Random Observations after the first two games

For my purposes: Carlson=Branden Carlson, Ben=Ben Carlson

The team looks improved simply from a depth standpoint. Ten healthy players! Last year it felt like that was a rarity.

The new guys certainly pass the eye test!

Last year the Utes were short of outside shooting, plagued by turnovers, and often killed on the boards. The first look suggests shooting is still a problem. Take away Madsen, and the rest of the team is shooting 30% from deep. The Utes need to find another reliable shooter.

Turnovers should be a bit improved. Saunders adds a second ball handler which is sorely needed. Unfortunately, the Utes look like they may still be vulnerable to the press because the wings are turnover prone. Time will tell.

The addition of 3 bigs and better health from Carlson should yield considerable improvement in the rebounding.

A winning record and a .500 conference record seem within reach. NIT bid anyone?

Random Player Comments:

Carlson: He was terrific last year when healthy and he only had one appendix. Let’s hope the ankles hold up all season. If they do, he’s all-conference.

Madsen: Still a great shooter. He looks stronger and more aggressive. Defense and turnovers may still be issues, but he looks primed to score a ton of points.

Worster: Looks like he’s the starting PG. We should see more of the same, although having a competent backup should keep him fresher at the end of games. That will help.

Lazar: Not good so far. He’s missed a lot of shots, and sometimes he looks lost on the court. He’s been good as the secondary ball handler. He needs to hit some shots to stay in the starting lineup.

Ben: The numbers are OK, but when I watch the games I just don’t feel he is making an impact. He came with the reputation as a big time high school scorer, but the rebounding has been more impressive. 6.5 ppg isn’t going to cut it. Riley Battin redux?

Exacte: A budding star? He has a good body. He can jump. He’s aggressive. He can shoot. He can rebound. Has OK handles. He’s going to be fun to watch.

Keita: He’s built! He’s athletic and bouncy. He plays with enthusiasm. There’s a lot to like. Unfortunately he’s undersized for a center, and his game is very raw. He’ll help a bit this year, and may be a terror in 2 years.

Anthony: He’s been hurt, and Smith implied he’s not real close to returning. As a senior he’s pretty much a finished product, so when he returns we should expect more of the same. Supposedly he spent the summer working on his outside shooting. If he can become an average shooter it would really help the Utes.

Baxter: I doubt he’ll ever be heathy enough to play full minutes. My knees hurt just watching him go up and down the court with those braces on. It’s a shame because he shows some skill. He’d really help if he could play 20 mpg.

Saunders: A little part of me is disappointed he didn’t beat out Worster. Nonetheless, he can play, and he will help. He has good handles and is a good passer. Can he shoot? Don’t know yet.

Holt: He hasn’t seen many minutes, but I’d like to see more. He’s effective when he’s out there. Good handles, good passer, good rebounder. Can he shoot?

Brenchley: Like Madsen, he looks stronger and more aggressive. I don’t see many minutes for him at the moment.

Tarlac: Twilight Zone music anyone? He’s supposed to be close to returning, so maybe we’ll know something a week or two.

My 2 cents.

Newcomers only:

Ben is a big step up from Battin in rebounding & defense—he needs to figure out his role in scoring. He started to take advantage of the attention on Carlson by cutting off ball to the basket.
Saunders is not a great shooter, but is fun to watch.
Keita needs to learn to use his strength—will struggle this year as he is so raw, but look out if he ever figures it out.
Agree Exacte looks like he could be a star. Plus he can defend 4 positions.
I’ve seen Tarlac at practice—he might be better than expected.


Great feedback.

I’m exciting to see how this group does. NIT would be a nice step.


Great post.
Most of my hopes for the the Cal State game came true.

Bigs rebounded better. Still need to see it against big boys in the country.

Saw Worster in a few more pick and rolls. If I was paying attention correctly, every single one of them resulted in points. … MORE PLEASE. Didn’t get to see Sanders in as many. On a side note. He is going to be interesting to watch this season. There have been attitude issues all off season. First game he does great, bouncing all over the place. Second game he struggles head down on the bench. (we still won by the way) If he can find some composure when he is struggling he will be a huge help this season.

Way better ball movement this game. Even saw Carlson pass out of the post a few times. This will be huge to the success of our team this year.

Scrubs didn’t get in tell scrub time. The great thing about having depth is that when someone is struggling or not doing what they are supposed to you can pull them out and coach them up. This wasn’t possible last year. Saw it in our last game. Bench was in and got a full court press put on. Really struggled. Pulled them out put starters in no more issues. Second half same situation, bench breaks the press with no issues. Love to see it.

Go Utes!

I’m curious how you guys feel about Smith as a coach. We’ve discussed the woes around recruiting, but is he a guy who can coach UP a group of guys beyond what their natural ability might be? How do you think he is on the X’s and O’s.

For example - I actually don’t think that Majerus himself did a lot to make his players better athletes or better at fundamental skills (by which I mean a better shooter or whatever - his discipline made them better passers, rebounders and defenders. In some ways you might argue he made some players worse athletes as they started to question their shots or fearing making a mistake etc.), but he made them smarter and he excelled in strategy and execution.