Before Sunday’s big showdown between Oregon State and Utah on the hardwood, our good friend Shane Roberts from over at Block U was kind enough to chat with us a bit about what to expect from the Utes.
1. Let’s get some background on the Utes. Who are the players we should know heading into this match-up against Oregon State?
It depends on who is going to play, the Utes are beat up right now. If healthy, David Collette is the anchor of the team, and holds down the point. The senior forward is very efficient around the rim, and really determines if Utah is going to win or not. If he plays well, it’ll be a good night for Utah, if not, watch out. One of my favorites is Donnie Tillman, a freshman that will miss the game, but he’s a versatile wing that has a big upside. At the point guard spot, Justin Bibbins keeps the Utes on schedule, and has done a nice job jumping into that roll.
2. Utah has been known for their big man culture under head coach Larry Krystkowiak. Does this year’s team fit a similar billing or are they more of a guard oriented (or balanced) unit?
It’s pretty balanced, but the big men are really what drives the Utes. Like I previously stated, just watch Collette’s performance, because as he goes, as goes Utah. Tyler Rawson is another one to watch out for, who is a stretch four, that can provide a punch both inside and out.
3. Utah currently have five players averaging double-digits in scoring, led by forward David Collette (13.5 PPG). Is this type of balance healthy for the Utes? Or in the long run, will it end up hindering a team with potential NCAA Tournament hopes?
It’s healthy because of the lack of a star player. I don’t think that will hinder the Utes run at the Tournament, there’s a lot of other things that will. Coach K’s system is all about moving the ball, so guys should get open shots, leading to a balanced attack.
4. Speaking of the NCAA Tournament, how legitimate of a goal is that for Utah this season? Is there serious belief around the program that making the big dance is achievable?
I don’t think it’s that legitimate. I think they’re a bubble team at best, because they just don’t have enough consistency on offense, turn over the ball at terrible times, and go through long scoring droughts. Utah is building right now, and have some really nice young players on the roster, and a great recruiting class coming in. This team looks like an NIT team to me, but they may catch fire near the end of the season, but I don’t see it.
5. And finally, could we have your prediction for the game?
OSU and Utah are always tough games, especially with the connection of Tinkle and Coach K, plus Utah has struggled on the road this year. I’d give the edge to the Beavs, 65-61.