Utes look to rebound against Colorado

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

The last time the U men’s basketball team started off the season 0-2, Jimmy Carter was president of the United States, “Apocalypse Now” was just coming out and ESPN was still in its infant stage.

Not since the 1978-1979 season have the Utes started out with a pair of losses, but after dropping games to Southern Utah and Santa Clara to open their season, the Utes are returning to those not-so-glorious days.

Utah opponents have pretty well had their way with the U defense this season, with Southern Utah shooting 65 percent and Santa Clara shooting 60 percent on their way to a pair of wins.

“Until we get better defensively, we’re going to struggle,” said U head coach Ray Giacoletti. “You can’t let teams shoot 60 percent on you and have a chance to win and be successful.”

Specifically, players and coaches alike agree that the Utes’ lack of passion on the defensive end of the court has been lagging. But despite the lack of effort in the past, Utah’s Shaun Green is still optimistic about the young team’s future and insists that the problem has been addressed.

“We’ve been watching the film and we all agree that it’s a lack of effort,” Green said. “But everyone on this team cares about winning, and from here on out, you’re going to see a lot more intensity on the defensive end.”

Utah will try to bounce back tonight against Colorado, which has shared similar struggles getting going early this season. The Buffalos opened up the season with a 78-64 victory over Denver University, but have since fallen hard, losing to MWC foes New Mexico and Air Force by a total of 79 points.

Most recently, the Buffalos were held to just 11 points in the first half of an 84-46 loss to Air Force. Sophomore forward Jermyl Jackson-Wilson led the Colorado offense in the game with nine points. Jackson-Wilson is currently averaging 10.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game this year and will surely be a focus for the U defense.

In the backcourt, Colorado shooting guard Richard Roby should provide a number of problems for coach Giacoletti. The 6-foot-6 junior phenom was selected to the All-Big 12 conference first team a year ago and has continued to play well early this year. Roby is averaging 12.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and three assists per game through three games.

“They’re a very athletic team,” said U guard Johnnie Bryant. “They have very talented players–Roby is one of them. Roby is an NBA prospect and he’s going to try to get up and down the court fast.”

As a whole, the Buffalos have struggled considerably with their shooting this season, converting on 38.3 percent of their field-goal attempts. Their struggles continue from the free-throw line, where Colorado shoots a meager 51.9 percent.

With the game against Colorado set for tonight at 7, the Utes’ main concern continues to be themselves.

“It’s still about us,” Giacoletti said. “We have to get better defensively. If not, it doesn’t matter who we play, we are not going to be successful.”