Utes’ loss was a team effort

By By Tom Quinn and By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

In the world of sports, the general tendency is to give credit to teams for wins and blame individuals for losses. The New York Giants won the Super Bowl in 1991, but Scott Norwood lost the game when he missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired.

In last night’s loss to BYU, fans of the Utah men’s basketball team could easily dump responsibility on Shaun Green or Johnnie Bryant for virtually disappearing when their team needed them the most.

Such a limited point of view, however, disregards several important aspects of the Utes’ poor showing. Make no mistake, last night’s loss was a team effort.

Many fans were upset with the porous Ute defense, which made Keena Young look like Elton Brand and allowed Jonathan Tavernari to impersonate Reggie Miller all the way to a 17-point performance.

Another possible scapegoat was a Utah offense that failed to pull its weight for the majority of the contest. Center Luke Neville played well but turned the ball over five times, and Green, a usually dependable three-point shooter, was ice-cold from beyond the arc.

Following the game, Utah coaches and players alike were well aware that the combination of poor defensive play and an anemic offense almost always result in a loss.

“If we don’t score, we need to be able to make them not score,” said senior guard Ricky Johns. “We need to have more pride on the defensive side of the court.”

Head coach Ray Giacoletti added, “If you don’t do something well on one end of the court, you can make up for it on the other end. We didn’t do that tonight.”

Another area in which the Utes failed to match up with the visiting Cougars was bench scoring. Utah’s bench was held virtually scoreless-no player even approached double figures-leaving Nevill and Johns to carry the entire offensive load.

BYU’s bench, on the other hand, had a field day with the Utes’ hapless defense. Forward Tavernari outscored three of the Utes’ starting five despite spending the game’s opening minutes on the sidelines. Backup center Vuk Ivanovic also made an impact for the Cougars by playing good defense on Utah’s Nevill when starter Trent Plaisted left the with early foul trouble.

In spite of their numerous shortcomings, the Utes somehow kept the game from getting out of hand. Had they been able to hang onto the ball, they might have given the home crowd something to cheer about.

Utah turned the ball over 10 times, a statistic that ultimately resulted in 13 points for the Cougars and simultaneously drained the Utes of whatever offensive momentum they managed to muster.

Fans looking for someone to blame for last night’s debacle are fortunate in that they have plenty of individuals at which to direct their anger. On the bright side, they have the honor of rooting for a team that leads the NCAA in finding new and creative ways to lose.

Lennie Mahler

Utes Stephen Weigh and Luke Nevill leave the court in the midst of BYU celebration as the Cougars defeated the Utes at the Huntsman Center for the first time since 1994.