While BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe continues to work his magic creating a new football schedule amidst the coronavirus epidemic, Cougar men’s basketball assistant Nick Robinson is faced with a similarly challenging task.
College basketball for 2020 is still very much a guessing game right now. The Pac-12 has indicated it won’t play any basketball games until January of 2021 and other leagues are still waiting to make decisions.
“We’re looking at our options,” Robinson said. “We’ll see what happens come September. We’ve had conversations with other schools and have options A, B and C to move forward accordingly.”
The NCAA will provide an adjusted time line to college basketball programs in mid-September, so Robinson said he is going forward with scheduling for early November.
“Coach (Mark) Pope has a vision for scheduling,” Robinson said. “We hoped it would be finished a little bit sooner this summer but we’ve adapted and adjusted. We’ve worked really hard as a staff to put together a great schedule that will challenge our team and be exciting for the fans. This time around we’ve got other factors in play. Right now, the NCAA is considering a lot of different options for start dates as well as how games might be played given the current landscape.”
Pope has always been aggressive in scheduling: He is, after all, the coach who while at Utah Valley agreed to play “The Toughest 24 Hours of Basketball” with back-to-back road games at Kentucky and Duke. Last season, BYU played such notable names as San Diego State, Houston, UCLA, Kansas, Virginia Tech and Utah in the preseason.
This summer, BYU had games against Utah, Arizona State and Oregon lined up for the preseason before the Pac-12 opted to kick the can down the road until January.
“Coach Pope wants to prepare our team for the West Coast Conference,” Robinson said. “In addition we want to prepare ourselves to play in the NCAA Tournament. His goal each year when it comes to scheduling is to play the best teams in the best venue. We want to have the opportunity to challenge ourselves and our team to be our best. We’re always seeking Top 25 teams and we want them to play in the Marriott Center.”
The Cougars had also been planning to play at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas, which is scheduled for Nov. 17-21 in a field consisting of BYU, Tulsa, Boston College and George Mason.
Last year, the Cougars were 6-5 on the road, 4-2 at neutral sites and 14-1 in the Marriott Center.
Meanwhile, BYU continues to participate in small groups and individual workouts in the Marriot Center Annex. There are eight new players on the roster, including grad transfers Matt Haarms (Purdue) and Brandon Averette (UVU), junior college transfers Gideon George, Spencer Johnson and Brandon Warr and freshmen Hunter Erickson, Caleb Lohner and Townsend Tripple.
“We’re so fortunate here at BYU to have great young men who are so excited about the game of basketball,” Robinson said. “They buy into Coach Pope’s vision about getting better every day and establishing the best locker room in America again. This summer we’ve done a lot of Zoom conferences and small group workouts. The players have done a great job getting to know one another and they are working to establish quite a bit of chemistry off the floor.
“It’ll all change once we have the opportunity for 5-on-5 and regular practice. That chemistry will have to be built and established every season regardless of who is on the roster.”