Well, the team started out 3-0, competed for 35 minutes against Utah State, and then had Oral Roberts absolutely shoot the lights out at home.
What can we make of this team?
Replacing Marshall Henderson, Carlon Brown, Luka Drca, and Kim Tillie with Will Clyburn, Josh Watkins, and Antonio DiMaria has been great. Additionally, JJ O’Brien looked awesome before he went down with an injury.
This team has better chemistry than last years. Clearly, this team is building for next year and beyond. But this year still has possibilities.
The offense has improved by leaps and bounds. With Drca running the point, the team often stood around and aimlessly passed the ball around until someone had an open 3, or the shot clock wound down. This year, there is diversity and excitement.
With Watkins, aka “Jiggy” they are really moving better and getting better shots. They are also getting out and running. Clyburn has been scoring in bunches. Utah has not had a dominant wing scorer like Clyburn since the days of Nick Jacobson.
Last season, David Foster and Jace Tavita were in the starting lineup and both played big minutes. Both are outstanding defensive players, but neither could toss a basketball into the ocean from the beach. Having them assigned to come off the bench for specific stretches with specific roles has been beneficial to the team as a whole.
What will we see from this team for the rest of the year?
They will make some noise in the conference play. No one will want to play in the Huntsman center. Probably a third place finish is the best-case scenario this year. There will also be frustrating losses as this team grows together. That, and the fact that that has been a hallmark of Jim Boylen’s tenure as head coach.
Either way, the future looks good for this team.
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