SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah basketball team has had myriad issues this year, from too many turnovers to poor shooting to poor defense to lack of effort.
The latter two issues improved greatly in the last game against BYU, and turnovers, while still noticeable, have decreased as the season has progressed.
However, shooting has remained a problem and was certainly not very good against BYU, when the Utes shot 26.9 percent from the field and 17.6 percent from 3-point range.
Going into Friday's home game against Idaho State, the Utes rank near the bottom of the NCAA statistics in all three shooting categories.
In field goal percentage, the Utes rank No. 255 at 40.8 percent, while in free throw percentage they are 253rd at 64.5 percent.
And 3-point percentage? The Utes don't even merit an NCAA ranking because they haven't made the minimum of five per game. However, if they were making enough treys per game, their 30.1 percentage would put them at No. 237.
Ute coaches are very aware they don't have a lot of great shooters on the team. But coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledges that he hasn't been able to spend as much time on shooting as he'd like because there are so many other things to work on.
"I've always liked to spend a lot of time in practice shooting, but it just seems like we have so many other things to do, that we haven't been doing enough of it," he said this week. "You've only got so much time in a week, and we've asked our guys to come in and do a lot of shooting on their own. But when you're on as steep a learning curve as we've been on with the newness and the defense we were breaking down, you have to kind of pick your poison."
The top two shooters on the team are inside players, Jason Washburn and Blake Wilkinson, who are shooting 56.9 percent and 54.2 percent from the field, respectively. Among the guards, Josh Watkins is the best at 45.5 percent.
"When one person misses a shot, it kind of batters your confidence," said Cedric Martin, who is shooting just 30.4 percent. "I think we just need to get in the gym and put up more game-like shots and come back with more confidence."
FOSTER COULD REDSHIRT: Earlier in the month, Krystkowiak said he thought David Foster would be unlikely to redshirt this year and play in 2012-13 because he had already graduated from college and because he had a baby on the way. This week, however, Foster said he hasn't made up his mind what he'll do and said he was "open" to coming back and playing next year.
Foster's broken foot is still in a cast and will be until at least early January, he said. Then once it comes off, he'll need time to rehab, perhaps a few weeks, leaving him perhaps a month or less to actually play in some games.
If Foster does decide to forget about this year and come back next season, it would certainly help the Utes in the middle. But it would also mean one less scholarship for a Ute team trying to build a program with younger players.
HINES QUESTIONABLE: Chris Hines, one of the three players from last year's team playing this year, has been hampered by injuries all season and just can't seem to get healthy.
First, he had the injury to his ribs and injured his right elbow, which forced him to wear protective devices.
Now comes word that he his hand injury from Saturday's game is actually a break in a small bone on the thumb of his left (non-shooting) hand.
According to the U. sports information office, Hines is "day-to-day" and questionable for Friday night's game.
MORE STATS: As low as the Utes rank in their shooting percentages, they are even lower in several other national statistical categories.
Out of 338 teams, the Utes are 332nd in the country in scoring margin at minus-18.7 points per game. In assists per game, they rank No. 310 with 10.2 per game. In field goal percentage defense, they are No. 313, allowing 47.7 percent, and in scoring offense, they are 318th at 56.9 points per game.
UTE NOTES: The Utes have two more home games before they start Pac-12 play Dec. 31 at Colorado. Idaho State comes to the Huntsman Center on Friday night (7 p.m.) and the University of Portland comes to town Monday night (7 p.m.). Then they play at Weber State on Dec. 22 . ... The Utes are 14-0 all-time against ISU in Salt Lake and 22-4 all-time. ... Nine different players have started a game this year for the Utes, who have used six different starting lineups.
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