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New season a fresh start for Utah Jazz

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 27 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

"Gotta get last year out of our head," Jefferson said. "We could come up with a bunch of excuses of what happened last year, but it's not going to help us. ... We're just going to go out there and be the team that we know we can be."

That Jazz team is an interesting combination.

It features a handful of exciting youth who offer hope for the future in Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter and Jeremy Evans.

But then, it also has seven seasoned veterans who have enough experienced talent (a combined 62 years) to help win now in Jefferson, Harris, Millsap, Miles, Bell, Howard, Tinsley and Earl Watson.

So, will they mesh?

That's the mystery heading into this compressed 66-game season.

The team is "cautiously optimistic," Bell said. Players are saying all the right things — play hard, defend, team first, etc. But these pieces haven't been assembled very long, so who knows if they'll actually stick and work well together.

"We don't know exactly what we have," Bell said. "We're going at it (like) we knew we put in a good training camp. We know we have talent. It will be really interesting to see how that stacks up against everybody else."

Corbin has maintained an optimistic attitude throughout his first training camp as the man. He realizes challenges lie ahead. Heck, the team has so many different parts, he didn't settle in on a starting lineup (to be announced today) until this weekend.

But he's infused his starless team with a new hope.

"Guys are saying now it's a great chance to create a new identity, to give ourselves a chance to get off to a good start and as a result have a great year," Corbin said. "We have a lot of guys that have an opportunity now to create a new status or identity in this league."

They're revitalized and ready to hit that reboot button. Same old Jazz, only newer. Beginning tonight.

"Try to make the playoffs is the most important thing. We talk about it a lot," Favors said. "It's a whole team mindset. We want to make the playoffs."

Remarkably, Miles and Millsap are the only ones on this 13-player roster who've experienced the postseason in a Jazz uniform.

"Putting it together, you can't really define it yet, but I'm excited to see it as we grow," Watson said. "I know it's going to be positive. It's going to be progressive — us growing and becoming better each and every week is important."

New Year's Day isn't until Sunday, but the Jazz are making early resolutions to make things right again.

"(There's) disappointment, obviously, losing the way we did last season," Harris said. "We've refreshed our minds a little bit. We went through a lot of controversy last season. A lot of things went on. A fresh start for us will be good."

Email: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

UTAH JAZZ SCHEDULE

December

Dec. 27 @ LA Lakers 8:30 p.m.

Dec. 28 @ Denver 7 p.m.

Dec. 30 vs Philadelphia 7 p.m.

Dec. 31 @ San Antonio 6:30 p.m.

January

Jan. 2 vs New Orleans 7 p.m.

Jan. 3 vs Milwaukee 7 p.m.

Jan. 6 vs Memphis 7 p.m.

Jan. 7 @ Golden State 8:30 p.m.

Jan. 10 vs Cleveland 7 p.m.

Jan. 11 vs LA Lakers 7 p.m.

Jan. 14 vs New Jersey 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 @ Denver 6 p.m.

Jan. 17 vs LA Clippers 7 p.m.

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