legends Classic as multi-team event

BYU Men’s Basketball confirmed Wednesday that it will participate in the Legends Classic presented by Old Trapper on Dec. 2-3 as the Cougars’ multi-team event (MTE) this season.

The Legends Classic has drawn nationally relevant programs since its inception in 2007. The Cougars will join UConn, USC, and Vanderbilt in this year’s field. It has traditionally been held at the Barclays Center, the home of the Brooklyn Nets, since 2012.

This season, however, the Legends Classic will be held at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, due to uncertainty surrounding indoor arena restrictions in New York City amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legends Classic
BYU completes the 2020 field, joining UConn, USC, and Vanderbilt in the Legends Classic this season. (Legends Classic)

Head coach Mark Pope joined Ben Criddle on his radio show, ‘Cougar Sports with Ben Criddle,’ on Oct. 13 to discuss the Legends Classic and the upcoming season.

“In terms of our MTE competition, we actually were able to take a big step up,” Pope said on Cougar Sports. “Connecticut might not be as sexy a trip as going to the Bahamas, but in terms of the teams in the tournament, it’s a better field.”

The Cougars were originally set to play Boston College, George Mason, and Tulsa on the island of Bimini in the Bahamas from Nov. 17-21, but with the delay of the start of the season until Nov. 25, BYU found another option.

Pope also responded to those wary of the “aggressive” and difficult schedule that he and his staff put together, a staple of his head coaching style.

“I love the idea that our guys get a chance to go prove it on the court,” Pope told Criddle. “They get a chance to show the world who they are and who they’re not, and we don’t have to leave people wondering and guessing. If we fall short of our goals at the end of the year, it’s not going to be because we didn’t play the best teams in the country.”

Freshman Caleb Lohner dunks in practice on Oct. 14 as graduate transfer Matt Haarms looks on. Lohner and Haarms were two high-profile pickups for the Cougars in the offseason. (BYU Photo)

The team began its official preseason practices leading up to the Nov. 25 start date Oct. 14. The evening practice was broadcast live on the BYUtv app, featuring interviews with players and coaches. It gave insight into a team made up of high-profile newcomers in Matt Haarms and Caleb Lohner, and solid returners such as Alex Barcello and Gavin Baxter.

BYU has yet to announce additional non-conference matchups for the team, but Pope did mention they are trying to preserve the Dec. 12 meeting with the University of Utah. Unless the Cougars schedule another opponent for the end of November, the Legends Classic could likely be the first time fans see BYU Men’s Basketball take the court in competition this season.

Matchups, game times, broadcast plans, and ticket information for the Legends Classic presented by Old Trapper will be announced at a later date. 

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