GAME DATA: Utah (5-0) plays Idaho State (5-0) on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at Holt Arena (8,721) in Pocatello, Idaho.
ON THE AIR: KALL-910 AM will broadcast the game live with Mike Lageschulte (play-by-play) and Reggie Wright-Jewkes (color) calling the action.
A QUICK LOOK AT UTAH: The Utes are 5-0 after winning Kansas State’s Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic last weekend. Utah opened the tournament with a 61-55 win over Wisconsin-Green Bay and defeated Kansas State, 68-57, in the championship game. Senior guard Julie Krommenhoek leads the Utes in scoring with an average of 18.4 points per game. Krommenhoek is also averaging a team-best 3.2 three-pointers per game. Senior point guard Alli Bills leads the team in assists (9.0 apg) and is second in scoring (11.4 ppg). Senior forward Angie Thill is the team-leader in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and is third in scoring (13.8 ppg). Sophomore center Kristi Rose is fourth in scoring (10.2 ppg) and first in blocked shots (1.8 bpg). Utah is outscoring the opposition 71.0 to 51.6 points per game and has a 37.8 to 34.6 advantage in rebounding. The Utes are shooting 44.4 percent from the field, 38.9 percent from three-point range and 74.1 percent from the free throw line.
TRAVEL PLANS: Bus to Pocatello, Idaho, on Monday at 1:15 p.m. and return to Salt Lake City after the game on Tuesday. Accommodations: Holiday Inn (208-237-1400).
COMING UP: Utah continues its five-game road swing later this week, playing at Montana on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
s UTAH VS. IDAHO STATE PREVIEW
SCOUTING IDAHO STATE: The Bengals are 5-0 after defeating two Western Athletic Conference teams to win Air Force’s tournament last weekend. Idaho State defeated Wyoming, 79-73, on Friday and Air Force, 79-58, in the championship game on Saturday. Senior 6-0 forward Holly Togai leads the team in scoring (13.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg). Senior 6-3 center Mandi Ortega is second on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg). Junior 5-7 guard Theresa Mallak leads ISU in assists (5.2 apg) and is averaging 8.8 points per game. The Bengals have outscored the opposition 72.8 to 63.6 points per game and have a 37.8 to 36.6 edge in rebounding.
BENGALS HEAD COACH ARDIE McINELLY... has a 20-12 career record in her second season at Idaho State.
THE SERIES: Utah and Idaho State meet for the 22nd time on Tuesday night. Utah has never lost to ISU, and won the last meeting, 75-53, on Dec. 20, 1996 in Salt Lake City. The Utes are 9-0 in games played in Pocatello, Idaho.
s UTAH TEAM NOTES
UTES OFF TO SECOND-BEST START EVER: Utah, at 5-0, is off to the second-best start in school history. The Utes have equalled their 5-0 start to the 1988-89 season and are one win short of tying the all-time best start in school history of 6-0 in 1976-77.
UTES WIN KANSAS STATE TOURNAMENT: Utah won Kansas State’s Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic last weekend, posting a 68-57 win over KSU in the championship game and a 61-55 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first round. Julie Krommenhoek was named the tournament MVP, averaging 20.5 points and 3.5 steals a game, and shooting 40 percent (8-for-10) from three-point range. Alli Bills also landed a spot on the all-tournament team, posting 19 assists and 13 points in two games.
In the win over Kansas State, Bills posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. Krommenhoek and Angie Thill each scored a game-high 16 points. Krommenhoek added four steals and Thill had six boards. Kristi Rose scored 14 points with seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Utah shot 51 percent for the game, and made 8-of-17 three-pointers. With the game was tied at 31-31 with 16:10 left to play, Utah took control by scoring nine unanswered points to take a 40-31 lead.
Utah came back from a 26-23 halftime deficit to defeat Wisconsin-Green Bay, 61-55, in the first round. Krommenhoek led the way for the Utes with a game-high 25 points, going 8-for-21 from the field and 4-for-10 from behind the arc. She also had three steals. Thill scored 14 points and pulled down six rebounds. Rose posted 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting and had seven rebounds.
Utah shot a season-low 34.5 percent (20-for-58) from the field and went 4-for-16 from three-point range. The Utes did have a significant edge at the free throw line, however, going 17-for-21 (81 percent). Wisconsin-Green Bay attempted just 12 free throws, making nine. With the Phoenix leading 31-27 with 14:49 to play in the second half, Utah reeled off 13 unanswered points to take a 40-31 lead with 10:30 remaining.
