Thoughts on Utah/Kentucky

Beating Kentucky is ■■■■■■■ awesome. Pure and simple. People around here call it a rivalry, but it’s simply not. When one team wins every time, that’s not a rivalry. I’ll bet most Kentucky fans don’t even know they played the Utes in, what, 7 NCAA tournaments in the 90s. So for them, it’s a ho-hum win, and for us, it’s FLICKING AWESOME!

Following the tweets during the game, both fan bases were aghast at the officiating, which tells me that the officiating was pretty poor in general. Most obvious was the block/charge call near the end. To me, that’s a charge all day, every day, even on the moon. But UK fans are still upset about it, and if I were in their shoes, I probably would be too. Walton did quite a bit of complaining about the refs too, also both ways.

Can we talk about how good Timmy Allen is? That kid is undersized next to pretty much all of the UK players, yet he’s right at home inside and outside, with and without the ball. All the while, the opponents recognize that and game plan for him, and he is scoring at will anyway. He rebounds well, he has good court vision, and he’s also become a high quality leader. One other thing about Timmy – there was a moment during last night’s game where he got called for a bogus foul, and he complained adamantly to the ref about it, but then he asked the ref a couple of questions (like, what do I need to do instead next time) and then he ended the exchange with a smile or a joke or something. Don’t think that interaction doesn’t buy traction with the referees. He has a way of complaining, but doing it the right way, getting feedback, and staying in the good graces of the referee. That’s a level of maturity that even some coaches haven’t achieved.

Rylan Jones is a boy among men, but his game is ridiculous. Think about it – this guy is literally in his second month of D1 basketball and he’s balling with the #6 team in the country. Now, he definitely made some mistakes out there, but he keeps the team moving, hits key shots, plays some of the best positional defense I’ve seen in a long time, and is tough as nails.

Jantunen, to me, is like a cross between Alex Jensen and Hanno Motolla. He’s got a long way to go before he reaches those levels, but he is a strong body, understands basketball, works hard, and has plenty of skill. You can tell he’s played with adults before.

I’ll agree that Kentucky didn’t play all that well, and the Utes made a bunch of HUGE shots, but who cares, that’s a great win. I’d argue that the Utes played well for only about 25 minutes of that game. Either Larry tried to protect the lead, or the increased pressure from the UK defense made the Utes fade away, but giving up a 17 point lead is not ideal. That said, it’s the #6 team in the country, and they are going to make a run.

It was interesting to see how limited Carlson was, with only 5 minutes and 3 fouls. I expect him to bounce back in the next game.

This team is so fun to watch, and at times, so frustrating, but our current situation is a very pleasant surprise. One concern I have is Larry’s increasingly tight rotation. Plummer is bench-ridden, Brenchley played 8 minutes. The top 6 minute-getters played 187 of the total 200 available minutes. That’s not really a problem, but I do think Larry’s teams wear down as the long season goes along, and this team, comprised of such young guys, is liable to wear down more than a more veteran squad.

I agree 100% with everything you’ve said. @Uteoholic called it regarding Jantunen and Carlson when we were talking about the Utes before the season began. I bow to his greatness.

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Agreed. I was skeptical about losing Jayce and whether the new guys would be able to contribute at that level, but we seem to actually have improved.

Oh, and also, Thioune was a great contributor last night. I think it was Timmy that said in the post game that Thioune deserved the game ball.

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I think you alluded to the correct understanding of Larry’s late game strategy.

The Utes essentially played only 6 guys. They were pretty gassed the last few minutes, and Jones was hurting. Larry burned a time out around the 3 minute mark to get them a blow. The two long replay reviews in the last minutes REALLY helped the Utes. Everyone got a rest, and the Utes (who were out of time outs) got a chance to get reorganized.

Some of the Utes were physically over-matched by KY’s one-and-done man children. A couple of them stepped up and held their own (Jones, Thioune), and a couple struggled (Brenchley, Carlson). Larry had to shorten the rotation to keep guys on the floor who were able to compete with the physical nature of the game.

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