PHOENIX — It didn’t really hit Sione Pouha until Monday when he saw all the people from Pittsburgh hanging around town.The Utah defensive lineman served an LDS mission in the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh mission from 1998 to 2000 and has many fond memories of living in the area.”I really didn’t think much about it and then I said, ‘That’s where I served my mission,’ ” he said. “It’s kind of neat.”In fact, for much of his mission, Pouha served in Oakland, an area right next to the University of Pittsburgh campus.Because he worked in the mission office, he was able to attend a Pittsburgh football game, which happened to be the final game at Pitt Stadium. Pitt knocked off Notre Dame 37-27 in the game, and Pouha recalls the celebration afterward.”People were taking everything from the stadium — seats, turf, you name it,” he said. “We couldn’t even get out of our apartment.”Saturday night, Pouha will be doing his best to send the Pitt fans back home unhappy, but it won’t diminish his love for the city and its people. “There are some pretty tough people that live there,” he said.”They’re passionate about their teams, whether it’s the Pirates or the Steelers. I consider myself a Pittsburgh person. I love Pittsburgh.” SAVOY TO NFL?: Alex Smith may not be the only Ute player possibly headed to the NFL next year.Sophomore wide receiver Steve Savoy, who is a little concerned about the future direction of the Ute offense if Smith doesn’t return, is taking a close look at his future.Even though he is just a sophomore, Savoy is eligible to be drafted by the NFL next year since he went to a year of prep school after high school. He is considering applying for the NFL Draft and won’t decide until after Smith makes his plans known.”As for me making the jump, it depends on what my draft status would be and which round I would go in,” he said. “Also, if Alex stays, I might be more likely to stay. If he leaves, I’ll probably look at other options.”Savoy said he wants to sit down with new coach Kyle Whittingham and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and see what the direction of the Ute offense will be. “I plan on coming back, but so many things have happened as far as coaches and players and stuff like that, I’ll just make my decision from there.” OSU PUSHED BACK: Ute fans who ventured over to Phoenix to see Tuesday night’s Insight Bowl between Notre Dame and Oregon State figured they might be getting an early scouting report on one of the Utes’ opponents for next year.Oregon State is listed in the Ute media guide as a Ute opponent on Sept. 17, 2005, at Rice-Eccles Stadium. However, because of the addition of TCU to the Mountain West Conference next year, the game has been pushed back to 2008. According to Bruce Woodbury, the U.’s director of community relations who helps with football scheduling, Oregon State was happy to change the date, because it wanted another home game next year. And with four MWC home games, plus Arizona (Sept. 3) and Utah State (Sept. 10), the Utes are happy with their schedule. PALKO AND MEYER: Pittsburgh quarterback Tyler Palko knows Urban Meyer from way back, from when the Ute coach tried to recruit him to Notre Dame five years ago.It was the summer before his senior season when Palko received a visit from Meyer about playing for the Irish.”I know him from being recruited,” said Palko. “When he recruited me, he did a good job for Notre Dame. But they wanted me to be a defensive player at the time, and I wanted to be a quarterback.” Palko committed to Pitt before his senior season began, so he didn’t receive any more contact from Meyer or Notre Dame. He said he’ll say hi to Meyer if they cross paths this week before the game. WEATHER REPORT: The day started off with perfectly blue skies Tuesday, but clouds gradually moved in to the Phoenix area as the day wore on. Just minutes after the Utah football team completed practice and received yet another gift — black Tostitos Fiesta Bowl baseball caps — a rainstorm moved in and drenched the area for an hour or so. The forecast calls for thunderstorms Wednesday and partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid-60s on Thursday and Friday. FIESTA NOTES: Over the years, Penn State, Nebraska and Arizona State have played in the most Fiesta Bowls with six apiece. Penn State has done the best, compiling a 6-0 record, while ASU has gone 5-1, with its only loss coming to Penn State in 1977. Nebraska has only won twice, in 1996 and 2000 after losing its previous four games . . . Utah’s opponent, Pittsburgh, has played here three times previously, beating Arizona in 1979 and losing to Arizona State in 1973 and to Ohio State in 1984 . . . Only two MWC teams — BYU in 1974 and Wyoming in 1976 — have played in Fiesta Bowls before this year . . . The Fiesta Bowl has an offensive player and defensive player of the game awards and not a player of the game award for each team like some games do. Usually the players of the game come from the winning team. Only eight times in the 33-year history of the game, have players from different teams won the player of the game honors. And it hasn’t happened since 1988 when Florida State’s Danny McManus won offensive player of the game, and Nebraska’s Neil Smith was defensive player of the game. Related E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Utes get Fiesta’s red carpet
