Utes to face strong D-II team in exhibition

By Joe Simmons , Staff Writer

The Runnin’ Utes will play their first and only exhibition game of the 2009-2010 season this Saturday at noon, hosting the defending NCAA Division II champions, University of Findlay Oilers, at the Huntsman Center.

The Oilers enter the game coming off an 84-48 loss to ninth ranked Duke University on Monday and will be looking to bounce back against the U.

“They’re a very good team,” said Utah coach Jim Boylen. “They’ve got good quickness and speed and they’re a very physically tough basketball team. They’re going to be a good test for us.”

Findlay will be led by its two guards, senior Marcus Parker and junior Nathan Hyde. Parker led the way against Duke with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Hyde went for 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Although the Oilers went 36-0 last year and won the NCAA Division II championship, the team has since lost its top two scorers to graduation. Returning starters Parker and Hyde, who averaged 10.7 and 10.4 points per game respectively in the 2008-2009 season, will lead the Oilers’ attack on offense.

The game will be the first full non-scrimmage game for the Utes, and will give coach Boylen the chance to see how his players react in a regular season game-type setting.

The Utes will be taking the Oilers seriously, remembering that last year they were upset in their regular-season opener by Division II team Southwest Baptist University.

The Utes will be led by returning starters Kim Tillie, Luke Drca and Carlon Brown, but will also look for contributions from their many newcomers. Freshman guard Marshall Henderson will start alongside Drca at guard, and sophomore David Foster, recently returned from a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will start at center.

Henderson has drawn attention for his sharpshooting, and looks to be a legitimate three-point threat for the U, while the 7-foot-3-inch Foster will be an imposing presence in the lane on defense.

The Utes will be without 6-foot-7 forward Jay Watkins, who is out for the next three to five weeks with a stress fracture in his pelvis. Watkins was expected to be one of the first players off the bench for the Utes, so Boylen will now look to some of his new faces to step up and fill the void.

“This is exhibition game is going to be great to see where we’re at against a good, quick team,” Boylen said.

Fans can get into the exhibition game for free by showing their Utah-New Mexico football ticket at the doors.

The Runnin’ Utes kick off regular- season play a week from today when they host the University of Idaho at the Huntsman Center on Nov. 13.

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Lennie Mahler/The Daily Utah Chronicle

Coach Jim Boylen talks to his players during a scrimmage last week. The team will play their only exhibition game of the year Saturday when they take on the Findlay Oilers in the Huntsman Center.