BYU Basketball Preview

Good DN piece today about BYU hoops transitioning from “AB’s team” to whatever it becomes. I LOVE Coach Pope’s aggression and enthusiasm. He acknowledges we are “young and small,” so how does he counter being overmatched physically? If it were BYU football, he would dumb it down and be passive…but this is Coach Pope, who says that he will use “tempo” and “pace” and “chaos” because It “makes us a more complicated.” I just felt my heart flutter…I think I’m in love…

In researching our new players, and talking to my buddy in the program, I’m getting this:

Rudi Williams is the real deal. He can score from all 3 areas: at the bucket, particularly using a wicked good euro-step to create separation and avoid shot blockers, mid-range, and from 3. Shot 45% from deep last year on high volume attempts–better than any BYU player, including AB. He shoots 3s off the dribble, spotting up, falling away, and probably while doing his homework. Dude can get his shot off, period. He looks like a really good player to me.

Waterman: I’m told he’s underrated, a very good shooter and MIGHT be a very good defender on the wing due to good mobility for a big and a preying mantis wingspan. Good ballhandler for his size.
Waterman improved throughout last season and was also very good from deep (career 44% from deep, and after a bad start last year was also 44% on high volume 3s in his last 13 games).

Robinson: high 4 star prospect and easy top 100 out of HS. Multiple big time P5 offers. Made the honor roll at Arkansas last year. Freakishly athletic. Bumpy start with one year at Texas A&M, transfers to Arkansas, now transfers to BYU. I can’t infer much from his stats because he played very limited minutes at both schools. What I DO know is that a top 100 prospect in HS will probably be good in college if he gets minutes. Arkansas had arguably the 2nd best recruiting class (after Duke) this year, signing THREE 5 star recruits; all 3 are projected “one and dones” and all 3 are 6’5"-6’7" guards–squeezing Robinson out of the rotation. Robinson finally has the chance to play big minutes, and we will see if he lives up to his hype out of HS.

RMs: I’m told that Hall looks the best of the 4 freshmen who could compete for minutes (Hall, Saunders, Moore and Toolson, probably in that order). Hall’s HS highlights look like a HS kid playing against middle school kids–didn’t look like elite competition. His AAU highlights were more interesting–less dunking on 5’10" kids who can’t jump, instead showing off a super strong ability to handle the ball in traffic, get to the rim against D1 level bigs, big time upper body strength, and able to get off his shot pretty much whenever he wants.

Braeden Moore: Moore played at Donda Academy, Kanye West’s “basketball factory” high school in Simi Valley, CA (in the news lately after West’s anti-semitic comments and news the school could be shut down). The team played some high level competition (barnstorming scheduling) and boasts several D1 recruits. Moore is 6’8" but played primarily on the perimeter. Very solid catch and shoot from deep (highlights show him doing that A LOT), routinely from 3-5 feet beyond the 3 pt line. The highlights I saw were a lot of the same thing, so I have no idea how he will play in traffic. Looks pretty skinny, but had a bunch of P5 offers, so he must be a player.

I was a fan of Lohner’s and of Erickson’s, but they never really developed as advertised, so good on Pope to move forward with new blood. George and Rudi are the only two seniors on this team. I guess we have a nucleus of Rudi, Fouss, SJ, George and Atiki (and Stewart??), but all those guys have to take a big step forward this year if we are going to be good. MANY question marks: can Atiki play without fouling? Will Hall or Stewart back up Rudi? Will Robinson be a good shooter or just a gunner? Will Waterman be a major difference maker on both ends, or just a minor role player? Will George show up EVERY night instead of half the time? Will SJ take advantage of his first chance to be a featured player instead of a solid backup? I think Rudi and Fouss will be consistently very good and occasionally brilliant. I think either George or Robinson needs to emerge as a BIG TIME difference maker for this team to be better than just average. We need a lot of things to fall into place to go dancing.

Pope has a big job on his hands turning all these new guys into a team. It would be a MAJOR accomplishment to finish 2nd in the WCC and to make the NCAA tournament this year, but I don’t think it’s out of the question. NO MATTER WHAT, I think it will be a fun team to watch (unlike a BYU team in another sport that shall remain unnamed).

About 20 minutes to game time. I think this is a going to be a good team–of course, I thought the same thing about the football team. Saunders and Toolson look really good, though I won’t be surprised if Toolson and Moore redshirt.

It’s nice to have these games that don’t count. I’ve seen some good things and a lot of really bad passing. The freshman have a lot of work to do.

