BYU basketball: Cougars open tough Battle 4 Atlantis tourney vs. USC

Two years in the past, BYU was scheduled to play in a match within the Bahamas — the Junkanoo Jam — however it was canceled on account of COVID-19.

Now the Cougars have traveled to Atlantis Paradise Island within the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis match.

“These tournaments are at all times nice. Everyone proper now could be making an attempt to get mileage beneath their belts and making an attempt to study their crew and determine how guys operate collectively in numerous conditions.” — BYU coach Mark Pope

BYU (3-1) takes on USC (3-1) Wednesday (3 pm MST, ESPN2) at Imperial Arena.

For a younger crew just like the Cougars, this can be a likelihood to get expertise on an enormous stage towards distinguished opponents in a prestigious multi-team occasion in an unique location.

The different packages within the eight-team discipline are No. 3 Kansas (the defending nationwide champions), North Carolina State, Dayton, Wisconsin, No. 22 Tennessee and Butler.

The winner of BYU-USC takes on the winner of Tennessee-Butler on Thanksgiving Day. The loser of the primary sport additionally squares off Thursday.

All these groups are set to play three video games over three consecutive days. The Battle 4 Atlantis concludes Friday.

“These tournaments are at all times nice. Everyone proper now could be making an attempt to get mileage beneath their belts and making an attempt to study their crew and determine how guys operate collectively in numerous conditions and get completely different appears to be like,” mentioned coach Mark Pope. “The incontrovertible fact that we are able to squeeze all of this information and all of this sport movie into three days is nice. It’s the most effective issues about MTEs. This is one of the best occasion there may be.”

Participating groups obtain $2 million to play on this match.

For guard Rudi Williams, taking part in in a match like that is one motive why he transferred to BYU.

“It form of provides you a chance to uplift your self and get seen by the precise individuals,” he mentioned. “So after they have been recruiting me, I knew what I used to be getting myself into coming right here. I knew the schedule. That additionally intrigued me as a result of I wish to play towards one of the best guys and be in the precise place the place all the higher gamers are.”

How will Pope measure success for his crew this week?

“The politically right means, and true means, to reply that query is, we’re so excited to be right here to study extra about who we’re,” he mentioned. “We’re going to get an unbelievable alternative to play a few of the most elite packages in all of school basketball proper now and provides ourselves a gauge of the place we’re and the way we have to get higher.

“The reply from our coronary heart is, we might like to return and win all of the video games. That’s why we’re right here. We’d prefer to win these video games. We’re going to must play actually, actually, very well to do it. The solely sport that issues, in fact, is the sport tomorrow towards USC. That’s our hope and ambition — attempt to win that sport tomorrow.”

BYU’s Rudi Williams goes for a layup towards the Nicholls State Colonels on the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. Williams mentioned it was the chance to play in occasions just like the Battle 4 Atlantis tourney that landed him in Provo.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Coincidentally, as a result of BYU wasn’t capable of play within the Bahamas two years in the past, it ended up taking part in within the Romans Legends Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

In their first sport, the Cougars misplaced to USC 79-53.

The Trojans’ size proved an excessive amount of for BYU as brothers Evan and Isaiah Mobley dominated. Evan, a 7-footer now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, had 17 factors and 11 rebounds whereas Isaiah, a 6-11 ahead, completed with 11 factors and 11 boards.

Guard Drew Peterson scored a game-high 19 factors. Peterson continues to be on the Trojans’ roster — he is averaging 15.8 factors, 7.8 rebounds and eight assists per sport.

“We confronted them a few years in the past and bought drilled. It was actually difficult for us. At the time, they have been so lengthy. But they have been so ridiculously lengthy,” Pope recalled. “They have been additionally new. They had youth on their crew, younger stars, identical to they do now.

“This crew is not fairly as lengthy and it could have extra of a veteran presence in Drew Peterson by way of having been via this system for fairly some time and having a ton of success. But they’re good. They have some younger expertise that hasn’t had an opportunity to burst onto the nationwide scene but. They’re going to be a extremely good crew. They’re tremendous proficient and they will be a handful.”

USC ranks No. 4 nationally in blocked pictures, with 7.3 per sport.

Certainly, the Imperial Arena is a novel venue. It’s positioned in a ballroom between the Beach and Coral Towers on the Atlantis resort. While the court docket is bathed in mild, the stands are stored darkish throughout play. But some blue lighting creates a bluish hue across the taking part in floor. The lighting setup may trigger depth notion challenges for shooters.

“I just like the gymnasium. It’s bought the (Madison Square Garden) lighting,” Pope mentioned. “I prefer it rather a lot the place there’s mild actually targeted on the court docket and also you lose every part else within the backdrop as a result of it is a darkish setting behind the ring. It’s somewhat little bit of a brand new feeling for our guys and I’m certain it’s for lots of the blokes coming into this gymnasium. It’s a extremely good venue.”

Williams mentioned he’s “tremendous excited” to be in The Bahamas and that his crew is prepared for this three-games-in-three-days problem.

“We really feel like we have grown in 4 brief video games. Each sport, coach at all times mentions that he sees us rising in sure departments,” he mentioned. “It makes me tremendous excited as a participant figuring out that everybody thinks that we’re a younger crew however we’re rising up on the fly. That’s big-time for us.”

On Thanksgiving week, Pope is grateful for this problem for his crew.

“It’s going to be a enjoyable, hoops-filled Thanksgiving,” he mentioned. “We’re tremendous grateful for that chance.”


Battle 4 Atlantis on the air

BYU (3-1)

vs. USC (3-1)

Wednesday, 3 pm MST

Imperial Arena in Paradise Island, Bahamas

TV: ESPN2

Radio: BYU Radio/1160 AM

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