Can Pope change the culture at BYU?

I know he is giving it his best effort. We saw that as the season progressed and BYU improved. I don’t know if he can completely change the culture to a point where BYU is relevant and can win games like the one tonight. What is the culture that needs to be changed?

I can give everyone a hint but some of you may already know where I am going because I have travelled down this road before, usually with mixed replies… some agreeing and some not.

Here it is -

Barcello is from Arizona
Averette is from Texas
Haarms is from the Netherlands via Purdue
Lohner is from Texas
George is from Nigeria

Those are BYU’s 5 best players… in the game tonight and going forward. George and Lohner suffered from inexperience vs UCLA but the others made an effort. I was bummed that Haarms didn’t get it going sooner but it probably wouldn’t have mattered as they couldn’t hang with an average UCLA team. None of these guys were player of the year in Utah or Idaho HS basketball.

I realize it is every basketball playing kid who did junior jazz dream to play for BYU but this has got to stop. The problem is that the donor and fan base is so heavy and influential in Utah and Idaho that I don’t know if Pope can make it happen. There may be too much pressure to load the team with great HS players from these states, that is what the culture seems to dictate. There are 10 players out of 17 total on the roster right now from Utah and Idaho… and BYU isn’t winning any ncaa tourney games lately and that can be attributed a lot to this culture issue.

What say the rest of you, let me have it if you think I am off base. I know many of you have in the past. You better come in hard with a legitimate argument because I am not seeing it right now and am tired of the very average performances/teams BYU is putting out there in the ncaa tourney.

Last year, it’s a good bet we would have made it to the sweet 16 and some believe further. Yoli Childs was from Utah as was Haws and several others. Not sure about Toolsen. So, we have to be careful as to throw a wet blanket out over all HS players in Utah.

There is no doubt Pope is a coach kids want to play for. I hope he continues to seek out kids from all over. Hopefully he can pick up the Yoli Childs top players in Utah too. There was that kid from Lone Pine that went to Kentucky or somewhere a few years ago. Or like a Jabari Parker that he can get to come to BYU for a year.

Tonight was difficult to watch because of our poor ball movement, 3 point shooting and free throw shooting. Too many turnovers and few assists. Defenses towards the end of the year push our offense way out, jump passing lanes and we don’t answer this properly, like tonight. Other teams run offenses where their players are squared to the basket in triple threat position and are able to get open or shoot and make shots. They have good plays that get players open. We don’t.

It was the usual one and done against a team that was very beatable. The pity is that Texas lost to Abilene Christian so it is likely BYU would have been a sweet 16 team. It is maddening because if they had shot their season average from 3 and the FT line it is an even game. They outrebounded UCLA and only turned the ball over 10 times which is good for BYU this year.

I would like to chalk the whole thing up to rust from an eleven day layoff but the bottom line is you have to win in the NCAA or you go home.

The whole thing is maddening but maybe BYU is just a good mid major program and will never be anything else. They will get the occasional NCAA win but generally gone in the first round. That is their history.

There have been 4 big upsets so far. I hate to say it but UCLA beating us wasn’t much of an upset base on our past history.

It doesn’t look like the ankle sprain bothered UCLA’s big scorer. He got 27 points.

The above doesn’t address your topic very well but if Pope can keep getting guys like the ones you mentioned above then they will win some tourney games. They are never going to get the inner city kids so his recruiting has got to be creative like it has been so far. I don’t think the fact that 10 of the 17 players are from Utah and Idaho on the current roster is a big deal. The five starters aren’t and if you can get the best players in Utah you better get them to fill out the roster. I think he is on the right track but BYU has got to start winning consistently in the tournament. Gonzaga has won in the tournament for years and it has only been in recent years that their talent level has been elite. There is no reason BYU can’t win a game or two every year in the tournament.

The 2 major sports, FB and BB, and now that I think about it baseball, have faltered regularly in the big spotlight. This goes back to when I went to school at the Y in the early to mid 70s. Yes, they win on the big stage - OCCASSIONALLY. The big spotlight requires exceptional athleticism and talent and the Y does not have that on a regular basis. The only cultural thing that needs to change is to bring exceptional talent onto the teams. And that has not happened, consistently, in the 5 decades that I have witnessed BYU sports.

I only watched in short spurts tonight because I knew that the Cougars could not hang with UCLA and 50 years of disappointment would not allow me, emotionally, to endure the entire massacre.

