BYU Focusing On Itself While Waiting To Know Next Opponent

Mar 18, 2021, 9:53 AM
BYU Basketball - Mark Pope...
Courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball is one of four teams who do not know its opening-round opponent for the NCAA Tournament. This means that the Cougars are going to play the winner between No. 11 seeds Michigan State or UCLA.

It is called March Madness for a reason, and not knowing who the first opponent is for BYU is making prepping for its Saturday night game a little more difficult. However, on the other side, the Bruins and Spartans have just a day to prepare for BYU and also would have already played a game.

For the Cougars to get ready for this unique setup, they are just keeping it simple and are just going to focus on what they can control and that is themselves.

BYU assistant coach Cody Fueger joined KSL UnRiavled to discuss how the basketball team is getting ready for a to-be-determined foe.

“As a staff, what is the best way to break these down because we do not want to give them too much information where they are not confused. If we give too much on one team or too much on another team,” Fueger said from the NCAA Tournament bubble in Indianapolis. “We have been more focused on ourselves and on what we can do better as a team.

“Then we will shift into more Michigan State and UCLA as this week goes by and just the main keys on each team, and a couple of words on each player. Other than that, we just talk about us getting better every single day.”

Focusing too much on UCLA and Michigan State can really backfire with information overload and mixing up players and schemes from the two teams. Mark Pope and his staff have it right by focusing on their team with the majority of their game prep. It will switch into more specific game prep once BYU knows its opening-round opponent.

How Difficult Has This Season Been?

Technically, BYU is back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015 since last year’s tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This season there have been so many changes to the schedule with a limited non-conference slate and West Coast Conference play that at one point half of the conference was on pause due to COVID-19. The Cougars had some games rescheduled due to opponents having issues, and at one point had to literally had to turn around mid-flight when an opponent was unable to play the game.

Fueger gave his thoughts on how difficult this season has been for this BYU while also realizing how lucky these players are to have the chance to be in the NCAA Tournament this year after last season’s was canceled.

“I would say it has been draining at times but when you think about it we thought back to last year to those guys that should have gone to the NCAA Tournament but it just vanished,” Fueger said. “We have been thinking about that and bring that up, ‘We have been so lucky to playing right now.’

“We’ve taken a positive spin this year and have stayed fluid this year. We really only felt it once this year when we were flying to Pepperdine we were in the air and turned around in the air. One other incident that was a little draining was when we were going to shoot around at San Diego and told they had a positive test. We are just so lucky to be playing basketball right now.”

All BYU can do is now wait to see who they play in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State and UCLA tip-off on Thursday at 7:57 p.m. on TBS, and then BYU will face the winner Saturday night at 7:40 p.m. airing on CBS and be heard on KSL NewsRadio.

Tune into KSL Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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