SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time since he was relieved of his duties as the University of Utah basketball coach, Jim Boylen was back on a Utah basketball court Saturday night.
He looked the same — with his shaved head and engaging smile — but he was wearing an Indiana Pacers T-shirt as he fired passes to Pacers big men Tyler Hansbrough and David West an hour before Saturday’s Utah-Indiana game at EnergySolutions Arena.
After four years as the Utah head basketball coach, which included one conference championship, Boylen was let go in March 2011. He hooked up with Indiana the following season and is in his second year as a Pacers assistant.
Because Indiana didn’t play in Utah last year in the lockout-shortened season, this marked his first time coaching in Utah since he left.
“It feels great,’’ he said outside the Indiana locker room prior to the game. “I got in Friday and saw some family and friends for dinner last night. My wife and daughters (ages 6 and 7) came in Wednesday and saw some old classmates and friends.’’
Boylen’s main duty is working with the Pacers’ big men, and he’s been given some of the credit for helping develop Roy Hibbert into an All-Star. Indiana coach Frank Vogel is extremely complimentary of Boylen.
“He’s been a big-time help,’’ said Vogel. “He and Brian Shaw — adding those two guys to our staff has improved everything we do from a coaching staff standpoint. Honestly, I feel like we have two of the best assistant coaches in the NBA.’’
Vogel also said he believes Boylen has “a future as a head coach’’ in the NBA.
“The day-to-day game plans he gives us on the teams we’re playing, the analysis he gives on our own team and the ways that we can improve — really he’s one of the brightest basketball minds I’ve ever been around,’’ Vogel said.
Boylen feels that the Pacers, who are third in the Eastern Conference with a 26-17 record, have a chance for a really good season.
“We’ve got a good defensive team — tough guys, good guys to work with. It’s a good group,’’ he said. “It’s been fun.’’
IN AL'S DEFENSE: Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin knows Al Jefferson has a reputation for not being a stellar defender, but the Jazz coach stood up for the center.
"He's does more things than just scoring for us. He's a good rebounder. Although folks don't think he's the best defensive player, he actually does some good things on his man," Corbin said. "He gives us good effort and he's a big body who knows how to play inside."
SUNDANCE LINSANITY: Rockets guard Jeremy Lin will reportedly watch a documentary made about his well-publicized rise to fame today at a Sundance Film Festival screening in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz host Houston on Monday, and the Rockets will be in town in time to watch the film.
"I don't know if I have time too (to watch)," Corbin said, smiling.
Of course, the Jazz experienced "Linsanity" early on last season. The Harvard product of Taiwanese heritage scored 28 points to lead the Knicks past Utah 98-88 at Madison Square Garden last February.
"I saw that one up front and close — too close," Corbin said. "Don't need to see that one again."
HIT THE SHOWER: Before Saturday night's 114-110 overtime win over the Pacers, members of the Jazz family threw a party for three expectant wives of players. The combined shower party for the wives of Paul Millsap, Mo Williams and Randy Foye was held in a purple balloon-decorated room just around the corner from the home team's locker room.
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