Basketball season is getting closer, and the Utes kicked things off unofficially with a scrimmage in their annual Night with the Utes at the Huntsman Center. There’s not a ton that can be taken from a game like this, but here are some of my quick thoughts.
Likes: It appears the team has a nice compliment of guards. Mostly scoring guards with combo guards, with the primary exception of Justin Bibbins. Bibbins will be a nice primary ball handler, letting Sedrick Barefield play off the ball and spot up for open jumpers. There is also a nice rotation possibly with these guys. Along with those two, Chris Seely, Parker Van Dyke, Donnie Tillman and Gabe Bealer should create a nice rotation out on the perimeter. David Collette also looked good last night, and is poised to have a nice year. The question with him a little bit is his health. He battled concussions last year, which held him back. I’d expect the floor to be more open for him too, to allow him to work his midrange and paint game in this offense. The offense also appeared to be more uptempo, but I’ll reserve judgment on that until we really get into the season.
Concerns: While I like Jayce Johnson and a rebounder and a paint presence, I’m concerned his offensive game is going to be a bit of a liability. As long as he can live off of offensive boards and put backs I think he’ll be fine. Just when I watch him, I don’t see a lot of skill around the basket, and he just seems so stiff to me when he plays. I want him to prove me wrong, but he will be a crucial part of the Utah rotation. Lastly, who is “the guy?” Meaning, who is going to take that last shot? Who will settle down the offense, or break a run? Utah struggled last season with point guard play and really didn’t have a floor general. Will that be Bibbins? Maybe Barefield? It will be interesting to watch.
For more in depth details on the scrimmage, check out the press release below:
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah junior Sedrick Barefield scored 17 points and sophomore Jayce Johnson chipped in with 13 points to lead the White team to a 69-54 win over the Red team in the team's Night with the Runnin' Utes exhibition contest at the Jon M. Huntsman Center Tuesday evening.
Barefield was 6-for-12 from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from the free throw line, while Johnson tallied a 4-for-5 effort from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 workload from the charity stripe. Johnson also pitched in with four points while working with the Red team in the first half to score a total of 17 points on the night.
Senior David Collette also reached the double-digit plateau, going 6-for-8 from the field and 1-for-2 from the free throw line to register 13 points on the evening. He led the way with three blocks and pulled down five rebounds. Freshman Donnie Tillman finished with just two points in the game, but led the White team with a game-high eight rebounds.
Junior Parker Van Dyke led the way for the Red team, scoring 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, which included a 3-for-4 effort from three-point land. Senior Tyler Rawson pitched in with nine points for the Red team. He also dished tied a team-high with four assists on the evening. Newcomer Justin Bibbins, a senior transfer for the Utes, scored five points and dished out four points while playing with the Red team. He also scored two points and tallied four assists (eight total assists on the evening) when playing with the White team.
Both teams combined to shoot over 40 percent on the evening. The Red team shot .417 from the field, which included a .526 effort from the three-point line. The White team shot .490 from the field and .389 from the arc. Overall, both teams combined to go 17-for-37 (.459) from three-point range and 16-for-19 (.842) from the charity stripe.
"I thought we played great tonight," said Barefield. "This was the first time that we got to play inside the Huntsman Center as a team. We have been in the practice facility all pre-season, so to come in here and shoot the ball the way we did, that was encouraging.
"It started with our defensive effort," added Barefield. "We made plays on defense and that carried over to scoring points at the other end of the floor. I was able to work my way into the lane at times and that is something I would like to do more of this season. It was great to see everyone knocking down shots tonight. There isn't a selfish person on this team and every player can step up on any given night."
Utah returns to action on Nov. 1, when the team hosts Montana Tech in an exhibition contest. Tip-off is set for 5:45 p.m. MT at the Huntsman Center.