A BYU Cougars team that always finds a way to 20 wins look to do it again before the move to the Big 12.
CBB Review is once again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 season. Each day we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Coming in ranked number 71 is the BYU Cougars.
As a team who finishes typically 2nd in the WCC after the powerhouse Gonzaga, last year was a big step back, finishing 5th in the conference despite a 24-11 record. This year, they are in position to once again battle for that at-large spot, and bring in what should be an improved roster, led by freshman Collin Chandler.
With the move to the Big 12 following this season, the BYU Cougars look to go out with a bang and are more than capable of doing so this season.
To those who have not, click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 college basketball season.
Head Coach: Mark Pope (4th Season)
2021-2022 Record: 24-11 (9-6)
2022 Postseason Finish: NIT Quarterfinals
Notable Departures: Alex Barcello (Graduated), Te’Jon Lucas (Graduated), Seneca Knight (Illinois State), Caleb Lohner (Baylor), Gavin Baxter (Utah)
PG: Rudi Williams (6-2, 190, Gr.-Sr.)
2021-2022 stats: 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 steals, 50.9 FG%, 44.7 3P% (Coastal Carolina)
SG: Spencer Johnson (6-5, 185, Sr.)
2021-2022 stats: 5.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 45.2 FG%, 39 3P%
SF: Gideon George (6-6, 210, Gr.-Sr.)
2021-2022 stats: 8.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 43.6 FG%
PF: Noah Waterman (6-11, 210, Sr.)
2021-2022 stats: 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, 42.9 FG%, 37.5 3P% (Detroit-Mercy)
C: Fousseyni Traore (6-6, 254, So.)
2021-2022 stats: 9.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.3 blocks, 58.7 FG%, 74.4 FT%
6: Trevin Knell (6-5, 197, Sr.)
2021-2022 stats: 6.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 40.6 FG%, 36.2 3P%
7: Atiki Ally Atiki (6-9, 213, So.)
2021-2022 stats: 3.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.8 blocks, 57.9 FG%
8: Jaxson Robinson (6-6, 185, Jr.)
2021-2022 stats: 3.4 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.4 assists (Arkansas)
9: Trey Stewart (6-2, 189, So.)
2021-2022 stats: 0.4 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.3 steals
10: Dallin Hall
2020 Utah Gatorade Player of the Year
Team MVP: Rudi Williams
Williams was a big-time transfer portal pickup for Mark Pope, as the 5th year averaged 15 points on 45% shooting from deep last year. This team is lacking true shooting, so having a guy-to-guy like Williams, similar to the role Barcello played last year will be crucial. Successful teams have a true point guard who can facilitate an offense, and Williams will be able to fill that role for the BYU Cougars.
Make-or-Break Player: Fousseyni Traore
After a really strong freshman year, BYU are hoping Traore can take the next jump and become a top player in the WCC this season. He is more than capable of becoming a 15-10 player, and if he can become that guy BYU can be a dominant team and one that can cruise to the NCAA Tournament.
Analytic to Know: 333rd in Steals per game
If you’re looking for a team who’s going to force turnovers, you should probably look the other way. They only averaged 4.7 steals per game. They do bring in Rudi Williams who averaged 1.5 last year, but they should still finish well into the bottom half of Division 1 in steals. With this being said, the BYU Cougars did finish 70th in defensive efficiency according to KenPom, so defense itself won’t be an issue.
Stay ready💪 pic.twitter.com/091zMjIg1H
— BYU Men's Basketball (@BYUMBB) August 8, 2022
Like last year, on paper, this team doesn’t look like a legitimate threat, but like every year they’ll find a way to compete for the WCC Title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Something that will play a part in that experience, as four of the five starters are seniors. Experience leads to success normally in college basketball and should do the same for the BYU Cougars.
The non-conference schedule figures to be tough, with a road game against San Diego State and an appearance in the Battle 4 Atlantis that features 8 CBB Rank Top 100 teams, including defending NCAA Champion Kansas. If they can make a good run in the Battle 4 Atlantis, then that should be enough of strength of schedule resume to get them in, but with such tough competition, that is a big if to have.
The conference should play as it usually does, with Gonzaga, BYU, and Saint Mary’s running the conference. If the BYU Cougars can pick up a few wins against these teams, that will be huge for them, especially a Gonzaga team that projects to be Top 3 in the country once again.