Right on the Marc

From the beginning of my college career, the U men’s basketball team seemed to be more conservative under Rick Majerus. The team moved at a snail’s pace and the “Runnin’ Utes” were scoring fewer points per game every year. The players were becoming less aggressive, yet the one fearless player the Utes had was point guard Marc Jackson. Instead of being afraid to shoot, like the rest of the team seemed to be, Jackson was not afraid to pull the trigger, which was a welcomed change of pace.

He drove to the hole, drew fouls and got to the line when the team needed him most. In the Utes’ tournament loss to Kentucky two years ago, it seemed like Jackson was the only player on the team who wanted to go out and get the win.

Jackson will be playing in his last game at the Huntsman Center Saturday. Even though he has had his obvious ups and downs with the basketball programs, it should be tough for Ute fans to see a player with so much confidence leave a team that lacks it in so many ways.

When I see center Andrew Bogut kick it out after being quadruple-teamed, it seems nobody really wants to shoot it unless he is forced to. That’s not to say that the Utes don’t have their fair share of shooters, but if everyone had the same confidence as Jackson, the team scoring would definitely be up.

It’s the confidence and pride Jackson has that allows him to pull that trigger.

He even had the confidence and pride to pull the trigger on his own basketball career. The game against Kentucky seemed to be his last after he quit the team because of problems with Majerus.

Last season, the Utes were without Jackson, but it’s not as if they didn’t have somebody who could shoot. They had Nick Jacobson, but he was also not afraid to pull the trigger, but he didn’t penetrate enough. They had Bogut, but he was not as polished or as aggressive as he is this year.

Jackson’s loss was felt heavily last year and he probably wouldn’t be back if it weren’t for the departure of Majerus.

Ray Giacoletti pulled Jackson back into the program and it didn’t seem as if the team members held any grudges toward Jackson. The team obviously has more swagger because of his addition this year.

It’s not as if Jackson is the perfect player. Sometimes his quick trigger gets him into trouble and he gets the team out of its rhythm. That’s why Jackson isn’t a pure point guard and is also why the team needs either Tim Drisdom or Jermaine Calvin out on the court.

His faults are greatly outweighed by his offensive skills and lockdown defense, as well as his toughness.

Every game I see the Utes play, I see at least one play where Jackson mixes it up with another player. It’s about time the Utes assert their dominance both physically and mentally over the other teams in the conference. Mixing it up with the other teams is part of that. It gets other teams out of their game and rallies the Utes behind one of their players. Bogut is the clear leader on this team, but Jackson provides a lot of pop behind the superstar center.

He will be an instrumental part of the team in the NCAA tournament and in his last game at the Huntsman Center, Jackson should be remembered not as a quitter, but as a player who embodied the word fearless.

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