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No. 13 Utah draws inspiration from San Antonio Spurs

first_imgSALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak looked to the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs when he needed a model for his offense during the offseason. The No. 13 Utes don’t have a dominant scorer that can simply take over when needed, so he had to find another way to maximize their offensive potential.Arizona State saw the results of that Thursday night in an 83-41 loss in which eight Utah players scored at least eight points.Coaches tend to be copycats when they see peers having success, so Krystkowiak poached parts of the Spurs’ scheme and mixed it with his own motion offense. Now Utah is No. 5 in the country with a plus-16.5 scoring margin and ranks in the top eight in field goal percentage, true shooting percentage and points per shot.The offensive success has come from a completely unselfish philosophy that emphasizes sharing the ball and taking great shots. The Utes (22-5, 12-3 Pac-12) will need everything they can get from that offense with No. 7 Arizona (25-3, 13-2) coming to Salt Lake City on Saturday with a share of the Pac-12 lead on the line.“The Spurs don’t have to beat anybody individually. They just kind of do it collectively,” Krystkowiak said. “That’s what I was hoping to build. We don’t have a LeBron (James) and a bunch of guys. It can be done collectively.“On any given night we have a bunch of weapons that can hurt you,” he added. “That’s what the Spurs did. Even on nights where they shut down (Manu) Ginobili and (Tony) Parker to get some rest, their guys rose up to the occasion. I think that collective idea is pretty powerful when it comes to basketball.”The Utes have the most wins in the country by 20 or more points and have a 23.3-point margin of victory in 12 Pac-12 wins.Guard Delon Wright leads the team with 14.3 points per game, but that ranks just No. 12 in the conference. Utah has three players averaging double digits and nine averaging 3.8 points or more. By comparison, Arizona’s Stanley Johnson leads the team with 14.2 points per game and it also has three players averaging double figures. The Wildcats, however, are more top heavy with six players averaging 9.0 or more.“Seeing the Spurs do what they did to the Heat, who people thought were going to win, it kind of woke people up and (gave) a sense of urgency of how to play the game, how to play the right way,” Wright said. “Last year we were selfish, but this year guys have to look in the mirror and tell themselves they’re not going to score as many points if we want to win. Guys have to sacrifice some points if we want to win as a team.”Arizona State coach Herb Sendek got an up-close look at what that offense can do Thursday. The loss was the Sun Devils’ worst since 1998.“They are a top 10 team for a reason,” Sendek said. “They move the ball. They have good balance inside and out.”Krystkowiak has developed a system to chart each player’s shots with an emphasis on quality attempts. Each shot is given a 1 to 5 grade, with 5 being a great attempt and 1 being terrible. Players aren’t penalized for adverse situations, such as the shot clock running down, but the coaching staff goes over the results after every game. The goal is to pass up good shots for even better ones.“You can see shot qualities and we’re usually well up over four,” Krystkowiak said. “We don’t accept or tolerate the bad shots.“Kind of a selfless, ball energy. We talk about the ball moving all the time. … We’ve come a long way offensively, sharing it and relying on people and trusting the system and trusting the ball energy and we don’t take very many bad shots. I think that’s the key.”The Pac-12 regular-season title is basically on the line for the Utes on Saturday. Both teams will have two games remaining and a Wildcats victory will guarantee them at least a share of the championship.“It’s a surreal feeling because it’s all coming together now,” Utah guard Brandon Taylor said. “But it’s not a surprise. We put the work in and we worked our tails off in the summer time. It’s a good feeling to see the results we’re getting from putting all that work in.”last_img read more

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I went to see BYU, but unknown Utah State golfer stole the show at memorable 1980 NCAA Golf Championship

first_img AP Jay Don Blake tees off on the eighth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club, Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Ardmore, Pa. Grid View As expected, BYU competed for the national championship all week, eventually finishing second to Oklahoma State, four strokes back. However, the big story turned out to be how this unheralded golfer from St. George, Utah, ended up winning the NCAA individual title over several more prominent golfers, many of whom went on to become stars on the PGA Tour.Back then I didn’t even know anything about renting cars or maybe I was just trying to save the company a few bucks, but I had to bum rides up to the course with whomever I saw in the hotel parking lot headed that way. For sending my stories back to Utah, I had something called a telecopier, a bulky machine that was a precursor to a fax machine, except that it would take six minutes to send one page of your typed story as it spun around. However, I made a rookie mistake and checked it as luggage rather than carry it on and the machine broke, forcing me to dictate all my stories over the phone for the whole week. Before the tournament, I remember talking to Utah State coach Dan Roskelley at the Columbus airport, or perhaps it was at an airport connection along the way there — hey, it’s been a long time — and having him tell me that Blake was going to contend that week.I didn’t really believe him — coaches say things like that all the time, but the following day, who should be atop the leaderboard, but the 21-year-old from Utah, whose 3-under-par 69 put him in a tie with Oklahoma State’s Bob Tway.