What BYU coach Mark Pope liked about his new-look team during the Blue & White scrimmage
Rudi Williams led all scorers with 19 points, Gideon George added 18 and Fousseyni Traore finished with 15. The Blue team was led by Jaxson Robinson’s 16 points
BYU coach Mark Pope unveiled his new-look team Wednesday night at the Marriott Center with the annual Blue & White scrimmage.
While Pope is still trying to learn about his players, and trying to implement a new, up-tempo style, his goals for the scrimmage were simple and straightforward.
“No. 1, I wanted them to get through it healthy. Minus some cramps, we did. That’s the most exciting thing for me tonight,” he said. “I was also excited just to let the guys be out there in an environment with people in the gym. There’s so many new guys, we don’t have a lot of guys that are used to that.”
The White team defeated the Blue squad 78-65 in front of a few thousand fans.
For the White team, Rudi Williams led all scorers with 19 points, Gideon George added 18 and Fousseyni Traore finished with 15. Williams grabbed four rebounds and had four assists. George and Traore each had eight boards.
The Blue team was led by Jaxson Robinson’s 16 points on 7 of 19 shooting from the floor. Atiki Ally Atiki recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Dallin Hall chipped in 12 points with eight rebounds and three assists and two steals.
On Wednesday, the Cougars combined to make 14 of 53 3-pointers. Williams, Robinson, Hall, Noah Waterman and Tanner Toolson knocked down two apiece.
Despite the poor shooting performance, Pope said he’s not concerned.
“It’s a good-shooting group with a long track record of shooting the ball well. I think it was super important just to get out there, wearing a jersey with lights on and people in the stands. It was super great,” he said. “Our shot selection will continue to improve. We need to earn ourselves better shots. That’s something that we’ve been focused on the past couple of days and it will be a big push for us the next 10 days. These guys can really shoot it and I’m excited about their potential there.”
In what was something of a surprise, Ally Atiki buried a 3-pointer. He said that could be part of his game this season.
“I would say so because I’ve been working on it a lot over the summer. I’ve been shooting a lot of 3s,” Ally Atiki said. “I feel more comfortable when shooting 3s. I’m not going to shoot them all the time but when I’m wide open, I’m going to let it go.”
Pope joked that Ally Atiki’s 3-point shooting was supposed to be a “secret weapon” to unleash on unsuspecting opponents, but now everybody now knows what Ally Atiki can do beyond the arc.
Waterman, who’s 6-foot-11, also enjoys playing on the perimeter.
“I like shooting a lot. When I’m on the court, I like pick and pops,” he said. “I love this team because when I attack, there’s Atiki or Fouss right by the rim so I can throw it up to them.”
Defensively, the two teams combined for 18 steals. And in the first half, George showed off his defensive abilities in impressive fashion with two blocked shots in one sequence.
“That was good,” Ally Atiki said of George’s blocks. “He just came from nowhere and got that ball. We need those in the games.”
Last weekend, BYU played a “secret scrimmage” against Stanford. Pope said he can’t talk much about it, other than it was helpful.
“Every time we’re together we learn a lot. That’s why those scrimmages are so useful, because you get on the floor against a proven quantity.”
Guard Trevin Knell did not play because he’s recovering from shoulder surgery. He is expected to be sidelined for at least a few months.
Pope was happy about what his team got done Wednesday.
“All in all, I thought we made some progress,” he said. “We got some really good film to digest. I think we’re going to get better and better and better.”
The Cougars will play an exhibition game against Ottawa (Arizona) next Wednesday. BYU officially opens the season Nov. 7 at home against Idaho State.