Coach Mark Pope on BYUSN 10.9.19

his star guards, tj haws, and another of his star guards, Toolson. Mark pope making a very loud entrance into the program. We expect nothing less, my friend. Welcome.>>How are you boys.>>We’re great. We’re talking hoops in October. About to cross over.>>Just got cold. It’s beautiful.>>We’re that much closer to an actual basketball game after a crazy last six months for you. In fact, how would you explain your last six months in your tenure as a BYU basketball coach.>>I think it’s awesome; right? You don’t ask for anything more. Keep things dramatic and interesting. We’re going to write a story every day. But the best thing is getting to know these young men because we have spectacular young men that are really digging in and trying to accomplish something special.>>You have 6:00 A.M. Practices right now. What’s that like? When do you get in the gym in the morning?>>I usually don’t come to the 6:00 a.m.’s — no. What’s been remarkable about this crew is that we have not had anybody show up late yet because I actually sit in my office, and I’m, like, okay. When is the day going to be? Because we teach our guys not to be late. These guys won’t let me teach them. They’re unbelievable. They come in with juice every day, and they’re unbelievable, and we have unbelievable leadership on this team right now. It’s been fun. It’s been really great. There’s definitely a grind to it, no doubt about it. But these guys have risen to the — you know, to the occasion, and they’re working hard.>>Why is that do you think? Senior group?>>I think it’s a senior group and a veteran group, I think it’s a hungry group, and it’s a group that genuinely has questions about who we can be and nervousness. And I think it’s a group right now believing in work. They believe that work pays off. And that sounds so trite, but actually it’s a missing concept a little bit in the world today. These guys work hard, they will have great success, and they will.>>How have you handled the adversity and the challenges — let me rephrase it. What has been the most challenging part about handling the unexpected things that you can’t really prepare for?>>That’s just sports; right? That’s what makes it great. You know, I’ll say this 1,000 times. We talk to our guys every day. We talk to them about, like, hey, this game in a big sense, this game asks you every day how are you going to respond? That’s what’s interesting about the game. The game is not interested about your game plan going into it. It’s asking you how are you going to respond? How are you going to respond to something going wrong on the court with the refs with the fans? How are you going to respond to something wrong in the course of the season? How do you respond? That’s what it asks you? And the great players ring the bell. And the great teams ring the bell. So it’s — this is what we do as athletes and coaches. We learn how to respond, and we try and figure out, and these guys certainly are focused on trying to do that.>>The next thing to figure out out is. Okay. How does the on court product differ schematically without Gavin Baxter? And you still have some time to figure it out. But without Gavin, what now?>>Well, I can one thing absolutely without a shadow of a doubt for sure. We’re going small. Because we don’t have any big guys. [Laughter] So we will be small. Sometimes, you know — I mean, I can give you 1,000 examples. But sometimes circumstance actually forces you to be creative.>>Uh-hu>>And it’s terrifying, and it’s worrisome. But there’s been time after time after time where teams kind of raise up in those circumstances, and they actually accomplish special that things people don’t think they’ll be able to do because they’re not a perfect group on paper. And so we’re certainly being stretched now in how we approach the game and think about the game, and we’re going to play small because we just don’t have any big bodies. And it’s going to be fun, and it’s going to be entertaining. And people are going to see these kids whole heart and their soul laid out on this floor, and it’s going to be inspiring.>>You probably had an idea of schematically what you wanted to do going into the season. Does that change now with this? Do you have to adjust schematically?>>Yeah. We did. I mean, honestly, we spent, you know — I’ve actually — I’m actually much more comfortable playing small. Not quite this small. But, you know, I’ve — I had Jake Toolson playing the fourth for me the last couple of years, and had incredibly skilled players one through four has been kind of how we’ve played a lot. So we spend the — you know, the summer and the trip to Italy really focusing on kind of working on some things where we had two big different skill set guys on the floor. And so I think we had some firsts that way. Right now, you know, when we get yoeli back, that front line is still going to be really interesting. We’ll be able to go a little bit bigger and a little bit smaller at times. So it’s going to be functional for us to be able to do both.