Thursday, September 27, 2007
They mark the sixth and seventh starters out with injuries, rather than eight, since Brian Johnson has returned as the starting QB.
Johnson was named Bronco Nagurski National Player of the Week a week-and-a-half ago for his stellar performance against UCLA, grabbing two interceptions and forcing a game-changing fumble. He will be replaced by Joe Dale, who lost his spot to Johnson after two games.
Jiannoni, a senior, is in his third season as a starter at linebacker. He will be replaced by sophomore Stevenson Sylvester, who returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown in last season's game against the Aggies.
Johnson is expected to be out 2-4 weeks, and Jiannoni 1-2.
Currently, both the Utes and Aggies are suffering through bad seasons. The Utes are 1-3 and searching for answers after getting blanked 27-0 by UNLV after destroying formerly #11-ranked UCLA 44-6 just the week earlier. Meanwhile, Utah State is winless at 0-4 after blowing fourth-quarter leads in three of those four contests.
All in all, it was not a good game for the Koalas. They look ahead to next Tuesday's game against the LLC Men's squad.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Also, on the next possession, the Utes turned the ball over on downs at the Rebel 30 after the Ute defense forced a three-and-out and a punt after the offense stalled at the 1.
These two failed possessions essentially did the Utes in, when they could have made it a game with scores out of those possessions.
In Logan, Utah State lost to San Jose State 23-20 in the final seconds. The Aggies found every way possible to lose in the contest.
Friday, September 21, 2007
#16 Alabama vs. #22 Georgia: The Nick Saban ride continues for the Tide (3-0) against the Bulldogs.
#21 Kentucky at Arkansas: Behind quarterback Andre Woodson, the Wildcats are in unfamiliar territory in the Top 25. Will it hold on the road against Darren McFadden and the Razorbacks?
Arizona State vs. Oregon State: The Sun Devils (3-0) are off to a great start. Sean Canfield still has some issues to work out as the Beavers' starting quarterback.
UCLA vs. Washington: The Bruins will try to recover from their shocking 44-6 loss to Utah at home against a surprising Husky squad (2-1) who defeated Boise State but fell to Ohio State at Columbus.
#10 Penn State at Michigan: Joe Paterno's boys will look to add more dents to an ugly Michigan season.
Air Force at BYU: The Falcon Watch is officially upon us as Air Force looks to go 3-0 against the Mountain West's top 3 predicted teams. Meanwhile, BYU is looking to head forward again after a surprising 55-47 shootout loss at Tulsa.
Offensive lineman Corey Seuili will be out of action due to an injury that occurred late in last Saturday's stunning demolition of UCLA in Salt Lake City.
Inexperienced freshman Caleb Scheurhaff will start in his place.
However, one of those six injured starters might be back for the game. Starting quarterback Brian Johnson might be ready to make his return tomorrow.
Meanwhile, defensive end Gabe Long remains out 3-5 more weeks. Running back Matt Asiata, H-back Brent Casteel and offensive lineman Jason Boone are done for the season.
LSU is one heck of a team. Their performance against Virginia Tech was so impressive, it was almost as impressive as...
Florida's dominance of Tennessee! Who thought Urban Meyer could completely skip any resemblance of rebuilding and go straight to a national contender with a whole new cast of players?
Virginia Tech isn't as good as we think. Neither is Texas A&M. The Hokies followed a lackluster 17-7 win over East Carolina by getting massacred at LSU, then had another very unimpressive win last week. Meanwhile, the Texas Aggies survived three overtimes at home to get past Fresno State before getting waxed yesterday.
Who knew Oregon would be this good? The Ducks have done nothing but impressed on their way to a 3-0 start. They could finish third in a very, very strong Pac-10 this year.
California is the real deal. Though they couldn't close out Colorado State in Week 2. That's OK, they're gonna give USC a run for their money in the Pac-10, if not the championship, title race.
Charlie Weis needs help rebuilding that thing in South Bend. Where did Brady Quinn go again?
The Big Ten needs to hope that Michigan is genuinely bad this season. The worse thing for that conference, which already is enduring several embarrassing defeats, would be having a team in the Rose Bowl, or the Capital One Bowl- or even the Outback Bowl!- that lost to Appalachian State.
