BYU’s young basketball team just got a little younger and less experienced — due to Trevin Knell’s injury
One of BYU’s returning guards that didn’t participate in Monday’s practice was Knell, who has undergone rotator cuff surgery.
Under the Marriott Center lights, the BYU basketball team held its first official practice of the 2022-23 season Monday night.
BYU legend Danny Ainge, currently an executive for the Utah Jazz, was in attendance and the practice was broadcast live on BYUtv.
Actually, the Cougars tipped things off early Monday morning as part of two-a-day sessions. It’s a preseason tradition that coach Mark Pope is continuing as he heads into his fourth season at the helm.
Unlike his previous three squads, this group is young. Let’s just say they put the “young” in Brigham Young.
“I don’t like having a young team. I’d prefer to never have a young team,” Pope said. “Young teams don’t win very often. But I’m super excited about working with this team.”
Pope has a bevy of newcomers like transfers Noah Waterman (Detroit Mercy) and Jaxson Robinson (Arkansas); freshmen returned missionaries Dallin Hall, Richie Saunders and Tanner Toolson; as well as Braeden Moore, a freshman who’s just graduated from high school.
This is Pope’s first Cougar team without three-year starting guard Alex Barcello.
“I think they’re an incredibly willing group. We’ve got a group that’s going to work really hard and compete really hard. We’re trying to find a way to play with some real pace, some explosive pace.” — BYU coach Mark Pope
And BYU has gotten even a little more younger, and less experienced, due to an injury.
One of the returning guards that didn’t participate Monday was junior Trevin Knell, who underwent rotator cuff surgery and may not be available until WCC play in January or February.
“It’s pretty devastating for us,” Pope said.
Knell’s shoulder has been injured for a while.
“He had some pain all year last year. Then we kind of sat him and tried to treat it — every alternative therapy and nothing seemed to work,” Pope said. “So eventually he had the surgery. He’ll be back 100%, full speed. It was unfortunate. It was something he had to do.”
With Knell sidelined, it opens the door of opportunity for the freshmen guards.
“It puts a lot of pressure on those guys,” Pope said. “But they’re ready.”
Pope said the process is still ongoing for Robinson and Waterman to receive NCAA waivers to be eligible this season after transferring.
After Day 1 of practices, how does Pope describe his team’s identity?
“I think they’re an incredibly willing group. We’ve got a group that’s going to work really hard and compete really hard. We’re trying to find a way to play with some real pace, some explosive pace,” he said. “We’re trying to turn into a much more disruptive team. I think that will be really important for us to be able to survive. This is going to be a fun group to coach because they’ll be fully invested in what we’re trying to do.”
Pope enjoys holding two-a-day practices, something that is rare this days in college basketball.
“It’s really old school. I don’t know of anyone that does it anymore. We talk about sacrifice all the time here. About making things sacred,” he said. “The fact that these guys are going to get to bed at 11 o’clock tonight and then get up at 5 o’clock and be back in the gym and run this back again tomorrow and the next day and the next day … things aren’t just sacred. You make them sacred by sacrificing and putting in the work. This team wants to make this season sacred. So this is how we do it. We honor this game by putting in the work.”
And with such a young team, there’s plenty of work to do before the Cougars open the season Nov. 7 at home against Idaho State.