Senior transfer Jarred DuBois graduated from Loyola Marymount in just three years, leaving him with one season of basketball eligibility.
DuBois' name is stamped all over the record books at Loyola Marymount, ranking in the top 25 all-time career leaders in eight statistical categories and in the top five in two categories in just three seasons.
With a solid national reputation, Loyola Marymount afforded DuBois myriad opportunities to face off against some of the top programs in the nation. The experienced veteran, who has played in 110 DI games numbering through Utah's loss to Arizona Saturday, ticked off names of programs he's faced off against on their home courts.
The list includes the likes of Arizona, Notre Dame, UCLA, BYU and Gonzaga.
As a member of the WCC, a solid basketball conference with a respected national reputation based on the strength of perennial powers Gonzaga, Pepperdine and St. Mary's, Marymount afforded DuBois the opportunity to play at a very high level. DuBois has played with and against an impressive number of talented basketball players in his time. With that in mind, DuBois' host of freshman and sophomore teammates have earned his praise and respect most notably for being undaunted against high-powered teams.
"These [young players] we have are fearless. They don't fear the Arizonas or some of these bigger name programs in our conference whatsoever," praised DuBois. "These guys have all played against top talent all of their lives. They've played in McDonald's All-American games, and have just gone up against the best."
Though the Utes are 0-2 in conference play, the Utes dropped two games against high quality opponents, in particular then third-ranked Arizona on their home court, one of the nation's top collegiate basketball environments.
"The crowd, playing on the road like that I think, is the most fun. It helps our team kind of get going, and it's kind of a motivator," said DuBois. "You can learn about your team from those games, so there's always something of value that you can pick up, especially for the young guys."
The Utes did not back away from the challenge of playing some of the top talent in the nation, nor were they intimidated by the boisterous Arizona crowd. Prior to the Arizona road swing, the Utes have shown a propensity to play tough on the road, particularly with an exuberant and vocal fan base.
DuBois says the characteristic is a rare intangible that the Ute pack of freshmen possess.
"Some experienced players never figure out how to block it out, or even use it to their advantage," he observed. "Our young guys, our whole team, really just has that ability. I would say that we feed off of it, instead of being intimidated or anything like that."
Cool, calm and collected, the Ute underclass-men is indeed demonstrating some poise that may just be a rare commodity for the inexperienced.
"I think we're getting to the point where we are not intimidated by some of these programs like UCLA and Arizona. We're not getting really starry eyed or anything like that" offered head coach Larry Krystkowiak. "I think ours is a group who thinks they can play with anyone out there. Our confidence isn't lessened, and our spirit isn't broken."
With promising showings by each of the Utah youngsters, at points, early in the season, it stands to reason that with experience and consistency, this class provides much-needed hope for a renewed Utah basketball program.
In 12 of Utah's 14 games, Utah underclassmen led the team in scoring, while under-classmen have led the team in rebounding. Freshman Justin Seymour summed up the thinking and the mind-set of Utah's youth contingent.
"We've got too much to do, and not enough time for us to go slow. We all know we have to contribute, and step it up," explained Seymour. "I guess it's not that many games altogether, but I don't even consider myself a freshman anymore. With the Brazil trip, and everything, I feel like I've had enough games, and should start playing like a senior. I kind of consider myself a sophomore now more than anything."
The next step for the young group is to learn how to put teams away, or to respond to an opponent's run in key stretches of the game, something it hasn't quite mastered yet. While there has been a tendency on both offense, and defense to let down in Ute losses, each game has been close.
DuBois, with all his experience, boiled it all down to one thing, learning to win. The first step is to not be psyche out or intimidated from the start, then to learn how to execute and choose shots down the stretch.
"We just haven't learned how to win yet. Even though we have some good, young players, we haven't shown that we know how to win the tight ones," said DuBois. "But we will, that will come. As long as we're playing good, hard defense we'll always have a chance."
As the team's own expectations of itself grow, so too, do the team's expectations of its fans. With an exciting young roster, already showing promise and a willingness to compete, the Utes feel they are putting a quality product on the floor.
"I can't wait get to [the Huntsman Center] full," said a hopeful DuBois. "I hope now the fans are seeing something in us, and they start showing up."