What did the K-Bears do in a absence of an actual game? They scrimmaged.
The yellow side beat the red side 43-28 in the scrimmage.
KB will face fellow 2-0 squad What The next Tuesday.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The University of Utah, 0-2 due largely to the losses of five starters to injuries, mauled #11-ranked UCLA 44-6.
Ute tailback Darrell Mack seemingly solved Utah's issues at running back, rushing for 107 yards on 19 carries in becoming the first Utah running back to gain 100+ yards in a game since Quinton Ganther in the 2005 Emerald Bowl.
The Ute defense also played astonishingly well, shutting down the highly-touted Bruin running game and forcing three interceptions and two fumbles from vaunted quarterback Ben Olson, who is now 4-3 as a starter.
The Utah defense also sacked Olson five times.
Eight receivers caught passes for the Utes, who restructured their offense to better suit quarterback Tommy Grady's lack of mobility. Louie Sakoda was also perfect on 47 and 45-yard placekicks for Utah (1-2).
The Utes face UNLV (1-2) in Las Vegas next Saturday. Injured #1 quarterback Brian Johnson may be available after missing the past two contests.
Knowing that they had no chance of winning the game, Aggie coach Brent Guy opted to give backup quarterback Jace McCormick some playing time. Guy played starter Leon Jackson III in the first and third quarters and McCormick in the second and fourth.
Curiously, the Aggies' only points came with McCormick at the helm in the second period, going on a 47-yard drive following an interception.
However, it was 38-3 at halftime.
Utah State (0-3) faces San Jose State, who is also 0-3 after facing three straight BCS foes, in their homecoming game next Saturday in Logan.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
McKell Bowen threw for four touchdowns, 3 to receiver Landon Bastian. Two came from across-the-body throws while running down the opposite sideline.
Rhett Wilkinson, David Tate and Andrew Haws each hauled in a pass for the K-Bears (1-0).
Tate's reception led to a touchdown and 12-0 lead in the first half. After nabbing a high floater from Bowen, Tate turned and headed upfield before running what looked like the option with a lateral to Mark. Mark promptly took the lateral 10 yards down the sideline for the score.
The closest the LLC Men's team got was 18-6 early in the second half.
That was before Bowen zipped a short pass to Bastian along the sideline, allowing Bastian to race past the defense for a 55-yard score and 27-6 advantage after a 3-point conversion.
The scoring was capped with a touchdown run and a second 3-point conversion after a pass to Haws after Bowen headed right and then cut back left before delivering the pass.
Nick Baker added an interception in the first half when it was only 6-0. That lead to Tate's lateral for the TD.
The K-Bears play Game 2 next week Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 4:30 on the HPER Field against Ninja Strike.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
|BEES FALL TO RIVER CATS IN PCL CHAMPIONSHIP|
| Sep 9, 2007|
The Sacramento River Cats rallied to score four runs in the fifth inning to defeat the Salt Lake Bees 4-2 and claim the PCL's Pacific Conference Championship Series three games to two. Terry Evans gave the Bees a 2-0 lead in the first with a two run double, but Gregorio Petit led off the fifth for Sacramento with a single to right. Two outs later, Nick Blasi hit a slow bouncer to short that he beat out for an infield single, as Brandon Wood hesitated before he threw to first. Lou Merloni then singled in Petit with a grounder to center. Daric Barton then followed with the three run homer into the right field bullpen.
Nick Green pitched well, but took the loss in his triple-A debut, as he allowed four runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and one walk in seven innings.
USU held an 18-14 advantage before being blanked 18-0 in the fourth quarter en route to a 32-18 defeat.
The Aggies, despite trailing 25-18 with five minutes left in the game, were still in contention even with a punt. The Aggie defense could have at least mustered a defensive stand against the Cowboys, giving the offense one last shot.
However, Leon Jackson fumbled the ball on the Aggie 25 on a 3rd-and-6 run, leading to a quick and easy Wyoming touchdown and nail in the coffin. Jackson's fumble marked the second time in as many weeks that Utah State has essentially been done in with a fumble late in the game.
USU will be 0-3 after a loss at Oklahoma on Sept. 15.
These injuries compounded the growing list of problems for the University of Utah, who have already lost starting quarterback Brian Johnson for at least 2 more weeks and starting tailback Matt Asiata for the year.