“I wasn’t a big-known player or thought of as a player to be a contender. All the articles were about a bunch of other players, but slowly as the week went along my name kept hanging around. But I didn’t mind that, they could think what they thought. I had a reason to prove a point.” — Jay Don BlakeWhen Blake followed that with a 71 and took a two-stroke lead over the field, people began to take notice, even if they couldn’t get his name right. The scoreboard had him listed as Jay “Donblake.” On the local sports news he was referred to as Joe Don Baker, who was actually a second-rate movie actor of the era.“I wasn’t a big-known player or thought of as a player to be a contender,” Blake said recently from his home in St. George. “All the articles were about a bunch of other players, but slowly as the week went along my name kept hanging around. But I didn’t mind that, they could think what they thought. I had a reason to prove a point.”Years later, Roskelley, who himself was referred to in a news article as “Dan Ross Kelley,” laughed about how he and Blake were disrespected that week.“They thought we were a couple of hicks from Utah,” he said. “The media back there didn’t know (Blake) from a load of coal.”The lack of respect didn’t faze the unassuming Blake, who just kept making birdies and staying ahead of the supposed superior competition.Besides Clampett, the NCAA field was full of big-name amateurs, many of whom went on to become successful professionals. There were a half-dozen players who went on to win major championships, including Tway (eight PGA Tour wins, 1986 PGA), UCLA’s Corey Pavin (15 PGA Tour wins, 1995 U.S. Open) Florida’s Mark Calcavecchia (13 PGA Tour wins, 1989 British Open), Centenary’s Hal Sutton (14 PGA Tour wins, 1983 PGA) Minnesota’s Tom Lehman (five PGA Tour wins, 1996 British Open) and Colorado’s Steve Jones (eight PGA Tour wins, 1996 U.S. Open). Other top players included Ohio State’s Joey Sindelar (seven PGA Tour wins), Tennessee’s Jim Gallagher (five PGA Tour wins) and defending NCAA champion Gary Hallberg of Wake Forest (three PGA Tour wins).But the best of the bunch that week turned out to be Blake, who never showed any signs of the pressure getting to him. In fact during a rain delay in the third round, after a TV reporter requested an interview, Roskelley searched for Blake and finally found him on the floor of the golf shop — sound asleep.There were two weather delays that Friday (I remember getting soaked to the bone running in from the seventh hole trying to beat one of the thunderstorms) and that pushed the end of the third round into Saturday when the final round was scheduled. Blake played six holes in the morning and finished with another 71 and went into the final round two shots ahead of Sutton.But Blake struggled early in his final round and finally looked like the pressure of being an unknown atop the leaderboard all week was getting to him. He was 2 over par on the day through 13 holes and Sutton, one of the country’s premier amateurs at the time, was in the clubhouse with a 70 and a 5-under-par total, two shots ahead of Blake.Reporters were interviewing Sutton and one eastern writer, already forgetting about Jay whats-his-name, had the audacity to ask Sutton if it was his “biggest victory ever.”A befuddled Sutton answered in the affirmative, assuming he must have won the tournament.However, Blake wasn’t done. He was informed of Sutton’s standing at the 14th tee and he promptly made a birdie to cut the lead to one. When he missed the green at the par-3 17th hole and then faced a tricky 25-foot par putt, things were looking bleak for Blake.But he calmly sank a putt that had about 4 feet of break to it and went into No. 18, needing a birdie to tie Sutton. His 300-yard drive left him with a wedge to the 412-yard par-4 and he knocked it within 12 feet. With Sutton looking on from a distance, Blake confidently rolled the putt, forcing a playoff. “I remember seeing him on the back of the green,” Blake said of Sutton. “He watched me putt it and as soon as it went in he just turned around and walked toward the clubhouse.”I was already shaking my head at Blake’s two clutch putts, but there was more to come.The playoff was to start on 17, where this brand-new, all-sports network called ESPN was taping it. If needed, the playoff would continue on 18 and then go back to the same two holes.Sutton appeared to be on the verge of winning on the first playoff hole by hitting the green, while Blake landed in a greenside bunker. After Sutton assured himself of a par, Blake had to make a 10-foot par putt to stay alive, which he did. At 18, Blake’s 25-foot putt for birdie rimmed the cup, while Sutton’s 12-footer never came close.As I wrote back then, Blake appeared to be going for the victory, while Sutton was waiting for Blake to fold. The two went back to 17 and both made pars and again to 18. Sutton missed his long birdie try, leaving Blake with a 10-footer for the win, “almost the identical same putt I’d made at the end of regulation,” he said. Blake stroked it firmly and it hit the center of the cup.The kid from St. George was the NCAA champion.