Green worth more than gold for Utes

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

How fitting it is that U power forward Shaun Green’s last name is the color of money, since he has been nothing but money for the Utes since stepping foot on campus a year and a half ago.

Every time the U needs a momentum-swinging three-point shot, Green seems to be the one to knock it down.

Every time the U needs a big steal or rebound, the sophomore always seems to provide it.

And every time a teammate needs a cup of water, Green is probably going to get it for him.

Midway through his sophomore season, U power forward Shaun Green has already made quite a name for himself. His cool demeanor and team-first attitude has translated into success–first for himself, but lately for the Utes as well. The team has now won two consecutive games over quality Mountain West Conference foes.

Green threw down for 15 points a week ago against Air Force, then followed with 10 points and six rebounds against Wyoming. In the two games combined, the six-foot-eight sophomore converted five-for-eight from behind the three-point line–an area that has become a comfort zone for Green this year.

Green is currently ranked first in the nation in three-point percentage, hitting 51-for-89 from behind the arc. But when asked about what the ranking means to him, the sophomore couldn’t be more nonchalant.

“I don’t keep track of stuff like that,” Green said earlier this year. “The team is what’s important and anything that takes attention away from that is worthless.”

Although Green doesn’t seem to want to take credit, his teammates sure are taking notice of his consistent play.

“He’s an all-around player,” Utah guard Chris Grant said. “Everyone knows what a great shooter he is, but he’s also a great defender and passer. From my standpoint as his teammate, I trust him quite a bit on the court.”

Grant isn’t the only one taking notice, either. Numerous coaches around the conference are starting to recognize the sophomore as not just an outside threat, but also as a legitimate post player.

“Green’s size and ability make him very tough to defend,” Colorado State head coach Dale Layer said. “If you put a post player on him, he’ll hit a three. If you put a three (small forward) on him, he’ll post him up.”

Green is currently third in the team in scoring (12.5 points per game) and second in rebounding (6.0 rebounds per game) in just his second year of collegiate play. The Salt Lake City native was forced into a starting role his freshman season due to lack of personnel, but thrived under the pressure, averaging 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

“Shaun came in last year and made the most of his time,” U coach Ray Giacoletti said. “He learned pretty early that he can stretch the defense with his size and ability.”

The Utes have taken advantage of Green’s abilities this year, such as his 22-foot jump shot or his knack for dishing out assists.

“He can hurt teams in so many ways, but probably my favorite attribute is that he is very team-oriented.” Giacoletti said. “He’ll do anything he can to help this team win.”

Whether it’s through the air (threes) or on the ground (post play), one thing is certain: Opponents will be seeing lots of Green for the next couple of years.

Lennie Mahler

Shaun Green drives past a Wyoming defender in the Utes’ 62-60 victory Saturday in the Huntsman Center.