Updated: Aug 13, 2019
There is smoke rising from the Marriott Center (Boney Fuller), BYU has found their new Men's basketball coach. For the past two weeks, Cougar nation has been anxiously waiting to find out who would succeed Dave Rose, and we now have our answer; Mark Pope, the head coach at Utah Valley, has been hired and was officially introduced today. (To learn a little bit about Coach Pope's background click here) Mark Pope is likely the most accomplished head coach BYU has ever hired to lead their basketball program. While that may not be saying a lot, Coach Pope does possess 4 qualities that I believe can make him very successful in Provo.
Mark Pope has head coaching experience. In his first year at UVU in 2015, they finished #321 in the KenPom rankings, in the last 2 years they have finished #92 and #104. Pope has proven he can be a successful head coach. Hopefully with the resources and history BYU offers Pope can lead the Cougars back to the NCAA Tournament.
Mark Pope is an excellent recruiter. Just watching his press conference Mark Pope you can see how Mark Pope can motivate and inspire. His NBA experience and his personality together make him an excellent recruiter, and the talent on his roster at UVU is evidence of that. Last year the Wolverine's roster had both the Wac Player of the year, Jake Toolson, and the WAC freshman of the year, Wyatt Lowell; Coach Pope was able to bring talented players to UVU via transfers and high school recruits and he will continue to do that at BYU
Mark Pope understands the challenges and the benefits of coaching at BYU. It is always a good thing when you can hire someone who is familiar with the program, especially at BYU. He understands the difficulty in roster management with missionaries leaving and coming home, he also understands the challenges of coaching and recruiting in the WCC because he has been here before. Coach Pope also knows how to sell kids on all the things BYU has to offer because he has done it before.
Mark Pope loves BYU. During his press conference today he was asked why he decided to come back to BYU and his answer really stood out to me. He said he asked himself "Where do I want to win the most?" and the answer was BYU! Mark Pope loves this community and so does his family and he will do whatever it takes to bring BYU back to the NCAA tournament and more.
I am excited for the Mark Pope era to begin and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes. Today in his press conference he said a few things that should excite cougar fans as they did me.
Coach Pope said he will cast his recruiting net over the entire world. BYU is unique and because of that it has many connections throughout the world, and it sounds like Pope plans on taking advantage of that. This is something BYU fans have been clamoring for over the last 4 years, especially as other BYU teams have had great success with international recruits.
Coach Pope talked a lot about player development and how that is one of his top priorities. He discussed how he and his assistant Chris Burgess, who likely will come with him to BYU, are relentless in getting the most out of their players. BYU will never consistently land the top-ranked recruits in the country, but we do have players who stick around for a long time, player development will be key if Mark Pope wants to have success in Provo.
The theme throughout the press conference today was being relentless and working 24/7 to grow and improve the BYU basketball program. Over the last few years, Cougar fans have questioned whether that energy was in the program, now there is no doubt. No matter how Coach Pope does at BYU we can at least be sure he will be fighting to be great. In his words "Let's go win big, or lets crash and burn."
I am excited to see how these next few years and I expect Mark Pope to be a successful head coach for BYU. Hopefully he can "Win Big!"
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