Utah Utes basketball: Team ready for first 'official' exhibition game
SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah men's basketball team tips off its season Friday night when Adams State, a Division II team from Colorado, visits the Huntsman Center for a 7 p.m. exhibition contest.
The season officially begins the following Friday when another Division II team, Grand Canyon, plays the Utes in the Huntsman Center.
Actually the Utes have already played a game, but no one is supposed to know about it. The Utes went to Tucson over the weekend and played a secret game against the University of Arizona. The gym was completely empty except for the players, coaches and a couple of security guards. No stats were kept, although the teams were allowed to film the game.
Because of strict NCAA rules, Utah coach Jim Boylen can't say anything about the actual game, but the Utes played well and he offered, "It was a great learning experience and hopefully we can grow from it."
College teams are allowed to play two exhibition games every year, but are also allowed to use one of them to play another college team in a "practice" game. Under Boylen, the Utes have done this the past two years, playing the University of Colorado at the Huntsman Center and in Boulder.
GETTING BETTER: With nine new players, it has been a challenge so far this season, but Boylen believes his team is progressing well, three weeks into official practice time.
"We're starting to grasp the concepts of our foundation — that we can play full speed and do it," he said. "We're starting to understand how hard you have to play at this level. We've adjusted better to the pace of practice."
Newcomers Josh Watkins and Will Clyburn continue to shine in practice along with returning forward Shawn Glover. Sophomore center Jason Washburn and freshman J.J. O'Brien are getting time with the first team as projected starters David Foster and Jay Watkins are sitting out with nagging injuries.
The Utes added a pair of walk-ons this week from tryouts in October — Seth Tippetts, a 6-8 forward from Sandy, and Michael Hodgman, a guard from California.
REDSHIRTS: Boylen said he won't make any announcements about players who will be redshirting until next week before the first game.
As many as four of the 15 players could be redshirted with freshman walk-ons Neal Monson and Josh Fuller, who are planning on LDS missions after the year, almost certain to be. The other two most likely redshirts are freshmen guards Preston Guiot from Missouri and Dominique Lee from California. Neither is expected to crack the Utes' nine-man playing rotation and might be better off saving a year of eligibility.
Boylen said it's a decision between him, the player and his family.
"Some coaches don't like to redshirt a guy, because it locks up a scholarship in the program for another year but I've been open to it because I've been asked to build a program," Boylen said.
Three players from Boylen's first recruiting class redshirted, including Washburn, Chris Hines and Josh Sharp, who is serving an LDS mission. Last year, forward Jeremy Olsen redshirted before going on a mission.
TICKETS: Men's basketball single-game tickets went on sale Monday. Fans can purchase tickets on the web at www.utahutes.com, by phone at 801-581-UTIX or in-person at the Rice-Eccles Ticket Office.
Utah will also offer several ticket packages, which are on sale now. Season tickets in the lower bowl are available starting at $199. Single-game tickets start at $15 in the lower bowl.
Season tickets in Section F are also available now for $99. "Section F" is Utah's designated zone behind the west basket for the loudest and most active fans.
Also anyone purchasing season tickets for the 2010-11 season will receive first priority in 2011-12 when Utah enters the Pac-12.
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