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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Runnin? Utes exceeded expectations

By Marco Villano

Seriously, who would have expected this much success out of the Utah basketball team this season?


The Utes had 24 wins, two Mountain West Conference titles and an MWC Player of the Year. After a 6-5 start, which include losses to the likes of Southwest Baptist and Idaho State, it would have been really hard to predict these accolades.

Head coach Jim Boylen hates that we, in the media, always go back to those losses, but I thank the basketball team for dropping these games.

The reason is that they brought up some doubt as to what they could accomplish this season8212;it added to the drama of what was the most exciting, roller-coaster season in recent Utah basketball history.

As the beat writer for the men’s basketball team, I was asked, “Where are the Utes going this season?” prior to the games against the “fab four” that came into the Huntsman Center.

I replied with a simple response: “They’re a work in progress”8212;which was seemingly correct after they obliterated LSU and Oregon and squeaked by Gonzaga.

This turnaround sparked a fire under the asses of sleepwalking Utah fans after they had forgotten about one of the most decorated college basketball programs in the country for the past four years.

Thanks, Jimmy B.

How much fun was it when Utah started tearing up its opponents after that shaky start?

Remember when they won eight straight games in the toughest MWC year ever?

Yeah, that was when they had first place all but wrapped up8212;until they dropped tough losses to BYU and New Mexico in two of the final three games of the season.

Sure, it sucked that they had to share the MWC title with two other teams, including the likes of the Team Down South. But that surely exceeded everyone’s expectations, seeing as how it was only Boylen’s second year with a program that had four seniors he had to persuade to “buy into” his ideas.

Oh, I almost forgot about the MWC Tournament.

Surely, nobody thought the Utes would take that crown, after losing two of their last three.

After heroics from Lawrence Borha in the first round against the Horned Frogs, with a 3-pointer from the wing at the buzzer saving a potential upset, there was no way Utah would go on to beat higher and better seeds.

Well, Wyoming couldn’t hold a flame against the Utes’ toughness all season, so it wasn’t really a surprise when they beat the Pokes, but the MWC championship game against San Diego State was up in the air.

The Aztecs-Utes game was one of the best defensive efforts I’ve ever seen, which led to one of the best championship games I’ve ever seen.

The Utes pulled it off, took home their second title under Boylen and proved the doubters who had been giving them flak all year wrong.

The NCAA tournament game against Arizona was bad8212;really bad8212;and even Boylen said the game still stings a little. Sorry Jim, but a run to the NCAA tournament had to exceed even your expectations.

When it was all said and done, the Utes cracked the Top 25 for the first time in four years, their Ratings Percentage Index was No. 9 in the country and they brought back the tradition of Utah basketball8212;winning.


[email protected]

Marco Villano

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