BYU coach Mark Pope explains how Thursday’s game in Gonzaga was planned

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A long and frustrating week for the BYU basketball schedule, which saw the postponement of three straight games and attempts to schedule more games, resulted in the ultimate challenge.

On Tuesday, the Cougars (9-2, 0-0) filled the void in Thursday’s schedule – by organizing a confrontation with the best team in the country.

BYU, which hasn’t played since December 23, will visit No.1 Gonzaga on Thursday (6:30 p.m. MST, ESPN). It will mark the opening of the West Coast Cougar Conference.

This week’s match against the Zags (10-0, 1-0) is a postponement of the February 6 meeting and not an additional match. What will happen with this February 6 game remains to be determined.

“When all else fails, the only coach and program in America that you know it’s going to be like, ‘Bring it on, man, we’re not scared’ is the Zags,” the trainer Mark Pope on his trainer’s show on BYUtv. Tuesday evening. “I couldn’t love them more right now just for the fact that they’re like, ‘Let’s play’. We desperately want to play and they desperately want to play.

The COE, BYU, Gonzaga (10-0) and ESPN worked together to change the schedule. BYU was originally scheduled to host Pacific on Thursday while the Zags were scheduled to play in Santa Clara on Thursday.

Pacific and Santa Clara have been on hiatus due to COVID-19 issues. About half of WCC programs are on hiatus.

Last weekend, four of the five league games were called off due to COVID-19 concerns. This led to discussions between coaches and league officials, Pope said.

“I think we’ve made progress on how we’re going to continue as a conference. I am incredibly optimistic about this. … All the coaches have started a dialogue. I’ve spoken to half of the league’s coaches over the past 48 hours to try and work things out. This is how it will work the rest of the year. “

The Cougars haven’t played since Dec. 23, an 87-79 victory over Weber State. BYU has a bye on the Saturday program. Their next game is scheduled for Jan. 14 at Saint Mary’s.

A lot of effort went into getting a game played on Thursday.

“It was a crazy race. As we found out that we were losing those two games last weekend and this game this week, I really don’t believe we can expect that we are going to postpone those games and get them back, ”said Pope. “What we’ve done is start a massive dialogue with the league and the league coaches. We spoke to a total of 20 teams, some of which were missing games because their opponent was on hiatus outside of our league, each team that could possibly play in our league. As soon as we found out our game (Saturday) was canceled on Friday, we called other teams but it just didn’t work out. Every day, several times a day, trying to find teams to play. “

No doubt Pope and his team are happy to have a game this week.

“I am very grateful to the Zags. I say that now, ”said the coach. “We’ll see what I feel on Thursday night after the game. I can’t say enough about them.

In BYU’s last meeting with Gonzaga on Feb. 22 in Provo during the regular season finale for both teams, the No.23 Cougars knocked down No.2 Gonzaga 91-78 in front of a sold-out crowd at the Marriott Center.

The Zags are on a 14-game winning streak, 44 straight home wins and a 22-game WCC winning streak.

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