>>Does this automatically mean more three-pointers are going up because you are playing small?>>Well, I like to shoot — you know, come on. That’s what we do, man. We’re going to guard really hard, we’re going to be really aggressive, we’re going to get at the free throw loan, we’re going to make sure that we get paint touches consistently, and we’re going to shoot every single open shot that we have. And if guys don’t shoot open shots, they’re going to come and sit by me for the rest of the game. That was one of the gift that my coach gave to us as players in college because it takes a lot of it — different nuances and things that you might be concerned as a player out of the picture. So we’re going to play. That’s going to be dictated by the defense. It’s going to be what the defense gives us. If they’re giving us shots, we shoot. And this team can really, really shoot it. We do a bucks drill to start every practice. It’s a shooting drill, and I’ve had really — I’ve had top 50 shooting teams in the country the last three years, and I have never had a team shoot the ball like this. I mean, the score’s not going to mean anything to you. But the fact that we’re consistently between 150 and 160 is crazy. The marker’s 130. And in the past, I said if we get to 160, we’re shutting down practice. I can’t do that anymore. [Laughter] This team can make shots, and it’s going to be one of the things that can be dangerous about this team.>>Who’s the best shooter on the team?>>Coach burgess. He’s so bored with making shots. He’s, like, shooting them off one foot from 28.>>He’s supposed to miss the rebounding drill, and he can’t miss. What you know? We have shooters all around. This tj haws, he’s going to shoot the living daylights out of the ball and Toolson is a proven, proven, proven shooter. He’s going to be dangerous at a new level because he’s going to get shots off quicker. And this Travis as a freshman is going to shoot the ball well for us and Nixon, and you go down the list. Wade is going to make a ton of shots for us. And one of my happiest moments in the last six months, I’m sitting if the offense, guys are in half an hour before the afternoon practice, and I’m sitting and I can see out of my window on the court, and I saw Zach shooting a three, and I was, like, what is happening? I was so happy. They’re going to make a ton of shots for us, and Connor is shooting the ball well. And we have a — it’s one of the things about playing the line that we’re going to be forced to play is we have a lot of guys on the court that can really shoot and pass and make plays, come on off the ball screens, and we have a versatile group.>>We know Gavin has an unfortunate shoulder injury. How is Zach’s health and his progress?>>He’s doing great. Listen, he has been working so hard. You know, he was in the cast for the first four weeks, three weeks, and then got in the boot and in the boot, we get to the put him in the pool and the treadmill down at the facility. I was getting pictures from coach stork who has been unbelievable every day — started out, you know, Zach just floating around with his rubber duckie intertube, and then he get to the point where he’s walking and jogging and getting pace on the treadmill, and he’s been working so hard. So his return is going really fast, and he’s going to be back. He’ll be back — I feel really good about him being back.>>That’s incredible. Because when did he break his foot? It was on the Italy trip.>>In aweing; right?>>So literally it happened, and, you know — so the first thing was try to take care of him. You know, make sure he was fine. And then two minutes later, the only thing going through my mind is all right. Let’s count out this time. So I think we had five days left on the trip, and we knew kind of the general general idea of the recovery time, and we’re playing with, you know, this November 4th date. So I was, like, we have to send him home tomorrow. So we actually tried to get him on the plane the next morning and things went sideways so it was the next morning. So those four days mean he might be able to suit up for the opener. So it’s super time sensitive. He’s worked so hard for us. And he had two unbelievable games init approximately. I mean, he might have been the best player on the floor the first two games in Italy. He was unbelievable. And he worked so hard defensively this summer. He was locked in. So it’s going to take him a minute to get back, but he’s hungry for the season, and I’m so glad he’s going to be able to play all these games.>>We’ve been talking about expectation and year and everything that has been going into this and maximizing the talent of this group. Is it let’s just be our best self?