The Runnin’ Utes kicked off their 2016-17 campaign Tuesday night with their annual Night with the Runnin’ Utes scrimmage. Although it’s always hard to get a good read on the team in a setting like this, the squeak of the sneakers told us a little of what we can expect to see from this new-look Utah team.
The Utes return a team with only two players that have seen significant time up on the hill, Lorenzo Bonam and Kyle Kuzma. With so many new faces, many are left wondering who will be contributors for Utah this year.
Who Stood Out
It didn’t take long to see which players are most likely to make an impact on the floor for Utah this season.
After sitting on the Utah bench for half the season last year, Sedrick Barefield quickly showed the Ute fans in attendance what he brings to the table. One concern for Utah this year after graduating Jordan Loveridge, Brandon Taylor and Dakarai Tucker was who would be able to stretch the floor with their shooting ability. Within the first few minutes Barefield had already made two three pointers, on of which he smoothly pulled up while on the dribble and tickled the nets.
Barefield showed the ability to get to the rim with an impressive reverse layup and finishing with contact. He also showed off his court vision when, right before the half as he was bringing the ball up court, Devon Daniels got behind his defender and signaled for an alley-oop. Barefield launched the ball from the timeline and delivered it right at the rim for Daniels to finish with two hands. Barefield finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 50% from three point range.
Barefied’s partner in crime on the bench last year, David Collette, also left his mark quickly on the game. Though he has nowhere near the same skill set as Poeltl in the paint, Collette showed that he has the ability to be a force to reckon with in the paint. The offense may never be focused around the center position this year, but Collette is so scrappy and tough that he will carry his own weight.
Collette knows how to fight for and hold position in the paint, allowing himself to be a target for the perimeter players. If a ball gets tossed in his direction, he has amazing hands and he will get the ball and never lose it. What makes him most dangerous his that his scrappy disposition aids him in cleaning up everything in the paint, any loose ball or rebound, and he has enough control to gather himself and make a move to the basket.
Collette lead all scorers with 16 points on 8-12 shooting, while grabbing four rebounds. It’s safe to say that two of Utah’s best players will not be on the court until mid December.
Devon Daniels was the most athletic player on the court Tuesday night, as was evidenced in his alley-oop which was previously mentioned. Daniels does not play like a freshman. He knows how to use all of his 6’5’’ 190 lb frame while penetrating to the hoop. He has great ball and body control and shows no sign of intimidation as he gets to the rim. He has a confidence that he knows he has the ability to attack anyone.
Daniels finished with 12 points (5-8), five rebounds and four assists.
What We Learned
- Over the past few years Utah has had difficulty feeding the post from the perimeter. Larry Krystkowiak has said multiple time that feeding the post is a skill set that is lost due to the style of play at the AAU level. Tuesday night Utah’s guard line showed much more willingness and ability to make the simple, yet important entry passes to the bigs in the paint. All guards made passes to the paint both while stationary on the perimeter or off of dribble penetration after the defense reacted.
- Also on display was some nice big-to-big passing. On back to back possessions, Tyler Rawson dropped the ball from the top of the key to Collete for a dunk, and then Kuzma dished down to a wide open Jayce Johnson for a power slam.
- Utah could be extremely deadly with a good inside-out attack.
- Utah has shooters. Barefield, Rawson, Bonam and Connor all shot better than 50% from downtown on the evening. Utah may not be as athletic as the upper teams in the Pac-12, so their ability to consistently hit from the outside will be important.