If BYU Coach Ladell Andersen's contention that good shooting cures a lot of ills is true, the Cougars could have a healthy team as time goes on.
BYU, 5-4, has managed to shoot well enough for early in the season. As a team the Cougs are shooting 49 percent from the field. While that is a decent effort, it is a full 7 percent below their average last year, when the Cougars were undefeated at this stage of the season. That team went on to set school season marks for free throw (.763) and field goal (.531) percentage.Meanwhile, the team's free throw shooting has been exceptional. BYU is making 82 percent of its free throws, led by Michael Smith, at 96 percent. He is among the best free throw shooters in the country. Forward Steve Schreiner, a new face this year, is making an impressive 56 percent from the floor and 83 percent from the charity stripe.
"Shooting isn't a problem," said assistant coach Roger Reid. "We knew before the year that wouldn't be our problem."
But, as always, the coaches contend that defense and rebounding will tell the tale with the Cougars.
RECORD ASSAULT: Smith continues to ring up points and move up the alltime BYU scoring list. He needs 46 points to pass Jeff Chatman as BYU's fourth leading career scorer. After that he will need 18 more to pass Fred Roberts and become BYU's third alltime leading scorer.
However, that probably ends his record assult. Even if Smith stays on his 25 point-per-game average for the rest of the regular season, he will finish in third place. First place goes to - surprise! - Danny Ainge (2,467) followed by Devin Durrant (2,285).
NO SWEAT: Even through a distressing week, it seems some of the Cougar players kept their sense of humor. After losing to St. Mary's on Dec. 10, and then seeing Michael Smith in trouble with the coaches for voicing complaints to the press, someone saw a BYU player the following Monday. Asked why the team wasn't practicing that day, one player - who for obvious reasons wouldn't care to be identified - said, "Hey, we don't need to practice. We're 2-4."
FOOTWORK: The highly publicized left foot of guard Marty Haws is making a comeback.
Haws, who fractured his foot in early November, reports this week that tests say he is healing. "It's looking pretty good," says Haws. "It is healing well and feeling better and better. I can still feel (slight pain), but it is feeling better."
The bad foot news for Haws is that he recently developed a nerve problem in his other (right) foot - probably due to favoring the broken one. Haws says while shooting around this week he hasn't noticed any pain in his right foot. But when practice resumes Friday, he'll know more about what direction his foot problems will take.
HOT COPY: If anyone had a chance to see both sides of December's biggest story at BYU, it was Haws. When Smith sounded off to the press, the ensuing stories brought charges of sensationalism by Coach Ladell Andersen.
Haws, a communications major at BYU who has taken newswriting and other journalism classes, says he can see why things transpired the way they did.
"I think any time that Mike Smith says things, it's usually controversial. And that's what people like to read about," says Haws. "That's what makes the news. I don't ever doubt for a minute that Mike wasn't in total control. But I think there definitely was a lot of publicity."
Haws, who has been specializing in public relations, is a quick study in that area. He isn't about to choose sides on how the story was played. Pressed further about his opinions he continued, "At the same time I don't think that kind of thing hurts our team. Ours is a team tht can read and hear things from every souce, take it for what it's worth, and go out and do all right."
Give him an "A" in public relations.