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Mark Pope, BYU Men's Basketball Head Coach

JR Sports Brief / JR
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2024 7:08 pm

Mark Pope, BYU Men's Basketball Head Coach

JR Sports Brief / JR

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March 20, 2024 7:08 pm

Mark Pope joined JR to discuss how moving to the Big 12 has helped prepare the Cougars for the NCAA Tournament and the international growth of the game of basketball.

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See store for details. Coach, thank you for joining. Yeah, I want some, I'm glad to be all with you, man. No, absolutely. Hey, hey, Coach, what are your thoughts? We've had to spend four days in the media, locally, nationally, everywhere. People have their thoughts and concerns about who didn't get into the tournament. Obviously, you're in.

You got Duquesne tomorrow. What are your thoughts on who gets in and how it gets determined? What do you say? Well, I think it's the messiness is probably part of the beauty of the NCAA tournament. And there's no way to do it where it's not messy. And unfortunately, sometimes that's devastating and heartbreaking. There's no doubt. But it's also humanity, right? And I think humanity itself played out on this court. And that's why we're so, we love this so much. And so in a sense, maybe I'm glad that it's not perfect because it gives us something to talk about 24-7 and sure makes our lives interesting. My only, you know, where I was brokenhearted was that Coach P is not in this because I know him.

He would come in this deal and once I'm game, man, I just know him. So aside from that, you know, it just is what it is. It's part of it's inherently baked in the cake. It's what makes March Madness great. Head coach of BYU, Mark Pope, is here with us. You talk about Coach Patino. What color suit do you think he would have had on if he was out there with saying, are we talking all red? What are we talking about? He would have worn, you know, the thing about Coach, he could wear, here's the thing I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about.

Could I ever pull that off? Just one time, but he would have had something spectacular for sure. And no doubt about it. Well, Coach, we know that you guys won some big games throughout the course of the season, knocking off the Texas's, the Kansas's, the Iowa State's of the world. And now you got Duquesne tomorrow.

You got him pretty early tomorrow out in Omaha, Nebraska. What have you been selling your team up until this point to get them ready? What are they doing? They playing PlayStation now? What are they up to? Yeah, so it's, you know, it's pretty, it's pretty full slate in terms of trying to prep with some breaks.

The guys are just finishing up study hall right now. So they, you know, they still are trying to take our academic concerns also. But, you know, we're facing a great team, not only a great team, but a team that's red hot, the fifth longest winning streak in the country right now with, you know, with a bunch of weapons. And so we know that we're in for a massive battle tomorrow, which every single game in the NCAA tournament is, and we can't wait to get to it.

No doubt about it. When people sit down and watch your squad at BYU, you guys got some giants in the middle. You're putting up threes and knocking them down. What is your thought process? We know you had your years in the NBA and it was a while ago, but have you taken any of those elements to advance the game and what you do at BYU?

Listen, I think we're kind of a culmination of all of our experiences, right? Our philosophy just kind of develops over time and as we see needs in real time, too, it changes. But, you know, a huge focus for us offensively the last two years that we tried to prepare to move into the Big 12 was we just knew that we, it was vitally important that we force teams to guard a bigger area. So we talk about 27 by 50, 27 by 50.

So the court is 50 feet wide and we're trying to get people to guard us all the way from touching the baseline all the way to 27 feet out. And that's kind of the philosophy that we're approaching. Certainly there's some pro vibe into what we're doing, but there's also some college staples and in some ways it's just super simple.

We just wanted to find our own little niche that we can identify with. And I'm really proud of our guys because they've taken it on and kind of owned it. And it's been part of the reason for our success so far this year. Head coach of BYU, Mark Pope is joining us.

The J.R. sport re-show on CBS Sports Radio. You talk about this being your first year in the Big 12. How has the adjustment been? I said this to, I said this to media today, but, you know, coming in, we had a two year ramp up knowing that we're moving to the Big 12. And so it was two years of utter terror every single day. We talked about how terrifying it was to move in that league. And after having been through it, you know, for 18 straight games, I can confirm that it is absolutely terrifying and it's not going to change. And, you know, as athletes and coaches, you couldn't ask for anything more. You feel like you get tested and challenged every single night. You're playing against, you know, one of the Big 12 doesn't corner the market on every good team in college basketball. It's just a bunch of those great teams all smushed together in one league.

And so every single night just turns into an epic battle. And man, it sure was, it sure was every bit of a challenge that we could handle this year and sure was fun to watch our guys grow through that pressure. Coach Pope, when you talk about being in the Big 12 and a couple of year ramp up to get to where you are right now, this is the second time y'all are going to be back here in the tournament. It feels like you guys got robbed when we had to go back to that covid year. Certainly the world and people missed a lot of things, a terrible situation. But do you feel that kind of stunted where you guys were going? No, you know, we had a, you know, we had a really veteran team. So I think the most painful part of that first covid year, just in the tiny sights of our basketball life, was we had all these seniors on that team who had never been to the tournament, who had, you know, been through some really hard times. And they fought and scratched and clawed and put together an epic season.

And then, you know, literally two days before the Selection Sunday, it got shut down. And my guys were just, I mean, you talk about a devastated group because they didn't lose it. They had finally earned it and then it got taken away. But, you know, listen, we're given all these opportunities to learn and grow. And some of the times we learn through adversity and, you know, I think about those guys right now and what they're doing on court is the guys that continue their careers and the guys that are doing in the business world and everywhere else.