When the Utah basketball team opens the season in November against Southern Utah, it will mark the earliest basketball season opener in school history.The Utes will meet the T-Birds at the Huntsman Center on Nov. 11, three days earlier than the previous earliest date in 1998 against Azusa Pacific. The earlier date was made possible by the NCAA Management Council’s decision last month to allow the season to begin on the second Friday in November.The Utes’ nonconference schedule for next season is complete, and coach Ray Giacoletti believes it is a “very good” schedule for his young team. For the first time in several years, the Utes will play all Division I opponents.Besides Southern Utah, the Utes will play home games against Colorado, Washington State, Rice, Weber State, Cal Poly and Albany.Road games will be at Utah State, Santa Clara and Rhode Island along with an appearance in the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico on Dec. 19-21. Other teams in the Shootout include Virginia, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Central Florida, Appalachian State, Tennessee Tech and host Puerto Rico Mayaguez.First-round pairings haven’t been announced for the tourney, but most likely the Utes and the teams from the ACC, SEC and Big Ten will match up against the other four in first-round games.Utah played in the same tournament in 2000 and met the Puerto Rico team in the first round, winning 94-37, before losing to Jim Harrick’s Georgia team and defeating John Calipari’s Memphis team. The Utes’ complete schedule is expected to be released next month when the Mountain West Conference finalizes the league schedule. The MWC is expected to stick with last year’s Wednesday-Saturday schedule with some Thursday night games for television. GOOD SPRING: Giacoletti is having a great spring, much better than last year when he had to make some tough decisions about players being released from the program and then dealing with the fallout.After signing the last of six recruits for next season, Serbian guard Luka Drca, the Ute coach got started on recruiting for the 2007-08 season by attending some AAU tournaments in April. The Utes have three scholarships open for 2007-08 and would prefer to sign the players in November.Giacoletti recently took a rare week off, a vacation to Mexico with his wife, and is getting ready for summer camps.He said all of the Utes’ returning players will be enrolled in the first session of summer school, which starts next week, and the three non-foreign recruits, Daniel Deane, Curtis Eatmon and David Foster, will be enrolled in school in June. Giacoletti has selected a new director of basketball operations to replace Chris Jones, who was promoted to assistant coach, but the official announcement won’t come until later this month. TILLIE’S A WINNER: Kim Tillie, the Utes’ 6-9 freshman recruit from France, was part of the winning team at the Albert Schweitzer Games in Mannheim, Germany, last month.The French team won the junior tournament for the first time, reeling off eight straight victories in the 16-country tournament and defeating Turkey 78-56 in the finals. Tillie averaged eight points and six rebounds and was the third leading scorer on the team. The top two French players have signed professional contracts to play in Europe next year. MISHA UPDATE: Ute forward Misha Radojevic is making progress as he rehabilitates his second knee injury since September.Giacoletti said Radojevic is “moving in the right direction” and should be able to jump off his injured leg later this month.Radojevic will stay in Utah and continue to rehabilitate his injured knee until July when he will return home for a month. Giacoletti expects Radojevic “knock on wood” to be ready to play for the Utes in the fall. E-mail: email@example.com
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Eaglewood Golf Course par 71Saturday Professionals 70 — Kim Thompson 71 — Henry White, Kury Reynolds, Brent Moyes 72 — Mark Owen, Tom Costello 73 — Todd Meyer, Chris Moody, Ryan Rhees, Brad Stone 74 — Mike Borich, Aaron Bron, Roy Christensen Amateurs 67 — Robbie Fillmore 73 — Nate Erickson, John Comish, Brady Brimley 75 — Steve Borget 76 — Jamie Nguyen, Andy Czyras 77 — Justin Ewell, Brad Milllard, Jeff Jolley, Pat Murphy So what if Kim Thompson was one of the oldest players at the Eaglewood Open Saturday.The 53-year-old beat his younger, longer-hitting fellow professionals thanks to his short game and was the only pro able to break par under tough conditions at Eaglewood Golf Course Saturday.Thompson shot a 1-under-par 70 to beat Kury Reynolds, Henry White and Brent Moyes by one shot on a hot, windy day on fast greens at Eaglewood Golf Course.”I just got luckier than everyone else,” said Thompson, who has won many local professional events, including the Utah Open. “The weather and the golf course were equalizers today.”Thompson says he still thinks he can contend in every tournament, but was realistically looking to take the senior first prize of $700. Instead, he earned twice as much, getting the $1,400 first prize thanks to three sinks from off the green.The first came on his first hole of the day, the par-5 16th (it was a shotgun start) when his eagle chip from 35 yards hit the pin and dropped in. “It would probably have been off the green (if it hadn’t hit the pin),” Thompson said.Thompson also chipped in for birdie at No. 1 from 25 yards and putted one in from the fringe from 35 feet at No. 14.His best shot of the day may have come at the next hole, the par-4 15th, his final hole of the day, when he hit his 4-iron within two feet for a birdie that gave him the