I would rather watch an exciting team that competes and plays hard even if they lose games than a boring team that doesn’t do those things and wins games. In the end the number of wins and losses won’t matter so much because BYU probably isn’t going to win the WCC tournament and the chances of going to the NCAA tournament in this day and age aren’t that great.

Just work hard, compete, have fun (don’t let stuff get in your head) and see what happens.

Tom texts me and says, “Check out my writeup about Cougs BBall.” Where to start…Safe to say that if we were coaching together, there wouldn’t be a lot we would disagree on. I of course, have the eye test of having watched the Spirit (Az) game. Also keep in mind that BYU played a “closed game” with Stanford, it is hush hush but Tonight’s game solidified what I think this team will look like.

Williams has an air about him. Reminds me of the 1st time I saw Barcellos practice, he is the floor general, period. Love his aggression. His back to back 3s was an “Oh my” moment.

[quote=“tlarimer, post:1, topic:9556”]
Robinson: high 4 star prospect and easy top 100 out of HS. Multiple big time P5 offers. Made the honor roll at Arkansas last year. Freakishly athletic. What I DO know is that a top 100 prospect in HS will probably be good in college if he gets minutes. Arkansas had arguably the 2nd best recruiting class (after Duke) this year, signing THREE 5 star recruits; all 3 are projected “one and dones” and all 3 are 6’5"-6’7" guards–squeezing Robinson out of the rotation. Robinson finally has the chance to play big minutes, and we will see if he lives up to his hype out of HS.

Robinson is silky smooth when he shoots. He is a bit skinny for my liking just because he will get bounced around inside, and I don’t like that he is on his 3rd school but if he sticks, he could be starter material for years to come at BYU. I like him at the 3 but remember that we gave up a 10 rebound guy in Lohner, say what you want to say, Lohner was a beast on the boards and that has me calculating who will fill in to get us those boards.

Tom asks a ton of questions, frankly, I agree on two:

I don’t think Atiki will ever get over fouling. The dude is a warrior, they said in the game tonight that Atiki can jump higher than the “Jump Calculator” of 12’ 6", put that in your pipe! It’s his aggression that makes him foul prone but Atiki is the guy I would go to war with. And a perfect back up to Foos.

George can take over a game or he can be a no show, If he really wants make his NBA dreams come true, he will have to get past “taking off” nights.

I’m not high on Stewart, he looks like he forgets himself on D sometimes but I am all in on Hall as a Point backup to Rudi. Richie Saunders surprised me with his game tonight. much more athletic than I thought.

I think Johnson made a statement tonight. I have always liked his game. underrated on D. I see him not only starting but taking game winners for us this year.

I have Williams, Foos, George and Spencer Johnson as my go-to guys. Add Waterman/Robison and you have a pretty solid starting lineup. Hall comes in for Williams and Atiki for Foos.

Braeden Moore= Slow White Guy with really good basketball skills.

Translates into pretty good recruit if you are on a Dave Rose team. Can score from anywhere.
In the WCC, Moore can do true damage in the “undersized guard” league but when we hit the Big 12, a really fast guy with high basketball IQ will be guarding you.

10000% agree with your post. Perfect take.

Note on:
Lohner: I loved that guy. Warrior on the glass. His offense just never came around–Pope just needed him to be “OK” on offense, but in two years he shot 27% from deep and 60% from the line–and regressed regressed from year 1 to year 2. To me, he never every looked comfortable with the ball. I will continue to root for him at Baylor and hope the new start gets his head right when he has the ball in his hands.
Rudi: Better version of Te’Jon Lucas? Te’Jon was a very solid player for us but was a bad 3 point shooter. Rudi is a knock down bomber from deep. Also looks bigger and stronger.
Atiki: You make a great point–last year he averaged 2.1 fouls in 10 minutes/game. If he can give us 18 minutes of elite defense, I’ll take his 4 fouls with a smile. He is also learning a lot on offense; he will always impact the game on D, but if he can have any positive impact at all on O, Pope will look like a genius for signing the kid.
Fouss: double double machine. I don’t care how tall he is. He is Charles Barkley at Auburn. Elite strength and leverage with great hands and touch around the hoop. Based on what Pope is saying, this team will put up A LOT of shots, and A LOT of 3s, which means A LOT of offensive boards. If Fouss can hustle down court and get to the paint by the time those shots go us, he may lead D1 in putbacks this year.
Hall: Pope demands a lot from his PG–note how aggressive he has been getting transfers (AB, BA, Te’Jon, and now Rudi) instead of using the guys we recruited out of HS. Can Hall break that string. It’s a big, BIG deal for BYU if Hall can develop enough this year to be prove he is capable of taking the point for 3 years in the Big12. Being able to play in the B12 is all about athleticism. As Chris points out, if you are too slow, too skinny, or not athletic enough, you may be OK in the WCC against guys who didn’t get any P5 offers, but not in the B12 where almost every kid on the court got MULTIPLE P5 offers. I’ll be watching Hall very closely.

