Cougars Look to Overcome Injuries

BYU just emerged from a difficult stretch of four games against the top teams in the league, and the results were mostly disappointing. On the bright side, they now face a stretch of games that, at least at first glance, appear to be pretty winnable. However, given BYU's injuries and the upsets and unlikely developments in the convoluted race for the Mountain West crown, one cannot be too sure.

Up next for the Cougars is a Wyoming team that has improved since last year. Meanwhile, Coach Rose is pleased with his team's increased effort.

"Right now, after the last two games I like the way our team is competing, and I think we need to build on that," said Rose.

Rose described the Cowboys as a really good team that can really score the ball, has a lot of talented athletes and is well coached. Offensively they utilize an attacking style full of dribble penetration, and they also defend well.

"Defensively they're really assignment-sound in how they guard," said Rose. "They're gonna come up with a game plan and kind of make your guys adjust to how they're gonna guard you."

Leading the Cowboys is senior point guard Brandon Ewing, who has led the conference in scoring each of the past two seasons.

"He's been around a long time, and he's doing the same thing except he's a little bit better at it," said Rose regarding Ewing. "He's really getting the rest of his team involved. I mean, he's turned into a great distributor and [is] really unselfish, but he can still pound that thing to the rim and get fouled and get to the free throw line, and that's what he's really good at."

Under second-year head coach Heath Schroyer, Rose said, Ewing has become more of a pass-first point guard. Rose added that while Ewing doesn't have huge assist numbers, he has a lot of passes that lead to points at his teammates get to the foul line, something they do a lot because of how aggressive they play. In addition, the team is more athletic than last year and gets a lot of offensive rebounds.

Walking Wounded

Not helping matters for the Cougars are a series of different injuries to players. Gavin MacGregor will be wearing a protective boot on his foot for a couple of weeks due to a stress reaction that has been causing him a lot of pain.

In addition, Jackson Emery was kept out of practice on Thursday due to a shoulder issue. As far as whether or not he'll play on Saturday, Rose said him not practicing was not a good sign.

However, Rose isn't about to make excuses or get too discouraged.

"You kind of face each challenge as it comes, and I think personally for me that you just try not to focus on injuries [because it] creates opportunities for other players and [you can] see what they do with it."

Free-Throw Woes

Against Utah on Tuesday, Chris Miles scored 14 points but only shot 2-of-9 from the free-throw line, and those misses proved costly in the overtime loss.

Miles said it was one of the more aggressive games of his career, but acknowledged that he needs to shoot better from the charity stripe. He noted that when practicing free throws he hasn't effectively simulated game fatigue, saying "I've shot a lot when I haven't been tired," and adding that he will now run more when shooting free throws.

"He's made a commitment to the team to put more time in and to work at it, [and] the team's made a commitment to him to have more confidence in him and throw him the ball," Rose said of Miles.

Coaches integrated more free-throw shooting for Miles throughout Thursday's practice to simulate an actual game, as opposed to having him only shoot free throws before or after practice. Miles said his shooting percentage from the line was down as a result, further indicating that he needs to improve his shooting while fatigued.

"I'm really pleased his aggression level has increased, and I think that you don't want your post players' aggression level to be determined on how successful or not successful they are at the free throw line," said Rose regarding Miles. "So he just needs to keep being aggressive in the post, our players need to keep having confidence in him, and then he just needs to step up there and get better at making free throws."

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