Obviously we wouldn’t have signed up for this thing if we knew we were going to play the Barclays Classic at LIU. —BYU head coach Dave Rose
PROVO — The BYU men's basketball team tips off one of two games on consecutive nights Friday versus No. 25-ranked Alabama as part of the Barclays Classic in Brooklyn (NY.) The Cougars will then take on Massachusetts Saturday night in a two-day event that holds both good and bad aspects, according to players and BYU coach Dave Rose.
Rose didn't mince words regarding his view of the event following his team's 95-88 win over Niagara on Tuesday. Sure, the team is excited for the opportunity to play a couple of notable challenges back East, but a change of venue left Rose a bit perturbed.
Though they thought they were playing both games at the Barclays Center, one of the top basketball venues in the country, BYU was informed recently its first game would be held at LIU Brooklyn's Steinberg Wellness Center, which seats just 2,500.
“It just happened about four weeks ago,” Rose said of the change of venue. “Not a very good explanation from the promoter, but we’re stuck. That’s what we got. Obviously we wouldn’t have signed up for this thing if we knew we were going to play the Barclays Classic at LIU.”
The Cougars will play at the Barclays Center when taking on the Minutemen on Saturday, however, and are otherwise excited for the opportunity.
“I think we’re ready for it,” said BYU sophomore Yoeli Childs. “I think that being able to travel on the road against Princeton, and get a win there I think that’s helped the team figure out how to get it done on the road.”
The Cougars beat Princeton 65-56 on November 15, on top of gaining some good road experience back on October 27, in a 79-73 exhibition win against New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Since those two wins, the Cougars have seen some good success mixed with a frustrating 89-75 loss to UT Arlington at home. A good win against the Purple Eagles on Tuesday left players confident heading into the Barclays Classic, believing they can build upon the momentum.
“We’ve made those adjustments from the last game to now,” said junior Luke Worthington. “And I think those adjustments are going to carry over. Those just aren’t just short-term things.”
Most of the improvements involved better ball movement and better shot-selection which led to better offensive efficiency across the board. The evidence is 53-percent shooting against Niagara, which included 58-percent shooting from 3-point range.
The Cougars will have to continue improvements to get by an Alabama team which narrowly defeated UT Arlington 77-76 on Tuesday.
Although both games will be played clear across the country, BYU players believe they'll see plenty of fan support, regardless of the host venue.
“We’ll feel like we’re at home. BYU always travels, so we know they’ll have our back,” Worthington said. “We’re just excited to get out there and get some wins together, learn together, because it’s a long season.”
BYU tips off against Alabama Friday at 2:30 p.m. EST. The game will be streamed live on Stadium College Basketball. Saturday's game against Massachusetts also tips off at 2:30.