TAYLORSVILLE Going into the 2008 Rocky Mountain Revue, there was excitement about the Jazz having two young 7-footers, 19-year-old No. 23 overall draft choice Kosta Koufos and 2007 second-round pick Kyrylo Fesenko, 21.
Could they push each other, play well on the court at the same time, make real bids to make the 2008-09 Jazz roster?
Now the Revue is done, and neither young man seems especially pleased with himself.
So both have apparently changed some of their plans for the rest of the summer to spend time working with other teammates for a week at Santa Barbara's Peak Performance Project that helped Rafael Araujo so much a few years ago, and both say they now will spend most of the rest of their time prior to fall training camp working in Salt Lake City.
Koufos, who has dual citizenship, had hoped to play with the Greek Olympic team in Beijing next month, but he said that, while he qualified to do so, he has decided against it.
"My name was on the roster. I'm actually very happy for them, but I'm not going to participate with them. This is very important for me. I've just got to work hard with the Utah Jazz," he said Friday night after the Jazz lost their final Revue game 82-70 to Dallas to finish their summer league with a 3-3 record. Dallas finished 4-2.
Koufos scored 14 points and had five boards and two blocked shots. For the tournament, Koufos was Utah's No. 2 scorer at 8.7 points and led the Jazz in rebounds with 34 for six games. He had six blocks.
Fesenko had 29 boards, 13 blocks and 4.5 points a game, but he was upset with himself Friday night and apparently ready to do something about it.
"I am much better (than that)," Fesenko said. "I have problems. I need to figure them out, and I need to work more, and I will stay here I will not go back to Ukraine to work.
"I blew it this summer. It was a big summer for me, and I didn't play good."
Fesenko said he had expected to come in and play well. "I was hope that I will do at least, like, not so bad, but everything goes like it goes. I can do nothing. I have some problems. I need to figure out which ones, and I have to figure them."
Morris Almond, Utah's other 2007 draft choice, made the Revue's all-tournament team averaging 18.5 points while trying to work on his defense, especially Friday. "I didn"t want Gerald Green to light me up for 30. I tried to make a better effort on that end," he said about the Dallas third-year man who also made the all-tourney team, along with Acie Law IV of Atlanta, Anthony Randolph of Golden State and Revue MVP Anthony Morrow of Golden State, the top scorer at 23 points a game.
Almond scored 14 Friday after learning that the Jazz had retained the services of C. J. Miles, making it seemingly more difficult for the second-year Almond to find playing minutes with Utah.
"It's part of the business," Almond said. "It's the best players. If they sign Michael Jordan, I've got to go compete against him in training camp."
Almond said his tournament was "solid, what I expected. Nothing spectacular. I played hard. I had nothing left to give."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said he saw moments where he liked Almond's defense.
Assistant Jazz coach Scott Layden and Utah Flash coach Brad Jones, who assisted with the Revue team, both saw improvements in Almond.
"To his credit, he got to the free-throw line close to 10 times a game, which I thought was impressive," said Layden.
Jones coached both Almond and Fesenko last season with the D-League team. In Almond in the Revue, "I definitely saw a difference. I was really encouraged how hard he tried to play defensively," said Jones. "I thought he really showed in his progression he's figured out that, 'In order to get out there and score, I've got to do other things.' "
For Fesenko, "The rookie year is over," Jones said. "I think this week has been a realization to him that it"s time to go to work. He talked about it a lot his first year.
"I really hope that he uses this week as a positive. He was inconsistent with it (work) his rookie year." Sloan said Koufos has "got a long way to go. He's shown me he's 18, 19 years old. When you look at kids that age, there's a lot of things they think they know, but when they get out there and start playing, it's hard for them to understand."
Sloan expected Fesenko to be more active and said conditioning would be the first thing to look at.HAWKS 105, WARRIORS 91: After an 83-78 loss to the Jazz Thursday night, Atlanta closed the Revue with a 4-2 record, getting 30 points off the bench from Demetric Bennett, who missed only three shots the entire game and had four assists. Bennett had gone 0-for-4 on Thursday against the Jazz. Acie Law IV and Speedy Claxton did not play (coach's decision) for he Warriors. Starter Thomas Gardner contributed 27. Golden State was led by 21 from DeMarcus Nelson. The Warriors ended up 3-1. The Warriors used only eight players. Former Jazzman Louis Amundson was one who did not play (CD).
E-mail: [email protected]