And man, they sure grew from all those experiences. That's what you want from sports. Head coach Mark Pope is here with us from BYU.

His squad is going to take on Duquesne tomorrow in the NCAA tournament. Man, this has been quite a journey for you. I mean, you're thinking about coaching head coaches as full time.

It's going on now. What about a decade, give or take? And then even thinking outside of that, you have experience as a champion with Kentucky. What have you shared with your team? It seems like even in your career, you're just getting warmed up. Yeah, you know what?

Not a lot. It's interesting, you know, we're trying to keep things as same as we can. We, you know, from the first game of the season, we've been preparing for this moment and we haven't been preparing by holding anything back. We've been preparing by trying to simulate what we're walking into tomorrow every single day, every single game prep, you know, every single time we step on the floor. So, you know, in that sense, you know, it's got a ton of raw raw speeches from us.

It's not a lot of that. It's it's just about like, guys, this is what we have done every single day. And we're trying to do it one more day.

And if we can do it one more day, well on Thursday, then we'll get one more day Friday and Saturday. Right. So, you know, for us, it's you know, these guys don't need to hear much about my experiences. They're walking their own path right now. And they're pretty focused and dialed in and they know the challenge ahead of them. And and we're going to go see if we can we can we can be up to the challenge. You know, as we start to wrap things up here, Coach Pope, I got two more questions for you. Yeah, I tried to give an accurate description as to how you guys play. You move the ball around, you knock down the three from your perspective. You are the orchestrator of what goes on for people who are tuning in to BYU for the first time against Duquesne tomorrow. What can they look forward to? Well, you know, in terms of space, we're going to we're going to you know, our goal is to get up over thirty threes a game.

That's a that's a yeoman's task. It's hard to do, especially against a great team like Duquesne or the number one three point defensive team in the A-10. So just getting up to temps is very, very important to us. We're a team that lives on the offensive glass. We're going to try and play with tremendous pace, not just full court pace, getting across half court, but but cutting extremely hard with a bunch of variations on that. And then defensively, we are trying desperately to step up to the challenge with everyday increasing physicality and and cohesiveness together on the defensive end. And, you know, that's another way that Duquesne is really going to test that they have, you know, almost everybody that's on the court can shoot it.

So they demand a lot of space also. And they have two dynamic guards that on any given night can just win the game by themselves. And so defensively, you know, we've got to work it out for us also. Well, coach, the final question or request, we've seen this squad, this the school on the basketball side, turn things around since you've arrived. How has the support been and the interest in ratcheting things back up? Because we know BYU, we can go back 15 plus years, man, they were they were a constant in the tournament. How are things right now?

What's the support like? It's unbelievable. Our fan base, you know, we pulled up to the hotel last night and, you know, there's a huge contingent of BYU fans out in front of the hotel. And they didn't the trick is it's not like we travel great.

They're just everywhere. So, you know, there's a bunch of homegrown BYU fans here in Omaha and throughout Nebraska. We're really blessed, man, with it, with a fan base where it even means just a little bit more than winning. And it's unbelievable opportunity for all of us, you know, for us as coaches and players to represent this institution and this great fan base. They care.

And so, you know, they make our job easier and way more rewarding. There's no way that we can get Jimmer for debt back on it. That's over, right?

That's done. Jimmer's on his way to win a gold medal at the Olympics this summer. Like, how hype is that? I'm so excited for him. He's been working on this for the last couple of years. And and it's going to be really fun to watch him and his team and Team USA go to work in the Olympics.

That's going to be really special. It's pretty, pretty wild. You think about the expansion of basketball, but we and especially you haven't played overseas. We know it's certainly a global game. And speaking of the international aspect, yeah, a lot.

I'm giving you one more question and then letting you go back. How has the game grown? You have coached here, you've played in the NBA here, you've played overseas, you see how the game is just growing all over the place. Talk about the game of basketball as it exists on earth. Yeah, you know, you know, it's just it's just been as awesome.

It's been awesome to watch, you know, right now on our team. Our starting center is is, you know, one of the most beloved players, the college basketball for all the fans, the college, but I haven't haven't watched us play yet. Get ready, because he is, you know, we lovingly refer to him by a bunch of next name was one of the Egyptian magician, a young man from Alexandria, Egypt, who is just he's he's the college versus a Jokic in a magical way. And then, you know, our other starting center, he started to have to see him for the last two years.

It's from Bamako, Mali, well, from Kaki, Mali, actually. And, you know, one of our other bigs is from Tanzania. And, you know, our team, as well as every team in the country, has a real international flavor and it's making the game better. And it's given our student athletes a much better experience. It's given our locker room a better vibe that we have representations of people from all different backgrounds, all different races and religions and socioeconomic statuses. And they get to come together in a locker room and learn from each other and become brothers.

It's actually it's a beautiful thing, man, to watch this game go worldwide. Absolutely. Well, coach, thank you so much. I'm gonna let you get your rest and hopefully not think too much about the game tomorrow as you guys get ready to take on Duquesne. All the best and good luck. Catch you on down the line. OK, appreciate you.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-20 20:37:21 / 2024-03-20 20:44:49 / 7

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