Jim Boylen is doing his best to put the "Runnin"' back into the Ute basketball team this year.
The Ute jerseys read "Runnin' Utes" on the front, and Boylen has talked often about getting his team to run more than in recent years.
In each of the Utes' three games, two exhibition and Friday's regular-season opener Boylen has constantly exhorted his team to push the ball upcourt after opponents' baskets or misses, yelling "go" and waving his arms as his team heads up court. The Utes have scored 83, 88 and 86 points in their three games.
"I like it when we play through the possession, snatch a rebound and run," he said.
After Friday's opening-night win over South Carolina Upstate, Boylen commented how every team he's played on or coached for the past 20 years will always say at the beginning of the year, "coach, we want to run,"
Boylen then asked the media, "Well, what you've got to do to run is what?"
Before anyone could answer, he exclaimed, "RUN! We're the Runnin' Utes. We want to push the ball."
Boylen felt his team hit a "second gear" Friday night when the Utes broke the game open, getting several baskets on fast breaks.
"I think it's a toughness thing," he said. "I think when they're tired we bear down and our conditioning takes over. I've talked about being the best conditioned team in basketball. I think we're taking baby steps to being a (great) conditioned team."
BORHA BETTER: Perhaps no Ute player is more improved than junior guard Lawrence Borha.
His game-high 20 points Friday on 6-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range, was impressive, but according to Borha and his coach, his offense is just a bonus.
After the game, Boylen said he didn't even realize Borha was scoring a lot of points.
"His job is to defend," Boylen said. "Lawrence is going to be our stopper. He's our energizer, our lane-runner. He makes the catch-and-shoot three and he defends. That's who he is."
Borha said he's not worrying about anything except defense, while acknowledging his shooting has improved.
"What I'm watching mostly is my defense," he said. "I've been working hard over the off-season. Coach Boylen has taught me a lot of stuff about my shooting. I usually lean back when I shoot, and he told me to lean forward and it's working."
SAME OPPONENTS: This week will mark the third time the Utes have played in the Preseason NIT. In 1999, the Utes defeated Arkansas State 76-43 in the first game in Salt Lake, before falling to Kentucky in Lexington 56-48.
In 2004, during Ray Giacoletti's first year as Ute coach, the Utes played Washington and High Point in the second and third games of the season in the Great Alaska Shootout.
Boylen may do the same thing in his first season, only in reverse order.
Next week the Utes are playing High Point in the first round of the Preseason NIT Tuesday night at Seattle. Depending on what happens, the Utes could meet Washington in the second round.UTE NOTES: The next home game will be Monday, Nov. 19, against Santa Clara ... Besides the 2004 meeting in Alaska, the Utes have played High Point two other times. The first meeting was in 1999 at the Huntsman Center when the Utes won 73-42, and the other was also at home in 2005 when the Utes won 80-44 ... Even though two were exhibition games, in all three games so far, the Utes have held their opponent under 30 percent shooting from the field ... Friday's opening-night attendance was 8,866, lower than last year's 9,013 opening-night crowd and probably the lowest opening-night crowd in more than 30 years.
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