>>Well, here’s the thing: Yeah, we want to go to the NCAA tournament. We would like to win the NCAA tournament; right? We would like to go to the wcs tournament and win. We would like to go to maui and win maui. But I think that when you get too locked into that picture, for us — for fans, man, I hope the fans are, like, hey, these guys do all of this stuff. But for us, our focus has to be on today. On getting better today; right? Because if we get too — first of all, what we’re doing right now takes so much emotional and physical energy. This camp right now takes so much energy that we’re spending a lot of time thinking about what’s happening then and not focusing on what’s happening today. We’re missing out on getting better. So for us, this is what we know. We know that because circumstance and because of the way basketball works, we have got to be playing our very best basketball at the end of the season. That is our goal. And the only way to do that is to get better every single day. And to take every single victory and every single set back and every single trick that happens to us along the way, and find a way to grow from it. So our focus is squarely there. We expect to be a very, very good team by the end of this season. That’s the expectation we put on for ourselves. We have a bunch of individuals and seniors that we expect to have a very, very special year. So falling short of that is unacceptable. So exactly how that’s going to shape up, I don’t know. That’s for you guys to talk about. For us, we’re talking about getting better every day.>>BYU basketball media day on BYU sports nation continues with head coach mark pope. Speaking of expectations, what can we expect on October 23rd at BYU’s version of midnight madness? Actor has I’m so hyped, man. Anything happening in midnight has got to be good. Are we in the merit center?>>You tell us.>>I think we’re in the merit center. We actually just had our first meeting about that today. I know the department is working really hard on it.>>It’s at 10:30; right?>>I think we’re actually — 10:30 is, like, all the fun warmup stuff. I think we’re rolling at 12:01. This is throw back midnight madness. This is the way I did it in college. You’re sitting in the locker room looking at the stands just packed, people going crazy, and we can’t walk on the floor until 12:01. So yon why don’t exactly know that. I don’t know yet. And I’m so happy I don’t know yet. The fact that I don’t have to know that yet is one of the things that makes BYU extraordinary.>>Yeah. That is a school night. So go ahead and be sick on Thursday.>>No. No. Go to school, man. You’ve got to come party with us for midnight madness and then go to class and talk about it.>>And then take a nap.>>Amen.>>I’m talking elementary schoolkids, man. These college kids are always up at midnight. You drove, like, a NASCAR vehicle in Vegas on the speedway last week.>>It was so unbelievable. I kid you not. It was so awesome.>>How fast were you going?>>No. No. We had a contest, you know? It’s BYU, Gonzaga, that’s what it is. St. Mary’s obviously great. A ton of great teams. I’m not trying to offend anybody. Okay? But right now on this day, it was head-to-head the great mark view and the winless mark pope. Coach view is really athletic. He goes and he does — you know, he’s on the lake skiing and wakeboarding and doing flips and stuff. And I am not. I’m actually really, and I don’t have good balance. And ideally, I don’t really fit in this car. So they had to get the Jimmy Johns car, which I was so hyped about because Jimmy Johns, sponsor of BYU athletics, thank you so much. So they knew this car would fit because apparently six months ago Charles barkly fit in this car.>>And he fits in a different way. So I was, like, if I don’t fit in this car, man. I’m never going to hear the end of it.>>Was it just you in the car?>>Just me driving.>>Oh, my god.>>Let’s go. So here’s the thing. That I got in, and you — it’s stick shift. So you have to get to fourth gear literally by the time you get off the straight away.>>Well, that’s you on university avenue.>>Yeah. Shh. And this ramp that you’re turning on is 22 degrees.>>Oh, wow.>>So you have to give get an instructional deal, and they said, like, 20 times. If you come down on the apron on the map, you’re going to spin out and die. I mean, they basically that said over and over again. So I’m, like, nervous. Offering the first lap. I kid you not, I was cooking, like, 32 miles an hour. [Laughter] So they gave me, like, seven laps. And then by the end, like, we were flying. You feel like you are in a rocket ship. And the whole deal is you go just as fast on the straight away as you do on the turns. Like, you’re not picking the pedal up at all. I think they clocked me at 146.8.>>Whoa. That’s unbelievable.>>On the turn, bro.>>That’s amazing.>>And tell me I don’t look great. My only request was, like — because BYU TV was there. I was, like, please can we show me on the turn on diaper. Just kidding. I’m on fire. I’m on fire.>>Talked to the wrong people.>>Shake and bake.>>Shake and bake, baby.>>And then you were interviewed after, and you did this with your hand. [Laughter] I’ll hold it.>>Great talking to you, coach. Fantastic stuff.>>Midnight madness. October 23rd.

1 Comment

  1. Punk Philosopher October 10, 2019 at 12:20 am

    Popes facial expressions are priceless. He is the polar opposite of Dave rose in this regard.

    That’s a good thing.

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