one-stroke victory.”It’s surprising. It doesn’t happen that often,” Thompson said. “But I’ll take them all.”Besides the three 71s, Mark Owen and Tom Costello both shot 72s, while Todd Meyer, Chris Moody, Ryan Rhees and Brad Stone came in with 73s.Thompson didn’t have the best score Saturday as BYU sophomore-to-be Robbie Fillmore shot a 67 to outdistance the amateur field by six shots. However, because the amateurs hit from the blue tees instead of the black tees, the 21-year-old Fillmore couldn’t be the overall champion.Fillmore won the amateur trophy here last year with a 66 and repeated as champion thanks to his putting.”I’ve worked really hard on my putting and it paid off today,” he said. “I had a lot of 20- to 25-footers and always left myself with tap-ins. I was solid all day.”Fillmore’s best hole was the 365-yard downhill No. 12 hole. His drive ended up right next to the green and he “bumped” his 9-iron into the hole from 25 feet away for eagle. Nate Erickson, John Comish and Brady Brimley all tied for second with 73s, and Brimley won low net honors. Local golfers fare wellFour Utah golfers finished well at the Southwestern Invitational golf tournament at Carefree, Arizona, last week.University of Utah golfer Dustin Pimm finished in a tie for 13th at 289 with a final-round 69 at the Desert Mountain Golf Club.BYU golfer Nick Killpack was a stroke back at 290 in a tie for 16th, while Nick Becker, who just finished his eligibility at BYU, came in a tie for 20th at 293.Former Utah State Am champ Mike McRae, who plays collegiately at Saint Mary’s, finished in a tie for 29th at 297. Two Utah golfers, Robbie Fillmore and Robert McRae, missed the cut in the 150-golfer tournament. Glenmoor junior winnersNic Booth shot a 74 to win the Glenmoor Junior at Glenmoor Golf Course.Casey Halliday and Carson Huiskamp tied for second at 75. Kasey Cleverly won B Flight with an 81. Brian Schwein won the boys 13-14 A Flight with a 78, three shots ahead of Taylor Pizza. Kellen Peery won the B Flight with an 83.Nichole Gaddie was the girls winner with an 80.
Cougars claw Utes: BYU hangs on to earn tough road win over its archrivalCougars claw Utes: BYU hangs on to earn tough road win over its archrival
Cummard steps up at right time U. struggles to make shots vs. BYU BYU/Utah game at a glance In a game where a couple of good-shooting teams shot horribly from 3-point range, Saturday’s Utah-BYU game basically came down to a couple of wide-open 3-pointers.The Cougars made theirs and the Utes didn’t, and the result was a hard-fought 55-52 BYU victory Saturday afternoon before 14,224 at the Huntsman Center.For BYU, it was quite a comeback from the 70-41 thrashing at UNLV earlier in the week and raised the Cougars’ overall record to 13-5 and 2-1 in Mountain West Conference play. Meanwhile, the Utes suffered their second straight loss and dropped to 1-2 in MWC play and 10-6 overall.Although there was a lot of action in the final two minutes, the game was basically decided on a pair of 3-point shots just before that.The game was tied 50-50 with less than three minutes to play when Utah’s Tyler Kepkay was left wide open in the right corner. However, his shot caromed off the back of the rim.Then at the other end, off an inbounds play, BYU’s Sam Burgess was left wide open in the opposite right corner, and he drained his shot to put the Cougars up for good at 53-50.”That one felt good,” Kepkay said of his try. “It just hit the back of the rim. It was right on line. Maybe a little too much adrenaline on that one.”Burgess’ trey was just one of three the Cougars made all day in 17 attempts. He said shooters “have a short memory” so he wasn’t reluctant to fire up the key shot.”That was actually a play designed for Lee (Cummard) to get a jumper, but they sucked down on Lee and left me open,” Burgess said. “You can’t get more open than that. As rough as it was from the 3-point line tonight, we got it done.””Sam was wide open and buried it, and that was a big lift for us,” said BYU coach Dave Rose.Burgess’s 3-pointer helped raise the Cougars to 17.6 percent on the day, which was just behind Utah’s 21.4 percent from 3-point range.The Utes still had a couple of chances to win the game in the final 61 seconds.After Kepkay made his only basket of the game to cut the lead to one, 53-52, with 1:41 left, Luka Drca stole the ball from Cummard and was fouled at the 1:01 mark. After a timeout, Drca’s free throw rimmed out.”One-and-one with one of my best players, Luka Drca … from there, a million times in a row he’s going to make them,” said coach Jim Boylen. “But he didn’t make them. We make our free throws, we win the game — second game in a row.”The Utes also had a chance when they got the ball back with 33 seconds left after a BYU miss and called timeout, still down one point.Johnnie Bryant held the ball near midcourt for a few seconds before Boylen waved for him to start a play with 18 seconds left. Bryant went left and handed the ball off to Kepkay, who was forced out high with less than 10 seconds left. He drove down the right side and threw up an off-balance, running jumper from 10 feet that missed everything and went over the basket.Cummard grabbed the errant shot and was fouled, making two free throws with 3 seconds left, and Kepkay’s desperation 3-point try missed at the buzzer.Afterwards, Boylen blamed himself for the play call.”We wanted to take a little time and try to get into our high stack and try to drive the ball and make a play,” he said. “It took a little longer