And, oh yeah, starting offensive lineman and all-conference player Jesse Boone was done for the season and essentially his career before the season even began.
However, despite this ridiculous amount of continuous injuries, the Utes had chances to win the game on Saturday, with the biggest blown chance occuring on the last sequence of the game. Down one possession at eight, new starting quarterback Tommy Grady hit Derrek Richards with a pass to move to the 1-yard line late in the game. However, the Utes failed to punch it in, most notably with two failed runs up the middle. These failed runs are yet another indication of how stupid head coach Kyle Whittingham and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig often are with regards to their play-calling.
Both Whittingham and Ludwig tried to defend the play-calling afterwards. Whittingham noted that "'he likes anybody's chances when their on the six-inch line," as if anybody should score from there no matter how predictable the play, while Ludwig insisted that the 3rd-down play in which receiver Eddie Wide took a direct snap forward was "a play that has worked for us in the past."
Yeah, that was when you had NFL safety, second-round NFL draft pick and play-any-position Eric Weddle carrying the ball.
That is also considering that you have running backs who struggle just to average 3 yards per carry without running against a stacked goal-line defense.
Both teams were absolutely inept on offense until the Utes stopped the Falcons on a failed fourth-down run from midfield. However, Grady promptly responded by throwing an interception, leading to a Falcon touchdown and 17-6 lead moments later.
Utah responded with a shocking 74-yard, 4-play drive that took just 33 seconds to cut the lead to 17-12 after a failed two-point conversion run. Air Force scored a field goal in response, leading to Utah's stalled drive 99/100 of the way to paydirt to essentially end the game.
The Utes will now be 0-3 after their home defeat to UCLA next Saturday.
Friday, September 7, 2007
That is a good thing.
Led by returning players Jaycee Carroll, Kris Clark, and Steven DuCharme, the Aggies have high hopes for this season, which include a return to the NCAA Tournament, due to the expected immediate contributions of many new players, which include Div. 1-A and junior college transfers, returned missionaries, and possibly even a freshman straight out of high school.
Sophomore Brayden Bell will again play basketball in the state of Utah after spending one season at Ohio State and redshirting last season. He is expected to make contributions at center, if not in a starting role then off the bench.
Three junior college transfers come to Logan this year with expected pivotal roles. They include post player Gary Wilkinson, a third-team and honorable mention JC All-American from Salt Lake Community College; swingman Deundrae Spraggins, an all-Region 14 player from Paris, Texas; and point guard Desmond Stephens, from SE Illinois JC.
Wilkinson could likely start at center, while Spraggins will either start at small forward or share time with Nick Hammer at that spot in the lineup. Stephens will back-up Clark at point guard and see significant minutes.
Returned missionaries include Tai Wesley, an all-state player from Provo High, and Matt Forisamo, from Minnesota. Wesley could see minutes at the forward position relieving DuCharme.
One freshman who could see action this year is small forward Pooh Williams, also from Minnesota.
The Aggies should have at least 8 and up to 10 players who can make contributions this year, relieving the scoring load off All-America canidate Carroll. With Wilkinson and Bell, DuCharme will no longer be forced to play an undersized center role, balancing the rebounding responsibilities.
Last year, the Aggies were one piece short of being Dance-worthy. This year, Utah State should not only qualify for the Big Dance but perhaps even win the WAC, where they have placed 3rd and 4th in their first two seasons as part of the conference.
Transformers-***: I was skeptical of how a toy line would translate over into a live-action movie, but oh did they "get it right." If you like big explosions, and if you like to see huge robots battle, and if you like Shia LeBeouf, you like Transformers.
Spider-man 3-***: The message is as profound as ever for a Spiderman flick. If this is indeed the final Spidey film, it finished well. Three villains, a solid moral on overcoming vengeance, a story of sacrifice. Gotta love it.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer-**1/2: Better than the first 'F4' film, due to a more interesting villain, a better storyline, a little conflict, and much bigger action sequences. The dialogue is often weak, but the movie succeeds in presenting a comic-book feel.
