Utes beat ACU: The view from the cheap seats

Nice win. ACU was supposed to be one of the tougher teams the PAC was facing this opening night.

I love Joe Cravens in small doses. He knows what he’s talking about, and his folksy humor works most of the time. I admit he made me chuckle with “The Utes haven’t scored since Moby Dick was a minnow”.

Team notes:

The Utes looked very organized for a group that had never played a real game together. There was some confusion of course, mostly on defense, but much less than I expected. Smith seems to have convinced the players to play to their individual strengths and not try to be heroes. The guys played well together. It seems Smith did a good job finding pieces that fit together, rather than collecting more talent that wouldn’t mesh.

ACU is known for physical, sticky defense, yet the Utes had little trouble getting the ball inbounds, ran some nice plays, and handled the press well. The turnover count was bad BUT 13 of the 20 turnovers came from the front line. The 3 primary ball handlers only had 7 in 80 minutes. That’s not bad against a team known for its D.

ACU couldn’t match the Utes size, so we hoped the Utes would dominate the boards. A 55-29 advantage was great to see. Rebounding has been a problem for a few years. Fingers are crossed that has been fixed.

Another past problem was defending the 3pt line. Last night the Utes held ACU to 19%. A sign of improvement? OTOH the Utes shot only 30% from deep. That’s a worry. Jenkins and Worster were 6/14, but the rest of the team was 1/9.

Player notes (in no particular order):

Carlson looks like a new man. He’s stronger and more aggressive, but he needs to learn how to deal with his newfound strength. He fouled out in 20 minutes. If he can stay on the floor the Utes are going to be better than we thought.

Jenkins can score as advertised. He’s a willing defender but doesn’t seem very good at it. He permitted too much penetration.

Watching live I wasn’t hugely impressed by Worster, but he played 37 minutes, did most of the ball handling and finished with 6A and only 1TO. My apologies to him. He put up a good line. If he made a couple of those missed layups it would be a GREAT line. Unfortunately, the Utes must find him some help. I don’t think the backup PG has been identified yet. Like Jenkins, he allowed a lot of penetration on D.

Anthony was as advertised. Smart. Plays to his skills. Good D. Rebounds. I am happy he’s a Ute. Not all that different from Timmy Allen.

Like Carlson, Battin is stronger and more aggressive. He’s flashed like this before. I hope it sticks.

Welcome aboard Dusan Mahorcic! It’s been a long time since the Utes had someone who can bang underneath like the old guy in a pickup game. Also, he can really run the floor. 16 minutes, 11pts, 8rb, only 1TO, and drew 6 fouls. Yippee!

I liked Stefanovic. He plays fast and confident. I think he’s going to be part of the rotation. If he can hit some shots, he could see a LOT of minutes.

Madsen was an early sub but looked lost at times. He didn’t contribute much. He will have to step up his game if he’s going to see minutes when Gach returns.

Thioune and Holt barely played. Can’t say much. Brenchley played 9 minutes, but was invisible.

My 2 cents.

Any word on Gach’s eligibility? Or is he on the same fast track that AZ basketball crimes seems to be with the NCAA?

No word.

Smith admitted they were a bit slow with the paperwork as they wanted to make sure they had everything right. That being said the ncaa makes a sloth look fast.

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They could really use Gach, another athletic big wing who can help rebound. Anthony & Jenkins both helped rebound—which is good because Battin & Carlson in the past were not great rebounders. And Stefanovic was the sub for Battin, and agree he could be really solid, but not a big body. Hope he stays for more than 1-2 years. Madsen looks like he is a freshman—not very strong or coordinated—should get better with age, but not much help this year. Poor Lahat still doesn’t not know how to play basketball—always a step behind. They did play hard & together.

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Plus help out at PG.

I loved Timmy, but he was a Johnny-one-note offensively. Hoping Anthony can do more than score on layups.