HEAD COACH ELAINE ELLIOTT... is the winningest coach in Utah women’s basketball history. Elliott, now in her 15th season as Utah’s head coach after spending four years as an assistant coach at the U., could record her 300th career victory this season. She has 286-127 career record and a 138-38 mark in conference games. Her number of career wins and winning percentage (.692) is the best of any coach in the Western Athletic Conference. Her coaching tenure is also the longest among the league coaches. She has had nine 20-win seasons and three 19-win campaigns, averaging 20 wins in the 14 previous years at the U. Elliott was named the WAC Mountain Division Coach of the Year last season after guiding Utah to the Mountain Division title. Utah won the WAC regular-season title under Elliott in 1995-96 and the WAC Tournament championship in 1995. Elliott has coached teams to a total of four regular-season conference crowns (1986, 87, 89, 96), one divisional title (1997) and four league tournament championships (1989, 90, 91, 94). Seven of her teams have advanced to the NCAA Tournament (1986, 89, 90, 91, 95, 96, 97).
ELLIOTT ELABORATES: On the Wisconsin-Green Bay game - “We struggled shooting all night, and sometimes that just happens. We also got some key people in foul trouble early in the game and kind of got passive, particularly on the defensive end. But we stepped it up in the second half and did what we had to do to win.”
On the Kansas State game - “Our inside players really established themselves and gave us a presence inside in the second half. It was a very balanced offensive effort, and we didn’t have to rely so much on Julie, like we did the night before, to score. I was also very happy for Alli with her great accomplishment of breaking the all-time assists record. Beating a team like Kansas State on the road in a hostile environment was a great experience for us early in the season.”
On this week’s games - “We’re going to face a couple of good teams from the Big Sky Conference. Idaho State placed second behind Montana last year and has four starters back. They play in a tough arena for shooting because they basically set up their court in the middle of their indoor football stadium. Montana is always a tough team. They go the NCAA Tournament almost every year like we do, and we have never won up there in five trips. We will have to be ready to play well this week.”
BILLS BREAKS UTAH CAREER ASSISTS RECORD: Senior point guard Alli Bills became the Utes’ all-time leader in assists, dishing out 10 against Kansas State last Saturday in the championship game of the Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic. Bills now has 445 career assists in essentially two and a half seasons after missing the last 20 games of her sophomore year with a torn ACL. She took over first place from Karen Alcorn (1988-92), who had 440 career assists. She is averaging 9.0 assists over five games this season. The Sandy, Utah, native also ranks third in the Western Athletic Conference in career assists, needing 53 more to take over the top spot from Dee Dee Dominguez of Colorado State (1993-96).
Bills also owns two of the top three single-season assists totals in school history. She dished out 160 assists, the third-most in the Utah record books, as a freshman in 1994-95. Bills ranked first in the nation with 7.6 assists per game in 1996-97, recording a school record 213 on the season.
MORE ON BILLS: Alli Bills is off to a great start to her final season as a Ute. She has had two double-doubles, posting 15 points and 11 assists against UC Irvine on Nov. 28 and 10 points and 10 assists, to go along with seven rebounds, against Kansas State on Dec. 6. Bills has scored in double figures in four of the first five games.
Bills, who was named to the Western Athletic Conference all-defensive team in 1996-97, posted 10 assists or more seven times last season. She dished out a career-best 14 assists against SMU on March 7 in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament. Bills also scored in double figures 11 times in ‘96-97. Bills had her first career triple-double against Colorado State on Feb. 26, with 13 points, a career-best 14 rebounds and 10 assists. She also posted two double-doubles last season, getting 13 points and 10 assists against Brigham Young on Feb. 6, and 10 points and 11 assists against SMU on Feb. 13. She matched a career-best with 23 points against SMU on Jan. 18.
KROMMENHOEK GUNNING FOR UTAH AND WAC CAREER SCORING MARKS: Senior guard Julie Krommenhoek has already established herself as one of the most prolific shooters in the history of the Utah program and the Western Athletic Conference. With 1,634 points, Krommenhoek ranks fourth in career scoring at Utah and needs 441 more points this season to take over the career scoring mark. She also ranks fifth in the WAC in career scoring, needing 215 points to claim the top spot.
Krommenhoek already tops the Utah and WAC career charts for three-point field goals made (280) and attempted (648), and owns the top three single-season marks in both three-point categories. She set school and conference single-season records last season with 103 three-pointers made and 233 attempted.
