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The Cougars are eager to get back in the Marriott Center — in front of fans — for the Blue-White scrimmage

As the 2021-22 season fast approaches, newcomers to the program will get their first taste of Cougar Nation.

SHARE The Cougars are eager to get back in the Marriott Center — in front of fans — for the Blue-White scrimmage
BYU basketball coach Mark Pope and newcomer Te’Jon Lucas talk before practice at the Marriott Center in Provo, Oct. 21, 2021.

BYU basketball coach Mark Pope and newcomer Te’Jon Lucas talk before practice at the Marriott Center in Provo on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

The last time the BYU basketball team held an event for the general public at the Marriott Center, last February, only approximately 2,000 fans were allowed in the building, due to the pandemic.

That night, the Cougars beat Saint Mary’s on senior night in the final home game. COVID-19 prevented big crowds from watching BYU live last season. 

But now, it’s closer to being back to normal. 

On Friday at 7 p.m., BYU will stage a Blue vs. White scrimmage at the Marriott Center. Admission is free. 

Senior guard Alex Barcello is looking forward to newcomers like transfers Te’Jon Lucas and Seneca Knight playing in front of home fans for the first time.

“I’m excited for those guys to step foot in the Marriott and see Cougar Nation and play in front of them, it’s going to be fun,” Barcello said. “There’s a couple of guys last year that played that haven’t experienced it, either. It’s going to be fun. Guys will have a lot of energy.”

BYU is requiring masks in indoor venues when physical distancing is not maintained. Wearing a mask will be required for entry to indoor BYU venues, consistent with current Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU requirements.

When asked what he’s looking forward to most going into the 2021-22 season, center Richard Harward didn’t hesitate. 

“Fans back in the stands. That’s by far the biggest one. Last year was kind of a grind,” he said. “It kind of sucked. Not gonna lie. I’ll admit it. Athletes are vain. We like validation. We like it when people are cheering. That’s what I’m excited for.”

Friday will offer fans a first live look at this BYU team and the start of coach Mark Pope’s third season at the helm.

The Cougars return eight players from last year’s squad, which finished second in the West Coast Conference, posted a 20-7 record and earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Barcello and Caleb Lohner were both named to the All-WCC preseason team.

Pope can’t wait to see what his players can accomplish.

“I’m super excited about this team. We have depth again like we did last year, which is exciting. It’s a huge part of what we’re trying to do. We have incredible experience in the backcourt with two proven, tested veteran guys — even more so than last year,” Pope said. “Brandon Averette was a graduate transfer last year and was such a huge part of our team. It’s hard to remember this, but a year ago at this time, everybody was saying, ‘Well can Alex Barcello really be a point guard?’ That’s clearly been settled.

“This Te’Jon Lucas adds such an incredible dynamic to our team. … We’re long through the middle between Gideon (George), Caleb, Seneca and Gavin (Baxter). That’s super exciting. It’s a fun team, exciting group.”  

BYU will host an exhibition game against Colorado Christian on Nov. 4. The Cougars officially tip off the season Nov. 9 at the Marriott Center against Cleveland State.