In response to a sluggish first game of the year the Runnin’ Utes played with a higher tempo and better ball control in a 96-53 victory over the Concordia Cavaliers. In the early part of the season Utah looks to discover which newcomers will compliment the veterans of the team and Tuesday night helped paint the picture of what this team may end up looking like.
Return of Bonam
After his horrendous start to the season with his seven turnover performance against Northwest Nazarene, Lorenzo Bonam returned to his normal form in the second game of the year. Bonam came out of the gate more composed and appeared much more comfortable. As Ute fans have grown accustomed, Bonam used his ball skills to get to the rim at will. The senior did miss his only two shots from outside, but when he penetrated to the rim, he found success. On five trips to the basket Bonam accumulated three buckets, created three free throws and had an assist off a dump-off to Tyler Rawson. Most important, he finished the half with zero turnovers. Bonam finished the night with 17 points, 2 assists and a rebound in 22 minutes of play.
Struggling from Deep
In what might be becoming a trend with this team, Utah once again struggled from behind the arc. The Utes only connected on one of their first 10 attempts from three point land. Utah was very efficient scoring under the basket. Thirteen of their first 15 field goals came from inside the paint. In the first half Utah shot a poor 15.4% from deep (2-13) while making 70.8% of their two point attempts. Utah did rebound nicely in the second half behind Parker Van Dyke’s three made three pointers. Utah hit 6-13 from deep in the after halftime which left them just above 30% on the night.
Rawson Brings Hustle
Even if Tyler Rawson never took a shot, his impact on the team would be an obvious one. Great team players can be spotted by paying attention to what someone does when the ball is not in his hands. Rawson never wastes a second of his time on the court. He does a good job of pinning his defenders and making himself a target for the perimeter players. If the ball is on the other side of the court and it is apparent that it will not swing his way, Rawson gets himself in position to get a rebound. The fact that he gets in position before the shot is taken, makes it extremely difficult for a player to box him out. When a player first things to put a body on him, he has already beaten him. In only 15 minutes on the court Rawson was able to grab seven rebounds. Rawson has the capability to stretch the court, but missed on both his three point attempts against the Cavaliers. However, he still had an efficient offensive night scoring 12 points on 5-8 shooting.
Johnson’s Early Struggles
It will be critical for Utah to develop some talent and depth at the center position. Transfer David Collette won’t be joining the team on the court until mid-December and Utah must have a solid backup center at that point in time. It is very important that Jayce Johnson gets acclimated in his playing time over the next month. Against Concordia, Johnson continued to struggle in finding a flow to his game. He played the same minutes as Rawson, but only scored two points while grabbing four rebounds. When Johnson catches the ball in the paint he is slow to read the defense and make his move. While hesitating he allows one or two help defenders to collapse down on him, making it extremely hard to get hoop. This was a main reason for his 1-5 shooting for the night. Johnson had multiple rebounds go right through his hands. The Cavaliers had 12 second chance points on the evening, eight of those came from rebounds that Johnson would have made had he been able to control the ball. One small aspect that he will need to improve is his ability to set a screen. Johnson left early on every single screen he set out around the perimeter. Lucky for Utah he was only whistled one time, but he will need to clean that up.
Solid Guard Play
Along with Bonam, Utah had nice outings from Parker Van Dyke, Jojo Zamora and Devon Daniels. In their short minutes they had a great outing combining for 39 points, 18 rebounds and 12 assists. Not a bad night for complimentary players. Daniels showed great versatility and confidence. Daniels did a little bit of everything for Utah. He had some great athletic dunks, went a perfect 4-4 from the charity stripe, had a couple of steals and blocks, and was only one rebound away from a double-double. If he continues to play like he did Tuesday, he could end up being a solid contributor this year. Van Dyke had the best shooting night for the Utes. Van Dyke was originally brought on as a shooting specialist. He struggled to find his stroke his freshman year, but was able to shoot 50% (3-6) form deep and 60% overall against Concordia. He looked much more than a three point shooter as he took the ball to the hoop, broke down defenses with the dribble and made some great passes. Jojo Zamora displayed his quickness. It is impressive how quickly he can move while dribbling the ball. Although he puts it at risk by dribbling high, he blows by defenders and can get to the hoop before defenses can react. He had an extremely nice transition layup, where helot cut off by a defender and he dribbled behind his back to get around the defense and got to the basket. Zamora also was able to find shooters after he baited the entire defense to collapse down on him due to his quick penetration. Jojo led all Utes with his five assists.
Utah will remain at the Huntsman Center Friday night when they take on their first Division 1 opponent in Coppin State out of the MEAC. Once again the game will be an early tip at 6:00 PM MT and can be seen on the Pac 12 Network.