Ratatouille-**1/2: I am reluctant to say this, but I suggest that Pixar has taken an ever-small step backward in the entertainment value of past productions. Others may scuffle at this suggestion, since audiences have absolutely loved 'Cars' and 'Ratatouille,' but they haven't done it for me the way a 'Toy Story' or 'Incredibles' has. Still, very fun and entertaining.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End-**: For as good as 'Curse of the Black Pearl' and 'Dead Man's Chest' were, 'Worlds End' was a very unsatisfying end to the epic trilogy. The characters are inconsistent, the story itself runs dry, and it is flat-out strange. Though the supernatural elements in 'Dead Man's Chest' were digestible, the supernatural elements in 'Worlds End' go over the top. It hints that the writers had run out of a script to fill nearly 3 hours. But at least the war at the end was pretty cool.
With a dominant pitching staff, led by John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, supported by the consistent Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders, and bolstered by the return of Ervin Santana to the majors, and a more-than-capable, if not potent, offense, lead by Vladimir Guerrero, Orlando Cabrera, and Garret Anderson, and backed by the likes of Gary Matthews, Jr., Reggie Willits, and Casey Kotchman, the Angels just about have a complete team to make a run deep through October. In addition, the bullpen is more than strong, bolstered by setup men Scot Shields and Justin Speier and finished with Fransisco Rodriguez.
There are two minor concerns for the Halos: number one, the health of leadoff man Chone Figgins, and number two, the experience behind the plate. Figgins is working to be ready soon, while the catchers are Jeff Mathis and Ryan Budde. The jury is out on whether Mathis is ready to be a starting catcher in the majors, while Budde isn't MLB-ready yet. However, the Angels didn't have a choice but to call them up from Salt Lake when they traded ex-starting catcher Jose Molina to the Yankees and supposed successor Mike Napoli went down with an injury the next day.
However, these are indeed minor concerns for the Halos. Also, with the rehab of Bartolo Colon and Juan Rivera recently completed, and the return of Howie Kendrick from injury, the Angels roster is stocked with talent and savvy experience. They may have to face New York in the first round, who they defeated in the same round in 2002 and 2005, but if that is the case, so be it. Boston should be the only hurdle for this club this season.
For this Utah Jazz team, it has been a rough season, one filled with multiple injuries and many setbacks, painful growing experiences that no one would want to encounter.
Friday night at the Delta Center, this young group -- again missing guard Raja Bell due to injury, and of course without Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer -- endured another rather embarrassing defeat, falling 108-91 to fellow Western Conference cellar-dweller Golden State.
Largely in part to below-35 percent shooting from the field, the Jazz witnessed their 50th loss of the season.
"We seem committed to watch guys trying to score and play one-on- one instead," he said. "When we get the ball and hold it and clear (the court) out, then we struggle."
Simple things such as executing their designed offense was one of many problems for Utah. Only two Jazz players managed to shoot above 50 percent -- Ben Handlogten and Kris Humphries. Handlogten registered his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
But neither he nor his coach were satisfied with the effort, which is something that has eluded the Jazz as the season has progressed.
"They just outplayed us," Handlogten said. "They moved the ball around and got some good shots outside and it just got worse."
The numbers concur.
Golden State pulled down 15 offensive rebounds and nailed 10 3- pointers, including five from Derek Fisher, who led his team in scoring with 19 points.
The Jazz did hold a narrow four-point advantage at the end of a free-throw contest commonly known as the first quarter.
However, it mainly went downhill from there.
Golden State went on a quick 12-1 run early in the second quarter, and the Jazz never were able to recover. By the time 18- point scorer Jason Richardson threw down a scintillating dunk late in the fourth quarter, the Jazz found themselves down 100-77 and the game all but over.
"Maybe I'm crazy, but it seems when we stay together, we have a chance to compete," Sloan said. "Sometimes it seems like our players think winning isn't important."
That is a harsh reality one must face as just 10 games remain on the schedule.
Jazz rookie Kirk Snyder, acknowledging that this year has been a bit of a grind, said, "We just have to try to find some positives, and that needs to be our focus in practice."
A focus that seems to be dwindling down as the losses pile up.
Rhett Wilkinson, a sophomore basketball player at Viewmont High School, is the winner of the Deseret Morning News' "Cover a Game" contest.
Copyright C 2005 Deseret News Publishing Co.
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.
