Provo • Coach Dave Rose’s BYU basketball team held its first official practice of preseason training camp on Monday at the Marriott Center. To say it was different than in Rose’s first 12 seasons would be an understatement.
There’s a new deputy, but a familiar face, in town, and his name is Heath Schroyer.
“It was very intense,” said sophomore forward Yoeli Childs. “He is on every single guy, every single play. He is a perfectionist, and I love that. If there is one little thing you do wrong, you are running.”
Obviously, there was a lot of running. And yelling, which hasn’t exactly been heard a lot in past years at practice.
“I mean, I am used to it,” said junior guard Elijah Bryant. “My AAU coach was a screamer, so screaming doesn’t bother me. But I loved it. I think holding everyone accountable just allows for more success.”
Rose said Thursday that Schroyer, who was his fellow assistant under Steve Cleveland from 1997 to 2001 at BYU, is associate head coach. Tim LaComb is assistant head coach and Quincy Lewis is assistant coach. But their roles won’t be defined as much as they have been in the past before Terry Nashif left the profession to enter private business.
That’s part of what persuaded Schroyer, who has been a head coach at Wyoming (2007-11), Portland State (2002-05) and Tennessee-Martin (2014-16) to rejoin the Cougars staff.
“I just told coach that whatever I can do to help, I will,” said Schroyer, who was an assistant at North Carolina State last season. “I just want to be a part of it. … Dave wanted to put the car up on stilts and for me and him to look under the hood and try to get this thing more efficient.”
From Monday’s practice, it is evident that Schroyer will bring a more hard-nosed, aggressive approach to BYU’s defensive play.
“We have to have a chip on our shoulder defensively,” he acknowledged. “When they get mad when someone scores on them, you are starting to get there.”
Schroyer, who promises he won’t lose his voice from all the yelling, has already instituted a defensive goal that he calls a kill. Three stops in a row constitutes a kill, and Schroyer believes that if a team can get seven kills in a game, it won’t lose.
Overall, “I think we have some talented pieces,” Schroyer said of his early impressions of the team. “These kids work extremely hard. I have been really impressed.”
Andrus on mend
Twelve of BYU’s 13 scholarship athletes practiced on Monday. Sophomore returned missionary Ryan Andrus was there, but didn’t practice as he recovers from what Rose called “a procedure” on his knee last week. Andrus will be out a couple more weeks, Rose said.
The two other players on the 15-man squad are walk-ons: Weber State transfer McKay Cannon and guard Evan Troy, who has been elevated from the practice squad. Cannon has to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Bryant is back with bounce
The 6-foot-5 Bryant looked like a different player Monday than the one who finished the 2016-17 season hobbling on one leg. Offseason surgery corrected a meniscus tear, and Bryant was running and dunking freely at the Marriott Center.
“I think I just have two healthy knees now, so I can actually jump,” he said. “I just think being back to 100 percent healthy has helped a lot.”
Bryant still averaged 24.7 minutes, 11.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last year despite playing injured the entire season.
“I think the trials were tough, but they made me stronger and I have learned a lot from them,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am glad where I am right now.”