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Utah basketball: Utes not using injuries as an excuse

Published December 2, 2010 1:13 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah men's basketball coach Jim Boylen insists he isn't a "woe-is-me" kind of guy, but if he ever wanted to pull that act, now is about as good a time as any.

The Runnin' Utes knew the 2010-11 season was going to be a rebuilding year, but injuries to freshman J.J. O'Brien (stress fracture), center David Foster (knee) and Jay Watkins (back) are making the rebuilding even more difficult than expected for the Utes (3-2) who host Fresno State Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Still, even with the unexpected setbacks, Boylen isn't up for excuses.

"It'd be easy to fall into that trap, but we won't," he said. "We have to make the guys we have better and develop the guys we have. The one thing injury does is allows you to build depth. They're growing and learning."

Boylen's biggest concerns are his team's inability to guard the ball in one-on-one situations and the lack of dominating inside play.

While he believes both areas are improving, Boylen admits the center spot hasn't developed as he had hoped it would. The tendinitis in Foster's knee has limited his time, complicating matters, but Boylen still wants more out of the junior and his backup, sophomore Jason Washburn.

"I envisioned David as the starter, Jason backing him up and David being 25 pounds heavier and stronger and Jason the same thing," Boylen said. "Both are stronger and bigger, but when you can't practice a third of the time since last year it's hard to keep expectations."

Boylen said he isn't ready to make any drastic changes to his lineup, holding out hope that Foster can play more once conference play begins while the rest of the team picks up its defense to help out.

"We've got to get better defense on the ball so we don't have to rely on the center to protect the rim as often as we have," he said. "We have to do a better job in one-on-one man defense and take the challenge and improve those things."

The focus then continues to be on what the Utes can improve, rather than what the Utes lack in possibilities thanks to the injuries.

"The 3-2 thing, we'd like to be 5-0 and undefeated like everybody in the country would," Boylen said. "But we can grow and we can get better."


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Fresno State at Utah

P At Huntsman Center,7 p.m., 700 AM

About the game • Utah's led by Will Clyburn, averaging 19.8 ppg; Greg Smith is averaging 8.8 points and 7.5 rebounds. … Fresno State's coach is ex-BYU coach Steve Cleveland.




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