The BYU Basketball team will begin league play against the Santa Clara Broncos on Thursday.
PROVO, UT – The BYU Basketball team will begin their fifth season in the West Coast Conference on Thursday night when they welcome the Santa Clara Broncos.
There’s been plenty of time to prepare for the BYU Basketball team as they come off of a week-long break. This has given time for the team to adapt to the differences in preparation for a conference game opposed to a non-conference game.
“When you’re adjusting from an non-league schedule to a league schedule, the familiarity the other teams have with you, how you’re scouted all changes. There’s a lot more urgency,” said Coach Rose. “That’s what we’ve tried to relate to the players to be physically ready to play this game and mentally ready for the resistance we are going to get as a result of league starting.”
The Cougars will be without senior forward Kyle Davis after he underwent season ending knee surgery earlier in the week. But, they will add the services of Corbin Kaufusi who wrapped up the football season last Wednesday helping the football team to a 24-21 victory over Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl.
While the Cougars are optimistic to add Kaufusi to the line up, losing Davis – a team captain – hurts a team that is badly searching for experience and leadership.
“It sucks,” said Yoeli Childs. “That’s a guy I look up to a lot. He’s a great basketball player, he’s a great leader, but he’s an even better guy, and a better teammate, and better role model for all of us.”
As one of two seniors on the team, his experience on and off the court helped the youth of this team early in the season. Even after receiving news of the severity of the injury, Davis continued to carry the mantle of leader on the team.
“The way he’s handled it has been incredible,” said Childs. “When he got the news of how bad the injury was, he didn’t mope, he was just himself and was happy and encouraging. Since I moved into the starting line up he’s helped me every single day.”
Coach Rose said it was disappointing to see the injury bug bite a senior who has worked so hard in the program.
“It’s sad. I’m really disappointed for him and for Kelly. They’ve put a lot into this senior year,” said Coach Rose. “It’s sad for our team, it’s sad for our guys. They went through a lot together in the summer and KD was the leader of the group, naturally as the only senior at the time.”
With the loss of Davis, Kaufusi will bring some experience to the team with two season of playing time under his belt. There hasn’t been much rust he’s had to shake off as he makes the transition from football.
“The first three days with him in practice have been surprisingly easy in terms of fitting him in,” said Coach Rose. “For such a big guy, he moves really well, both laterally and up and down.”
It’s not quite clear what Kaufusi’s role will be with the basketball team this season – due in part to the early success of Eric Mika following his return from a mission – but his teammates expect him to contribute heavily.
“He’s an animal,” said Childs. “I can’t believe how big he is and he can still move. He’s a freak.”
The leadership of these two players should help the Cougars both on and off the court as they enter league play.