BYU Basketball fell in the Third Round of the NIT.
Empty. Wanting more. What if…These are just some of the emotions that BYU Basketball fans are feeling now that the season was over. It is hard to believe that at one point, the Cougars were the No. 12 ranked team in the country. Granted, even at full strength and healthy that was a higher ranking than what the Cougars actually were, but the feeling and excitement was there.
A rollercoaster would be an understatement to describe this season. There were the highs of dominating Oregon and the lows of losing to Pacific despite having a 99% chance to win in the final minute. Watching the development of Fousse Traore was amazing, while watching Barcello run out of gas at the end was heart breaking.
Now that dust has settled a bit from the disappointing loss to Washington State (yes BYU lost to a Pac 12 team in something), it is time to reflect back and find the takeaways from the season as a whole. Granted, these takeaways won’t be as emotional as 2011 or even 2020, but they are still there, and we can learn a lot as the team turns the page towards next season.
1. The one and done needs to go away
I’ve probably been the most vocal writer about this issue, but Mark Pope needs to recruit talent that will be around longer than one season. I raised this issue a few months ago when the team was still winning and squarely in the tournament, and it later came to be a real issue.
While Te’Jon Lucas, Seneca Knight (academic senior), Brandon Averette and Matt Haarms have all been great players, their contribution hasn’t helped the team take a step forward. In fact, you could argue that it has hurt the team.
Statistically speaking, the difference between Lucas and Knell was minimal in a 40 minute period. However, now Knell is expected to lead the team next year and he likely lost 10-15 minutes every game this season which will have negative affects next year.
Players like Connor Harding and Kolby Lee left the team this past season. While there is no clear evidence that they left because of the transfers, I’d bet quite a bit that if the one year players weren’t brought in, they would have stayed.
Going into next year, the Cougars need to build for the Big 12. Winning the WCC probably isn’t happening anyway, so finding a one year band-aid player won’t help out much. Granted if a Top 20 player is out there, Pope needs to go after him, but a player that isn’t going to really elevate the team is just going to hold BYU back.