I'd almost forgotten how good it is to walk away from the Huntsman Center and feel good about a game. Nice win last night, though admittedly we basically beat a bad team that is about to fire their coach. Oregon State is less than the sum of their parts -- they have some really good players like Nelson and Burton but they aren't very good as a team. Anyway, some nice positives for us:
-- Team came out aggressive, shooting 3s with confidence and mixing it in with taking to the hoop. Nice balance of outside/inside.
-- Best ball movement of the year, we were really moving the ball all over.
-- Washburn got his 1000th point. Huge props to Wash. He's improved into quite a good player. Wish his hard work could have been rewarded with at least one great season with the team, but hopefully he's playing himself into a pro career overseas if that is what he wants.
-- Jeremy Olsen, baby! Losing Wash is going to hurt, but Olsen is developing into a good player. He's not smooth like Wash and he can't shoot like him either but he's a junkyard dog guy -- doing the little things to win. His putback falling backwards was great, and his spin move from the baseline last night was sick. Didn't know he had that in him. And just as good, he is going to be leader. Did anyone else see him firing up the team during timeouts? He is going to replace the leadership void vacated by Wash leaving. I think we can rely on him for 10 points/game next year and better rebounding than with Wash. That would be huge.
-- We handled the their length, traps and full-court press quite well, which is nice to see because that has been a big problem this year. Taylor showed big improvement there. He showed his quicks and that he is a legit good Pac-12 guard. Loved how he shot the ball with confidence. He has been struggling with a wrist injury and an ankle sprain -- I wonder if his recent slump was due to injury because last night he both shot it well and was very quick.
-- Coaches learn over the course of the season as well. Krysko coached a better game. We stayed aggressive when up big, unlike Northridge and Colorado. Larry has learned passive doesn't work with this team.
Also, we've also learned this year Larry likes to play the percentages and take away a team's strength (triangle in two against BYU, zoning USC and Stanford). Up to this point it's backfired numerous times as unheralded players or shooters stepped up and killed us. Tonight we played exclusively man, said "screw it" to the gimmicks and just manned up on d. It paid off for us. Maybe we need to do that more.
-- We overcame another "WTF" game from somebody. Barton from Oregon State had hit 6 threes all year -- he was 5-6 last night. OSU shot it well from downtown and we played well enough to weather the storm.
-- JLove was a beast both with scoring and rebounding. That's what we need from him next year. Seymour finally had a pretty good game and looked comfortable, showing a little bit what he can do. That was 4 freshman who played last night and looked good, but JLove, Taylor and Olsen are a nice foundation for next year.
-- Crowd was great last night. Wasn't huge but I have to give props to Ute fans this year and especially the students. It's been rough this year on the court but the students last night showed up and were loud. Utah fans overall this year IMHO did a nice job considering the circumstances.
-- Everyone come out to Oregon. Wish they didn't get drilled by CU (they will be out for blood) but I think we can give them a good game and Wash and Martin deserve a great sendoff for their hard work. Well, I guess even Dubois. Go Utes!
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