500th win was a memorable one

By By Nick Pappas

By Nick Pappas

There were a lot of memories made in the Huntsman Center Wednesday night. The Utes held off the frisky, fighting UNLV Rebels for a 70-60 win, the 500th win at the Huntsman Center in the 40-year history of the dome.

After the game, the Jumbotron flashed memories of years past. Back in the day this spaceship was built, the same year men walked on the moon. Coach after coach was given their due for the legacy each was a part of. Jack Gardner, Bill Foster, Jerry Pimm, and Lynn Archibald.

Rick Majerus was met with rousing applause8212;his sweater taking up the entire screen.

Ray Giacoletti was booed with almost all the energy the emotionally drained crowd had left.

The rest was saved for the new peoples’ champion. Jim Boylen, the man who wears his heart on his sleeve and would give it willingly to anyone of his players8212;especially his seniors.

The best memories last night belong to them.

Their story seems implausible. After struggling through most of their career with the coach who was booed like a rival, they became a part of Utah history. They were abused and beaten. Boylen did what Giacoletti couldn’t. He believed in them.

The Utes have won eight games and only play seven players. The team is the most shallow in the league, yet play with the depth of an ocean. Each senior is averaging more than 10 points per game. Boylen squeezed them like oranges and got every last drop of juice they had.

The coach sat surrounded by microphones in the pressroom. He said Luka Drca had ice water running through his veins when the guard launched an ill advised 3-pointer at the end of the game that found the bottom of the net.

“He’s like my wife,” Boylen said, “I can’t live with her, and I can’t live without her.”

He talked about hard love. He was never a nurturing father figure. It’s not what these players needed in their final year. He’s been tough on them. He’s rode them. It shows on the court. The close games that seemed destined failures last year are wins now. If the seniors survive what Boylen throws at them, there is nothing another Mountain West team could possibly do.

Like any father who sees his children succeed, Boylen was on the verge of tears talking about their success.

“For them to be a part of the 500th win, for us to win 20 games with the schedule we have had, and for those seniors to be a part of that,” Boylen said. “A 20 win season, the 500th win in this building, to me it’s what it’s all about. Making a memory, having a memory, having something you did with a group of guys. That’s why I got into this thing. To do something with a group of guys, have a memory, have some things you look back on in a reunion 10 years from now. Remember that? Remember that?”

Everyone at the Huntsman Center will remember Wednesday night8212;for what it meant in history and for what it meant for the future.

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Nick Pappas