I’m copying this over from my response on the football page–this is my take on the transfer portal; I’m interested in what you guys think:

I should put this on the basketball page, but wanted to respond…Pope has to play the mercenary game, because that is now what D1 basketball is. Unabetted transfers without having to sit out combined with NIL Last year has created, what my friend deep within the program has called “mass chaos” when it comes to recruiting and player retention. Within about 3 weeks of the end of March Madness, over 900 D1 basketball players entered the portal. Don’t like your coach? Portal. Think you should be a starter but are not? Portal. Homesick? Portal. Don’t get as many shots as you think you should get? Portal. It’s madness but it’s now the reality. Basketball programs now have operations staff or asst coaches who do nothing other than troll the portal daily. Other than the top 10 or so programs (who can regularly sign 4 and 5 star 1 and done guys), ALL programs will live or die with the portal.

I believe these were Caleb Lohner’s motives: Closer to home, a chance to play for a national championship, a new beginning where he might be able to recover his shot.

I completely agree with you about the transfer portal’s effects on recruitment, retention, and continuity. My impression is that Pope relied on transfers even before the portal became a Wild West, and now we are a complete mercenary team.

What I would like is for BYU’s long-term coach to go after players who have the type of character and personality to want to stay and build and pay their dues. This is not going to be the “club ball” type of player who will bail like Charlie Brewer or Hank Backmeier the second there is some adversity or discipline applied. I think a team composed of players like that (heart, desire, hustle, and BYU loyalty) — while lacking the “stars” of the recruitment services — would be more fun to watch and follow. Of all sports, baseball and basketball allow underdog teams to compete with and upset teams they have no business being on the field/court with on paper.

I would say our best teams predated the “national recruit” days (Shawn Bradley, Jabari Parker, etc.). Stan Watts, Frank Arnold, LaDell Anderson, Roger Reid’s teams largely didn’t have national recruits. I enjoyed following those teams much more than these NIL/portal teams — and we can’t keep any of our portal players for long (Barcello was an exception).

I would rather play with “inferior” players who are committed to finish school at BYU and who play with heart. We would need to tailor our game to that sort of team, but my enthusiasm and commitment in following and rooting for them would be much higher than it is now.

You raise a lot of good points–especially how upsets are more common in basketball–even playoff ball, as March Madness proves every year. The beauty of basketball is that one or two true “star” players can play with a bunch of steady guys and beat “better” teams. I think because of BYU’s propensity to recruit good LDS players, BYU will normally have more guys who stick around 3-4 years than schools with higher recruiting profiles. To make BYU competitive in the B12 or in The Dance, Pope will just have to find those 2-3 guys each year who play at another level–and he will get them more often than not from the portal.

Hall looks like the real deal. He was a great addition. Hope he sticks around.

Before the portal, players had to sit a year. I’d like to go back to that…

Can someone please explain to the Hopper that this is the 2020’s, not the 1980’s…

Well, saying “I’d like to go back” says to those with low to average comprehension I’m speaking in today’s world :sunglasses:

Most of your frustration with the current teams lack of success has you wishing they would go back to the way they did things in your day, the late 70’s and early 80’s…

So when you say you would like to “go back” to something that is typically what you are referencing because you know, things were much better back in your day. :crazy_face:

Lots of BYU fans want to go back to the old days with Danny Ainge. But that’s fools gold. That team had 3 guys who went on to come excellent NBA players with long careers. Has BYU even had 3 more outstanding NBA players in the past 40 years? No, didn’t think so. BYU has to accept and embrace the new realities of D1 hoops or get left behind.

But, why is that true today? We know Jimmer didn’t get a real chance. And, so did many others. And, actually, Ainge didn’t exactly light up the court playing with Bird and the gang.

College sports is big money in today’s world. Schools pay coaches several millions of dollars a year, players get nothing. Schools obviously get much more than that but it is the players and their success that bring the money in. The ncaa is finally acknowledging it and players are being compensated for it somewhat. Don’t blame the kids, blame the powers that control all of it. Pro sports have become totally corrupt, because of the huge amounts of money involved, just like politicians.

Does anybody trust what is going on, particularly looking forward to next week? It’s a mess.