Interview Series: Utah Coach Jim Boylen

October 25th, 2007
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After a disappointing 11-19 season, things are looking up for Utah in part due to the arrival of Jim Boylen.  Boylen, the lead assistant under Tom Izzo the past two year, brings impressive NBA coaching experience to the table and a focus on toughness.  With some good tools to work with such as possible future pro Luke Nevill, the Utes have a shot to reach the postseason:

CHN) Based on what you saw last year, what's the biggest improvement your team needs to get to the next level?

Jim Boylen) Toughness and competitiveness. I like our talent level. I think we have some strengths – shooting, inside presence with Luke Nevill. But the intangible parts of the game – toughness, competitiveness, playing for each other, taking ownership of our play, responsibility for our actions on the floor – all have to improve for us to get where we have to be.

CHN) Are you settled with your starting lineup? Expect any particular battles for the open spots?

JB) No. There is a lot of competition at all three of our perimeter spots, which should make everybody better. (Going into practice) our starting lineup is not set there. Nobody has separated themselves for those positions yet. Lawrence (Borha) and Stephen (Weigh) had good Australia trips, but still are not where they need to be in consistent play. Luka Drca, Kepkay, Chris Grant and Johnnie Bryant will fight it out for the starting point guard position. Luka Drca could play all three perimeter positions and also handle the ball from those three positions. Kepkay and Johnnie are unique, because they have the ability to play point guard, but also have the ability to play off the ball, score and contribute by being a receiver. Chris Grant has the toughness and the intelligence to play either guard spot.

CHN) It might be hard to pick out one, but who is the most talented player you've ever coached?

JB) Hakeem Olajuwon (Ed: Boylen spent 11 years on the staff of the Houston Rockets)

CHN) Talk about one or two guys that stand out as being underrated contributors to your team's success?

JB) Kim Tillie, Luka Drca and Stephen Weigh. I think Kim Tillie can be a double-double sort of guy. Luka Drca is one of my smartest players. He's one of my players who understands how to play the game. Stephen Weigh has the potential to become a complete player.

CHN) What do you think will be the hardest game on this year's schedule?

JB) Right now, the hardest game on our schedule is the first one.

6) Realistically, what should Utah fans and media expect from your team this year?

JB) Our fans can expect us to be more competitive and tougher.


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