Danny Ainge compliments BYU football players at women’s basketball game

Cougars looking to win fourth straight game as they face Georgia Southern on the road Saturday.

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, former Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge speaks with members of the media during NBA basketball media day Monday,, in Canton, Mass. Ainge attended a BYU women's basketball game and spoke to a couple of Cougars wide receivers, complimenting them on their talents. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Some of the BYU football team took in the women’s basketball team’s 55-44 afternoon win over Arizona State, and those players got to spend some time with a Cougars men’s basketball legend.

Former star Danny Ainge attended the women’s basketball game Wednesday afternoon. Ainge recently retired from being the president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics, so it appears he has some extra time on his hands.

Sometime during the women’s basketball game, Cougars wide receivers Samson and Puka Nacua had a conversation with Ainge, who spoke to them about their ability to adjust on the fly and make tough catches.

“That was one of the compliments that he had given us,” Puka Nacua said Wednesday. “That’s something that me and Samson and our entire receiving room prides ourself in is going to make those high-point balls. It’s not easy having a defender dragged on you or having to take your momentum and go backwards and to make that catch.”

Ainge played as a shooting guard with the Cougars from 1977 to 1981. He was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 1991.

A BYU communications official told The Salt Lake Tribune that Ainge has also attended several football games this season.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Aaron Roderick, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach joins coaches, players and staff participating in BYU football media day in the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Cougars focusing on mentality more than Xs and Os for Georgia Southern

Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick just wants BYU to be ready to play.

The Cougars had a bye week before their game Saturday on the road against Georgia Southern. They’ll be dealing with the absence of wide receiver Neil Pau’u, who has a lower leg injury that potentially will keep him out for the rest of the season. It’ll also be Georgia Southern’s Senior Day.

“To me, this game is more about our mindset, our preparation and showing up on Saturday,” Roderick said. “You can’t wait around to get punched in the mouth by somebody before you start playing. You’ve got to be ready right from the opening kickoff. So I’m way more concerned about that than any scheme or anything like that.”

The Eagles have lost four of their previous five games, but are coming off a win over Texas State. They’ve also been working under an interim head coach for the previous eight games after Chad Lunsford was fired early in the season. Former USC coach Clay Helton was hired earlier this month, but it does not appear that he’ll take over coaching the team in games until after the 2021 season.

Roderick said the team’s practices this week have been lively, and singled out Gunner Romney and Miles Davis as players who look particularly spry.

“There’s a lot of guys who look fresher,” Roderick said. “I think they’re excited to play again.”

The No. 14 Cougars are looking to win their fourth straight game. In order to keep that winning streak alive, Freshman tight end Issac Rex said the Cougars simply need to keep doing what has been working lately, which is playing hard and executing their assignments.

“They’re a really good team ... and we can’t take them lightly,” Rex said. “We have to come out ready to go.”

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