than I wanted it to. Looking back on it, it wasn’t the right play. I’m going to eat that one and move on.”Cummard led all scorers with 19 points and he also led his team with 9 rebounds and 2 steals. Burgess added 12 points, while Jimmer Fredette had 8 off the bench.”Cummard’s a big-time player,” said Boylen. “He’s a tough matchup for us, and I thought he was the difference in the game. We tried to do a good job on him, but he hurt us.”BYU’s leading scorer, Trent Plaisted, struggled for the second straight game, finishing with 6 points on 2-of-11 shooting.Utah was led by Lawrence Borha’s 12 points and Luke Nevill, who had 11 points, 9 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.BYU led 26-23 at halftime before Utah came out fast to grab a 30-27 lead. However, the Cougars regained the lead and pushed it to 48-41 with under eight minutes left before the Utes fought back to tie it.Before the game, Boylen said he was most worried about BYU’s 3-point shooting and offensive rebounding. The 3-point shooting didn’t hurt, but the Cougars got 12 offensive boards and outrebounded Utah 42-36.”Our defense is getting better and better,” said Boylen. “But we’ve got to get better offensively. We had our chances to win the game. We’re going to move on and get better.””It was a great win for us,” said Rose. “We had our backs to the wall in a couple of ways. It was almost kind of a desperation situation.” The Utes head back out on the road for a game Tuesday night in Albuquerque, N.M., against New Mexico, while the Cougars play host to San Diego State on Wednesday night. Related E-mail: email@example.com
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org A lot of local fans weren’t too thrilled about Utah playing Weber State Saturday night. The thinking was, why must the Utes, a Football Bowl Subdivision team, play against the Wildcats, a Football Championship Subdivision team?You’d better get used to it.Just like BYU had to play Northern Iowa this year and Eastern Washington last year, it’s getting more difficult for FBS teams to find opponents to fill their 12-game schedules.It’s a fact that more than half of FBS teams — 72 of 120 — have FCS teams on their schedules this year. A few like Texas Tech, Florida State and Georgia Tech even have two such games against lower-division foes.While I think there’s no excuse for the Texas Techs of the world to play more than one FCS school, it’s not that easy for teams to fill their schedule with 12 FBS schools and not be at a disadvantage with two more road than home games.The problem is everyone wants to get at least six home games. So if a school like Utah, which has an open spot on its 2010 schedule, finds a fellow FBS school with an opening, that school won’t come to Utah if it only has five home games. Just like Utah won’t go somewhere else and end up with five home games and seven road games. So the answer is to find a lower-division school to come to your place. That’s what Utah may end up doing.My thinking is, as long as you have to play a lower-division school, you might as well play a school in close proximity like Utah did with Weber State. Not only does it save on transportation costs for the visiting school, it creates extra interest in the community because of all the local players on the visiting team.Of the 120 FBS schools, how many do you think are still undefeated?Besides BYU and Utah, there are just 16 others. And it’s only September.The Big 12 has five, the SEC has four, and there are two in the Big Ten and Big East, one each in the WAC, MAC and Conference USA. The ACC and Pac-10 have no unbeatens left.Looking ahead to this week’s schedule, the number of unbeatens could go to 10 or even lower.One unbeaten has to lose when Kentucky plays at Alabama. Other vulnerable teams include Vanderbilt, which plays host to No. 13 Auburn; Ball State, which plays at Toledo; South Florida, which plays host to 3-1 Pitt; Texas Tech, which goes to 3-1 Kansas State; and Connecticut, which plays at 3-1 North Carolina.Utah will have a challenge staying unbeaten against Oregon State Thursday night, and other teams that won’t have it easy this week are Texas, which plays at 3-1 Colorado; Missouri, which plays at 3-1 Nebraska; and Tulsa, which hosts a Rice team that scored 77 points against North Texas Saturday in just three quarters.In the “unlikely to lose” category are Oklahoma (at Baylor), Penn State (at Purdue) Oklahoma State (at Texas A&M), Boise State (home to Louisiana Tech) and BYU (at Utah State).Two teams that can’t possibly lose this week are LSU and Northwestern, which both have byes.So much for the mighty Mountain West Conference.After garnering national headlines for much of the month with eye-catching victories, the league landed with a thud Saturday.With two of its top teams, BYU and Air Force, taking the week off, the rest of the league could only manage a 3-4 mark.The wins weren’t that impressive with San Diego State and New Mexico beating WAC weaklings Idaho and New Mexico State, while the other was Utah’s less-than-scintillating win over Weber.Two teams, TCU and Colorado State, got drilled by BCS teams, Oklahoma and California, while Wyoming and UNLV were embarrassed by schools from the MAC and WAC, respectively — the Cowboys losing to Bowling Green by 29 and the Rebels falling to in-state rival Nevada by 22. The MWC still has a 21-10 non-conference record, which is on track to be the best in league history. But Saturday’s blowout losses tarnish what has been a terrific season to date.
