14 Aug
2020

Ute guard earning increased floor time

first_imgE-mail: [email protected] FORT COLLINS, Colo. — One of the bright spots in Utah’s loss to San Diego State Wednesday night, was the play of JC transfer Ricky Johns.The 6-3 guard didn’t put up eye-popping numbers, but his overall play made an impact on the floor for the Utes and caught the attention of coach Ray Giacoletti.”We found another guy who’s going to help us from here on out,” Giacoletti said. “I thought Ricky Johns did a great job with his energy tonight. He got a five-second count guarding the ball, took a charge . . . those are the little things. I thought he did a good job and adds another piece to the puzzle.”Johns finished with nine points and two rebounds with no turnovers in 22 minutes. Although he isn’t expected to start, Johns could be the first player off the bench when the Utes take on Colorado State today at 2 p.m. at Moby Gym.Both teams are in a desperate mode of sorts, trying to keep from dropping out of the Mountain West Conference race already. The Utes are 1-2, while the Rams are 0-2 with both losses coming on the road last week.Johns started off the season playing just six minutes in the opener against Texas State, but his minutes have gradually increased. He averages 15.7 minutes per game and has played 40 in the past two games.”If I’m playing more, it’s because I’ve just been doing what the coach asked me to do,” Johns said. “I just try to be aggressive and be physical on defense and never give up a basket.”Johns is originally from Jamaica, where he lived for five years before settling in New York. He was first team all-Bronx before moving on to Monroe College in the Bronx where he was a two-time region MVP and a second-team NJCAA all-American.He says he has enjoyed his time in Utah so far, saying the coaches have made him feel comfortable in a family-like setting. Now he just wants to help the Utes get back on the winning track after “a couple of unexpected losses.”In Colorado State, the Utes will be facing a team that is trying to bounce back from a pair of losses at San Diego State and New Mexico after a sterling 11-2 preseason.The Rams are led by 7-foot sophomore center Jason Smith, who averages 16.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. JC transfer Michael Harrison has stepped into the power forward starting role and averages 12.3 ppg and 5 rpg. Another JC transfer, Cory Lewis, has taken over point guard duties and averages 9.7 points and 4.3 rebounds.The other two expected starters are senior guard Micheal Morris, who beat the Utes with a last-second shot at the Huntsman Center three years ago and Stephen Gilling, a 6-2 freshman.Utah won’t have the services of point guard Tim Drisdom today and Chris Grant will start in his spot, alongside Johnnie Bryant, Shaun Green Bryant Markson and Chris Jackson.Today’s game was switched from a night game to a 2 p.m. start so at least some semblance of a crowd would show up. You see, the Denver Broncos are playing the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at 6 p.m. Now fans can watch the Utes and Rams and have plenty of time to get home for the football game.With another road game coming up Thursday at 14-2 Air Force, the Utes are looking at a 1-4 start if they don’t win today. However, Giacoletti is staying positive with his young team and looking for improvement. “(I’m happy) as long as we’ll continue to give an effort,” he said. “There’s a fine line. You look out on the floor and sometimes we’ve got three freshmen and a sophomore running it. It’s going to take slow steps. It doesn’t mean we accept losing at all . . . as long as effort is there and we clean up some areas and get better as we go along.” Utes on the air Utah (8-6, 1-2) at Colorado State (11-4, 0-2)Today, 2 p.m.TV: NoneRadio: AM 700 last_img

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