BYU Men's Basketball in 2023-24 Relying Heavily on Senior Experience

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BYU Men’s Basketball in 2023-24 Relying Heavily on Senior Experience

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BYU guard Jaxson Robinson faced off against Creighton guard Trey Alexander during a heated NCAA college basketball game on December 10, 2022, in Las Vegas.

Credit by: heraldextra.com

On February 16, 2023, BYU’s Spencer Johnson led the charge against Santa Clara in a men’s college basketball showdown at the Marriott Center.

BYU men’s basketball coach Mark Pope frequently emphasizes the importance of senior leadership, and history has shown that seniors can work magic on the court. In his inaugural season in Provo in 2019-20, the senior-heavy Cougars achieved a remarkable 25-8 record, including a memorable victory over No. 2 Gonzaga at the Marriott Center. The pandemic prevented BYU from potentially securing a single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.

While the Cougars made it to the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the past two seasons have presented challenges. In preparation for their entry into the Big 12, the Cougars opted for a younger lineup last year, resulting in a tough season (19-15 overall, 7-9 in West Coast Conference play).

Now, with nearly two weeks of official practices under their belts, the Cougars boast a roster rich in experience, including four seniors and 10 upperclassmen. They have also added talent from the transfer portal, including 6-foot-11 Aly Khalifa from Charlotte and 6-4 Dawson Baker from UC-Irvine, both listed as juniors.

The Cougars’ 16-man roster collectively boasts 728 college games played and 360 starts. Looking at the Big 12 competition, it’s evident that many rival teams have lost key talent and experience to graduation, the NBA, or transfers.

In order to succeed in the highly competitive Big 12, the Cougars will rely heavily on their seniors and their wealth of experience. These seasoned players have faced adversity, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and have the confidence to never count themselves out of a game.

Assistant coach Nick Robinson, filling in for Coach Pope, expressed excitement about the upcoming season and the opportunity for the team to gain more experience through practices and international games.

BYU has a solid nucleus of nine returning players from last season, led by junior forward Fousseyni Traore, senior guard Spencer Johnson, and sharpshooting junior guard Trevin Knell. The addition of 6-8 freshman Marcus Adams Jr., a highly-touted talent seeking to make an immediate impact, adds an intriguing dimension to the team.

Expectations may be modest for BYU’s debut in the Big 12, but the players are unfazed by the noise. They are motivated by the belief in their abilities and the standards they set for themselves, paying little attention to external opinions.

BYU fans can look forward to the upcoming season, with Midnight Madness scheduled for October 19 and the Blue and White Scrimmage set for October 25. The Cougars will open their preseason on November 7 at the Marriott Center against Houston Christian following an exhibition game against Life Pacific on November 1.

The 2023-24 BYU men’s basketball roster is packed with experience, with a total of 728 games played and 360 starts among the players. The roster includes several key returners and promising newcomers who are ready to make their mark on the court.

Reference

https://www.heraldextra.com/sports/2023/oct/06/seniors-experience-are-critical-for-byu-mens-basketball-in-2023-24/

https://byucougars.com/news/2023/07/20/big-12-announces-2023-24-mens-basketball-conference-opponents

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