I thought Kareem did a really solid job tonight and attacked the basket and created plays for his teammates. —Ute center Jason Washburn
SALT LAKE CITY — With starting point guard Josh (Jiggy) Watkins being dismissed from the team two days earlier, the reins of the Utah offense were turned over to freshman guard Kareem Storey for Thursday night's game with Arizona.
Storey had made one start earlier this year, but Thursday night the spotlight was on him as he took over for Watkins, who was leading the team in scoring, assists and steals.
As expected, Storey struggled at times, throwing some crazy passes and committing silly fouls, but on the whole, he did well in his first start against a Pac-12 team, even if his team lost by 26 points.
"I was just going out there to play ball," said the youngster from Baltimore. "I've been playing ball my whole life, so I just felt like it was another day playing ball. It was a good experience for me starting. I just tried to get my teammates involved and play good defense. "
On the night, Storey was the team's second-leading scorer with 10 points and had most of his team's assists with six. However, he also turned the ball over five times and got in early foul trouble, eventually fouling out with 5:34 left in the game.
"He was pretty hyped up and made some quick fouls and some turnovers, which was anticipated, really," said Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak. "They've got some long guys and he threw one between someone's legs and he threw one over somebody's head and made some silly fouls. But he's over it and ready for the next game. I thought he had a couple of nice moves to the basket.."
One of Storey's baskets was SportsCenter-Top-10-worthy when he drove to the basket and with a defender on him, double-clutched and flipped up a shot high off the backboard, just before he hit the ground.
"I thought Kareem did a really solid job tonight and attacked the basket and created plays for his teammates," said Ute center Jason Washburn. "We were all happy with his performance with his first-time starting."
Guard Chris Hines agreed, saying, "I think Kareem did a wonderful job -- he hit some big shots and made solid plays. We missed (Watkins), but we also had some plusses too with (Storey)."
Speaking of Watkins, Krystkowiak didn't want to do that or talk about how the Utes might have missed him Thursday.
"I think I'll probably put Jiggy to bed in terms of talking about him," he said. "We're going to have to manufacture stuff as a group. We don't have the terminating point guard that will finish something with a pick and roll. So it's going to have to be done collectively. We'll make due."
The Ute coach laughed when asked who the backup point guard was, since it looked like there wasn't really one when Storey was on the bench.
"It's pretty interchangeable at this point," he said. "Those guys know all the plays and we're trying to get more versatile and have two guard entries It would be pretty safe to say, our point guard is going to be whoever their point guard is guarding."