The winner of the "Cover a Jazz Game Contest" for seventh- through 11th-grade students is Rhett Wilkinson of Centerville, a sophomore from Viewmont High School. Rhett and two guests will meet Deseret Morning News Jazz beat writer Tim Buckley this Friday night in the press room at the Delta Center for dinner prior to the game. Rhett will be interviewed on KFNZ radio's Jazz Talk, 1320 AM, and have his picture taken with a Jazz player. Rhett will sit on press row alongside other sports writers during the game and watch as the Jazz square off against the Golden State Warriors.
The hard part of the evening begins after post-game interviews as Rhett writes his report on deadline. His coverage will be published in the Saturday morning edition of the Deseret Morning News.
The second-place winner, Alie Yorgason, a seventh-grader from Salt Lake City, wins a Club Suite Night to a regular-season game for eight guests.
The 10 third-place winners who receive a Utah Jazz baseball cap are William Carlson, Trevor Vlam, Dakota Guenther, Destiny Calvano, Hayley Buchman, Derek Flint, Brooke Hodson, Ben Lockhart, Jeff Merrell and Justus Minardi.
The Special Class Award goes to Mrs. Bachmiller's third period English class from Crescent View Middle School. They win a Sky Box night at an upcoming game.
Copyright C 2005 Deseret News Publishing Co.
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.
Dee Dee Nelson from Bountiful is the winner of the "Cover a Jazz Game" contest. The contest was open to seventh-11th graders. More than 200 entries were received and judged on detail, writing style, conciseness, clarity and humor.
Nelson and two guests will be hosted at Friday night's game as the Jazz take on the Indiana Pacers. Nelson, along with her two guests, will meet Deseret Morning News Jazz beat writer Tim Buckley in the press room at the Delta Center before the game. After dinner, Nelson will have her picture taken with a Jazz player and be interviewed on "Jazz Talk" on KFNZ 1320.
During the game, Nelson will sit on press row alongside other sports writers. The hardest part of the evening begins after the post game interviews as Nelson goes to the press room and writes her story on deadline.
The second-place winner is Rhett Wilkinson of Centerville. He will host his friends in a Delta Center club suite at an upcoming regular- season game.
Five third place winners will receive Utah Jazz T-shirts. They are: Brooke Hodson, Dallin Turner, Steve McKee, AJ Nunley and Amber Hunt.
Fifteen fourth place winners will receive Utah Jazz baseball caps. They are: Evan Levesque, Allison Griffiths, Hilary Dent, Kirk Logan, Zach Adams, Matt Knowles, Ryan Smith, David King, Katie Little, Doug Wallingford, Emily Gainer, Jason Bradshaw, Brooke Quinn, Matt Behunin and Rachel Tanner.
Special Prize: Lisa Hayward's second-period class, Crescent View Middle School.
Copyright C 2004 Deseret News Publishing Co.
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.
#7 Texas vs. #19 TCU: For so early in the season, the Horned Frogs will be sitting pretty in the BCS picture with a win over the Longhorns in Austin. Colt McCoy and Texas have to play better than they did vs. Arkansas State last week if they expect to win heading into Big XII play.
#5 Oklahoma vs. Miami: These are the types of matchups you like to see: two national powerhouses squaring off in a non-conference game. No more Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Texases. (Though you could never get Applachain State beating Michigan if that were the case!)
#15 Penn State vs. Notre Dame: Can the Irish have any hope of winning after last week's pitiful home performance against Georgia Tech? Maybe with new freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
#13 UCLA vs. BYU: The Cougars, despite losing quarterback John Beck, tight end Jonny Harline. and RB Curtis Brown, turned in an impressive performance last week against Arizona. How will they fare in the Rose Bowl against a UCLA team determined to make national waves this season?
Michigan vs. Oregon: The Wolverines try to bounce back from the most embarrassing loss in their illustrious history, while Oregon looks to prove that they are still a top-tier Pac-10 team. The Ducks will have their hands full with Wolverine TB Mike Hart. QB Dennis Dixon has the ability to send Michigan to 0-2 on the season.
#11 Georgia vs. South Carolina: Gamecocks coach and SEC legend Steve Spurrier has beat the Bulldogs plenty of times, but that was with Florida. He has yet to do it with Carolina.
