TAYLORSVILLE Morris Almond and Jaycee Carroll are not exactly in the same position, but both have plenty at stake during the Rocky Mountain Revue. The two noted scorers need to show they have well-rounded basketball abilities on both ends of the court in order to reach their separate goals.
Almond, the first-round pick of the Utah Jazz in 2007, has guaranteed money and a roster spot, but he wants to show that he deserves NBA playing time. That may well open up for him especially if Utah fails to match the offer sheet C.J. Miles signed last Friday with Oklahoma City.
Carroll, meanwhile, is just trying to make an NBA roster. The former Utah State star and Evanston, Wyo., native went undrafted last month, but he is playing for the New Jersey Nets at the Revue.
Almond and Carroll alternated in putting on an offensive shows during the Jazz's 87-79 win over the Nets Tuesday night at Salt Lake Community College.
Carroll, playing the point unlike his days as a shooting guard for the Aggies, finished with a team-high 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting in front of a crowd that cheered him all game.
"I was glad that I was able to come out and get off to a good start early," said Carroll, the all-time leading scorer in USU history who struggled with a 1-for-7 shooting night in his Revue debut on Monday. "I had a lot of fans, a lot of friends, a lot of family out there. It was great. It was good to see all those people and I really appreciate all the support I get from all the Utah/Wyoming people that came down."
Carroll directed his team to a lead of as many as 14 points before the Jazz went on a 15-2 run late in the third quarter. He is still learning the point guard position, as his coaches will attest, and he had just two assists with four turnovers, however.
"Jaycee did a much better job today, especially at the offensive end," said Nets assistant coach Brian Hill. "He got us out to a good start with a couple of nice plays. He gave us a lift throughout the game offensively."
Of course, scoring has never been a problem for Carroll. His (lack of) defense may be the reason he doesn't make the NBA. Jazz point guard Tyrone Brazelton, who didn't even play in the first half when the Nets opened up a 10-point lead at the break, scored 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the second half.
"Defensively I need to be better than I was tonight," said Carroll. "The first half I was pretty good. The second half I did a pretty poor job."
Almond, meanwhile, had his best game of the Revue primarily because he was aggressive in driving to the basket and was getting fouled with regularity. Almond finished with a game-high 24 points and was 14-for-18 from the foul line.
"I was kind of conservative the first three games, but I realized that it's summer league. You want to expand your game and work on things and see how far you can take it," said Almond of his aggressive play.
Almond spent much of his rookie NBA season playing for the NBA Development League's Utah Flash where he proved to be a big scorer. But he saw limited action with the Jazz. Of course, Utah fails to match Oklahoma City's 4-year, $15 million offer to Miles, it could mean more playing time for Almond. The Jazz have until Friday to make a decision on whether to re-sign Miles or not.
"I'm happy for (Miles) as a teammate and a friend," said Almond. "But I don't have any control over (whether the Jazz match the offer). I don't think about it too much. ... The chips will fall where they may and I'll just have to make the best of it against whoever shows up at training camp."
Utah's other 2007 draftee, 7-footer Kyrylo Fesenko, struggled against the Nets. He scored four points with five rebounds in 18 minutes and remained on the bench while the Jazz made their third- and fourth-quarter rallies. This year's first-round pick, Kosta Koufos was a bit better. He scored eight points in 22 minutes with four boards.
The Jazz played Tuesday without summer point guard Kevin Kruger and without University of Utah product Britton Johnsen.
Kruger who played last season for the D-League's Utah Flash is done for the Revue because of a badly sprained left ankle sustained in Monday's victory over the Iranian Olympic Team. Johnsen missed his second straight game with a severe thigh contusion.
The former Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers forward, still looking for a contract for next season, was said to be improving and may play again before the Revue concludes Friday.Today will be an off day for the Revue. Games resume Thursday and Friday.
Contributing: Tim Buckley E-mail: [email protected]
E-mail: [email protected]