COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Basketball Is Finding Ways To Turn ‘Frustration Into Fight’

Jan 16, 2022, 2:06 AM | Updated: 2:32 am

BYU Basketball - Alex Barcello...

PROVO, UT - DECEMBER 29: Alex Barcello #13 of the Brigham Young Cougars brings the ball up the court against the Westminster Griffins during the first half of their game December 29, 2021 at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball put together an NCAA Tournament-building win by taking down an experienced San Francisco squad. The victory gives BYU a Quad One victory on their team sheet when the NCAA Selection Committee reviews the resume of Mark Pope’s team.

One thing you can’t find on the team sheet or any advanced stat is this BYU’s ability to turn “frustration into fight.”

“Frustration Into Fight”

It’s one of the many motto’s Pope program has, but it’s the one that stands out the most with this 2021-22 group. A team that stands 15-4 overall and 3-1 in West Coast Conference play after facing the toughest three-game stretch the conference has to offer (Saint Mary’s, at Gonzaga, at USF).

“These guys, man. You think about the leadership on this team and their ability to absorb frustration and just keep fighting, and keep fighting and keep fighting. It takes everybody,” said BYU coach Mark Pope who has yet to experience back-to-back losses in his three regular seasons in Provo.

At times, BYU’s Saturday night on the Hilltop appeared destined to finish with Pope’s first string of losses in a regular season. Especially with the foul discrepancy in the first half, the Dons attempted 15 free throws to BYU’s zero. Or the fact that San Francisco was outrebounding BYU.

But BYU’s young frontcourt, which had some big questions to answer after losing Gavin Baxter and Richard Harward to season-ending injuries/heart condition, stepped up in a game they had to win if they aspire to wear the white home uniforms in March Madness.

Caleb [Lohner] didn’t have much of an impact in the first half and the first ten minutes of the second half, but he sure made an impact in the last ten minutes of the second half. Trevin [Knell] made big plays. And how about Atiki Ally Atiki just being up for the fight? He’s a freshman big, and no part of him doesn’t want to engage in the fight; he doesn’t have fear. He just wants to compete and I’m so proud of him. And Fouss.”

Complete team effort

The growing pains that BYU and its young big men have gone through this season should pay big rewards down the road, maybe in March, especially when the Cougars transition into the Big 12 Conference in 2023-24. Pope and his program saw flashes of the rewards as BYU overcame a double-digit deficit to lock up a big win.

“We’re down ten and we’re kind of looking around just talking like, ‘hey, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight,'” said Pope. “This whole idea that we talk about, absorbing frustration and turning frustration into fight, this was an unbelievable example of it. So these are wins that are super inspiring and super special.”

Alex Barcello makes it happen for BYU Basketball

BYU’s frustration turning into a fight is made significantly easier when featuring an All-American guard in Alex Barcello. Pope will never mince words about how much “AB” makes him look better as a coach.

The third-year head coach at BYU has never won a game without Barcello in the lineup. The super-senior guard, who was dubbed college basketball’s best shooter by ESPN’s Jay Bilas earlier in the day, delivered another big performance by scoring a team-high 18 points, pulling down seven rebounds, and dishing out three assists.

“I think it was a great test to our physicality, to our fight. To our willingness to stay together, that’s huge,” said Barcello on the difficult stretch to open WCC play. “When you’re battling adversity and just being able to come off a loss [to Gonzaga] with just a 48-hour turnaround and being able to regroup as a whole, knowing everybody comes out of that game frustrated. But the way we were able to regroup after that, I think it was a huge test. It’s going to be a huge test going forward because we’re trying to win out the rest of the league. But we might battle another adversity, you know, there might come another loss. So the way that we handled it, I think that it was a good test over this last four-game stretch for us.”

Nothing is going to come easy for this BYU team moving forward. But, wins like the one on Saturday night give them a chance to believe they can overcome that frustration and turn it into something special at the season’s end.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

Cougar Tracks

BYU Football, Zach Wilson, Kalani Sitake, Signing Day...

Mitch Harper

Ranking BYU Football’s Best Players To Sign During The Kalani Sitake Era

The best players to sign with BYU football for Kalani Sitake from high school and the Transfer Portal.

6 months ago

Foster Pavilion, Baylor Bears, BYU Basketball, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Foster Pavilion Was Great Stage For BYU’s First Big 12 Road Game

Baylor's new $212 million home was a great setting for a Big 12 basketball game.

6 months ago

BYU Football, 12-Team Playoff, LJ Martin...

Mitch Harper

Three Things BYU Football Needs To One Day Reach 12-Team Playoff

The 12-team Playoff is coming in college football. What does BYU need to do to one day play in the bracket?

6 months ago

Big 12 Basketball, BYU, Dallin Hall...

Mitch Harper

How Will BYU Basketball Fare In Big 12? Projecting 2024 Order Of Finish

Where will BYU finish in their first season of Big 12 Conference play? Time to make predictions.

7 months ago

BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Mark Pope Lays Out BYU’s Expectations For Inaugural Big 12 Schedule

Big 12 play has arrived for No. 12 BYU Basketball. Mark Pope shares his expectations for conference play.

7 months ago

BYU Basketball, Trevin Knell, Three-Point Shooting...

Mitch Harper

What We Learned About BYU Basketball During Nonconference Play

BYU basketball turns its attention to Big 12 play. But first we take a step back at look at what we learned about the Cougars in nonconference.

7 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...

KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

BYU Basketball Is Finding Ways To Turn ‘Frustration Into Fight’