In their first exhibition of the season, the Runnin' Utes cruised by Brock University 92-53 at the Huntsman Center last night.
Junior Johnnie Bryant scored 18 points on 7-9 shooting and was the game's leading scorer. Luke Nevill put up a double double with 10 points and 10 boards, again proving why he may be Utah's best player this season. But while this game gave Giacoletti a chance to reevaluate last year's players, it also displayed Utah's newer talent and that has me excited, as some newer players looked damn good.
Freshman Daniel Deane grabbed 10 boards, had five assists and three steals in 21 minutes of play and definitely looked worthy of being deemed the 2005-2006 Mr. Basketball in the state of Utah. Joining Deane on this year's Utah team is freshman Kim Tillie from France. Tillie had 12 points, including a three pointer, and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes. And another foreign freshman, this time Stephen Weigh out of Australia, finished with 9 points on 2 of 8 shooting.
All and all the Utes played about as well as you would expect against a team like Brock University. It's clear that, like last year, this team will probably be one of the youngest teams in the conference and there is no doubt Utah will rely on some key freshmen. But even with all the youth, Tillie, Deane and even Weigh look capable of stepping up and scoring when its needed.
I was most impressed with Deane and Tillie though. Tillie looks like a legitimate three point threat, while Deane looked like he could do almost anything out there. Weigh isn't there yet, but he should be a solid player once he gets rolling.
Utah's deep this year, which should keep them in most of their games this season. Giacoletti started Johnnie Bryant, Ricky Johns, Shaun Green and Luke Nevill. Bryant and Nevill were the best of Utah's starting five, while I think Green looked much more consistent throughout the game than he did last year, but I'm still not sold on his game. I would not be surprised if by the end of December Giacoletti already has some of the bench starting.
This is a solid team that will probably struggle in a few games because of how young they are. But I think they're very capable of winning 18 or more games and contending for the NIT. Doing this though will require consistent play from some key players, something they did not get outside of Nevill and Bryant last year.
Sophomore Lawrence Borha did not play, as he was attending his grandmother's funeral. And freshman Luka Drca left the game early with a sprained shoulder.