Jimmer Fredette. For the the last four seasons, that name has been on the roster for Head Coach Dave Rose. Now, Coach Rose is left with life after the Great One.
But that isn’t the only change this squad is facing. After winning six conference crowns in ten seasons, the Cougars left the friendly confines of the Mountain West Conference to join the West Coast Conference, spurred in large part by what the administration felt would be better exposure for the values of the university.
“It’s a new experience for us,” said Coach Rose regarding the change of conference affiliation.
“Most of the excitement is all around trying to put our team together right now.” Without Jimmer.
BYU also lost senior guard and all-time steals leader Jackson Emery.
“It will be a real challenge.”
A challenge? You bet. BYU was picked to finish third in WCC preseason coaches’ poll.
With so much newness around this team, here is what excites us for this upcoming season.
BYU coaches heard about this prospect from the young man’s Bishop, a former professor at the Y. Coaches quickly made some visits and watched him play. After only two visits, the high school sophomore was offered a scholarship. Coaches like his upside. He uses his wingspan well on defense and can slash and score on offense. Look for his role to increase as the season progresses.
The mid-season, red-shirt freshman transfer from UCLA is expected to fill the hole vacated by Fredette. Due to transfer rules, he will not be eligible to play until the end of fall semester, December 16th. However, he has practiced with the team since transferring late last year. Jimmer expects big things from the young man from Arizona, but the frosh tempers any growing enthusiasm by saying he doesn’t expect to replace the Jimmer.
“I don’t think Jimmer could replace Jimmer.” Smart kid, don’t de-pedestal the legend.
The Return of Brandon Davies:
Much ado was made regarding Brandon Davies dismissal from the university last year. A mild media stir was made when Davies decided not to participate in BYU Basketball Media Day. Davies has been embraced by the team, fans, and Athletic Department. It was the right thing for Brandon to return and for BYU and Brandon to work towards that end. No doubt, media will buzz around Davies this year hoping for a sound bite that will generate web traffic. How will Brandon deal with this added scrutiny from opposing fans and media talking heads? We’re excited to find out.
In March of 2011, Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars unceremoniously dismissed the Gonzaga Bulldogs from post season play. Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few knows that the addition of BYU to the WCC is going to challenge their position as top dog in a conference that has seen Gonzaga win the conference title for 11 straight seasons.
“[BYU is] a national program. Dave Rose has done a phenomenal job of turning that program into being, year in and year out, a perennial winner. [Having them] will be great for the league [but] tough for the Zags.”
How much does the sting of last year’s loss to BYU in NCAA Tournament still sting? Count on a new rivalry being born. Gonzaga will try to avenge the loss on February 2, 2011 at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. BYU will make the return trip to the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Washington just three weeks later on February 23, 2011. Both games are scheduled to be on ESPN2, giving the nation a look at the fledgling rivalry.
Putting a Wrap On It:
For a season with new faces and new places, access to BYU games will be easier than ever giving fans and national media greater ability to see the empire that Dave Rose has built. This team should easily win 20 games and make a serious run at the WCC title in their first year. BYU has the right mix of tough and easy non-conference games that should give them a shot at an at-large NCAA berth should they fall short of the conference crown.
As Dave Rose said: “We are really excited.”
We are, too.