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Retired veteran coach Roger Reid breaks down new edition of BYU hoops

As Mark Pope kicks off BYU’s season, Roger Reid’s had a front-row seat to inspect his program

BYU’s Gavin Baxter, left, Spenser Johnson, Caleb Lohner, Richard Harward and Alex Barcello at practice at Marriott Center.
BYU’s Gavin Baxter, left, Spencer Johnson, Caleb Lohner, Richard Harward and Alex Barcello attend practice at the Marriott Center in Provo on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Let’s tap into Roger Reid’s head and what observations he’s made of Mark Pope and his 2021-22 edition of BYU basketball heading into the opening week against Cleveland State and San Diego State.

It’s been almost a decade since Reid retired as head coach at Southern Utah, where his team led the nation in free-throw shooting (79.6%) in 2009. It’s been 25 years since he was dismissed as the Cougars head coach with a 152-76 record and three WAC championships in seven seasons.

Reid’s teams were known for their execution, deliberate style, free-throw shooting and successful inbound plays that usually ended up in easy buckets. His record against rival Utah’s Rick Majerus was a positive figure.

In addition to attending several BYU team events and joining former coaches Frank Arnold, Steve Cleveland and Dave Rose, as well as former players at a program reunion, Reid joined Arnold and Former Naismith Award winner Danny Ainge at the team’s Blue-White scrimmage.

Pope has made a concerted effort to involve the former coaches who blazed the path for the facilities and program.

What’s Reid’s take on the 2021-22 Cougars, a glimpse through the eyes of a vet?

Reid isn’t making any predictions, he didn’t forecast wins and losses. What he did was describe the nitty-gritty of what a coach sees in practice.

“One of the things that impressed me the other night was the energy, the enthusiasm and the passion that they were playing with,” said Reid. “You could tell there is a tremendous amount of competition between the players and I could see just how hard they were playing.”

Second, Reid noticed something a lot of casual observers may not notice in a team as they’re looking for ballhandling, passing, 3-point shooting and drives or dunks.

“More impressive to me was watching how the players communicated. They communicated on offense and defense and their communication and verbals was very impressive. One of the hardest things for a coach to do is to get his players to communicate on defense. They might do it on one, two or three possessions, but they aren’t doing it the whole time, the entire game. This was very impressive to me because you win games when you talk and communicate.

“Basketball is a team game and a team has to talk in order to get the most out of a defensive effort. I like that.”

Reid had his share of talented players during his tenure at BYU, including Mike Smith and Jeff Chatman when he was an assistant coach to the late Ladell Andersen. He had Shawn Bradley for one season before the big star from Emery County left for the NBA as a first-round pick after a mission to Australia. He coached Nate Call, his sons Randy and Robbie, Marty Haws, Andy Toolson, Gary Furniss, Kevin Nixon and many others who experienced championships.

He was known for getting players like Gary Trost, Steve Schreiner and Kenny Roberts easy shots inside the key, many for layups.

Reid said in all his years being around BYU basketball, this year’s Cougars team has a unique trait.

Looking at returning senior guard Alex Barcello, transfers Te’Jon Lucas and Seneca Knight with freshmen Traore Fousseyni, Atiki Ally Atiki lined up with Gideon George, Gavin Baxter and sophomore Caleb Lohner and others, Reid said another thing stands out.

“I think they have more talent top to bottom than they’ve ever had on one team.”

In conclusion, said Reid, “They do have some athletic players that are quick, great jumpers, and also have the other balance, you know, good shooting too. I don’t want to say one is more important than the others, but Mark Pope has both.”