Anderson Adding to BYU's Depth

It came as no surprise that Chris Miles became the starting center once Trent Plaisted left BYU, but what wasn't known was how the depth behind him would be. Former walk-on Gavin MacGregor saw limited action two seasons ago but missed last year due to injury, while James Anderson redshirted last year after returning from a mission he left for only four days after graduating from high school.

While MacGregor has been the primary backup off the bench for BYU, a recent stress reaction in his foot has kept him off the court. He is making progress in terms of his recovery, but is being evaluated after each practice to determine his soreness level. It is unknown whether he will be able to play against TCU on Saturday.

"We're hoping he will, and based on how he's feeling I think that he's got a pretty good chance to play," said Coach Rose.

That's where James Anderson comes in. His minutes have been fairly limited this year, though he has seen an increase in playing time with MacGregor being unable to play. Anderson made the most of his playing time against Colorado State on Wednesday, scoring a career-high 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. He also recorded seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

"I just think I took advantage of the situation," said Anderson. "Thinking back on the game, a lot of my open shots came off of dribble penetration from our guard penetrating and then me finding the right open spot, so that contributed to me being able to score."

Anderson first demonstrated his potential in BYU's game against Boise State earlier in the season, when he recorded 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, five blocks and two steals.

"James has played well in certain matchups that are good for him," said Rose. "You know, what we need to do is kind of expand his game and get him to be able to play, and that's what happens with a young player. You try to get him in situations where he can really be successful. Last night was a terrific game for him, but our players really found him in a lot of good situations for him to be able to score the ball, and with James it comes down to just consistency of being able to implement him in our game plan more often in different situations."

Anderson, echoing Rose's sentiments about the redshirt freshman needing to grow and improve as a player, said he can always do better and is never satisfied with where he's at. That is a mindset he said he learned from his dad, who also happened to be his coach in high school.

"I feel like I'm doing okay, I feel I'm making strides little by little, but I still know I got a lot to do to get better," said Anderson.

In terms of what he can do better, Anderson said he would like to improve on his lateral quickness, and just plain wants to get bigger, stronger and faster. He also said he was better in high school at shooting with his left hand, and wants to work on that aspect of his game.

When asked how he might compare his game and style of play to that of Miles or MacGregor, Anderson said he doesn't like to compare himself to others, but said his strengths come from his overall length. He added that he was good shot blocker in high school and feels he has good touch around the basket.

If nothing else, he provides a different look off the bench and is a player that Coach Rose can use in certain situations that suit Anderson perhaps more than Miles or MacGregor. In addition, he may be able to catch opposing players off guard, as they are sure to watch far more film on Miles, as well as MacGregor to a lesser extent.

"I'm probably not on the scouting report for many teams," Anderson admitted.

Something is Foul

If there's one glaring weakness among BYU's post players, it is free-throw shooting.

BYU's practices almost always end with Coach Rose calling up random players to shoot one free throw. If they miss, the whole team must sprint to one end of the floor and back. Sometimes practices end with players needing to hit a certain amount of free throws in succession before leaving.

Wednesday, however, was different for Miles, MacGregor, Anderson and Noah Hartsock. After the whole team ended practice with their normal make-free-throws-or-sprint routine, those four players spent a lot of extra time shooting free throws under the watchful eye of Coach Rose.

Each player would alternate attempting a free throw, and would have to run to one end of the court and back by themself after every miss. This drill went on for a while, after which they then all split up and didn't leave until they had personally hit a specified number of free throws.

"I think they all know they need to work on it, need to get better," said Rose about the free-throw shooting of his post players. "It's a real area with our team that we can improve, and so we'll spend time trying to do that."

Anderson, not having played the minutes that other Cougars have, hasn't been to the line much, but of his 10 attempted free throws this season, he has only made two.

"I was decent in high school," he said. "I felt like I was doing better last year. I think [shooting] free throws is like 80-90 percent mental, you know? You sit in practice and can make 25 out of 30 free throws, and when you get in a game it's all mental, so I just need to get my mind right and work on focusing better."


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