Utes open with free JimmyBall scrimmage

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

The Runnin’ Utes’ first game of the season won’t be against another team, but against themselves.

The Utes are holding their inaugural JimmyBall Scrimmage tonight at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. Admission will be free to give fans a chance to check out the team before the season gets rolling.

“We are trying to make everything as fan-friendly as possible, from opening our doors for this free public scrimmage to all of our new ticket packages, game atmosphere and terrific non-conference schedule,” said head coach Jim Boylen.

The scrimmage will open with a speech from women’s basketball coach Elaine Elliott, followed by an introduction of the men’s basketball team. The scrimmage will consist of two 15-minute halves in which the clock won’t stop, and a five-minute halftime.

After a week of hard-nosed practice sessions, Boylen wants to see what his team’s got.

“We will use this scrimmage to both evaluate our team after six days of practice and give an early showcase of the squad to our loyal fans,” Boylen said. “We felt that with four seniors and five freshmen, the best way to utilize our practice time was this scrimmage.”

The Utes are ranked No. 4 in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll, but know that won’t hold up once the conference play starts. If they come out with a winning record, their non-conference schedule is good enough to top the MWC.

“That’s going to really get us going and get us ready for the MWC,” said center Luke Nevill. “I think we’ll go into the season really strong and I predict number one.”

After a substandard 18 wins and 15 losses last season, the Utes are in great shape to turn it around. All five starters from last season are returning to the 2008-2009 roster, as well as most roll players. Boylen has harped on the fact that the guard position is very important to the team. Returning senior Tyler Kepkay got experience by playing internationally this summer and was able to observe how professional guards lead a team.

The Utes have five newbies throwing on Utes jerseys, including two all-state players from Utah8212;Josh Sharp (Highland) and Jace Tavita (Brighton). The highly recruited Mr. Basketball out of Kansas, Jordan Cyphers, will join the team as well as 7-footer, Jason Washburn (Battle Creek, Mich.). Rounding out the freshman class is Chris Hines (Houston, Texas).

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