In early December in-state rivals BYU and Utah played for the 257th time, with the Runnin’ Utes winning by the final score of 83-75 in Salt Lake City. Of course the game wasn’t without controversy, as BYU guard Nick Emery was ejected for striking Utah’s Brandon Taylor in the face late in the second half. Emery was given a one-game suspension for his actions, and it appeared as if there was a ready-made subplot for next season’s game in Provo.
Only one problem: the two teams won’t be playing. Wednesday afternoon BYU announced that Utah has decided to cancel next season’s game, and it remains to be seen if the teams will play again any time soon.
“I disagree with the decision,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said in the release. “I know our students, our players, our fans and college basketball fans in the intermountain area want to see this long-standing rivalry continue.”
Rose had more to say about the matter addressing the media Wednesday evening, reiterating his displeasure with Utah’s decision to pay a financial penalty to get out of the game.
“The rivalry is pretty heated. We’ve had some interesting moments over the years,” Rose said. “I’ve been involved in it for 18 years, and that’s a lot of the excitement of the game. You don’t want things to get out of hand, but in rivalry games things tend to get pretty heated at times. I don’t think that, from my point of view, the safety of the players is an issue.”
Next season’s game was scheduled to be played in Provo, and Rose added in his comments that in his opinion the game would still be on if it were to be played at Utah.
6-foot-7 power forward Yoeli Childs improved his stock throughout the summer playing with the Utah Prospects program, with some high-major programs getting involved in his recruitment as a result. When Childs revealed his list of five in early August the stated goal was to wrap things up by the early signing period in mid-November, and he’s done just that.
Childs will remain in his home state of Utah for college, as Utah Prospects head coach Tim Davis announced Saturday evening that the Bingham HS (South Jordan, Utah) senior has verbally committed to BYU. Childs is officially visiting BYU this weekend, with this trip coming one week after he visited another program that really wanted him in Boise State.
Also considered by Childs were Auburn (which was supposed to host him September 25), Princeton and Vanderbilt.
In 2016-17 Childs will join a front court that will add some key options who are due back from LDS missions. Eric Mika, who played his freshman season before going on his mission, returns and Payton Dastrup will join the program as well. Forwards Jakob Hartsock and Braiden Shaw, who completed their respective missions this spring, will both be freshmen in 2015-16.
Childs, a first team all-state selection as a junior, averaged 9.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game at the adidas Uprising Summer Championships in Las Vegas in late July. He gives BYU an active front court player who rebounds the ball well on both ends of the floor, and in Las Vegas he also displayed a good face-up game offensively.
One day after it was reported that last season’s CAA Rookie of the Year was transferring to the school, BYU landed its third commitment in the Class of 2016.
6-foot-6 guard/forward Connor Harding verbally committed to Dave Rose’s program, with the Utah Prospects grassroots program announcing the news on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. Harding, who played alongside of the top players in the class in Frank Jackson with the Prospects, joins Steven Beo and Gavin Baxter as players who have committed to BYU.
However Harding will not be joining the Cougars immediately, as the Pocatello, Idaho native will take his two-year LDS mission prior to enrolling. Harding joins Baxter as members of BYU’s 2016 recruiting class who will take their mission beforehand, meaning that they won’t actually join the program until 2018. At the time of his commitment to BYU in the spring, Beo told KSL.com that he had no plans of going on a mission before enrolling at BYU.
As a junior at Highland HS in Pocatello, Harding averaged 16.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and helped lead his team to the Class 5A state title game. Harding has the skill to play either wing position, and in 2018 he’ll join a roster that in all likelihood will include the likes of guards Nick Emery and T.J. Haws and forwards Eric Mika (who played as a freshman in 2013-14 before going on his LDS mission) and Payton Dastrup.
BYU head coach Dave Rose received a five-year extension early this week and it gives him until 2019-20 to head the program.
Rose is in his 10th season with the Cougars this season and the move was announced by the school on Monday. According to the release, Rose is 250-86 during his time at BYU. He owns the best winning percentage of any head coach in school history and he’s second in wins to Stan Watts.
“I’m excited about the future of BYU basketball,” Rose said in the release. “Tom Holmoe, Brian Santiago and the university administration have provided great support and I look forward to the things we can accomplish together over the next several years. We have great student-athletes and coaches at BYU who are committed to the success of our program.”
The extension of Rose isn’t any major surprise, but it does give Rose more security in recruiting for the next wave of players.
The Cougars currently sit third in the WCC standings this season at 8-5 behind Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. BYU is 18-8 overall.
Just a couple days ago BYU announced that junior guard Kyle Collinsworth, who led the team in both rebounds and assists last season, was given full medical clearance after recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the WCC tournament final in March. Saturday night Collinsworth played against outside competition for the first time since that injury, and despite playing limited minutes he contributed in multiple areas at BYU beat Seattle Pacific 75-44.
Collinsworth played 13 minutes in the Cougars’ second and final exhibition game, shooting 1-for-5 from the field and accounting for two points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal. Collinsworth played seven minutes in the first half and six in the second, as Rose and his staff kept a keen eye on his minutes ahead of the team’s season opener against Long Beach State Friday night.
“It felt great,” Collinsworth said of his return after being cleared by doctors earlier in the week. “The mindset was to be a big defensive presence, play as hard as I can, and get guys shots. That’s what I wanted to do tonight, get some rust off, and get ready for Friday.”
Another takeaway from the two exhibition games for BYU is the amount of depth they have both on the perimeter and in the front court. Collinsworth and Tyler Haws, one of the nation’s best scorers, will lead the way but Wake Forest transfer Chase Fischer is expected to be an impact addition for the Cougars in 2014-15. Saturday night Fischer scored a game-high 21 points, shooting 9-for-13 from the field while also dishing out four assists without a turnover.
In total 12 Cougars played double-digit minutes Saturday night, and they even showed some full court man-to-man defense with the half-court version being what BYU runs most often. Having a multitude of options gives Rose and his staff the ability to try different looks, and defensively they can use more pressure in order to take advantage of the depth.
Seattle Pacific committed 24 turnovers, and while BYU will face better competition (and likely not spread the minutes around as they did in the exhibitions) their depth will be one of the best assets in 2014-15.
After experiencing some issues with regards to the fluidity of their offense early in the 2013-14 season, the decision of head coach Dave Rose to move Kyle Collinsworth into the role of primary playmaker made a difference for BYU. Collinsworth averaged 14.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game last season, but the Cougars’ chances of advancing in the NCAA tournament took a major hit when he suffered a torn ACL in the WCC tournament title game.
Thursday afternoon BYU announced some good news regarding the status of Collinsworth: he’s been fully cleared to return to action, beginning with the Cougars’ exhibition game against Seattle Pacific in Saturday.
Also of note in the release is the fact that Rose and his staff will closely monitor Collinsworth’s minutes both Saturday and in their early regular season games, which is obviously a prudent move. With Collinsworth (who led BYU in rebounding and assists last year) back in the fold BYU’s strengthens its argument of being, at the very least, Gonzaga’s greatest threat in the WCC.
BYU opens its regular season next Friday with a home game against Long Beach State in what should be one of the better matchups of college basketball’s opening night. The Cougars will also appear in the Maui Invitational, opening with Mountain West favorite San Diego State, and their non-conference slate includes games against Utah, Stanford and UMass.
BYU opens WCC play on December 27 with a home game against Gonzaga.