Utah Basketball Deploys Total Team Effort In Win Over Long Island

Nov 8, 2022, 1:47 AM
Craig Smith - Utah Spring Game...
University of Utah basketball coach Craig Smith is introduced during the Red and White game in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY- The Runnin’ Utes are back in action as they officially tipped-off the 2022-2023 regular season against the Long Island Sharks in a convincing win, 89-48. Overall Utah looked good in their debut and Branden Carlson, Lazar Stefanovic along with head coach Craig Smith, all echoed it was due to a total team effort.

After a miserable 11-20 campaign in the 2021-2022, Smith went to work revamping the roster in hopes of better results this season. So far, so good as the Utes appear to be much quicker, athletic and overall talented than they were the year before both starting and off the bench.

“I trust our whole team,” Smith said. “I’m not sure there is a lot of difference- people want to say ‘starters’ and ‘bench’ and I get that. I guess I don’t really look at it like that with this team because I do think we have a lot of depth, and we have guys who bring different things to the table. I don’t see a lot of drop-off if that makes sense. In some ways we might even be better. That stuff will all work itself out. We have so much newness to this team- it’ll naturally work itself out.”

The Carlsons and Stefanovic Lead The Runnin’ Utes

Branden Carlson was a dominate force for the Runnin’ Utes leading the team in points with 21. Ben Carlson took charge with 11 rebounds- proving to be a stalwart on the glass all night.

“BC was outstanding tonight really carrying the load- 21 and 10 [rebounds],” Smith said. “Ben Carlson with a career high 11 rebounds and we knew we needed that size, and you see it in a game like tonight. Those two guys specifically really owned the glass.”

Lazar Stefanovic was no slouch adding four assists, four rebounds and seven points to Utah’s effort against the Sharks.

“The thing that we know is that we have a really long bench,” Stefanovic said of the team’s effort. “Our depth is amazing. We have 10, 11, 12 guys that can play. Marco (Anthony) was out, Luka (Tarlac) was out- they bring a lot to the table too. We have a ton of guys who can play and compete.”

Branden Carlson agreed, starting his thoughts out on the night centered around how the Runnin’ Utes came together and utilized all of their talents to get a solid win.

“It’s great, it’s always good to start off with a win,” Carlson said. “I think the team competed really hard today and we played well together. I think it exudes a lot of energy for the rest of the season and the next games coming up.”


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