Seniors say goodbye, hope to clinch first in game against TCU

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

Saying goodbye is the hardest thing to do

And for the Runnin’ Utes, ending a two-game skid and earning a high seed in the Mountain West Conference tournament seems like a perfect combination on the day the Utah program waves goodbye to four irreplaceable seniors.

Saturday afternoon, the TCU Horned Frogs will come to the Huntsman Center to play the role of spoiler as they try to crush any hope the Utes have of obtaining a No. 1 seed heading into the MWC tournament Tuesday in Las Vegas.

“I know for sure they are going to want to do that,” said senior guard Lawrence Borha, referring to the underdog Frogs. “Like all schools want to do, they want to beat the first-place team. I know that TCU is going to come in here and play their hearts out.”

TCU won’t be the only team playing all 40 minutes as if it were their last.

For those four seniors, this will be the last time they will ever take a jump shot or throw a dunk amid the sea of red in the Huntsman Center.

Nobody wants to lose on senior night, and added to all other postseason implications, it will be enough for them to play with more grit and determination than they have all season long.
For Borha, Luke Nevill and Shaun Green, a winning program almost passed them by. Juco transfer Tyler Kepkay experienced success at the College of Eastern Utah, but not at the Division-1 level.

It was going to take drastic change and they knew that when Jim Boylen was signed on as head coach two years ago, big things were going to follow.

If it weren’t for him and the assistants, the seniors wouldn’t be in this position.

“I’m thankful for the change, ’cause it definitely changed around the program,” Green said. “It brought more of a positive attitude around here, around the community. I think it’s helped us get to where we are now, to where I have the chance of having a great ending to my career.”

Technically, the seniors will probably not go out on top in their last home game because rival BYU is in a position to take the tiebreaker by hosting Air Force, which is 0-15 in MWC play this year.

But it’s safe to say most of these four-year vets didn’t expect to be in the position the Utes are in now.

“This year, I knew we were going to be a good team,” Borha said. “But I didn’t think we were going to be first place in the conference.”

Nevill said this is what people are going to remember them by8212;this season, this final game. If they go out with a bang, they could leave Utah with a feeling of satisfaction that they made their mark. Turning a losing program into a 20-win season that features wins over Gonzaga and LSU speaks for itself.

Nevill receives national honor

For Nevill, he feels as if he has to be the leader8212;and rightfully so.

On Thursday, he was named a first-team all-district selection by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He is now eligible for the State Farm Division-1 All-American team.

“We are excited that Luke made the first team and we are very proud of the season he is having,” Boylen said in a statement. “With our success as a team and his dominating numbers, we expect him to make a strong push for the All-American team.”

Nevill has led the team all season. He has scored in double figures in 27 of 29 games and is No. 1 in the conference in rebounding (8.6 RPG) and blocks (80). His average of 17 points per game puts him third in the conference, and his 60 percent shooting from the field ranks him second. The leader and future NBA draft pick will make his final mark against a team that held him to 12 points in Texas on Feb. 4.

Ferrin to be honored for Hall of Fame induction

Perhaps the most recognizable face and name with the Runnin’ Utes is being honored at halftime of Utah’s last home game.

Arnie Ferrin, the only four-time All-American in Utah history, has been chosen to be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November. The Nov. 23 ceremony will also feature the inductions of some of college basketball’s greats, including Charles Barkley, John Wooden, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Named to the Utah All-Century Team in 2008, Ferrin helped the Utes win the NCAA Championship in 1944, in the 42-40 victory over Dartmouth. His No. 22 jersey hangs retired in the rafters at the Huntsman Center. Ferrin helped the Minneapolis Lakers win two NBA Championships in his three years in Minnesota and is one of only two players to have ever been part of an NIT, NCAA and NBA championship team.

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