Tis the season when everyone in Utah is either stuck or snowed in -- so the Believer and Non-Believer are here to wish you Happy Holidays. Not Merry Christmas -- for fear of ticking off Jewish (Hannukah), or Africans (Kwanzaa) or the rest of us (Festivus). This weekend has some great games. BYU travels to Oregon on Saturday, December 21 to face the No. 11 Ducks -- while Utah and Utah State face multiple match-ups leading up to the Holiday Break.
Utah Utes fans are still talking about beating BYU; their dear leader even made a video about it and why not? Utah hadn't beaten BYU in seven tries before last Saturday's 84-61 smack down that also forced the Non-Believer, a die-hard Y fan, to post a Ute logo as his Facebook profile picture -- because he lost a bet.
Don't feel sorry for the Non-Believer -- well, maybe you should. His team BYU gets the honor of playing another Pac-12 team this weekend when the Cougars travel to Oregon. But the Ducks aren't just a Pac-12 team; they're also nationally ranked. Thankfully for the Cougars this trip does conclude their non-conference schedule from Hell. Now if BYU would please exit in an orderly fashion -- that would be great. (Insert fake stewardess smile.)
Then there's the Utah State Aggies, who lost their best player "indefinitely" to a "violation of team rules." Ah, a tried and true, yet transparent explanation for a student athlete who just uh, well, this isn't BYU; it's USU. So chances THIS violation is not THAT VIOLATION/SIN is pretty likely. Jeesh. Especially at USU which back in the day was a get-down party place. I should know, my friend majored in Budweiser, I mean, Biology, there in the early '90s.
The Utah Jazz looked like they were drowning in malted hops and barley for awhile there, but some guy named Trey Burke started playing like the second coming of John Stockton recently. And lo and behold, the Jazz -- they're winning! Well, let's not get too excited; the Jazz won just two games. But Burke had his career high against Orlando -- not a contact high like everyone got next to the Biebs van when it pulled up to Power 106 for an interview.
I'm sure the Non-Beliebs can relate, yo. Like when he rolls up to the BYU game in his green Chevy van next to some dude in a souped-up, primer colored Honda. "Pardon me, do you have any spare tickets?" he might say. Dude be like, "Sure, sir, here's some Utes tickets because you look like a hippy Utah fan to me."
We'll talk about football and the onslaught of bowl games you're about to inhale along with nachos Friday, December 20 in our big Bowl Preview Special.
Until then we're talking about the round ball up in this -- so get that weak stuff outta here.
Utah recap and preview
The Utes are on a contact high from beating BYU last Saturday. They can keep buzzing down the court this week because North Texas, a 3-9 soon to be 3-10 team, comes to the Huntsman Center tonight. No word on if desperate Utah athletic staffers are again doing the "bring one can/get a ticket" promotion tonight -- but the Utes should be 10-1 after tonight, leading up to that all-important showdown between Utah and nationally ranked...St.Katherine. Who am I kidding? St. Kate's isn't nationally ranked and it lost to Weber State by a mega-ton. So yeah, Utah will be 11-1 by the weekend -- unless aliens come down from the Moon (they're closer now, duh) and vaporize every Ute basketball player with that death ray/gun/plastic thingy your kids asked for from Santa.
So the Utes finally win a game of importance and it's not even that important of a game nationally and the Ute fans are calling for a PAC 12 title and a tourney run like the good ole days. Where have you been, delusional Utah fan? News flash ... Your team is still irrelevant. Your team beat a Cougar team that can't win when they can't shoot. You are improving. You are better. But anything more than a NIT invitation just isn't gonna happen.
BYU recap and preview
The Cougars have not had one player suspended for an Honor Code violation this year. The only crime these pure souls have committed is that AD Tom Holmoe scheduled a ton of really good basketball teams to play BYU in the pre-season. What did he think would happen when he confirmed UMass, Utah, and soon Oregon -- and then beat Texas to set up a date with Wichita State in a tournament game? Did he THINK it would go well? Sadly, I think he did; I think he thought Tyler Haws was the next Jimmer (he's not; Carlino thinks he is but he's not either) and freshman Eric Mika was the next Shawn Bradley. Newsflash: Mika is not 7-6 before having a ridiculous wingspan; he's 6-11 in heels.
So we have learned something about this Cougar team. They don't do well against the zone. If they miss early they miss all game... The season is not over. If the Cougars can beat either Oregon or Gonzaga or win the conference of the high school gym tourney they can still make the big tourney in March. They just need to learn to win high-stake games. They don't have many of these games left.
Utah State recap and preview
Tsk, tsk, tsk. Utah State, Utah State, Utah State. What else can you say about a team losing its best player (center Jarred Shaw) "indefinitely?" Whether that's two games or the rest of the season is anyone's guess. The Aggies still have to play in a very difficult league (Mountain West Conference) -- and they're in their first season in the MWC. Ring a bell? Yep. They just finished doing this crap in football after Chuckie Heisman got his knee all weirded up. The only, ONLY good news is that the Dairy Who Dat Good2Know Classic at the Smith Spectrum of Doom is this weekend -- so pencil in your hometown Ags for three W's. It's good to be an Aggie (until January 1; then it really isn't because conference season starts.)
Ah, the little school that wanted to be relevant. I wish we could go back to a time when nobody talked about USU sports -- because guess what? Nobody outside of Logan talks about USU sports. Sure you have a few crazy fans who like the Aggies. But they also like soccer and could kick your butt at Halo ... Real sports fans could care less because they also have Playstations and kiss girls.
Utah Jazz recap
The Jazz are 2-2 this week, having beaten Denver and Orlando -- and losing like they were supposed to against San Antonio and Miami. The problem is, the Jazz have now lost ground on being the worst team in the NBA to Milwaukee -- Bucks are officially the worst at 5-20. First of all, what is going on over at Jazz HQ? Did they not get the memo about there being a couple of really, REALLY good players in the upcoming NBA Draft? You can blame Trey Burke for the Jazz sudden resurgence of (sort of) excellence; he dropped 30, 8 and 7 on Orlando and he's playing well. Stupid rookie...
Trey Burke is really good. He is so good he might have to be sent to the D league til All-Star break. 20 to 25 wins, that's all. This .500 basketball has got to stop. Seriously. When Favors and Burke are on the court they are as talented of a duo that hasn't been seen in Utah since the guy that had the short shorts and the truck driver for the Hardees fast food chain. If they can manage a top 3 pick and even get a Suns head coach in return, this team is gonna be really, really good ... But, not if you win 30 games. This will be a disaster.
Utah Jazz preview
If you believe in the Jazz -- and I don't -- this is the week for you. Atlanta and Charlotte are two more opportunities to win before fans have their hearts crushed by Memphis. The bad part about this week is that the Jazz could have nine wins by Christmas. (Utah is currently 7-20 overall.) If Santa is listening, I would like to have him fly his sleigh over each arena, shooting from his magic dart gun a strain of influenza that will befuddle (but not permanently injure) Burke, leave him dazed and confused on the basketball court, and enable Tyrone Corbin to wake up and insert John Lucas III.
Orlando was actually thinking they had an easy win again a Jazz team that only had 6 wins on the season. They were wrong. This Jazz team is much better than their record would indicate. They have the best young point guard and power forward in the league. A combo any team could build around. Except for maybe the Bucks. This Utah team is going to make some really good teams jealous of this team. Because the Jazz have something few teams have. a future. A bright and exciting future.. Still doesn't mean we win many games. But an upside that if you include a Jabari or a Wiggins -- you have the next great Utah dynasty.