Utah Utes soccer: Win over No. 19 Broncos ‘bittersweet’Utah Utes soccer: Win over No. 19 Broncos ‘bittersweet’
Because he both played and coached at Santa Clara for several years before he came to Utah, Ute soccer coach Rich Manning still has some feelings for his old school.Of course, he was thrilled his team beat the 19th-ranked Broncos 1-0 Friday at Ute Field, but he had mixed feelings afterward.”It was a great win,” said Manning, who added, “It’s not just another game. It’s bittersweet.”The Utes got an early goal from senior Kelly Isleib on a free kick after Lauren Hair was fouled just outside the box. Isleib curved it past goalkeeper Bianca Henninger into the lower right corner in the 14th minute for the only goal of the game.”Lala (Hair) did a lot of the work by getting that foul and put me in a nice spot by the box,” Isleib said. “I guess I just curved it in.”From there, the Utes relied on their defense as goalkeeper Hannah Turpen along with the back line of Lauren Porter, Morgan Skeen, Lauren Dudley and Nicole Cardon kept the Broncos out of the net.”What I found out tonight is that we can compete against the top teams,” said Manning. “We played with great heart, defended well and played with a lot of confidence against a really good team.”Besides playing at Santa Clara in 1982-86, Manning was an assistant coach for the women’s team for four years, including their national championship year of 2001. He came to Utah the following year.The victory moved the Utes to 3-0 on the season with four home games coming up, beginning with Sunday’s game against Cal Poly at 1 p.m.e-mail: email@example.com
Utah, Weber State basketball: Wildcats snap long losing streak against UtesUtah, Weber State basketball: Wildcats snap long losing streak against Utes
OGDEN — You figure when your center smashes a school record with 10 blocked shots, when your senior captain gets the first double-double of his career and when your team shoots 50 percent from the field and 77 percent from the line, you ought to have a pretty good chance of winning.Not if you’re the Utah basketball team, which didn’t have enough to beat a scrappy Weber State team that came back from a 14-point first-half deficit to win 83-76 Wednesday night at the Dee Events Center.For the Wildcats, it marked their first win over the Utes in nine years and first at home since 1999. It was their second win of the season in six starts after playing several teams close.”You know they earned this one,” said Weber State Randy Rahe, a former Ute assistant, who notched his first win over Utah. “I told them we deserved this one after everything we’ve been through. We’ve got a bunch of kids who play really, really hard and have some toughness. They kept fighting and this was a good game for it to turn around.”The star of the game was sophomore guard Damian Lillard, who scored a career-high 28 points while dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds. Steve Panos, who played for Highland High School and grew up as a Ute fan, added 20 points and seven rebounds.The Utes were led by Kim Tillie, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Carlon Brown added 16 and Luka Drca 12.Then there was Ute sophomore David Foster, who blocked 10 shots to break the Ute record of seven set by Luke Nevill a year ago. Coach Jim Boylen couldn’t say enough about his center, who returned from an LDS mission just seven months ago.”David was awesome — he’s going to be a great player,” Boylen said.The problem was, the Utes didn’t take advantage of all the blocks, allowing Weber to get the loose balls and second chances at baskets.”We did not win the loose ball game and did not win the transition game,” said Boylen. “We’ve got to get the loose ball. If we pick up two of those loose balls, we win the game. But we didn’t do it.”The Utes started off on fire, hitting three quick 3-pointers to go up 9-0, and with 7:32 left, they led 28-14.”I was really concerned because they’re the kind of team that can put the pedal to the metal and bury you,” said Rahe.But the Wildcats kept chipping away and pulled within three at halftime on a desperation 3-pointer by Darin Mahoney that banked in at the buzzer. The Wildcats took their first lead at 53-51, and from there the lead changed hands four times before the Utes seemed to take control at 69-65 with 4:58 left.However, the next time down, Drca took a quick 3-pointer and Chris Hines was blocked underneath, then Tillie missed, Brown was called with an offensive foul and Drca missed a layup. And all of a sudden, it was 74-69 for Weber after Lillard sank his only 3-pointer of the night with 2:13 left.The Utes could never get closer than three the rest of the way, as the Wildcats salted it away from the foul line, making seven of their last eight.”We need to be tougher and get the loose balls,” said Tillie. “They made some good shots at the end and we weren’t very good on defense and that was the difference. We weren’t aggressive enough defensively and that’s something we have to work on.”Utah (3-4) plays Idaho State at home Saturday, while Weber State (2-4) goes on the road to face Sacramento State Saturday.GAME NOTES: The Wildcats outrebounded the taller Utes 35-30 and only had five turnovers, with none in the second half. … The Utes were playing without freshman center Jason Washburn, who stayed home because of effects of a concussion he suffered Saturday night during the pregame layup line of all things. … The Wildcats hadn’t beaten Utah since a 79-77 victory in 2000 and hadn’t won in Ogden since an 84-71 victory in 1999. … Jace Tavita didn’t play for the first time this year, as the Utes went with Hines as the backup point guard.e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org WSU’s Mahoney takes trey to bank Utes get back on field for bowl prep Related Ute women use OT to beat ISU
