In BYU coach Mark Pope’s inaugural season at the helm nearly two years ago, he held a Midnight Madness event at the Marriott Center in Provo as part of his team’s first public practice.
It ended with a “practice” court-storming for the thousands of fans in attendance — which ended up coming in handy months later when the Cougars upset No. 2 Gonzaga at the Marriott Center.
But Tuesday night, for the second consecutive season, BYU celebrated the first day of official college basketball practice by broadcasting it on BYUtv, without fans.
The Cougars’ first practice actually started at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning as part of its two-a-day sessions.
Both practices took place on campus at the Richards Building because the Marriott Center and the Marriott Center Annex weren’t available. The Marriott Center is being used for other activities, and the annex court is being repainted.
But BYU still got a lot of work done Tuesday in a spirited, high-tempo practice, which featured plenty of drills, running plays and scrimmaging.
“Every single day when you sit down as a coach, the first thing you grade and the last thing you grade and the middle thing you grade is effort. And our guys’ effort has been fantastic,” Pope told BYUtv. “Their effort and energy has been so good. That takes you a long way. Their commitment to trying to do it together is high-level. Those are probably the most important ingredients to having a chance at being a really good team.”
Knight received his NCAA waiver on Sept. 24 to be eligible this season.
Barcello is looking forward to playing with Lucas and Knight.
“They’re both phenomenal players and phenomenal guys. They’re really genuine guys; fun to be around,” said Barcello, who averaged 16.1 points last season. “I haven’t been around a team that hangs around with each other this much off the court. On the court, they are both players. They can create, they can shoot, they can pass, they can handle the ball. It’s going to be fun to play with them.”
Gavin Baxter, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of the 2020-21 campaign, participated in drills.
“Every single day when you sit down as a coach, the first thing you grade and the last thing you grade and the middle thing you grade is effort. And our guys’ effort has been fantastic.” — BYU head coach Mark Pope
Pope acknowledged that there’s plenty of work to be done before the season tips off.
“We have a lot of pieces that are talented guys that have different skill sets,” Pope said. “We’re not close to being functional yet. But I’m super hopeful and enthusiastic about this team. I think it’s going to be special group that can accomplish great things.”
The Blue & White game, an intrasquad scrimmage, will be held Oct. 29 at the Marriott Center.
The Cougars will play an exhibition game against Colorado Christian on Nov. 4 and will tip off the 2021-22 season on Nov. 9 at home against Cleveland State.
“It’s a fun team to play for. It’s a fun coaching staff to play for,” Barcello said. “We worked so hard this summer. It’s been fun to be a part of. I’m super excited about how this season is going to go.”