You might watch more of the game. It wasn’t a massacre. We simply shot poorly from 3 line and FT line. Just a normal game and we win. Yes, the refs were poor. But you have to do the normal things well to overcome poor referees. I don’t see a conspiracy against Mormons. Sorry Jim. But, we have to win first round games. 12 day layoff is difficult but should not last the entire game.

Where was Knell? Why didn’t he play more. We needed potential shooters. Johnson doesn’t look for enough shots. And George disappeared as well. We needed better rotation in the subbing.

And of course, talent has no impact on BYUs missing shots. BYU and UCLA plays 10 games - UCLA wins 8 of those.

Jim I love your posts, and you bring up some interesting points.

One correction, Lohner was born in Texas, but played HS in Utah (Wasatch High in Heber).

My personal belief is that Rose was going down the road, and really never recruited much outside of his area per say. That really did not give Pope a lot to work with.

Not sure if you forgot or just did not remember, that one of the first things Pope did was to improve recruiting from Europe and other countries, in fact, BYU is working on a commitment from China and I believe from London (Atiki) has signed. Which proves that Pope is looking outside of Utah and Idaho.

But I also remember that both Pope and Sitake both have said that it is important to get the best talent in the home state as well…

I know you have some less than stellar feelings about Utah high school players, but the fact remains that several, especially in Football, that are highly recruited players that several big time programs across the country recruits. Right now in football, Kalani is starting to pull some of these big recruits back to BYU. In basketball, I am not sure right now how well HS basketball programs are doing right now, so I cannot comment on that.

I will say that Rose kind of soured many when he went to Lone Peak HS a lot to get players, but I think Pope’s view and attitude is refreshing and hits the mark with a lot of players across the country.

Just give Pope some time to pull in his type of players, I think BYU administration is fully behind him right now.

I don’t know that UCLA would beat BYU 8 out of 10 or not. I doubt it. BYU played poorly. The 11 days without play is not good. The WCC needs to move their postseason tournament back about 4-5 days so whatever WCC teams make the NCAA other than Gonzaga don’t have to wait almost 2 weeks before playing a tournament game.

You forget that last season BYU easily beat UCLA playing without Yoeli Childs. UCLA today is not the UCLA of John Wooden.

I wonder if we prepared more for Michigan State. I just felt the coaching decisions were a mistake with benching Knell and George.

Well you will get the same old excuses from Grasshopper, and they never hold any water. The upper tier programs usually get the big named talent and combine that with great coaching- it’s tough to beat. ABBA played well enough, but there wasn’t much after that and there needed to be in order to win. BYU will probably never be a consistent top ten team in football or basketball. The pluses and minuses just don’t add up. They can have an occasional good year where they make the top 25, but the resources just make it a good bet and history backs this up. Doesn’t mean that we don’t love and support our teams. Recruiting wise-you will maybe get one or two players out of Utah each year in basketball, but to limit yourself to Utah and Idaho, is not a good plan and I’m sure Pope understands that and the evidence is that he is going everywhere. The real question is, though, can BYU even hang on to their current coaching staff? I have my doubts, and that’s too bad, because Pope is clearly the man for the job. One last thought-clearly rust wasn’t a factor for the Zags, whose last game was with BYU-just another one of those feeble excuses

Not really a correction so much as a clarification. He never played junior jazz so he wasn’t surrounded by hype as a kid. Also, playing at Wasatch academy isn’t really the same as playing HS basketball in Utah per se. It is a basketball school that does academics on the side.

I’m almost certain Lohner played three seasons of 6A basketball in Texas, where he was a star as a junior, amd played only his senior season at Wasatch.

That aside, Lohner is a stud. Pope needs to prioritize making Lohner a focal point in the offense. Last night he had the ball on the right wing, his guy got off balance, and Lohner had a clear path for a dunk—but he didn’t even look. He just passed it to a guy a few feet away from him in the corner. Lohner is an incredible athlete and I bet Pope turns him into a huge scorer at BYU. Lohner may have been our best post player this year but Haarms was always there clogging the post. Haarms got pushed off his spot so easily that often our offense stagnated with a guy holding the ball on the wing waiting for Haarms to get into position to catch the ball in the post. Great kid, great shot blocker, and great FT shooter, and I hope he can get paid in Europe because he seems like an awesome kid.

Props to Barcello. Played like a man last night. And ditto Averette. My opinion of BYU’s problem was that our wings were not athletic enough to be on that court last night—too easy to guard and completely unable to create a shot other than catch amd shoot wide open.

Great adjustment to put Harding on Juzamg after half. Terrible decision by Pope to take Harding out because the minute Johnson came in Juzamg scored several buckets to stomp on our run.