Jazz will play some of NBA’s worst on 6-game road tripJazz will play some of NBA’s worst on 6-game road trip
Related Utah Jazz instant analysis: Utah’s balanced attack sinks the Suns Report card: Gordon Hayward one assist away from triple-double as Jazz blow out Suns 109-86 SALT LAKE CITY — With their win over Phoenix Wednesday night, their second after three straight losses, the Utah Jazz moved another step further away from one of the coveted top five lottery picks in the June NBA Draft. Their 21-36 record put them in a tie with the New York Knicks for the seventh worst record in the NBA.Of course the Jazz players and coaches are looking at it much differently than the fan on the street, who wouldn’t mind getting a higher draft pick since the Jazz are out of the playoffs. The Jazz coaches and players, on the other hand, want to win every night and move as far away from the lottery as possible.With a six-game, nine-day road trip beginning in Cleveland Friday night (5:30 p.m.), the Jazz would seem likely to fall back in the standings and move up in lottery-land. But for those wishing for that, take a close look at who the Jazz will be playing.Although the Cavaliers have actually been pretty good lately, winning seven of their last 10 games, they are barely ahead of the Jazz at 23-36. On Sunday, the Jazz will have their hands full, playing at Indiana, which has the best record in the NBA at 43-13.But Monday, the Jazz meet the NBA’s worst team, Milwaukee (11-45), followed on Wednesday by a so-so Washington team (29-28), before finishing the trip against the same-record Knicks and Philadelphia, which at 15-43, is making a run at Milwaukee’s worst record, having lost 11 straight games.So three teams have records as poor or worse than the Jazz and one is just slightly better, meaning the Jazz have a chance to improve their record against the Eastern Conference teams, which they own a 10-10 record against this season.Coach Tyrone Corbin is encouraged by the play of late and says the Jazz need to find better consistency.“It’s a long trip for us,’’ he said. “We’ve got to understand what it’s going to take each and every game, especially on the road. We’ve got to be ready every night and we want to show some growth from earlier in the year. We need to look at how we can consistently get the same effort every night.’’One big key to the Jazz has been the return of Derrick Favors, who sat out the first three games after the break with a hip sprain. Corbin and the Jazz players say the fourth-year pro out of Georgia Tech makes a big difference in the Jazz fortunes.“We need to be full speed and we need all of our pieces,’’ Corbin said. “Having Derrick back at full speed, all the guys rally around each other and support each other. The rotations are better, and communication is better, and knowing Derrick is back there to make plays helps clean things up on the perimeter.’’In his two games since returning to the lineup, Favors has scored 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting against Boston and 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting against Phoenix, while getting 11 rebounds and five blocked shots in the two games.Just as important has been his defensive presence in the middle, which helped hold Boston to 44 percent shooting and Phoenix to 38.8 percent shooting.“That’s what I do, that’s why I am on this team,’’ Favors said. “They brought me in to play defense, block shots, rebounds and when I get an opportunity, to go in and score.’’The Jazz are also hoping Gordon Hayward has broken out of his shooting slump after he scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting Wednesday night after 13 straight sub-.500 shooting games.In Cleveland, the Jazz will be playing a team that is playing much better than earlier in the season when it looked like it might be making a run at the NBA’s worst record.On Wednesday night, despite missing key players, the Cavaliers upset the Western Conference’s best team, Oklahoma City, 114-104, behind the play of Kyrie Irving, who had 31 points, nine assists and four steals.The Cavs were missing center Anderson Varejao (back), Dion Waiters (knee) and C.J. Miles (ankle), who are all questionable against the Jazz.Cleveland has been helped by the addition of two players acquired since the start of the year. Luol Deng has started 23 games since coming over from Chicago and has averaged 14.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. Spencer Hawes has started two of the four games since a trade with Philadelphia just before the trade deadline and is averaging 14.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.Other likely starters for the Cavs are forward Tristan Thompson, who averages 12.2 points and 9.6 rebounds, and guard Jarrett Jack (8.7 ppg).JAZZ NOTES: The six-game, nine-day road trip is the longest for the Jazz since 2003, when they had six games in nine days on their pre-Christmas Eastern road trip. … The Jazz didn’t practice Thursday morning before taking off for Cleveland. … In the previous game between the two teams in early January, the Cavaliers took a 113-102 win at EnergySolutions Arena. … Anthony Bennett, who Cleveland made the No. 1 pick for in last summer’s NBA Draft, has been a bust so far, playing in just 47 games and averaging 4.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and shooting 33.7 percent. Utah Jazz: Jazz cruise to win over Suns behind Gordon Hayward’s near triple-double
