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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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It’s simple: Bogut is the key to success

The U basketball team’s offense has been somewhat questioned throughout the years, but former coach Rick Majerus’ record spoke for itself, so there was never a public outcry against the offense.

Some liked the motion style and how much passing was involved, and it worked in the late ’90s, but now it seems to be sputtering, especially with the year-after-year trend of lower scoring for the Utes.

In several games this season, the team has shown that it can score points, but the offense does not seem to ever set a tone for the game, which is the goal for any offense.

The inconsistency throughout the year has hurt the team immensely, and the updated version of the new offense after Majerus left has the Utes running a lot more-yet it has not been a complete success.

The most apparent change to the half-court set with acting head coach Kerry Rupp has been quicker shots and more direct passes, which have led to shorter possessions.

The shorter possessions have aided the flow of the game, since it really negates the chance of desperation heaves at the buzzer. But on the flip side, it sometimes takes away from the tone that the Utes are trying to set.

Regardless of whose version the offense is playing, that of Rupp or Majerus, the team still has to rely on a lot of jump shooting, even though the solution is absolutely simple for the Utes to be successful.

It’s not like the Utes completely ignore freshman Andrew Bogut and senior Tim Frost, especially since Bogut has put up very impressive numbers in his first year at the U.

It seems like the Utes sometimes go to the low post and work the inside-out game like they should, but not nearly enough.

This is where I have a large problem with their philosophy.

I understand that the team has a great shooter in Nick Jacobson, and also people who can hit jump shots like Richard Chaney.

But let’s be honest: This team isn’t even close in talent to the one in 1997 with Andre Miller and Keith Van Horn.

That team had talent that could penetrate and do well with multiple passes and finding the second and third side to get the open shot.

Along with Van Horn and Miller, the team had Alex Jensen and Mike Doleac. Of course, the year after, without Van Horn, the team went to the Final Four, but now times and players have changed, so it may be time for a little tweak or two.

Instead of that power, the Utes have a different force with Bogut and Frost that they are not using to maximum capability.

As I watch game after game, I see stretches where the ball goes into Bogut and he scores for two or three consecutive possessions, and then he doesn’t get the ball back inside.

Instead, he catches the ball at the top of the three-point line, where he either has to drive or pass the ball. Obviously, driving from the three-point line isn’t the optimal position in which Bogut should be.

In the huge 59-57 loss against Air Force, which really took the air out of the team, Bogut was 6-of-9 and totaled 15 points.

Why in the world is he only shooting nine shots when he is shooting at such an amazing clip?

That was one of numerous times throughout the season it has happened. Against BYU, when the Utes completed that amazing comeback, Bogut took over in the second half to lead the Utes to victory. But he still only shot the ball 13 times.

Bogut has hit many shots, yet he doesn’t seem to be getting that 10th or 11th shot to keep adding to the total.

The Utes are playing away from their strength, and I understand that senior Nick Jacobson is an amazing player, but you cannot run an offense through him.

It seems that the Utes’ strategy is to use both at separate points, with Jacobson coming off a screen to take a shot and then Bogut in the post area.

But in order for the offense to be consistent and cohesive, the true emphasis should be getting the ball to Bogut and making the opposition double-team him.

That would instantly free up Jacobson to hit open shots, which would curb performances like he had against Wyoming, where he shot 3-for-17. Not only that, but the Utes have shooters who can’t create shots for themselves as easily, but can handily hit an open jumper.

It’s all about using your advantages, and even though Bogut is only a freshman, he is clearly the best player to build around for Utah.

If the Utes put an emphasis on working within the framework of the inside-out game, then the team will have a much more consistent offense-one that, in time, will learn to score more points.

At this point, the Utes can’t afford to lose or else they won’t even sniff the NCAA Tournament. Handing the load to Bogut may be the key to realizing the Utes’ potential and winning the conference tournament.

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