SAN BRUNO, Calif — The West Coast Conference released its 2014-2015 men’s basketball conference schedule Monday. The BYU Cougars will begin and end WCC play against Gonzaga. BYU will host the Bulldogs on Saturday, Dec. 27, at the Marriott Center in Provo, and end conference play in Spokane on Feb. 28.
The Cougars won’t play more than three consecutive road games (Jan. 15 at Pacific, Jan. 17 at St Mary's and Jan. 24 at San Diego) and more than three consecutive home games (Feb. 12 vs. St. Mary's, Feb. 14 vs. Pacific and Feb. 19 vs. San Diego) in conference.
The WCC regular season will end Saturday, Feb. 28. The 2015 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships will take place from March 5-10 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
BYU on Friday night held its second training camp scrimmage--an exercise that actually produced fewer points than the first scrimmage six days ago, but had head coach Bronco Mendenhall optimistic about a team he said is "more explosive, faster, and more dynamic" than previous versions.
The offense accounted for two touchdowns and a field goal in 12 series. The estimated LaVell Edwards Stadium crowd of 12,000 fans saw quarterback Taysom Hill lead seven series, with backup Christian Stewart getting five sets of snaps.
Hill threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kurt Henderson on his second series of the night; his other six series ended in five punts and an interception.
Two weeks to the day after his players reported for training camp, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall approached the halfway-point of camp by saying "I like where we are now," looking to Friday night's stadium scrimmage as "basically a little navigational guide" to help him determine what needs the most attention before the seaon opener at Connecticut.
Speaking after a two-hour practice at the outdoor practice fields, Mendenhall said "we'll scrimmage everybody," presumably meaning that no one will be held out except for health reasons.
"I would like to see really clean execution offensively," said Mendenhall, ticking off the objectives for Friday night. "I'd like to see physical defense, and I'd like to see good tackling."
Not quite halfway through four weeks of preparation for BYU's season opener at UConn, head coach Bronco Mendenhall on Tuesday said "man, it seems like camp has gone on forever, already."
Pronouncing the team "relatively healthy, and progressing, peaking towards scrimmage Friday night," Mendenhall said that "I feel good about where we are," but acknowledged again the grind of the preseason--a preseason he has said before could be a week shorter without sacrificing any readiness for opening day.
Asked if there might ever come a time when a coach voluntarily opts not to use the maximum of NCAA-allotted preseason practice periods, Mendenhall said "(I'm) tempted to (shorten camp), because I know of a lot of coaches right now that don't use their double-days when they have them."
The first week of BYU training camp featured wide receiver Nick Kurtz standing out. Saturday, at BYU's first scrimmage of camp, Kurtz was sitting out--due to a foot fracture that was diagnosed on Friday.
The injury news was a downbeat way to start the day; head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Kurtz will be out for "probably six to eight weeks, would be my guess."
"Luckily we have depth at receiver at this this point," said Mendenhall, "but that will hurt us, because he was doing a really nice job."
Day six of BYU training camp concluded with a media-observation period featuring red-zone work. Taysom Hill had three productive series, ending them with touchdown passes to Nick Kurtz (twice) and Terenn Houk.
Hill's backup Christian Stewart again got a lot of reps, and connected with Colby Pearson on a long TD strike during an 11-on-11 segment; word is the two also connected on a deep score before reporters were allowed in.
A BYU camp practice that was originally scheduled to be closed was opened to the public on Wednesday, with just under a thousand fans filling the available seats at the Student Athlete Building fields.
Those on hand saw Bronco Mendenhall put his players through a two-hour session that featured running back Algernon Brown in uniform for the first time, and tight end Devin Mahina doing some live work for the first time in camp.
Having missed the first four practices due to academics-related issues, Brown was in helmet-only mode on Wednesday, with the rest of his teammates taking part in the first fully-padded practice of the month. Mahina, who is recovering from an ankle injury suffered during pre-camp conditioning, was in full pads and running live routes in the "skelly" portions of practice.
PROVO — While BYU football is known for its rich quarterback traditions, it’s not the only position where the Cougars have turned out some great athletes. With names like Pitta, Harline, George, Lewis, Mili, Hudson and Brown, the tight end position has proven to be a productive and beneficial part of the BYU offense.
One day after a closed session that head coach Bronco Mendenhall said "might have been one of the most difficult and intense practices that we've ever had," the coach eased off the gas somewhat on Tuesday, cutting a little short his team's morning session on day four of camp.
Upwards of two dozen players were either absent or limited to non-contact/conditioning work, but Mendenhall said the early-camp attrition level has been par for the course.
"Today was thin, but man, we've gone really hard, " said Mendenhall. "Even though it's (only) day four, guys are working hard, and so I felt that I could cut it short because of that."
BYU fans were welcomed to an open practice on the second day of training camp Saturday, and the hundreds who turned out had to leave impressed with a passing game that again stood out for its big-play potential.
Backup quarterback Christian Stewart got a lot of work in the two-hour session, connecting on deep scoring strikes with Mitch Mathews, Nick Kurtz (twice) and Mitchell Juergens. Taysom Hill found Jordan Leslie for a long TD late in the closing segment of practice. Devon Blackmon also turned a long catch into a score.
Particularly impressive non-scoring catches were turned in by Blackmon and Nick Ziolkowski; Blackmon snared a one-handed reception on the sideline midway through practice, while Ziolkowski went horizontal on an out-pattern early in the day. Stanford transfer Keanu Nelson also stood out with a fine individual effort to record one of the nicer catches of the day.