Ute basketball: Utes not overlooking High Point
SEATTLE - Long before he knew his Utah Utes would be playing High Point tonight, coach Jim Boylen enjoyed a good, long look at the Panthers while doing some scouting work on another team in his old job as an assistant coach last season.
"Man, I'm thankful we're not playing those guys," he remembers thinking.
Now, however, they are.
The Utes meet the Panthers in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament at the Bank of America Arena, and if they win, they will play either Washington or the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Wednesday for a trip to the tournament semifinals in New York City next week.
But winning is hardly a foregone conclusion.
Though fans might hear the name High Point and imagine some in-over-their-head Division III team in the image of Cardinal Stritch, the Utes know they're not playing a pushover. Armed with high-scoring forward Arizona Reid, the Panthers are favored to win the Big South Conference - the league that produced tournament darling Winthrop last season - after going 22-10 last year.
"It will be a good test for us," forward Shaun Green said.
For Green, especially.
He's expected to be the defender assigned initially to the 6-foot-5 Reid, who averaged 21 points and 9.5 rebounds last season while shooting 50 percent from the field. One rival coach has called him "pound for pound, the most productive player in America."
"He's just a very good player," Green said. "He ballhawks, so he comes to the ball no matter where he is on the court. . . . I've seen him drive it, I've seen him just post people up and I've seen him hit threes. He's just an overall player."
At Bank of America Arena, Seattle, Wash.
Tipoff: 6 p.m. MST, TV: None, Radio: 700 AM
Records: Utah 1-0, High Point 0-1, Series: Utah leads, 3-0
Last meeting: Utah 80, High Point 44 (Dec. 28, 2005)
Line: Utes by 1