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Mark Pope Finishes Year One At BYU With Top Five Offense

Mar 16, 2020, 3:54 PM
BYU Basketball - Mark Pope...
Courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey

PROVO, Utah – BYU men’s basketball head coach Mark Pope wrapped up his first season in Provo leading one of college basketball’s top offenses.

Pope and the Cougars finished the season with a No.14 national ranking and a 24-8 record.

BYU ended the 2019-20 campaign with college basketball’s third-most efficient offense, according to Synergy Basketball.

In 32 games, the Cougars recorded 1.039 points per possession. Only the No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs and No. 3 Dayton Flyers posted better numbers per possession than BYU.

BYU and the NCAA Tournament

Unfortunately, for Pope, his team, and BYU fans, the question of how far the Cougars could have gone in the NCAA Tournament with their high-octane offense will never be answered.

Due to concerns of coronavirus, the NCAA canceled its annual basketball tournaments on Thursday, March 12.

“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” the NCAA said in a statement.

ESPN’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi had the Cougars slated a No. 6 seed.

 

The Cougars almost certainly would have heard “BYU” as the Selection Sunday broadcast named the 68-team field for the NCAA Tournament.

BYU head coach Mark Pope made sure he could give his guys that experience.

Pope tweeted out a video that featured the Selection Sunday graphics from the broadcast and CBS’ Greg Gumbel, Clark Kellogg, and Seth Davis discussing BYU’s bid to the dance.

In the video, CBS Sports college basketball analyst Seth Davis said Pope’s squad was his dark horse team for the Final Four.

Pope’s First Campaign

BYU had overcome all of the hurdles thrown their way from suspensions, coaching changes, injuries, sicknesses saw the season come to a close with a 24-8 record and No. 14 ranking when the NCAA announced they would be canceling the tournament that makes March one of the best on the sporting calendar.

“I think it’s been really dynamic and really unpredictable for everybody involved, especially over the last 48 hours,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope. “I think the toughest thing for me is that our locker room was really, really hard today. As you can imagine. Most of my thoughts are with my guys right now. This is really hard. It’s devastating for them. Especially my seniors.”

BYU had seven seniors on the 2019-20 roster and all of them had unique stories of facing adversity to try and lead BYU back to the NCAA Tournament. Pope was overcome with emotions when thinking about not having the opportunity to coach this group one more time as he reflected on what he learned from his first year as BYU’s head coach.

“There was nothing that could stop this team this year,” Pope said. “It wasn’t suspensions or injuries or a coaching change or roster overhaul or adversity or tough losses or an incredibly difficult schedule. The one thing that stopped this team this year was a pandemic. I do believe that this group was so committed there was nothing that could stop them besides something otherworldly.”

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