Provo • Friday’s exhibition game against Texas-Tyler might be Mark Pope’s inaugural game as the BYU men’s basketball head coach, but it definitely won’t be his introduction to Cougar fans. Pope, who spent the last four years with the neighboring Utah Valley program as the Wolverines head coach, served as an assistant coach on the BYU staff 2011-2015.
However, it will serve as a glimpse of how the team is transitioning to the new leadership after the 14-year era of Dave Rose. It should also give fans a look at how the team will replace Yoeli Childs during the first nine games of the season for his NCAA suspension.
The Cougars are coming off a closed scrimmage with Cal. After the scrimmage, both teams stuck around for a half-court segment to keep working out some kinks. However, Pope wasn't able to nail down his starting lineup then, instead choosing to play Childs a bit before being benched at the start of the season.
But the closed scrimmage did inspire confidence in the first-year coach and the team.
“I think my takeaway is that, as a team, we have a chance to surprise people,” Pope said. “We have a chance to do some things done. It’s going to take some time, we’re going to have to really, really learn each other, but we have a chance at the end of the day to be a pretty good team.”
BYU opens the 2019-20 season Tuesday at home against Cal State Fullerton.
TEXAS-TYLER AT BYU
At the Marriott Center, Provo
Tipoff: Friday, 7 p.m.
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Series history: First meeting
About Texas-Tyler: Team is coming off an 88-47 exhibition loss to Utah on Wednesday. … Louis Wilson is starting his first season as the Patriots head coach. … Texas-Tyler will open the regular season in Utah, playing Westminster College and Dixie State. … The Patriots finished 8-17 last season on their way to moving to NCAA Division II.
About BYU: Mark Pope will be making his coaching debut at BYU after a successful four-year run at Utah Valley. … Pope led the Wolverines to back-to-back 20-win seasons, including a program-record 25 in 2018-19, and three straight trips to the postseason. … The Cougars roster is highlighted by three players that have earned first-team all-conference honors, including Yoeli Childs (All-WCC First Team in 2018 and 2019), TJ Haws (All_WCC First Team in 2017, Second Team in 2019) and Jake Toolson (WAC Player of the Year and All-WAC First Team in 2019).