By now, BYU is well acquainted with the different types of difficulties the pandemic presents. After all, the Cougars, plagued by postponements and unable to lock down replacement games, will have gone nine days without any action when they face Pacific Thursday on the road.
But could BYU decide to opt out of the West Coast Conference tournament altogether?
It seems that’s a possibility, according to John Canzano. The Oregonian columnist tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that both Gonzaga and BYU are considering skipping the WCC tourney.
“Nothing in it for either program, except risk of injury, bad loss and infection,” Canzano said in his tweet. “They’re both NCAA Tournament bound regardless. WCC ADs are talking about this.”
A few hours later, on BYUtv’s Tuesday night’s Coaches Show, host Greg Wrubell asked BYU coach Mark Pope about the report. Pope was unable to give a straight answer, but alluded they could take that route.
“I understand the thought of — the idea right now from the NCAA is, we’re going to do a seven-day testing period to qualify to actually go to the NCAA Tournament,” Pope said. “From the Zags’ perspective, they have one goal in mind … and that’s to win a NCAA championship. There’s that weighing of what could actually get in the way of us having a real shot to do that right now. I think it’s legitimate for that to be considered. What the final answer is or outcome is — I don’t know what’s right. … But certainly you understand the question, for sure. And these are questions we need to consider.”
With the answer left slightly open-ended, Wrubell doubled down and asked Pope if it is his intent to play in Las Vegas at the WCC Tournament. The second-year head coach said he’s focused on Thursday’s game.
So what kind of impact would skipping the WCC Tourney have on the Cougars?
The pros to that potential situation are pretty obvious. BYU is still projected to be a NCAA Tournament team and, although not ranked in the Associated Press poll, is solidly in the top 40 of highly-used ranking systems: Net (29), KPI (22), SOR (29), BPI (33), KenPom (31) and Sagarin (26).
And, as Canzano said, BYU could avoid injury, infection or a loss by not going to Las Vegas. So it seems there wouldn’t be much negative impact on BYU should the Cougars skip the WCC Tournament, beyond annoying conference officials.
The biggest con that could surface from such a decision would be the loss of momentum.
As the postseason continues to near, it’s important for any team to stay game ready. However, the Cougars have already gone through large periods of time without playing. So they’re no strangers to how to best overcome that particular obstacle.
Plus, the pandemic has proven to be an obstacle for teams all over the nation.
“We’ve been this close to several games where we’ve actually flown out and the game hasn’t happened,” Pope said. “That’s the point of intent right now. We’re kind of taking it minute by minute, that’s why it’s a little bit silly for anyone to imagine they could set anything in stone right now.”