Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Highlights from the Giaco/JimmyBall years, pt. 1

Every year during the holidays I do some volunteer work as the Ghost of Christmas Past. I make midnight visits to nasty old misers who lack the Christmas spirit and/or treat their employees poorly. Give 'em a hell of a scare; take them out peeping; make them remember some hot girl they used to date then let slip away because they were too busy trying to make money -- basically make them feel like utter crap. The next thing you know, they're buying toy carousels for crippled kids in the neighborhood. But that's another topic for another blog.

But all this emphasis on the past has got me thinking about the good times our Runnin' Utes have enjoyed over the years. Not our glory days, mind you; but rather the occassional good time we've seen since the season Andrew Bogut and Marc Jackson led us to the sweet-sixteen. That was back in 2004-05. It was Ray Giacoletti's first year at the helm.

But from 2005 to 2011, Runnin' Ute fans had very little to cheer about.  From time to time the team would do something that gave us a reason to hope, but that was all.

Looking back, I can think of fifteen games from the era that should be remembered fondly.  Not all-time great moments by any stretch, but solid accomplishments at the least.  Each of which led me to believe good times were just around the corner.

This is the first part of a three-part series reviewing the Top-15 games from the Giaco/JimmyBall era (not counting the aforementioned sweet-sixteen season). 

Nos. 15 to 11 | Nos. 10 to 6 | Nos. 5 to 1

15.  vs. Boise State (2010-11): Utah trailed most of the game. At one point early in the second half, Boise's lead stretched to 16. But the Utes slowly battled back and whittled the lead to one point with over a minute left. They wouldn't finally claim the lead until Will Clyburn's three-point jumper with 11 seconds remaining. It proved to be the game-winning shot. Utah 86, Boise State 84. 

14.  vs. San Diego State (2006-07): This game occurred just as San Diego State was emerging as one of the great western basketball powers. Utah, on the other hand, was 10-17 and had a coach who appeared to be on his way out. It was Ricky Johns' senior night and he broke out for a career-high 30 points to lead Utah to a surprising victory. Luke Nevill chipped in for 16 points and 11 rebounds. Utah 74, San Diego State 68.

13.  at California (2007-08): This game got me excited for the Boylen era. On the road against the Pac-10, Utah actually led by as many as 16. But the Bears got the lead down and eventually went ahead with just a few minutes remaining. With the score tied and only seconds left, Shawn Green stumbled through the lane and chucked up the winning shot. It put Utah at 7-3 on the year, and like I said, got some fans feeling excited for JimmyBall. Utah 67, California 65.

12.  at UTEP (2008 CBI Tournament): Nevermind the fact that no one had heard of the CBI tournament before; Utah was just happy to still be playing basketball in late-March. UTEP hosted this first round game at the Don Haskins Center where they boasted a real good home record that season.  But Utah jumped out to a big lead early and cruised to a 12-point win. Johnnie Bryant led the scoring with 17 points. Luke Nevill had a double-double (16-12). Utah 81, UTEP 69.

11.  vs. San Diego State (2007-08): This game was chosen to celebrate 100 years of Utah basketball. A host of former players (including Utah's All-Century team) were present for a halftime salute and the 14,653 fans in attendance were rewarded with a commemorative cup. Attendees were also treated to an exciting basketball game and a close Utah victory against the improved Aztecs. Lawrence Borha (22) and Johnnie Bryant (17) led the scoring, but I best recall Kim Tillie flying up and down the court and pulling down crucial rebounds. Utah 72, San Diego State 66.

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