Five storylines to follow as BYU basketball opens practice

BYU coach Mark Pope yells during game against Gonzaga at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.

BYU coach Mark Pope yells during game against Gonzaga at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Coach Mark Pope replenished the roster with several intriguing newcomers, including Purdue transfer Matt Haarms, who is considered one of the biggest prizes of the available fifth-year seniors in college basketball

BYU basketball coach Mark Pope’s second season at the helm begins in earnest Wednesday when the Cougars officially begin practice with two sessions.

The evening practice will be broadcast live on the BYUtv App and BYUtv.org at 6 p.m. MDT. The 2020-21 college basketball campaign is set to tip off Nov. 25.

In Pope’s first season, BYU finished with a No. 18 national ranking, a second-place finish in the West Coast Conference and a 24-8 record. The Cougars were projected to receive a single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament last March before it was canceled due to the global pandemic.

BYU lost seven seniors from last year’s team, including its top three scorers, Yoeli Childs, TJ Haws and Jake Toolson. But Pope and his staff replenished the roster with several intriguing newcomers, including 7-foot-3 Purdue transfer Matt Haarms, who was considered one of the biggest prizes of the available fifth-year seniors in college basketball during the offseason.

Unlike many programs around the country, the Cougars have been on campus since June, holding voluntary workouts, weight training and limited practice sessions.

Here are five key storylines to watch for as practices open:

Can BYU approximate its stellar offensive efficiency and 3-point shooting from last season?
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
BYU guard Alex Barcello points back at teammate Dalton Nixon (33) after hitting a 3-point shot as BYU and Weber State at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019.

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BYU led the nation in 3-point shooting (42.2%), was No. 2 in assist/turnover ratio, No. 3 in field goal percentage, No. 4 in 3-point field goals per game and No. 5 in assists per game.

BYU was the only team in the nation to shoot higher than 40% from 3-point range and seven Cougars improved their 3-point shooting from the previous season. BYU rocketed from No. 46 the previous season to No. 7 a year ago in offensive efficiency.

While the results were better than expected, this didn’t happen by accident. The Cougar coaching staff has credited the players for that success. The coaches emphasized to their players the importance of “owning your shot” and sharing the ball.

That philosophy will continue, just with a bunch of different players. What will be the results?

One player that will be counted on is senior guard Alex Barcello, who averaged 9.3 points and shot 48.6% from beyond the arc a year ago.

How will Matt Haarms change the way BYU plays?
Michael Conroy, Associated Press
Purdue center Matt Haarms celebrates during …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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