PROVO — Heath Schroyer’s return to BYU was short-lived but he made a major impact on the basketball program in the short time he was there.
BYU basketball spokesperson Kyle Chilton confirmed Thursday that Schroyer is moving on, having accepted the head coaching job at McNeese State.
Schroyer, who joined coach Dave Rose’s staff last spring as associate head coach, brought a new approach to the Cougars, with an emphasis on valuing possessions and playing strong defense.
What was Schroyer’s influence on BYU basketball this season? The Cougars ended their season with a first-round NIT loss at Stanford on Wednesday night.
“What Heath has done the best for us is a combination of two things. One, he’s come in and filled a spot on our staff kind of seamlessly,” Rose said earlier this year. “The transition was really easy. A lot of that is Heath’s personality and a lot of it is credibility — where he’s been and what he’s done.
"You look at what he’s done for the players in his consistent approach. The guys have bought into it. His credibility has been there from Day One. His consistency from day to day as far as what he expects and the accountability from each of the guys has been a real bonus for us.”
Prior to his latest tour of duty at BYU — he was an assistant with Rose under Steve Cleveland in Provo from 1997-2001 — Schroyer served as the head coach at Portland State, Wyoming and UT Martin.
It figured that it was only a matter of time that Schroyer got another shot at running his own program.
Schroyer, the assistant head coach at North Carolina State from 2016-17, brought a fresh perspective to the staff.
“His analogy was that he wanted to put the car up on stilts and for me and him to look up under the hood and get this thing more efficient,” Schroyer said of Rose. “He wanted me to tell him the truth and what I thought and what I saw.”
As part of a renewed focus on defense, Schroyer implemented a new stat, known as a “kill.” A kill is when a team gets three defensive stops in a row.
“We get into five, six, seven kills, we have a really, really good chance of winning,” Schroyer said during the season. “When we don’t, we’re down into that two or three or four, it’s hard for us and that goes for any team, especially in January and February. We talk about it from Day One.”
Schroyer’s influence wasn’t just on the defensive end, however.
“It’s not football. You don’t huddle or sub after every play. The game flows,” Schroyer said. “I didn’t want to come back (to BYU) and say, ‘That’s all that you do.’ Our staff talks about everything on both sides of the ball. It’s important for the staff and players to know we’re all on the same page.”
Forward Payton Dastrup said Schroyer brought passion and accountability to the program.
“I would say his biggest impact has been bringing a desire to play for each other, to hold each other accountable, to be passionate,” Dastrup said this season. “From Day One, he was high energy during the summer workouts, through practices and in games. I’m sure people have been able to see a little of that on the sideline.
"What they see during the games is what we get every day in practice. It’s been refreshing to have someone that’s as motivated and has as much of a desire as we do to work hard and execute to the best of our abilities and that’s what produced the record that we have this season.”
Schroyer replaced assistant Terry Nashif, who went into private business after last season.
Among the possible candidates to replace Schroyer include former Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson, who is a longtime friend of members of BYU’s coaching staff, and Lee Cummard, a former Cougar star who has spent the past two seasons as a graduate assistant.