“It was one of the neatest things I’ve ever been through,” Roskelley said. “It’s a great memory.”I have to agree. Of the many sporting events I’ve covered in my long career, Jay Don Blake’s victory at the 1980 NCAA Golf Championship is still right there at the top of the list. SALT LAKE CITY — Over the last 40 years, I’ve covered thousands of sporting events, many in far-flung places from Scotland to Puerto Rico to Hawaii. Nowhere more than Las Vegas, where I’ve covered more than 50 basketball, football and golf events.But as memorable as any was my very first out-of-state sporting event, 40 years ago this week.I was just past my first full year at the Deseret News when I was sent to Columbus, Ohio, for the NCAA Golf Championships at Ohio State University. Utah State golfer Jay Don Blake, bottom right, poses with his Aggie teammates. Forty years ago Blake won medalist honors at the NCAA Championship. Utah State golfer Jay Don Blake, bottom right, poses with his Aggie teammates. Forty years ago Blake won medalist honors at the NCAA Championship. Jay Don Blake tees off on the eighth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club, Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Ardmore, Pa. Jay Don Blake waves to the gallery after making his putt on the 18th green during the second round of the Champions Tour’s Principal Charity Classic golf tournament, Saturday, June 1, 2013, in Des Moines, Iowa. Courtesy Utah State Athletics ASSOCIATED PRESS Jay Don Blake hits from a bunker up to the fifth green during the final round of the SAS PGA Champions Tour golf tournament at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. Blake finished in second place. Utah State golfer Jay Don Blake follows through on a shot. Courtesy Utah State Athletics Jay Don Blake reacts on the 18th green after winning the Charles Schwab Cup Championship golf tournament in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. Jay Don Blake tees off on the eighth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club, Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Ardmore, Pa. Courtesy Utah State Athletics The main reason was to cover the BYU golf team, which had been one of the top college golf programs in the country for several years under legendary coach Karl Tucker. That year the Cougars were one of the top teams in the country with future PGA Tour players Keith Clearwater, Dick Zokol and Bobby Clampett, who was the No. 1 player in the country.There was also a young golfer from Utah State named Jay Don Blake, competing as an individual, who I had to keep an eye on. I knew he had made it to the finals of the Utah Men’s Amateur a couple of years earlier and had won some college events, but didn’t know much else about him. Utah State golfer Jay Don Blake follows through on a shot.center_img Jay Don Blake poses with his trophy on the 18th green after winning the Charles Schwab Cup Championship golf tournament in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. Blake shot even-par 71 to finish at total 8-under-par. Jay Don Blake hits from a bunker up to the fifth green during the final round of the SAS PGA Champions Tour golf tournament at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. Blake finished in second place. Courtesy Utah State Athletics AP AP Jay Don Blake waves to the gallery after making his putt on the 18th green during the second round of the Champions Tour’s Principal Charity Classic golf tournament, Saturday, June 1, 2013, in Des Moines, Iowa. AP Jay Don Blake poses with his trophy on the 18th green after winning the Charles Schwab Cup Championship golf tournament in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. Blake shot even-par 71 to finish at total 8-under-par. Jay Don Blake reacts on the 18th green after winning the Charles Schwab Cup Championship golf tournament in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. Utah State golfer Jay Don Blake poses with the hardware after winning the 1980 NCAA Championship. Jay Don Blake tees off on the eighth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club, Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Ardmore, Pa. A denim-wearing Jay Don Blake stands over his ball. Forty years ago the Utah State golfer won medalist honors at the NCAA Championship. A denim-wearing Jay Don Blake stands over his ball. Forty years ago the Utah State golfer won medalist honors at the NCAA Championship. AP Related Jay Don Blake enjoying life in St. George, hanging out with the grandkids Utah State golfer Jay Don Blake poses with the hardware after winning the 1980 NCAA Championship.last_img read more

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