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Utes, new coach begin practicing

For the first time in 15 years, a new coach will be directing the Utah men's basketball team when it begins practice today for the 2004-05 season.

Coach Ray Giacoletti will welcome 13 players, including three returning starters, for the noon practice at the Huntsman Center.

Giacoletti takes over for Rick Majerus, who led the Ute program from 1989 until he resigned last January.

Giacoletti will bring a new style of basketball to Utah with more pressing on defense and more of an up-tempo offense. The team will be built around 6-11 sophomore Andrew Bogut, who starred for the Australian Olympic team this summer.

"We need to have him touch the ball as much as possible," he said.

The Utes will also welcome back Marc Jackson, who earned second-team all-Mountain West Conference honors two years ago as a backup point guard.

Giacoletti says he plans to play Jackson alongside two-year starting point guard Tim Drisdom much of the time this year.

"We did that a couple of years at Eastern (Washington)," Giacoletti said. "With two that can handle the ball, we're able to get a much better flow."

Richard Chaney, who started at small forward last year, will play that position again this year as well as the shooting guard spot. Sophomore Justin Hawkins is likely to see a lot more time this year and can play anything from shooting guard to power forward.

Giacoletti has been pleased with Chris Jackson's progress from back surgery last spring and said he already has the second-best bench press of anyone of the team. While Bogut is primarily a post player, he and the 7-foot Jackson can play together to give the Utes a formidable inside duo.

Bryant Markson and Jonas Langvad will provide depth at forward, while 7-foot freshman Luke Nevill will likely make the most impact of the Utes' new players.

Unlike during the Majerus era, practices will be open and all players will be available to the media for interviews.