Utah Utes basketball: Jim Boylen says U. will improve despite defections

Published: Wednesday, April 14 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Statistically this was one of the worst offensive Ute teams in the past 30 years. The Utes shot 42.8 percent from the field and struggled to score each night. The fact that they're losing their top two leading scorers doesn't bode well. But Boylen feels new players will help make the offense better and says the Utes are making changes with more motion and fewer sets.

"We will play differently next year," he said. "In our core, we need to become a more unselfish group at the offensive end. I'm responsible for our play at the offensive end and that will improve. We recruit to a system and as guys develop in that system, there are adjustments we have to make and we will make those adjustments."

Boylen believes the Ute defections aren't because of poor recruiting.

"Henderson and Brown are good players. They're not leaving because of recruiting," he said. "You're not going to hit on every guy."

Ute fans should know this as much as anyone. Former Ute coach Rick Majerus lost an average of 3.3 players per year during his 15 years as head coach, but still had a successful program.

And Boylen believes his team will be successful with the returning players mixing with those coming in.

The Utes return three players who started a combined 61 games in center David Foster, forward Shawn Glover and guard Jace Tavita. Also returning is Jay Watkins, who averaged nearly 10 points off the bench and will likely start next year, along with center-forward Jason Washburn.

Among the players coming in are forward J.J. O'Brien, swingman Dominique Lee and point guard Preston Guiot, each of whom is good enough to play substantial minutes next year, according to Boylen.

Boylen also expects to sign three junior college players this month although he can't talk about them. Anthony DiMaria, a 6-6 forward from Casper Community College, has already committed and the Utes are also looking at a pair of point guards, a swingman and a big forward.

Next year could be a do-or-die year for Boylen, who will have three years left on his contract after next year. But he says he's not feeling any extra pressure to produce.

"There's always pressure in this job," he said. "What I want to do is continue to improve the direction of the program. I'm the leader of the program and we're going to move forward. I'm excited about the guys coming in. There's always pressure here to win games, always."

Hill said he never speculates about his coaches' futures and says there is no specific benchmark Boylen needs next year in order to keep his job.

"The important thing for our program is that we improve," Hill said. "That can take a lot of different forms. By no means is there any kind of standard or timeline. We just want to show improvement."

e-mail: sor@desnews.com

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