Worthington, Cannon play final regular-season home game for BYU on Saturday
The last time the BYU men’s basketball team had seniors play on Senior Night was three years ago.
You remember that class, don’t you? Kyle Collinsworth, Chase Fischer and Nate Austin all left quite an impression during their college careers. Their final regular-season home game in 2016 was a 71-68 loss to Gonzaga.
Two years ago the Cougars started the season with two seniors in Kyle Davis and Houston grad transfer L.J. Rose. Neither played in the last regular-season home game because of injuries.
Last season, BYU had no seniors.
So on Saturday against San Diego on Senior Night the Cougars will trot out seniors Luke Worthington and McKay Cannon, rare breeds in today’s college athletics.
Worthington came to BYU in the recruiting class of 2013 and is the only guy on the roster with NCAA Tournament experience. He doesn’t start, though he’s started 62 games in his career. Worthington will play in his 130th game for the Cougars on Saturday, just shy of the top 10 all-time at BYU.
BYU coach Dave Rose has sung Worthington’s praises as a team leader all season, as good as anyone he’s had in the program.
Cannon is a transfer from Weber State who has played two years at BYU. Rose moved him into the starting lineup 15 games ago and Cannon’s defense and 3-point shooting has been essential.
On Saturday, both Worthington and Cannon will play their final regular-season home game in a Cougar uniform.
“It’s kind of weird but I’m just excited to play another game with the guys,” Worthington said. “With this being potentially my last game in the Marriott Center it’s just an amazing atmosphere. It’s just been such a good run these four years. I’ve just been able to soak it up this entire year, not just heading into the last game. This last one will be special.”
Both Worthington and Cannon are married and both, interestingly enough, served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to Chile.
Both are also focusing on finishing the season strong and getting to the post-season.
“I’m not thinking too much about it because we have work to do as far as getting this W and going into the conference tournament, where you have to be playing right,” Cannon said. “But you do think about it, obviously. The memories, the practices, the laughs out here with the guys, team meals, things like that. Once the season is done we’ll be able to really reflect on everything, particularly playing in the Marriott Center and all the great fans and just the atmosphere here.”
Rose has coached long enough to know that having seniors in your program means stability, experience and leadership.
“We try to just manage it (Senior Night),” Rose said. “I’ve talked a couple of times during the week about what the two seniors have meant and brought to our program. I try to get the other guys to respect the fact that this is their last home game in practice. In the game I think they just want it to be normal, but it’s emotional. It’s really emotional for me. These two guys play a lot. McKay plays a huge part and is right in the mix. He’s had a great second half to the season and league play. Luke has been tremendous here for four years, so it’ll be emotional.”
Rocket science … er, seeding for the WCC Tournament
Gonzaga is the conference regular season champion and locked into the No. 1 seed for the WCC Tournament. Portland will be the No. 10 seed and Pacific the No. 9 seed, regardless of Saturday’s outcomes.
Saint Mary’s has apparently earned the No. 2 seed, though WCC officials are keeping the seeding tiebreakers to themselves, apparently, as several inquiries from the Daily Herald have gone unanswered. BYU can claim the No. 3 seed with a win on Saturday against San Diego. If the Cougars lose and San Francisco wins the two teams would be tied for third and a tiebreaking procedure – again known only to the league – would come into play to determine seeding.
San Diego is an experienced team with four senior starters. The Toreros had BYU on the ropes in their first meeting before losing in overtime. San Diego actually did the Cougars a favor on Thursday, going to the Hilltop and edging out San Francisco 91-90 in overtime.
“They (San Diego) had a four-game home stand and they lost three of the four games,” Rose said. “You can get your head down but to get back out on the road and get a big win against a quality team … numbers wise that might be their best win of the season.
“It’s a really talented group of guys. Those four seniors coming in here are experienced. I’m sure it (the win at San Francisco) gives them a lift. Our game down there, they dominated a large portion of the game. We made some plays and won it in the end and got a big win in overtime. I think it will be a really good game.”