TAYLORSVILLE Let the trivia books show, Kosta Koufos' first shot in a pseudo Jazz uniform was a missed jumper.
And by the time Utah's first-round pick got another look in the second half, the 7-foot center had three fouls and two quicker-than-planned-on trips to the bench behind him.
If mom hadn't been sitting in the stands, she might not have received a very detailed letter from her 19-year-old describing his public NBA experience debut that about matched the Jazz's dreary 82-57 loss to San Antonio in Friday night's Rocky Mountain Revue opener.
Jazz assistant coach Tyrone Corbin, who's overseeing the Revue squad, didn't exactly give the rookie center a raving Revue review. Koufos, he said, needs to adjust to the quicker speed of this pro summer league and to the way NBA officials call the game. Not getting frustrated under adversity will help, too.
"He's got a long way to go," Corbin said. "Two-a-days might have taken some out of him."
Koufos, who was picked up by the Jazz with the 23rd pick in this year's NBA Draft after just one season at Ohio State, finished with five points on 1-for-3 shooting, four rebounds and one blocked shot. Perhaps to his credit, he only got called for one foul in his final 10 minutes after playing just 4:13 in the first half.
The dual U.S.-Greek citizen, who gave up a chance at trying to help Greece attempt to qualify for the Olympics to be with Utah this summer, didn't act too distraught nor satisfied with his first Jazz performance.
"It's a blessing," Koufos said to describe how he felt about getting a game under his belt. "You know, I'm still trying to learn the system. Every day I'm getting better, feeling more comfortable."
Koufos wasn't the only Jazz player to struggle Friday. Utah's two second-year players with guaranteed contracts Morris Almond and Kyrylo Fesenko also had rough outings. Almond scored a team-best 17 but missed eight of 12 shots, while the big Ukrainian center had seven turnovers, four fouls, three rebounds and zero points in 17 minutes.
Shortly after signing his big contract Friday afternoon, Jazz point guard Deron Williams hinted that the franchise might have picked up a diamond in the rough with Koufos. Williams got a up-close-and-personal look by participating several times this week at the Jazz summer-league team camp.
"He's still young. He's still 19. I don't know how much he's gonna help this year. But you can definitely see how talented he is," Williams said. "He can run the floor. He can shoot the ball. Play with his back to the basket a little bit."
Williams noticed this week that Koufos' excitement gets him a bit "wound up" sometimes on the court. He also said the big kid, who's known to have a sweet outside shot, needs to concentrate on doing the dirty stuff down low more than his offense for now.
"But I think the main thing with him is just convincing him that he doesn't need to score," Williams said. "He just needs to rebound, and defend, and block shots. That's what we really need."
Koufos agrees. He used phrases such as "playing hard" and "play smarter" and "just doing the little stuff" when asked what he will try to accomplish with the Jazz this summer.
Corbin also believes Koufos needs to learn how to stay on the floor longer.
"If you get into foul trouble, you can't play," Corbin said. "This is his first time out, so we'll see how he comes out tomorrow."21 comments on this story
George Hill led four San Antonio players in double figures with 21 points. The Spurs trailed by three at the half, but held the Jazz to just 20 second-half points to run away with the lopsided win.
In Friday's other Revue action:
Contributing: Tim Buckley E-mail: email@example.com