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Inside Darnell’s Head: Pope jumping into BYU job with both feet

April 15, 2019

Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head.

It’s been eight years since Jimmer Fredette led BYU to the Sweet 16 and captured the hearts of basketball fans everywhere.

I expect a lot of baptismal announcements for boys named “Jimmer” this spring.

Let’

s get started

One of my favorite moments from Utah Valley’s “Toughest 24 Hours of Basketball” trip a couple of years ago took place on the tarmac at an airport in North Carolina.

The Wolverines had lost to Kentucky at Rupp Arena and flew to Durham, North Carolina, for a game against Duke the next day. It was about midnight and the entire travel party waited, delayed because the luggage cart hadn’t arrived.

When it showed up, UVU coach Mark Pope and his players all rushed out to help unload the bags, at once becoming the tallest group of baggage handlers in the country.

That’s Pope in a nutshell: What needs done? Let’s get after it.

Did BYU get their man? I think they did, if only for the fact that Pope and his staff will have a different approach than the previous group. The program had grown stale and needed a jolt.

Pope can provide that.

Tige

r and Tony

Quite a day for golf on Sunday as Tiger Woods won his first Masters since 2005 and Tony Finau made all of Utah proud by tying for fifth place.

It’s pretty interesting how everyone goes nuts for Woods, despite his long drought and shady past. Hopefully, he’s learned from his mistakes and has tried to live a better life.

And hopefully Finau doesn’t have to make those same mistakes along the way.

Ener

gize

By the way, is it just me, or when you hear the term “transfer portal” do you think of Star Trek and the words, “Beam me up, Scotty?”

The

process continues

The BYU women’s volleyball team completed its spring schedule by winning four sets against Weber State on Friday. As you recall, the Cougars had a spectacular 2018, spending most of the season ranked No. 1 and reaching the NCAA Final Four in Minneapolis.

I watched five spring matches and have some observations.

Replacing two all-timers — All-Americans Roni Jones-Perry and Lyndie Haddock-Eppich — is certainly a work in progress. Jones-Perry went from a good player as a freshman to a national player of the year candidate as a senior and Haddock-Eppich was a three-year starter at what might be the most crucial position of all, setter.

So far, I don’t see a “terminator” on the offense. That’s not a term I made up, but I like it. Jones-Perry was a terminator, in that when you got her the ball, she put it down for a point on most occasions.

BYU’s all-time leader in kills, Alexa Gray, was a terminator, and when she graduated in 2015, she was difficult to replace. Eventually, Jones-Perry emerged as a terminator.

It was good to see senior McKenna Miller back on the floor against Weber State. She didn’t play any live moments, just served the ball and ran off the court during her rotation. But she looks to be well on her way recovering from the devastating knee injury she suffered near the end of last season.

As for setter, I think BYU is very good hands, so to speak. Senior Kiani Moea’i has patiently waited her turn, playing behind Haddock-Eppich for three seasons. From what I observed, Moea’i is very good at her craft and has hands so soft she could catch a raindrop without getting wet.

A talented freshman recruiting class could make a pretty big impact as well, and they show up in August.

An a

dded bonus

Speaking of freshmen, there’s a cool story in the Idaho Press Tribune about a future Cougar who is reclassifying for 2019.

Danny Bower and Carolyn Steuer Bower played basketball and volleyball, respectively, for BYU in the mid-1990s. Oldest daughter Morgan, a libero and the Idaho Player of the Year in 2018, is already with the Cougars after graduating in December from Skyview High School in Nampa.

Whitney Bower, a setter, committed to BYU as a freshman. She was looking forward to playing her senior season with sophomore sister Eden next year at Skyview. But Eden is going to miss all of 2019 with a knee issue.

So Whitney is taking 16 classes and enrolled in nine online courses in an attempt to earn her high school diploma so she can join Morgan and the Cougars in August.

Vamo

s, vamos Argentina

Kudos to soccer fans in Utah County for showing up to the BYU-Argentina exhibition soccer game last week. The stands were full and other fans lined up along the fence and behind the east goal. Getting 3-4,000 fans for an exhibition match in April? I think the valley has a lot of soccer fans that represented.

That’s it for now, but for this: My housekeeping style is best described as “there appears to have been a struggle.” Sorry, honey, I’m doing my best.

Have a great week because spring is coming back. I promise.