Provo • While TJ Haws and Evan Troy had been a bit under the weather lately, they both managed to eat some food Sunday — and keep it down. Coach Mark Pope said they’ll have to see what their endurance is like, but both should be able to play in Tuesday’s season opener.
The Cougars host Cal State Fullerton, 7 p.m. at Marriott Center.
And there’s more positive news on the health front: Zaz Seljaas is looking to return to the team soon. Pope joked that Seljaas, who broke his foot during the team’s tour of Italy and underwent surgery, didn’t fall over during Monday’s practice.
But while BYU has taken two steps forward just as the season is starting, the Cougars were also forced to take a step back.
Sophomore guard Jesse Wade will undergo surgical debridement Tuesday for his knee, an issue Wade has been dealing with since January. Depending on the results of the procedure, Wade could come back to play in six weeks or will need to be out six months.
“We kind of tried everything,” Pope said. “So, this is like a last-ditch effort to see if there's a way that can help kind of relieve him some of his discomfort.”
The Cougars aren’t strangers to losing players to illness, injury or NCAA probations. Over the offseason, senior forward Yoeli Childs was handed a nine-game suspension due to a paperwork snafu after withdrawing from the NBA draft.
After Seljaas’ injury, Haws underwent minor knee surgery that kept him out during the start of training camp and then Gavin Baxter suffered a possible season-ending shoulder injury.
With the change in players available and a thin roster, Pope has had to reorganize the starting lineup multiple times. And the lineup will continue to get adjusted, even after the season opener.
“This will be really interesting to see where we are and how together our guys are,” Pope said. “With the lineup changing — a lot of future changes and past changes — we’ve also kind of been more free with trying different looks offensively and defensively. These guys have been exposed to more in the last six weeks, in the last three months, than I would ever expose the team to. … I’m interested to see how cohesive we are and how together we are with all those changes.”
As most teams do in the pre-conference portion of the schedule, the Titans are most likely still sorting out their lineup. Pope said the BYU staff has had to put more work into scouting, especially since CSUF’s best player may be grad transfer Brandon Kamga.
The first-year coach had to get film from High Point to study up on the guard.
Even though the Cougars have been struggling to find cohesiveness, grad transfer Jake Toolson said the juggling lineup has helped better the team.
“It's been a good opportunity just to play with a bunch of different lineups, see how things work on the floor together,” Toolson said. “I think the great thing is we can throw any guy in any position and we know what to do.”
Sophomore guard Connor Harding said the biggest thing the team can do right now is just start playing and start finding their identity.
And now it’s just time to get the season started — and the players couldn’t be more excited.
“I mean, it’s the best time of the year, right? We’ve got the holidays, we’ve got basketball — we have everything we could ever ask for right now,” Toolson said. “It’s right in front of us and we’ve just got to go get it.”
CAL STATE FULLERTON AT BYU
At Marriott Center, Provo, Utah
Tipoff » Tuesday, 7 p.m. MT
TV » BYUtv
Radio » BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2; BYU Sports Network; 102.7 FM/1160 AM
All-time series » tied 3-3
Last meeting » CSUF 75, BYU 67 (Nov. 22, 1996)
About BYU » Mark Pope begins his first season as BYU’s head coach, the 19th coach in program history. .. The Cougars defeated Texas-Tyler in an exhibition game last Friday, 100-58. … Freshmen Trevin Knell hit 5 of 6 from 3 for 19 points to lead the BYU offense. … BYU is 83-32 all-time in season openers and 93-24 in home openers.
About CSUF » The Titans finished the 2018-19 season with a 16-18 record and made it to the Big West Tournament Final for the second-straight year. … grad transfer Brandon Kamga scored 13.8 points per game, shot 35.1% from beyond the arc and nabbed 5.2 rebounds per game in his final season at High Point. … The Titans lost their pre-season exhibition to Cal State Dominguez Hills, 83-76, Oct. 31.