With deep, experienced team, Ute basketball has high expectationsWith deep, experienced team, Ute basketball has high expectations
That’s going to be one of the strengths of our team — our depth. We all need to play really, really hard and know there’s someone else capable to come in. – Utah coach Larry KrystkowiakSALT LAKE CITY — The Utah basketball program has come a long way since being picked for 12th place in the Pac-12 Conference just two years ago.A looonnng way.The Utes have exceeded expectations every year in the Pac-12, including last year when they were picked for ninth and ended up a game out of third place.Now the Utes are one of the teams to beat in the Pac-12, being picked for second in the league and getting a preseason national ranking for the first time in 14 years, coming in at No. 25 in the initial AP poll. The Utes are also ranked 25th in the Sports Illustrated rankings, which just came out Tuesday.The Utes will open the season with an exhibition game Thursday night (8:30 p.m.) against Pacific University of Oregon before officially beginning the season Nov. 14 against Ball State.“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it has a nice little feel to it and shows we’re going in the right direction,’’ Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said of the Utes’ preseason ranking. “It’s encouraging and it’s a good starting point for us. It’s trending upward, but I’d like to have that ranking at the other end of the season.’’Krystkowiak also knows the challenges that come with high expectations, saying, “we’re not going to be sneaking up on anybody’’ this year.The Utes have their toughest schedule in several years with three top 25 teams on the preseason schedule — No. 5 Kansas, No. 11 Wichita State and No. 16 San Diego State — not to mention the grinding Pac-12 slate including a pair of games against No. 2 Arizona. The Utes also have tough road games at BYU and UNLV.“We have a much tougher schedule,’’ says Krystkowiak, who also believes he has the players to handle the high expectations and tough schedule.Krystkowiak says his team is two-deep at every position for the first time since he’s been at Utah, and one of his biggest problems will be finding playing time for all his players.“That’s going to be one of the strengths of our team — our depth,’’ he says. “We all need to play really, really hard and know there’s someone else capable to come in.’’Leading the way for the Utes is senior guard Delon Wright, a first-team all-Pac-12 selection a year ago and a top candidate for league player of the year and even all-American honors.A year ago, Wright came in as a juco transfer and finished in the top 10 in the Pac-12 in seven categories, including second in steals, third in field-goal percentage, fourth in assists and 10th in scoring.According to Krystkowiak, Wright is even better this year.“I’m really happy with the focus of Delon, who has come back and played really hard,’’ said Krystkowiak. “He’s doing things people thought he couldn’t do. He’s shooting the ball real well and he’s really lifted his energy and he’s not deferring. He’s taking the next jump as a senior and will do some things that we didn’t see last year.’’Joining Wright as returning starters are three juniors, forward Jordan Loveridge, guard Brandon Taylor and swingman Dakarai Tucker.Loveridge averaged 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds last year and was part of the Pac-12 team that toured China during the summer with Krystkowiak as the coach. He has changed his shooting form and believes he will be more consistent as he plays more of the small forward spot for the Utes, instead of power forward.Taylor also played on the team that went to China, and he’ll be counted on as one of the Utes’ outside shooting threats. He led the team with 64 3-point makes last year while shooting 39.8 percent from long range.Tucker was second last year with 47 treys at a 39.2 percent clip. He said he is concentrating more on defense this year, but he should still be a threat on offense with Utah’s other skilled players.The post position may be most up in the air with three solid players to choose from. Krystkowiak said this week that he hasn’t settled on a starter among 7-foot senior Dallin Bachynski, 6-10 junior Jeremy Olsen and 7-foot freshman Jakob Poeltl, who hails from Austria.Last year, Olsen started 10 games and Bachynski started nine games with departed Renan Lenz starting the remainder. Poeltl is good enough to start, and the Utes could use any of the three at the 4 position and play two of the three at the same time, according to Krystkowiak.Kenneth Ogbe, the 6-6 sophomore from Germany who shot 16-for-34 from 3-point range in limited minutes last year, will be one of the top wing reserves. Kyle Kuzma, a 6-9 freshman from Michigan, can play the 3 or 4 spot, while Brekkott Chapman, a 6-8 forward from Roy High School, will mainly play the 4 spot.Isaiah Wright, a 6-2 freshman guard from Boise, will back up Delon Wright at point guard, a position that Taylor can also play. JC transfer Chris Reyes (6-7, 230) brings a physical presence to the Utes’ frontline.With all the depth, Krystkowiak promised that Delon Wright and Loveridge won’t be first and third in the league in minutes played this year, and he expects his team to play faster.“The pace will be a little faster offensively and defensively and everyone will be called on to play and be active participants in our rotation,’’ he said. “It will have a different feel than we’ve been used to where it was more of a controlled tempo because we didn’t have some depth we have now.’’
