Emery Talks About Preparation

The BYU men's basketball team is doing well so far during its non-conference schedule. The Cougars defeated Idaho State on the road last Saturday, bringing their record to 6-0.

The BYU men's basketball team is on a roll. In the Cougars' win over Idaho State, 6-foot-3-inch, 185-pound sophomore Jackson Emery had three steals and scored a career-best 15 points.

The experience, cohesion and success the Cougars are gaining as a team during non-conference play will only benefit them when the time comes for them to face conference opponents.

"Playing in the preseason games, it's good because it's a time in which you can fit in better with the guys and know how to play with them better as a team as well as know the system better," Emery said. "In the summer you're lifting or doing whatever. Jonathan [Tavernari] was overseas, Lee [Cummard] was trying out for NBA teams, Jimmer [Fredette] was in New York, and everyone went home from time to time. I was just getting off my mission, so the preseason allows us to get a feel for how we all play the game as a team, so that's kind of how the non-conference games are.

"It's a great time for us to learn how to play together, learn the system and get more experience. It's an advantage in that we can learn [what] we are good at and continue to develop that aspect about our team, and it's also a time in which we can learn what we need to need to do better so we can fix and work on those things as we head into conference play."

BYU fans have heard head football coach Bronco Mendenhall talk about the team focusing on itself more so than any upcoming opponents. That concept holds true for the Cougars on the hardwood as well.

"You have to prepare yourself first rather than worry about what other teams are doing," said Emery. "You have to prepare yourself in every aspect, and you can't just zero in on one thing because one guy can hit an outside shot, and you didn't prepare yourself to defend that, thinking, ‘I didn't think this guy could shoot.' Then the next guy can drive the lane like Kobe Bryant, so you have to prepare yourself and your team and the rest will take care of itself. You have to prepare yourself in practice as if everyone is a Kobe Bryant or a Michael Jordan so you can be ready to play anyone."

After winning back-to-back conference titles, the Cougars have been picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference by some media outlets. So what is the mentality of the Cougars?

"In conference we always have the expectations of winning it," said Emery. "We've won the conference for the past two years and this year we were picked second in conference behind UNLV, who was picked first. We're going to have some great teams this year in our conference and on any given night anyone can beat you.

"If you don't show up to play, no matter who you have on your team or where you were picked to finish, any team in this conference can beat you on any given night. We're focused and have the expectations of winning our conference. We're not going to lower our expectations and are going to play like the current conference champions that we are."

So far on the season the Cougars are perfect and running to make a statement. Next up is Weber State in Ogden on Wednesday, followed by Boise State, Arizona State, Tulsa and Wake Forest in the preseason. By that time they'll be well prepared and ready to roll once they start conference play by facing Colorado State on January 10.

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