Jim, I believe Pope will get the right guys. BYU will become more diverse in every way and we will see increased athleticism, particularly on the wings.

I would live to see ABBA come back next year but I seriously one either will.

Your post and analysis are spot on. Agree with all of it.

Haarms should and bulk up learning to handle his center of gravity better. Lohner could be a triple double threat every game.
George needs to learn to dribble. It’s really bad.
Knell should have been in the game instead of Johnson. We needed someone who could hit 3’s.
We have a couple of good 4’s that were injured. Hope they make it back for next season.

He played two years in Texas and two years at Wasatch Academy.

Caleb Lohner - M Basketball |

Like I said in an earlier post, I believe the cupboard was a bit bare when Pope took over and it will eventually get the talent he needs, He already got the Tanzanian that played HS ball in England, and from what I understand there is a very tall Chinese guy looking at BYU as well.

Personally, I think the players were just a tad bit too relaxed before the game, some of the things that were reported made it seem like the players thought all they had to do is show up and they would win.

They got a very good lesson with getting their butts kicked by UCLA.

I could say more, but it would upset some people on this board. But I am for one am getting tired of the negative comments about Utah and their kids.

I watched my first bit of Cougar basketball Saturday. It took us until the 2nd half to get the TV going with CBS (we don’t really watch TV, and don’t have cable, satellite, or streaming services).

I think Pope is far better than Rose, but I was disappointed to see the following:

  1. The guy for UCLA who did most of their scoring against MSU lit us up for 17 first half points. In the second half, he put Connor Harding in with denying him the ball as his sole role. I think this needed to be done much earlier in the first half. If someone is lighting us up, it needs to be addressed ASAP, not halfway through the game. I think he only scored 7 in the 2nd half, mostly from the line when we had to foul. Harding did a fantastic lockdown job on him.

  2. UCLA completely took away the 3 pointer with excellent, smothering man coverage outside. When the 3 is taken away (no good looks for anyone not named Jimmer), then you have to do other things and open up the three (or at least score in other ways).

  3. Haarms is really soft and timid. We use him mainly to catch passes on top and get the ball to Averette or Barcelo. If he were a formidable big (a la Mika, Araujo, etc.), we could have hit UCLA with the inside game (which would have opened up outside). I appreciate what Haarms has done for us, but he really is just a shot alterer. He’s not much help on offense — especially when we’re behind and struggling.

With all that, fighting from down eleven and forcing a draw in the 2nd half is much better than Rose’s famous long droughts and opponent runs. I think Pope and the team learned from this and will do better next time. We, of all teams, have to get out in front early and not get behind from the get go. We have this collective feeling of “Oh, no, not again” every time this happens

You saw the same thing I did about the game preparation. I know they wanted to win but a lot of clowning around went on. However, I think we prepared for Michigan St.

I also saw we tried to win with 7 players instead of 9 or 10 and were unable to wear UCLA down like we did with other teams. Knell was benched and I don’t know why. Same with George. We needed shooters that could make 3’s and FTs. Just 3 more 3’s and 4 more FTs and I believe we win.

I think a lot of teams came in with bad preparations and lost. Many head scratching losses. Nothing to do with overrated leagues. And nothing to do with biased referees. Although the committee once again picked two questionable teams fro play-Ins. Both UCLA and MSU were much better than 11 seeds. Also, what are 11 seeds doing being play-in games? Should be only for 16 seeded level teams. Had BYU only had to prepare for one team I think we win.

Saw this article about BYU basketball exceeding expectations:

Wonder what other think of the article?

BYU basketball exceeded all expectations this season - Deseret News

They most certainly did and then flopped. Hope we learned from this. Don’t sit your best 3 point shooters going 3-17. Prepare better mentally.

Haarms has already said he’s moving on. He would benefit greatly from one more year under Pope. AB and BA haven’t said anything yet.

How many lessons need to be learned? This isn’t high school basketball anymore, it’s D1 major college high level stuff. It’s about time to stop with the lesson learning and just play hard. BYU needs the talent to do that and sorry if you are getting tired of the geographical comments but it’s true. As the season wore on and Pope saw what he had, certain players got less and less time. Why? because they didn’t have the talent and level of understanding of the game to be effective. They were too busy learning lessons I guess.

I think it might be better if a lot of these HS basketball superstars from Utah and Idaho would start aspiring to play for Boise St., Southern Utah or Weber St so BYU can focus on talent from outside of this area. Maybe then the situation will start to improve consistently.