Kamrani: Outlook for next year is Boylen hot

By By Chris Kamrani

By Chris Kamrani

“We’re planting the seeds right now,” said Johnnie Bryant, recently-departed senior captain of the U men’s basketball team. “But I won’t be there when it grows.”

It’s a damn shame, too.

With the conclusion of the Runnin’ Utes’ first year under the reign of steamin’ genius Jim Boylen comes hope and a potential false sense of propriety.

At times during the Utes’ recent run, the most entertaining thing on hardwood was in fact the guy steamin’ and sending claps so loud they could be acutely heard in the highest rows of the Huntsman Center. Granted, anyone would automatically become a Boylen fan once he or she noticed his tremendous heart and resolve.

Therein lies the problem. How did the guy roaming the sidelines day-in and day-out become the essential icon of his team?

Well, a season of unexpected highs and lows will do that to a program — especially one in dire need of returning to its past glory days.

As Bryant had mentioned — as well as so many others affiliated with the new-look Runnin’ Ute program — something is being laid for the future. Whether it be a seed, or everyone’s favorite term “foundation,” the saying has been cemented into the minds of its followers.

However, there lies a series of questions regarding the future and the shaky past.

Will this season be remembered as strictly a learning process or possibly a major step forward?

The moments that stand out are amazingly juxtaposed.

Tyler Kepkay seemed as if he was on the ’90s Nickelodeon hit TV show “Legends of the Hidden Temple.” To elaborate, I vividly remember watching that show for three seasons and never saw a winner. The same can be said for Kepkay’s three or four last-second shots.

The emergence of the “freshman fly-boy” Carlon Brown has helped add athleticism. Once forward Stephen Weigh took his boyish good looks to play professionally in his native Australia, the high-flying Brown took his spot in the starting line-up. Fans will remember the few facials he served up during his time on the court — specifically the emphatic throw-down at Weber State.

The team was tested during its late-season four-game skid. Losses to TCU and Wyoming, the latter coming with coach Boylen’s infamous post-game “F*** you” toward Laramie’s “Godfather” Heath Schroyer, were particularly debilitating.

Despite the skid, Boylen’s bunch responded to the adversity. A thrilling 82-80 overtime victory against New Mexico in the first round of the Mountain West Conference tournament put the stamp on the whole “going in the right direction” bit.

All in all, the season concluded at an above-.500 record of 18-15. Some will say a reasonable rate of return considering all that came with the 2007-2008 season for the Runnin’ Utes.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past,” and that should apply to the Utes next season.

Returning is a plethora of talent that has endured several seasons of lessons and hardships. As Luke Nevill, Shaun Green, Lawrence Borha and the rest of the seniors prepare for their final season, they should benefit tremendously by the growth of two young, versatile players.

The major cog in the Utes’ success next season will depend on the French forward Kim Tillie and Serbian quarterback/point guard Luka Drca. Fans also shouldn’t forget the incoming 7-foot center Jason Washburn, who is from Boylen’s native Michigan.

The up-and-down year brought pristine fortunes upon a program on the upswing. One thing is for sure, Utah’s planted seeds will continue toward fruition as long as Boylen is in charge.

[email protected]