10-day contract players Elijah Millsap and Elliot Williams stand out in Utah Jazz’s blowout loss to Cleveland10-day contract players Elijah Millsap and Elliot Williams stand out in Utah Jazz’s blowout loss to Cleveland
Related Utah Jazz struggle offensively in decisive loss to hot Cleveland Cavaliers Jazz usher Wally Price will be well-remembered by the franchise Fortunately both of those guys are really competitive and that’s what I like about them. To come in and try to learn a system and plays and defensive principles that guys have been working on all year … that’s challenging and they’ve both done a really good job. – Jazz coach Quin Snyder, on Elijah Millsap and Elliot WilliamsCLEVELAND — When you lose by 14 points in a game that was pretty much decided by halftime and included a 28-point deficit in the second half, there aren’t a lot of positive things to talk about.But two bright spots for the Jazz Wednesday night were a couple of players who weren’t even with the team until recently.Elijah Millsap and Elliot Williams are both operating on 10-day contracts for the Jazz, but both are playing like they plan to stick around for the season.Millsap scored 12 points and Williams added 10 points and three assists in reserve roles for the Jazz, who are playing without regular two-guard Alec Burks and backup Rodney Hood. Both Burks and Hood are out with injuries.Coach Quin Snyder said having two players on 10-day contracts is a challenge in and of itself. But he’s thrilled with the effort the 6-foot-6 Millsap and 6-5 Williams are providing his short-handed team.“Fortunately both of those guys are really competitive and that’s what I like about them,’’ he said. “To come in and try to learn a system and plays and defensive principles that guys have been working on all year … that’s challenging and they’ve both done a really good job.’’“I just tried to bring some energy in the second half,’’ said Millsap, the younger brother of former Jazz player Paul Millsap. “That’s what I’m trying to do game by game and continue to bring my defensive intensity. It’s enjoyable and fun. Three weeks ago I was in the D-League and a year ago I was in Israel, so to be on the same court as LeBron James and all these other guys is fun.’’While Millsap is playing in the NBA for the first time, Williams previously played for Portland in 2011-12 and for Philadelphia last year. He wasn’t awed playing against James, whom he called the “best player ever.’’ He acknowledged that playing on a 10-day contract isn’t easy.“You can’t lie and say it does’t give you pressure,’’ he said. “One of the things you can control is the defensive end and that’s what I try to hang my hat on and just be aggressive offensively and try to make plays for others as well as myself.’’ENES IS BACK: Another player that played well for the Jazz Wednesday was Enes Kanter, who missed some games with an ankle sprain earlier this month and is trying to get back to normal. He led the Jazz with 24 points and a season-high 17 rebounds.“He looked like he found some rhythm,’’ said Snyder. “That doesn’t surprise me. It was good to see him relax and play the way he’s been doing all season. He’s having a career year in points and rebounds. Getting hurt is tough for any player. It’s going to take him some time to get his flow back.’’Kanter wasn’t in much of a talking mood, despite his good game, because the Jazz lost.“We lost the game so I don’t worry about how many I score or how many I have,’’ he said. “If I score 100 points it doesn’t matter because we lost the game. So I don’t really worry about my scoring or whatever.’’JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz play at Milwaukee Thursday night, then return home for three straight home games — against Brooklyn Saturday, Boston Monday and the L.A. Clippers Wednesday. … Both teams had 24 assists with James leading the way with nine. … James also led both teams with seven turnovers, while Gordon Hayward had five for Utah. … Every Jazz player played except Steve Novak. … The Jazz defeated Cleveland 102-100 in Salt Lake in November. Utah Jazz analysis: Utah struggles on both ends of the court in loss to Cleveland