Three Thoughts: Utah-Ball State
Utah opened up their season against Ball State tonight, and started hot before finding themselves in a dogfight late due to their own sloppy play. Some Ball State fouls and turnovers, and the expected greatness of Delon Wright, allowed Utah to pull away and eventually win 90-72. Here are some thoughts from the Utes’ opener:
- Brekkot Chapman came in with the biggest buzz, but it was Jakob Poetl and Chris Reyes who stood out in their Utah debuts. Poetl started the game incredibly hot, scoring 8 points and grabbing 3 rebounds in the first five minutes on his way to finishing with 18 and 10. The 7’0” Austrian Center moved well on offense and defense, and looked generally comfortable playing at this level. He shot 8-16 from the line, and while that low percentage is concerning it is very encouraging that he got to the line so often. He looks like a serious future star. Chris Reyes also looks ready to contribute right away. The lanky forward was all over the floor, and while he doesn’t offer a ton of offensive upside, he can be a sort of utility player for the Utes going forward. Chapman on the other hand has upside that was apparent throughout his time on the court, but he didn’t look ready to go mentally. He’s a good basketball player who will give Utah a lot this season, but he needs to slow the game down in his head and adjust to college competition, and that can take some time.
- Utah’s interior defense looked really good, but the perimeter defense was lacking. Ball State, especially Sean Sellers, was able to get open threes all game despite not presenting much of a threat driving to the basket. In fact, when the Cardinals did get to the basket area, Utah’s defense did a great job preventing them from cashing in. Dallin Bachynski was especially effective protecting the rim, but Jordan Loveridge, Poetl, and even Jeremy Olsen contributed to crowding the paint and preventing Ball State from getting many easy buckets. Further away from the basket, there was a lot of fouling to go along with the poor closeouts. Utah will get better, especially since they have big bodies to make teams work hard for layups, but they need to do a better job playing clean defense on the ball.
- Delon Wright is an absolute dynamo, but outside of his repeated forays to the rim, this offense is begging for some creativity. There are skilled players with good jump shots all over the roster, but when Wright didn’t make something happen going to the basket, the offense devolved into a lot of standing around and watching against Ball State. It would have cost Utah the game against Ball State if they hadn’t been able to generate so many layups in the second half off of Cardinals turnovers.