SAN FRANCISCO — BYU had a special guest courtside Thursday night, and he was there to criticize his old team.
Jackson Emery declared he would at least do it when he saw fit. The former BYU defensive standout — an area of play he's been harsh in detailing his frustrations on social media in recent weeks — was part of the KSL Radio broadcast for the Cougars' game at War Memorial Gym.
Emery, who now works in sales for Domo back in Utah County, was invited several weeks ago when it became apparent that Wrubell's normal sidekick, Mark Durrant, wouldn't be able to make a few weeknight West Coast Conference games. Emery is no stranger to interviews, but this was his first live analyst gig.
"I definitely think I'll be complimentary," Emery told the Daily Herald several hours before tipoff, on his way to the team's War Memorial Gym shoot-around to do a little more research. "This team's had a lot of high ups, though, and a lot of low downs."
Most peculiar to Emery, or most other former Cougars for that matter, was a four-game losing streak that included the first two games of WCC play.
Emery, for one, called out his old school for a lack of urgency. Teams Emery played on never lost more than two in a row, and even that was rare.
Former BYU standout Travis Hansen, who keeps in touch regularly with BYU head coach as well, has basically been on the same side of the Twitter fence as Emery.
Basically, they say, the Cougars have a ton of potential but weren't living up to it through scattered basketball and focus.
Those views have certainly changed as BYU is in the midst of a four-game winning streak, including the 83-76 win at San Francisco.
Emery also points out the team's relative newness.
"This is a team that hasn't played much with each other," Emery said. "But they're starting to figure it out. You see glimpses of the old ways at times, but it's been getting better."
He was particularly critical of the Cougars during a December loss at Utah, when Emery called out BYU for a lack of "understanding what a rivalry is, and how hard the Utes were going to play."
Emery is still close to some current Cougars, like the four fellow Lone Peak standouts (Eric Mika, Tyler Haws, Nate Austin and Josh Sharp) and also played with Matt Carlino (redshirting that year) and Anson Winder. He also knows Kyle Collinsworth quite well, he said.
But he was learning about the rest of the Cougars.
This is a new role for Emery, who said he deliberately stayed off Facebook and Twitter, among other Internet avenues, to avoid what was being said about him and fellow teammates during his playing days (Emery graduated with Jimmer Fredette in 2011).
"Maybe what surprises people a little," Emery said when asked about keyboard criticism he's dished out during BYU's harder times, "is my passion for BYU basketball. But I know coach (Dave) Rose loves the passion, and he also understands I love the guys, too. It's hard love at times. But I'd do anything for the guys."
Emery was due to return home Friday morning, with Durrant rejoining Wrubell for the Saturday game.
Next Thursday, Hansen gets a chance to call a radio game of the Cougars at Portland.
∫Tip-ins: BYU has scored more points in the second half of every game this season. It was 49-34 this time...USF easily took care of the rebounding edge, 40-24; that includes a 19-9 cushion on the offensive glass. ...Skyler Halford has started the last four games. He had a string of 10 consecutive misses, over three games, before finishing 3-of-9 from the field and 11-of-12 from the line.