Even after one game it's pretty clear the 1997-98 version of Utah women's basketball team is a lot different from last season's. And not just because there are three new starters.
Julie Krommenhoek, Utah's all-everything guard, was, let's say, not herself. Weber State's defense keyed on the all-American, allowing her absolutely no openings. The Wildcats ran multiple defenders at her, turning her into a distributor rather than a shooter.The ploy worked, if all Weber was trying to do was shut down Krommenhoek. But shutting down the rest of the Utes, well, that would call for a completely different game plan.
The Utes used a balanced attack to beat up on their in-state rival, 69-48, Friday evening at the Dee Events Center. Despite Krom-men-hoek not scoring a single point in the first half, and only 11 total, the win was more than convincing.
"We didn't play particularly well, yet we still win by more than 20," said Ute coach Elaine Elliott. "Julie will have her nights. Tonight just wasn't one of them. But I was happy the way the rest of the kids stepped up."
Alli Bills and Kristi Rose were the first to respond to the scene. When it became apparent the Wildcats were going to make everybody and anyone besides Krommenhoek beat them, the duo upped their play a notch. Both scored 10 points in the first half, allowing Utah a comfortable 34-15 lead.
Last season, when Krommenhoek was off her game, the Utes generally struggled. But this year, there are too many weapons in red to worry about just one player.
"It takes a lot of pressure off Julie when other people step up," said Bills, who scored a game high 14. "She doesn't have to score a lot because we are so deep."
Defensively, the Utes shined in the first half. Weber shot only 25 percent in the half, and with eight minutes remaining, they had only four points.