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BYU Basketball Mailbag: Rotations, Point Guard, Expectations, Offseason, and More

Brigham Young v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

20 games into the season, BYU is 15-5 with 11 games remaining in Big 12 play. This is BYU’s lone week of conference play where they play only one game, and it comes at a good time as guys are recovering from the flu. BYU heads to West Virginia Saturday for a tricky game at Morgantown.

I answer many of your questions below in my latest mailbag. Thanks as always for the questions.

Still no Trey Strewart? I keep asking about this but people keep saying he is gonna play. It doesn’t seem like he is going to play much for the rest of the season. Why do you think that is?

Got several questions about Trey Stewart and his lack of playing time. The junior guard started BYU’s first four games while Dallin Hall was recovering from a knee injury and played at least 10 minutes in all 13 non-conference games. His only Big 12 action game in the opener versus Cincinnati when he played 5 minutes and recorded 4 turnovers and 2 fouls.

Trey is in his third year in the program and by all indications is great in the locker room, an ambassador for the program, and has been praised for his defensive efforts. Actions speak louder than coaches’ words, and I think the staff’s actions this offseason told us what role they envisioned for Trey. BYU brought in Samford transfer Ques Glover as the primary 1a point guard along with Dallin Hall and combo guard Dawson Baker as a scoring 2 guard who can also play the one. Frankly, there were no meaningful minutes budgeted for Trey.

That changed once Ques transferred and Baker couldn’t get healthy following summer foot surgery. And while Trey filled in admirably in non-conference play, coaches have shown they don’t think he puts them in better position to win than other options. Trey is 6-foot-2 but isn’t a true point guard. Jaxson Robinson cross-trained all offseason at point guard and is the defacto backup when Dallin is on the bench. BYU’s biggest “glut” of position players is at the 2 and 3 with Spencer Johnson, Jaxson Robinson, Trevin Knell, and Richie Saunders. By taking Trey out of the equation and letting Jaxson play more point guard in addition to the wing, BYU is putting its best 8 players in the rotation (add Fouss in that mix) and maximizing their minutes. If Trey is on the floor, that means fewer minutes for those 4 wing players.

Reasonable minds can disagree with that decision, but I believe that is the thought process and, frankly, I agree with. BYU doesn’t have a true backup point guard on the roster behind Dallin, so I like Jaxson playing that spot so you can get more minutes for Richie and Trevin. BYU has an 8-man rotation right now, and I have a hard time seeing Trey break through on a consistent basis without injuries.

What is BYU doing to address the PG position LONG term. This year it’s obvious it’s Dallin or Jax, Spencer in a pinch. But what’s the situation moving forward? Hall needs a break from time to time.

As I mentioned before, BYU had its point guard situation for this season figured out until Ques Glover transferred in August. By that time, it was too late to add another point guard.

BYU signed Brooks Bahr in this class as a 6-foot-4 point guard, but Brooks will serve a mission and won’t join until the year after Hall graduates. Next year, BYU adds Collin Chandler and returns Dawson Baker from injury. I see both of those players as primary twos, but they are also capable ball handlers that can play point guard. BYU could add another point guard from the transfer portal, but if they wanted a difference maker, it would also likely be someone that can also play some two guard so they wouldn’t have to just sit behind Dallin.

Hindsight is 20/20, but a player like Dominick Harris would’ve been a great piece for this team. The Gonzaga transfer visited BYU in April, and sources told me that he wanted to sign with BYU. However, BYU essentially chose Ques Glover and Dawson Baker over Harris, which pushed him to LMU. Harris is on his way to an All-WCC season and leads the Lions with 14.5 ppg and a 44% clip from three. Harris can play both guard spots.

Harris still has two years of eligibility remaining after this season, so I’ll keep my eye on him if he enters the portal. Pope and Harris have a long-standing relationship back from when Pope recruited Harris at UVU. Harris is also friends with fellow Southern California native Dawson Baker.

What is the plan for Marcus Adams and his injury? I would guess redshirting but if a need were to arise due to injury or something along those lines he could play if BYU really needed him.

Marcus was dealing with an injury when the season started, but his health is in a good spot now. I don’t think he’ll have a meaningful role the rest of the season, but sources have told me they expect Marcus will suit up and be available again this season.

While Aly Khalifa is a good facilitator, does his lack of rebounding/defensive ability hurt the team in the long run?

Aly’s offensive IQ and passing ability are obviously two of his best attributes, but I don’t think he is a defensive liability. No one will write home about his athleticism, but that IQ translates to defense too. Multiple people close to the program I’ve talked to have said Aly is an elite defensive communicator, which is essential for a five man. Aly is the usually the closest person to the basket and has the best view of the court. He calls out screens on the floor and puts guys in the right position. Those things don’t show on a highlight reel or on the box score, but BYU is very sound defensively when Aly is on the floor.

