Alex Barcello bolsters his leadership role as BYU men’s basketball tries to rebound from four straight losses

While Mark Pope has answered most questions recently after the losses, Cougars players are also taking responsibility behind the scenes.

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young guard Alex Barcello (13) scores for the Cougars, during WCC basketball action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the San Diego Toreros, at the Marriott Center, Thursday, January 20 2022.

Provo • In the post-game interview room after the last two home losses, BYU men’s basketball coach Mark Pope was the only person to address the media and answer questions. He was the protector of his players, bearing the brunt of the responsibility for poor performances against San Francisco and Gonzaga. He’s captained a ship that, with just five games left in the regular season, is on the verge of sinking.

But behind the scenes, in times that the media and the outside world are unaware of, the players have raised their level of leadership, taking responsibility for their game on the pitch. Last week, Pope and senior guard Te’jon Lucas spoke at length about the soul-searching the team is doing, which included a small players-only meeting at Alex Barcello’s apartment.

First-year guard Trey Stewart said Tuesday that Barcello has taken on an even bigger leadership role amid BYU’s four-game losing streak than he already has.

“I’ve definitely seen AB play a huge role recently,” Stewart said. “He’s a great leader, but he’s definitely progressed, and everyone’s leveling up.”

Barcello is the best player on the Cougars roster. He takes the most shots, and conversations about the state of the team ultimately surround the quality of his play. He scored just nine points in the game against Gonzaga, but had 25 in the loss to San Francis.

Pope said Barcello had been “incredible” throughout the team’s difficult period.

“I think he’s got a lot of hope and a lot of confidence and a lot of confidence,” Pope said of his star player.

When asked what personal responsibility his players have taken for the recent streak, Pope described a team that internalizes the difficulties of losing. He described a team that seems “special” and “impenetrable” to the outside world, but is actually made up of humans who care a lot about winning.

“The emotion that comes from these guys as they chase this through wins and losses is huge,” Pope said. “Fortunately, the whole world doesn’t see these guys in times when things are really tough because these guys are super vulnerable.”

Stewart said he loves that people care about the success of BYU basketball — even dads who stop them shopping to make a “clever comment.” And while it’s sometimes difficult to manage not just outside pressure but also internal expectations, he feels the players on this Cougars team are mature and selfless enough to compartmentalize and focus on what needs to be done on the field. of basket ball.

Everyone is ready to sacrifice,” Stewart said. “We have the desire, we have the commitment as a team. But at the end of the day… I guess it’s now up to us to figure out what the problem is and how we can come back and win games.

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