Returning talent makes BYUH the team to beat
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
Brigham Young-Hawai'i men's basketball coach Ken Wagner enjoys being thought of as the team to beat.
In a preseason coaches' poll, the Seasiders, who return two all-conference players, including the player of the year, were voted as favorites to win the six-team Pacific West Conference.
BYUH's top ranking will surely stir up opponents who will be hungry to beat it, but that's just fine with Wagner.
"That's great, because you hate to be on the other end, thinking that everyone is going to beat up on you," said Wagner, the conference's co-coach of the year last season. "I'd much rather be on top with people coming after you, rather than being in the other situation. I think the players have some pride, they say, 'Everyone is coming after us, so we gotta be even better.' "
BYUH went 19-10 last season and were declared co-champions in the Pacific West Conference with a 10-5 record. Montana State University-Billings was the other co-champion.
The Seasiders will be led by conference player of the year Alexus Foyle and all-conference, first-team honoree Scott Salisbury. Foyle, a 6 foot 6 senior forward, and Salisbury, a 6-8 senior senior center, were the best 1-2 scoring duo in the conference last year, averaging 20.3 and 14.2 points per game, respectively. Salisbury also averaged 10.2 rebounds per game.
Both players have drawn fear and praise from opposing coaches.
"Alexus is probably the most complete player I've seen," said Hawai'i Pacific coach Russell Dung. "He's really improved his outside game. He can jump and play inside."
Dung said Salisbury is one of the premier centers in Division II, and has great hustle and basketball instincts.
"He's hard to handle," Dung said. "He's so strong. His strength is comparable to Division I players."
Wagner said he hasn't decided on who to play in the starting lineup other than Foyle and Salisbury.
"The others are all battling," Wagner said.
The Seasiders hope to overwhelm opponents this season with tough defense and a strong inside game, Wagner said.
"I really think this is the best defensive team we've had in a while," Wagner said. "I just think we have aggressive players who are quick and strong. And we rebound real well.
"I think our strength this year is inside. We do have some excellent (outside) shooters. But I really think the strength is our interior players."
Complementing Foyle and Salisbury inside will be 6-8 junior forward Walter Gates, who won several conference player of the week awards two years ago, and Pablo Broering, a 6-11 senior center.
Coach: Ken Wagner (entering 13th year, 231-125)
Last season: 19-10 overall, 10-5 Pacific West Conference, co-champions
Top players: Alexus Foyle (f, 6-6, sr., 20.3 ppg, 7 rpg); Pablo Broering (c, 6-11, sr., 0.74 bpg), Scott Salisbury (c, 6-8, sr., 14.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, .570 fg, 3.86 apg, 1.41 spg, 1.07 bpg)
What's expected: The Seasiders have the talented players and an award-winning coach to make another run at the conference title. Wagner is the most successful basketball coach in BYUH history. In the 1991-92 season, he led the Seasiders to a school-best 28-7 mark. He also served as BYUH athletic director from 1992-2000. Last season, Montana State-Billings earned the conference's automatic NCAA Tournament berth by winning the season series over BYUH. BYUH and Montana State-Billings advanced to the NCAA West Region Tournament, each losing in the first round.
Coming tomorrow: Chaminade
25-Oakland City, 7:30 p.m. 29-30-Chuck Randall Thanksgiving Classic at Bellingham, Washington (Friday-Western Washington, 7 p.m.; Saturday-St. Martin's, 5 p.m.)
4-7-Hawai'i Division II Tournament (Wednesday-Fort Lewis, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Kennesaw State, 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Lees-McRae, 7:30 p.m.)
3-St. Martin's, 7:30 p.m. 10-*Hawai'i Pacific, 7:30 p.m. 14 and 16-*at Western New Mexico, 7:30 p.m. 18-*at Montana State-Billings, 7 p.m. 24-*Hawai'i Pacific, 7:30 p.m. 31-UH-Hilo, 7:30 p.m.
7-*at Chaminade, 7:30 p.m. 12-*at Hawai'i Pacific, 7:30 p.m. 21-22-*at UH-Hilo, 7 p.m. 25 and 27-*Montana State-Billings, 7:30 p.m.
1-*Western New Mexico, 7:30 p.m. 6 and 8-*Chaminade, 7:30 p.m. 13-15-NCAA II West Regional (TBA). 26-29-NCAA National Championship at Lakeland, Fla. (TBA).
* PacWest Conference Games
All home games at Cannon Activities Center, Lai'e.