Washington vs. #22 Boise State: The Broncos have long bragged about being so successful against the Mtn. West and undefeated in WAC play at home, but how will they fare playing on the road against a Pac-10 school? (A struggling Pac-10 school, but c'mon, for drama's sake.)
Colorado State vs. #10 California: Two teams going in opposite directions morale-wise: The Rams lead most of the game last week vs. Colorado before blowing it with 12 seconds left and in overtime, while the Bears made a statement with a big win over Tennessee, cemeting themselves as a team to watch as a contender with USC for not just the Pac-10, but possibly the BCS National Championship.
New Mexico vs. New Mexico State: Why this game? It's a rivalry game. And rivalry games are always going to be given their due here at Dubyaworld. New Mexico seeks to continue their nine-year run of averageness after losing to UTEP last weekend.
Episode 1, 'Bizarro,' will pick off where Season 6 ended, as Lex Luthor has dispatched the phantoms from the Phantom Zone, created by Clark Kent's Kryptonian father Jor-El, to use their DNA to power the bodies of U.S. soldiers from the Middle East. The last and most elusive phantom, however, took hold of Clark's body, prompting Clark to ask "What are you?" The phantom promptly replied, "I'm you... just a little more bizarre!" This line refers to a Superman nemesis in Bizarro, who is an exact duplicate of Superman, turned-upside-down.
Other story threads to be resolved in Season 7 include the futures of Lana Lang and Chloe Sullivan, two characters who were seen in fatal situations in the Season 6 finale.
After six years, Clark finally told the truth to Lana about who he is, though she had found out six episodes earlier. Lana, also disguisted by the lies and deceit of her forced husband Lex, promptly tells Lex that she is done in her relationship with him. The next scene we see with Lana is her getting into her SUV, when all of a sudden, the SUV explodes. Is this retaliation by Lex? Is Lana truly dead? Or was she even in the car after all?
Chloe, known to be so sacrificing for the sake of her friends, sacrifices herself through a revealed power in saving Lois Lane from death. Lois had gone to investigate Lex's secret labratory 33.1, where he was storing the soldiers, when she got fatally stabbed by a lab guard. Chloe, always intuitive as a budding top-flight reporter, follows the trial to the site of Lois. In her grief, Chloe cries over her cousin, revealing a tear that reverses the effect of death and turns it on Chloe. Though it has been debated over whether Chloe has a healing power created by the effects of kryptonite, or whether it is a supernatural power of sacrifice, I believe it is a power of sacrifice.
Other new events to be seen in Season 7 include the arrival of Supergirl, who will have all of the same powers of Clark with the addition of flight. When Kal-El (Clark) had been sent to Earth as a baby at the time of the destruction of Krypton, Kara Zor-El (Supergirl), as a teenager, had been sent by her parents to watch over Kal-El on Earth. However, her spacecraft had gotten stuck in suspended animation, freezing her aging as Kal-El continued to grow on Earth. Now, in Season 7, Kara has escaped the suspended animation and finally arrived on the planet, albeit younger than the person she was intended to watch and protect. However, Kara knows much more about her Kryptonian past than Clark does, allowing her to teach Clark much about who he and his race is, thus assisting in his growth to Superman. This fact has also been confirmed by "Smallville" head writer Al Gough.
Other storylines to be seen in Season 7 include the increasing evil of Lex Luthor, the mutual interest of Lois & Clark, and the ever-elusive motives of Lex's father Lionel, which include his relationship with Clark's mother Martha and his approach as a self-proclaimed "father figure" to Clark. The first six seasons of this show has been nothing but a success, and Season 7 promises the same.
Jazz General Manager Kevin O'Conner also failed to extend Dee Brown's contract, leaving two new point guards to back-up budding star Deron Williams- point guards that I feel aren't as good as a #2 like Fisher or a #3 like Brown. Fisher was also Utah's staring shooting guard, leaving a hole there- and leaving it up to Croatian Gordan Giricek, young Ronnie Brewer, and '07 first-round draft pick Morris Almond to seize the role. Overall, less experience and talent now fill Utah's backcourt, leaving it up to Mehmet Okur to play consistently, Carlos Boozer and Williams to be even bigger stars than they were this year, and Andrei Kirilenko to regain his typical form. Matt Harpring again takes on a larger bench role with one of last year's bench players destined to take over the starting 2-guard position.