Brigham Young University held its basketball media day Wednesday in the Marriott Center, revealing a team that is more unfamiliar than it has been in several seasons.
The first day NCAA teams are allowed to practice is Saturday, but BYU won't open until Monday.Three Cougar fixtures will carry the team's scoring load - Marty Haws, Michael Smith and Andy Toolson. But whether the Cougars are in contention to defend their regular season WAC title could depend on the newcomers. "I have never seen it at BYU where there is a better opportunity for newcomers to make an impact," said Cougar Coach Ladell Andersen.
In other words, they're looking for help. Small wonder. BYU will play without five of the top eight players who produced a 26-6 season last year. Gone are all-WAC forward Jeff Chatman, center Jim Usevitch and starting guard Brian Taylor. Others missing are backup center Gary Trost and guard Nathan Call, who left on LDS missions.
Andersen is even holding walk-on tryouts.
Those that are back are proven commodities. Smith returns after scoring 21 points a game last season, and that was when he was sharing the shooting chores with Chatman. This year Smith is expected to play at both the post and forward spots, and score more points in the process. "He's going to be asked to score more points this year, believe it or not," said Andersen. "He's capable. He will be one of the best offensive post men I've ever coached."
Also returning are explosive guard Marty Haws and swingman Andy Toolson. In the past two years Haws has shown stunning moments but has not been looked to for much scoring. This year Haws will not be passing off as much. "We'll expect him to score a lot more this year too, and he will," Andersen said. Haws had the best series of games of any player during BYU's five-game European tour last summer.
Toolson, an excellent shooter, was used as a reserve most of last season and played inconsistently. He ended up making only 43 percent of his shots. But this time around he will start as either an off-guard or small forward and will probably do better than his six-point average last year.
That leaves two positions up for grabs. One of the most likely possibilities to move into the front court is 6-foot-7 sophomore Steve Schreiner, a Dixie College transfer who redshirted last year. Another possibility is 6-6 senior Alan Astle - who can play three positions - or 6-9 freshman John Fish. Sophomore David Wolfe, who only played four minutes a game last year, could also earn a front-line spot. BYU also signed 6-9 Dixie College transfer Steve Andrus.
At guard, Haws is most likely to be joined by freshman Mark Heslop of Ogden or sophomore Mike Herring.
Other Cougars are freshman returned missionary Alan Frampton and sophomore forward Vince Bryan.