PROVO — Craig Cusick started the year as a steady presence at the point position — not flashy, not overly demonstrative, but consistent and reliable. A glance at his recent numbers — especially those numbers compiled from 3-point range would make him appear as the second-coming of Jimmer Fredette.
Last game out, he hit two key 3-point baskets late in the first half to help get the team going against San Diego and has gone an astonishing 9-10 from the arc during West Coast Conference play.
So is he the next Jimmer? "Oh no, please. I'm no Jimmer — don't call me Jimmer — I couldn't possibly live up to that," said Cusick following Tuesday's practice. "I've just been fortunate to have some open shots — guys are passing it to us in good spots and hopefully we can keep that going."
Shooting 90 percent from the foul line is exceptional — shooting it from 3-point range, or even from the field, is simply unheard of. Due in part to Cusick's prowess from the arc, coach Dave Rose has expanded the junior walk-on's role to playing at the 2-position along with backing up Matt Carlino at the point.
Playing at the 2 position alongside Carlino is something fans should see a lot more of in the near future due to some injury issues with Stephen Rogers. Rogers had been the first option at the 2 position off the bench, but he re-aggravated his knee injury against the Toreros and is expected to miss BYU's next game against Loyola Marymount.
"Craig has done a terrific job coming off the bench and playing both spots for us," said Rose. "He's played at the point, but he's also played some at the wing position. Anson (Winder) and Damascus (Harrison) are the next group of guys that we'll go to. We have a lot of confidence in all our guys and what it means is that another guy will get a chance."
Cusick is making the most of his increased minutes at the wing and given his success rate it's somewhat surprising that he's only attempted 10 shots from range in his six conference games. So will this change — will he begin to look for his shot more and work to create his own shot? "No, that's not my game," he answered. "I'm just playing. My job is to run the team from the point and I'm aggressive when the time is right, but when it's not, then I'm just doing my job — getting the ball to open shooters and we have some great shooters on this team. I'll just continue to shoot when I'm open and hopefully they'll keep falling for me."
NOAH'S NOSE AND OTHER INJURIES: Rose had a light practice following Monday's physical matchup against San Diego, which left his team with a bunch of bumps and bruises.
Along with Rogers' knee injury, Carlino has a sore hamstring and Brock Zylstra a bit of a sore elbow. As for Noah Hartsock, Rose didn't quite really know how to describe his ailments — describing them collectively as "issues."
"Noah took quite a beating (against San Diego)," said Rose. "He has a sore back, and I really don't know what comment to make about his nose. It's been relocated, dislocated and poked so many times — he got it hit again, and they had to work to put it back together, but he'll be fine."
Cougars on the air
Loyola Marymount (10-8, 3-2 WCC)
at BYU (16-4, 5-1)
Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
TV: BYUtv Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM