BYU Cougars guard Nick Emery has never been known to shy away from controversy. After all, he made his grand entrance onto the national stage last year by punching Utah’s Brandon Taylor in the face, and he has this strange knack for irritating the daylights out of opponents with everything he does.
As a result, Emery has quickly become one of college basketball’s better villains. You know the type: the guy you love to hate and live to boo. Beloved by his own fans, but despised by all others. The Grayson Allen of the West.
So I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that Nick took another heel turn on Wednesday night, when he threw some major shade at the size of Saint Mary’s gym on Instagram — just a day before the Cougars will attempt to upset the No. 19 Gaels at McKeon Pavilion on Thursday. Watch the video below:
Nick Emery threw major shade at Saint Mary's on Instagram tonight. It's either the best or the dumbest thing I've ever seen—and maybe both? pic.twitter.com/sQIPlSq0ab— Steve Pierce (@PostJimmer) January 5, 2017
Now, to be fair, Emery is far from the first person to denigrate a West Coast Conference foe’s home court as a “high school gym.” BYU fans have routinely used this taunt since joining the league in 2011, despite the fact that their team seems to continue to find new ways to lose in said “high school gyms.” So we’re not necessarily breaking new ground here.
But even if this shot isn’t particularly original, does that make it smart? Probably not. Saint Mary’s is a Top 20 team in the country. They are very, very good. It was always going to be tough for BYU to beat them in front of their home crowd (or at all, really). Did the Gaels really need more motivation to unleash unholy hell on the Cougars? Was the bulletin board material really necessary? And what’s that saying about karma being something that rhymes with Panguitch?
At some level, you do have to love Nick’s confidence if you’re a Cougar fan. He clearly doesn’t fear the Gaels, despite the national ranking. He believes BYU can and should win, even in the opponent’s gym. That’s the kind of attitude that can inspire a team to do great things.
Or it can completely backfire. For all we know, Saint Mary’s could come out mad and run BYU out of that “high school gym.” They certainly have the talent, and that result is certainly more likely than the inverse.
We ultimately have no way of knowing how this shakes out. But I will tell you this: Nick Emery made a statement on Wednesday night. It’s one that will not be missed by the Gaels or their fans. It could easily end up being a crafty bit of gamesmanship by a confident leader of a team facing its toughest challenge of the season — or it could end up being a foolish bit of baseless braggadocio that turns the emotional tide in favor of his opponent.
Either way, we’ll find out for sure on Thursday night — and Nick Emery will have ample opportunities to back up his words with buckets.