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BYU hoopsters tip off season in front of sellout crowd

BYU hoopsters tip off season in front of sellout crowd

By Matt Hopkins, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Nov. 12, 2010 at 2:13 p.m.



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PROVO -- All of the talk and preseason accolades for the BYU Cougars will be tested Friday night at the Marriott Center in their home and season opener in front of a sellout crowd against the Fresno State Bulldogs.

The Cougars are asking the sellout crowd to "white-out" the stands, something sophomore forward Chris Collinsworth is looking forward to. This is his first regular season game since he returned from his mission to Australia, but he remembers the power of the BYU fans in the Marriott Center from his freshman year.

"I've never lost in the Marriott Center," Collinsworth said. My freshman year we didn't lose at home. When you play in front of 22,000 people, that's pretty special and pretty significant. It's one of the biggest arenas in the nation. We take a lot of pride in it. That alone, us coming out and taking pride in our arena, makes it special."

The Cougars will be welcoming former BYU head coach and current Bulldog head coach Steve Cleveland to the Marriott Center for the first time since he left.

"I'm happy that he's coming back," Cougar Head Coach Dave Rose said. Rose also realizes that personal feelings need to be set aside.

"He's another coach and another team in another game. The one thing that is a little unsettling is the fact that I'm playing a guy that has won more games in here (Marriott Center) than I have."

This year's team is going into the season with the more preseason accolades than any other Cougar Basketball team in recent memory. Point guard Jimmer Fredette recently added his sixth first-team preseason All-American recognition. Fredette recognizes the importance of looking past all of the accolades.

"You don't think about it once you're playing," Fredette said. "You go out there and know that the (other) team is going to be gunning for you no matter what. You have to bring you're A-game every single game because with the accolades come a lot of hype and the teams know that. They're excited to come out. They want to upstage you, and they want to beat you. We're very aware of that and we know that we're going to have to bring out our best effort every single game. If anything, it should motivate us to play harder."

Coach Rose noted that although the praise is great, it is the team's expectations from within that should matter most.

"I don't think that the expectations from others should affect the team," Rose said. "Our expectations are what really matter. We just want to get better every day. But you don't really know where you're at until you start playing. It'll all be a whole different level of intensity, whole different preparation challenge and everything will be different starting on Friday."

The season opener tips off at 7 p.m. inside the Marriott Center. The game will not be televised, but can be heard on ksl.com and KSL Newsradio 102.7FM/1160AM.

Matt Hopkins

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