Delon Wright could be key to defeating Wichita State


— Erin Burns

This is exactly what Utah point guard Delon Wright imagined when he committed to the U.
It’s no secret the Ute star honed his game at the City College of San Francisco before making his way to Salt Lake City. At the time, No. 25 Utah was just a team on the rise, but come tonight, when No. 8 Wichita State walks into the Huntsman Center, the Utes will be looking to prove they have finally arrived.
“This is what I wanted to do, play in big games on TV,” Wright said. “Just compete against one of the best teams in the country. It’ll be fun for us.”
For the first time since 1999, a ranked Utah team will play a ranked opponent in the confines of the Huntsman Center, but this isn’t just any ranked opponent. The Shockers are a top-10 team and come to Salt Lake on a 35-game regular season winning streak. The Utes will have to be ready if they are going to pull off the upset.
Wright will be an integral piece of Utah’s plan to take down Wichita State, but not just because of his obvious stat sheet-stuffing numbers. Over the summer, Wright attended multiple basketball camps that boasted some of the best talent in the country, including the Shockers’ Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. During those camps, Wright had an ample amount of playing time against Baker and VanVleet, and he believes that may make the difference.
“I know their games well,” Wright said. “I remember some of the stuff that they do well, and I just watched the film to see what they do … That’s the whole point of those camps — playing against the best, so when you play them in the regular season, you’ll have a little advantage over other players.”
The point guard has been heralded as one of the best in the country thanks to his stellar play from last season, but according to head coach Larry Krystkowiak, Wright is doing even more in 2014, and Krystkowiak expects no different on Wednesday night.
“Delon has really improved,” he said. “He had an impact on games last season, but now there’s more leadership. He’s been extremely vocal in practice.”
As previously mentioned, the Shockers are led by Baker and VanVleet, but have an abundance of talent throughout their lineup, receiving double-digit point averages from seniors Darius Carter and Tekele Cotton in their first four games of the season. Throw in the fact that they are led by one of the best coaches in all of college basketball in Gregg Marshall, and this team is a scary matchup for Utah.
“They don’t beat themselves. You may need to have a little luck to beat such an extremely well-coached team,” Krystkowiak said.
With the cornucopia of talent coming their way, Krystkowiak and the rest of the Utes have been “dialed in” preparing for Wichita State.
“I’ll never say we are completely prepared,” Krystkowiak said. “We’ve been in hostile environments and on a big stage. I’ve said that the goal of the program since I arrived was to survive, then be competitive and now win some games … We’re ready for the challenge, and hopefully the ball bounces the right way Wednesday.”
The Runnin’ Utes and the Shockers tip off at 9 p.m. in the Huntsman Center following the women’s basketball game, which starts at 6 p.m.
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