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Giacoletti’s Utes ready to start

SHARE Giacoletti’s Utes ready to start

Nearly six and a half months have passed since Ray Giacoletti was named Utah's basketball coach, replacing longtime coach Rick Majerus.

The former Eastern Washington coach hit the ground running and so far pretty much everything has gone right for him.

He helped convince guard Marc Jackson to rejoin the team after sitting out a year and helped persuade Australian center Andrew Bogut to stick around for at least one more year. During the summer he hit the recruiting trail and has already secured three commitments for next season and is close to getting a fourth.

"It's hard to believe six months have gone by," he said.

Now the scrutiny on Giacoletti's coaching ability begins as the Utes officially open practice Saturday at noon. The Utes will practice most days up until their official opener Nov. 19 against Stony Brook.

Giacoletti and his staff have been able to conduct limited individual workouts during the past month and a half, but are looking forward to seeing how the players work as a team.

"Now that the season's here, the team is the most important thing," he said. "We're in pretty good health and we need to stay healthy because we're not very deep."

The Utes welcome back three starters in Andrew Bogut, Tim Drisdom and Richard Chaney and also have experienced players in Justin Hawkins, Bryant Markson, Chris Jackson and Marc Jackson.

NEW GUYS: The Utes' roster features three freshman recruits and a junior college walk-on.

The one most likely to play is 7-foot, 240-pound freshman Luke Nevill, a native Australian who played high school ball in Marietta, Ga., last year.

"He has great hands and great feet," said Giacoletti. "He has a chance to be a great player."

The other two freshmen are 5-8 guard Jermaine Calvin of Tempe, Ariz., and 6-8, 260-pound Jake Schmidt of Thermopolis, Wyo.

The other newcomer is Casey Iverson, a 6-1 guard from Taylorsville, who averaged 12 points per game for College of Eastern Utah last year. The Utes will have at least one other walk-on and will hold open tryouts next week.

FORGOTTEN UTE: The other player on the 12-man roster is Jonas Langvad, who never got into the rotation last year and only ended up playing in eight games.

Giacoletti has been impressed so far with the 6-9, 220-pounder from Denmark.

"He's been doing a really good job," he said. "He's skilled and athletic for a guy 6-9 and he can really shoot the basketball. Our staff has been impressed with him."

SCHEDULE: The annual "Night With the Runnin' Utes" will be Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center. For a change, it will include both the men's and women's teams.

The Utes' first exhibition game will be Nov. 6 against Carroll College with another exhibition Nov. 13 against Western State. After the first official game Nov. 19 against Stony Brook, the Utes play Washington Nov. 25 in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout.

E-mail: sor@desnews.com