Boylen and Co. press on

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

Boylen’s a Utah Man

Many questioned whether Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham would split for greener pastures after his team’s stellar performance, but if there were any thoughts or rumors that head coach Jim Boylen would leave Utah after resurrecting the Runnin’ Utes, go ahead and throw those out the window.

Boylen’s a Utah man.

Although Boylen said his phone has been blowing up with calls from potential suitors, he has kindly turned them down, telling them he is happy with his life in Salt Lake City.

“Dr. Hill and I are committed to building this program and we’re committed to doing it together and being here together,” Boylen said. “With success comes those situations, and I’m very happy here and my family’s happy.”

He continued to reiterate his happiness on the hill.

“When I get inquiries, I just say that I’m very happy here and that I’m thankful to be the head coach at Utah,” Boylen said. “I’m not out shopping myself. I’m not out looking at every job. I’m not. I’m very happy here.”

Bye-bye, seniors

The 2008-2009 Mountain West Conference season was full of wily veterans, which means a lot of teams will be looking for young players to step up next season8212;Utah is no exception to this happenstance.

Out of the nine teams in the MWC, 30 seniors will be moving on to the “real world” outside of college basketball.

“You’re not only going to see our team in transition, but every team in the league will be in transition,” Boylen said.

Utah is losing four seniors: Shaun Green, Luke Nevill, Tyler Kepkay and Lawrence Borha.

Although they weren’t original Boylen recruits, Utah’s second-year coach still teared up when talking about what they’ve accomplished, bringing home two MWC titles this season and an NCAA tournament appearance.

The tears are for a good reason8212;the Utes are losing a whole lot.

All four players brought an energy to the floor that allowed them to be one of the best defensive teams in college basketball, not to mention a superb 3-point shooting squad.

Of the 242 3-pointers made this season, 79 percent were made by Borha, Green and Kepkay.

The four players with scoring averages in double figures this season were the seniors. Utah is losing 59 percent of its rebounding and 69 percent of its scoring next season and will have 10 underclassmen. Someone on the Utes will have to fill the void of their loss of scorers, which might not be hard for some players.

Carlon Brown and Luka Drca were fifth and sixth on the team in scoring, averaging 9.3 points and 7.7 respectively. Freshman guard Jordan Cyphers is a dead-eye shooter and will be given the chance to show that off next season.

Looking forward

Boylen already has next season on his mind.

Similar to what he’s done for the past two seasons, Boylen plans on perhaps slipping Drca and Kim Tillie into off-the-bench roles8212;as he did with Green and Kepkay this season8212;which means there will be four positions up for grabs on the starting five, assuming Brown starts as he did this season.

In his final Monday press conference, Boylen mapped out what he expects from the young guys who were with the Utes this season and the incoming players who will join the team for the first time this summer.

Besides Tillie, Drca and Brown, not many players saw a whole lot of playing time this season.

Freshmen guards Jace Tavita and Cyphers averaged about six minutes a game. Fellow freshmen Chris Hines, Jason Washburn and Josh Sharp were all redshirts this season but still had the opportunity to get a grasp of the system by playing in practice.

The head coach is excited about the emergence of Hines and Washburn to the roster, who will bring a lot of energy to the floor.

Sharp is leaving to Houston, Texas, on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which Boylen is happy about because “it will put some meat on his ass.”

Next season will be polar opposite to this year’s because every starting spot being open.

“I think from talking to all those guys, in a player’s mentality, Hines is going to work like he’s going to start,” Boylen said. “Tavita was in the gym this morning, those guys are going to work like they want to start.”

These are the players who know the program, but there will also be six new players next season, two of whom already have college experience after playing at the junior-college level. Forward Matt Read and guard Jay Watkins have proven they can play at the next level and will be a help to the program.

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