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Belated Christmas wish list for BYU men’s basketball

By Darnell Dickson - | Dec 26, 2021

The 2021-22 BYU men's basketball team poses for a photo wearing Santa hats.

What I really want to give Mark Pope and the BYU men’s basketball team for Christmas is beyond my abilities.

The Cougars could certainly benefit from a healthy Richard Harward and a healthy Gavin Baxter, but alas, I’m no magician or doctor and certainly no Santa Claus.

As BYU prepares for West Coast Conference play, here’s a few things on the team’s Christmas wish list. Since I am not in Hawaii and don’t have access to what Christmas morning looked like for the Cougars, this is purely speculative.

A championship

It still seems crazy that the BYU men’s basketball program hasn’t won a regular-season league title since 2011 and are without a conference tournament crown since 2001. So firstly, let’s wish the Cougars one of those. Being in a conference with Gonzaga has made that difficult, and with BYU moving to the Big 12 in 2023-24, it won’t get any easier.

More success in the transfer portal:

Last year, the additions of Matt Haarms and Brandon Averette worked out very well for the Cougars. This year’s portal additions, Te’Jon Lucas and Seneca Knight, have been up and down but there’s a lot of season left to play. Coaching staff across America are learning quickly that good work in the transfer portal can make or break a season.

A Green Bay Packers Super Bowl for assistant coach Cody Feuger

Notice I just wrote, “Super Bowl,” not “Super Bowl title.” The Packers will have to wrestle it away from my Cowboys. I’ve got to stay true to my allegiances.

A victory against Gonzaga

Everyone remembers how special it was when BYU took down the Zags in Provo during the 2019-20 season right before the pandemic shut everything down. I think the Marriott Center and the ROC is still recovering from that party. Gonzaga is still fantastically talented but a good shooting night could result in an upset for the Cougars. And speaking of shooting …

No “trap game” losses

The Cougars simply can’t afford to drop games to low-rated WCC teams and expect to make the NCAA Tournament. Here’s to Pope and his staff having their guys ready for everybody.

That 3-point shooting magic

BYU has gotten better over the last few weeks from beyond the arc. A 3-for-19 performance against Liberty was kind of a stinker but the Cougars found a way to win anyway, which is a plus.

More growth

The loss of Harward and Baxter have accelerated the need for freshman Fousseyni Traore, sophomore Caleb Lohner and freshman Atiki Ally Atiki to learn on the go. Traore was BYU’s most valuable player in the Diamond Head Classic, finishing the three games with 39 points and 37 rebounds.

A favorable spot in the NCAA Tournament

Everyone knows that the tournament is all about matchups. Last year, BYU got a bad draw with UCLA and the Bruins got all the way to the Final Four. Here’s to 2021 playing in the Cougars’ favor.

Some spare time for family in 2022

Specifically, for assistant coach Chris Burgess, who will have to carve out some time next fall to watch daughter KJ play at the University of Utah in her freshman year and his other daughter Zoey in her junior campaign at Lone Peak.

In fact, when Pope was asked about his Christmas wish, he said he got it when his entire family was together for Christmas. That they are together in Hawaii is an added bonus.

Finally, the men’s basketball team joined up, dressed in Santa hats, to sing “Jingle Bells” on Twitter for Christmas.

You know how teams have guys who bring up the GPA? The Cougars need some guys with a little more singing ability.

Don’t quit your day job, guys.

Just kidding.

Hope you had a great Christmas.

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