How bad would a Quad 3 loss at West Virginia would be? Do Quad 3 losses hurt as bad as the WCC or do they not matter since we play so many Quad 1 games?

West Virginia is a fascinating team. On paper, they aren’t very good. They are 7-13 and ranked 152 in NET and 135 in KenPom. Right now they are a Quad 3 game — they need to get inside the top 135 to get in Quad 2 territory.

The were on absolute fire in the transfer portal in the offseason, but things went south once head coach Bob Huggins was fired. Many of those transfers stayed, but weren’t eligible for much of the season. Kerr Kriisa missed the first 9 games. UConn transfer Akok Akok missed the month of November after a heart scare. Leading scorer Raequan Battle is one of two transfer guards that wasn’t eligible until late December. Star big man Jesse Edwards broke his wrist December 16 and just returned last game, albeit at less than 100%. That is a LOT of good players that are all playing now.

West Virginia has already beat Kansas and Texas at home. They are a beatable team where the individual parts are greater than the whole, but they have the talent to pull upsets in Big 12 play. No Q3 loss is good, but this one would have a little bit of an asterisk next to it if BYU did lose. That said, BYU will be favorites in this game and should expect to come out with a win.

Are you hearing of any of the assistant coaches as names on hit lists for head coaching jobs? Or is too early for that still.

BYU has 4 assistant coaches — Nick Robinson, Cody Fueger, Kahil Fennell, and Collin Terry. If BYU gets in the NCAA Tournament as a single digit seed I think some of those guys will get interest as head coaches. Teams will be interested in the assistants for team with a cutting-edge offense and top 30 defense that blew out all preseason expectations.

Fennell was one of three coaches in the mix for McNeese State this past offseason. He is the defacto defensive coordinator and has ties throughout the country from his time at Louisville and Portland State, so I think he’ll get interviews for a head coaching gig.

Fueger has been the defacto offensive coordinator and I believe he’d be high on the list if any local jobs popped up. Utah State, UVU, SUU, and Weber State were all filled last offseason, so that limits the amount of jobs that could open locally. Utah Tech and Idaho State are potential ones that could open for which I think Fueger would be a strong candidate. Fueger has been at several schools and has ties with guys like FAU Head Coach Dusty May that will give him additional credibility.

Nick Robinson has head coaching experience from his time at SUU, so that is a plus on his resume.

Should we be concerned about Pope going to Louisville? I have heard Cronin most often, but with UCLA sputtering and Pope’s having played in Kentucky, if BYU makes a run, it might make some sense.

I don’t think Louisville would make a run at Pope, although all bets are off if BYU makes a deep NCAA Tournament run. I think they’ll shoot for bigger names like Jerome Tang or Chris Beard.

Pope could absolutely be at BYU long term, but I’ve never got the sense he’s a lifer. One job I’m watching is Washington, whose head coach Mike Hopkins is very much on the hot seat. UW doesn’t have much of a basketball fanbase, but I think it would be a job Pope would look at. He went to UW for two years and only left because the head coach that recruited him got fired, is from the area, the Seattle area regularly produces NBA talent, and the Huskies have been a strong NIL-producing basketball program despite some down years. Would Pope ultimately want UW or another job over BYU? I’m not sure, but I don’t think he would automatically turn down a call either.

Who on the team do you see having a big February?

Seems like Fouss could be hitting his stride, right? I’m shocked how good Fouss looked versus Houston and Texas. In the Texas Tech game, Fouss showed little burst and looked a long ways from being healthy. Exactly one week later versus Texas, he put up 16 points and 6 boards in 18 minutes. The numbers were great, but he looked completely different than he had at any point post injury. He may not be 100% healthy, but to me he looked just like he did pre-injury with his burst and ability to get off the floor.

I still have concerns about his turnovers and how he performs against bigger 5 men, but the duo of Fouss and Aly at the 5 spot gives opponents two completely different looks to prepare for. We’ve seen BYU struggle to score inside at times, and having a proven inside presence like Fouss will no doubt help the offense.

Do you see them making the tournament? If so what seed and do you think they have the ability to make some noise?

BYU is 3-4 in conference and in the midst of its most manageable portion of the conference schedule. I think 9-9 in conference is attainable, which would put BYU somewhere along the 6 seed line, and potentially better depending on what BYU did in the conference tournament and how the metrics shake out. Both teams that finished 9-9 in conference last year received 6 seeds.

I do see BYU making the tournament. 7-11 in conference I think gets them in, and I think BYU with a 8-10 record would be comfortably in.

Any spring recruiting targets emerging since the JC big committed elsewhere?

Things could change, but I think new additions to next season’s team that aren’t already signed will come via the transfer portal, although I’ll be watching Andy Enfield’s job security at USC (cough cough Brody Kozlowski).

Please put an end to Utah fans saying they will get Collin Chandler.

Look at his dad’s recent Twitter likes.