The Hoya talked with Griffin Adams, sports editor of The Daily Utah Chronicle, about Georgetown’s second-round matchup in the NCAA tournament. This is what he had to say about fifth-seeded Utah (25-8, 13-5 Pac 12).
What is it that makes Delon Wright such a good player?
When talking about the best players in the nation, Delon Wright’s name has to be mentioned. Thanks to his wide variety of skills, Wright makes plays that sometimes his teammates and coaches don’t even see coming. Wright has become one of the smartest players in the country in his time at Utah, and that’s what really separates him from the rest of the field. The Wooden Award candidate seems to always make the right play, and when he does make a mistake or turn the ball over, most are shocked.
Wright can pass, dribble, penetrate and finish at the rim with ease, as evidenced by his 52.3 field-goal percentage. One knock on Wright heading into this season was that he couldn’t shoot from behind the arc, and while he hasn’t exactly shot lights out from deep this season, Wright has improved his three-point percentage to a respectable 36 percent. Basically, there’s no simple solution when trying to stop Wright, and I feel bad for a coach who has to gameplan against him.
What types of team has Utah had success against this season? What time of team has it struggled with?
Looking at Utah’s losses, most of them were close games that were lost in the closing minutes. But the one time the Utes got absolutely run out of the gym was against Arizona in Tucson earlier in the season. The reason why the Runnin’ Utes struggled so mightily against the Wildcats was due to the physicality of the opponent. Utah boasts two seven-footers in Jakob Poeltl and Dallin Bachynski, but this team has been regarded as a squad that can’t bang down low with the big boys. In that loss, Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley — and even Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson — all seemed like superior rebounders to any of the Utah players, and when the Utes don’t win the rebounding battle, it’s usually a toss-up when it comes to the outcome.
Outside of Wright and Jakob Poeltl, who are the Utes’ key cogs?
This question is hard to answer, as different players have stepped up for the Utes all season long. They are an extremely deep squad, and head coach Larry Krystkowiak isn’t afraid to opt for his bench when he sees something on the court he doesn’t like.
That said, one key player on this squad is Brandon Taylor. The shortest player on the roster, measuring in at just 5-foot-10, plays some of the best defense on this squad. Despite his short stature, Taylor never backs down from a challenge and has been placed on the opposing team’s best player multiple times throughout the season. Additionally, Taylor catches fire pretty easily from downtown, and when he is hitting from deep, this Utah team is hard to stop.
Portland is obviously much closer to Salt Lake City than D.C. How well do you expect Utah to be represented in the stands?
I think this game will be well attended by the Utes, and I think the crowd, even the non-Utah fans, might be more in their favor. On Thursday night when the Runnin’ Utes took on Stephen F. Austin, the Utah fans were the only ones to fill up an entire section when the game tipped off, but as the contest progressed, the upset-minded crowd in Portland sided with the Lumberjacks.
However, with Utah being the lower seed in this one, not only do I expect the Ute faithful to show up in full force, I also expect the neutral fans in attendance to side with the Runnin’ Utes to give them somewhat of a home-game atmosphere in Portland.
Georgetown and Utah will play tonight at Moda Center in Portland, Ore. Tip is set for 7:45, and the game will be shown on CBS.