KROMMENHOEK SHOOTING FOR ALL-AMERICA HONORS ONCE AGAIN: Julie Krommenhoek, a Kodak honorable mention All-American the past two seasons and a District VII All-American in ‘94-95, figures to be one of the top players in the country in ‘97-98. Through the first five games, Krommenhoek already has two 20-point games with a season high of 25 against Wisconsin-Green Bay. She has scored in double figures in every game, averaging 3.2 three-pointers per game and shooting 41 percent from behind the arc.
Last season, Krommenhoek ranked second in the nation with a career-best average of 3.3 three-pointers per game and fourth in three-point field goal percentage (44.2), leading the Western Athletic Conference in both categories. She was also 18th in the NCAA and third in the WAC free throw percentage (84.3). A three-time first-team all-WAC selection, the American Fork, Utah, native ranked ninth in the conference in field goal percentage (42.7) and 10th in steals (2.4) overall in ‘96-97. She also scored 18.4 points a game in league contests to rank third.
Krommenhoek scored 20 points or more 11 times last season, including a career-best 35 against Rice on Jan. 23. Also against the Owls, she tied her own school record with seven three-pointers (in 11 attempts). In the process of scoring 24 points against Oregon in the championship game of the Pepsi Shootout in Eugene, Ore., on Nov. 30, 1996, Krommenhoek broke her own Utah and WAC all-time records with 17 three-point field goal attempts. Her previous best mark was 16 three-point attempts against Southern Mississippi on March 16, 1996. Also last season, Krommenhoek posted her first career double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds against Southern California on Dec. 14, 1996.
WAC STATISTICAL RANKINGS: Julie Krommenhoek ranks sixth in scoring (18.4 ppg), 14th in field goal percentage (41.0), seventh in three-point percentage (41.0), third in three-point field goals per game (3.2) and seventh in steals (3.2). Alli Bills is first in assists (9.0) and 10th in steals (2.8). Angie Thill is 15th in scoring (13.8 ppg), fourth in field goal percentage (57.1) and second in rebounds (9.5). Kristi Rose ranks 12th in rebounds (7.4) and third in blocks (1.8).
As a team, Utah is seventh in scoring (71.0 ppg), first in scoring defense (51.6 ppg), fourth in field goal percentage (44.4), fourth in field goal percentage defense (35.9), fourth in three-point field goal percentage (38.9), second in free throw percentage (74.1), 12th in rebounds (37.8), second in opponents’ rebounds (34.6), fourth in blocks (3.0), 11th in steals (9.4), fourth in turnover margin (-6.2), fifth in rebound margin (+3.2), fourth in scoring margin (+19.4 ppg) and fifth in three-pointers per game (5.6).
THE SCHEDULE: Utah’s 1997-98 regular-season schedule features two match-ups against NCAA Tournament teams from last year. Utah defeated Kansas State, 68-57, on Dec. 6 in the championship game of KSU’s tournament. The Wildcats, members of the Big 12 Conference, were a 10th seed in the NCAA East Region least year with a 19-11 record. Montana, which will host Utah on Saturday in Missoula, Mont., earned a ninth seed in the NCAA West Region last season with a 25-3 record.
UTAH PREDICTED TO WIN WAC: In a preseason poll of the Western Athletic Conference coaches, Utah was selected as the favorite to win the Mountain Division for the second-consecutive year and capture the WAC championship.
Utah collected 12 of the 16 first-place votes and 117 points in being predicted to win the division. The Utes garnered 11 of the 16 votes as the favorites to win the WAC Tournament championship game over Colorado State (3 votes) and Hawai’i (2).
Colorado State was picked to finish second in the Mountain Division, collecting 108 points and the remaining four first-place votes. The coaches picked New Mexico to place third (90 points), followed by Brigham Young (77), Wyoming (65), UTEP (50), UNLV (39) and Air Force (22).
Hawai’i was chosen as the preseason favorite in the Pacific Division with 110 points and 10 first-place votes. The remainder of the Pacific Division was predicted as follows: San Diego State (100), Rice (95), SMU (86), TCU (68), Fresno State (50), San Jose State (31) and Tulsa (28).
This season the WAC schedule with feature a 14-game format. Each school will play a cross-over series with a team from the other division—Rice in Utah’s case—but the two games will not count in the WAC standings as opposed to last year. The 1998 WAC Tournament will feature 12 teams—the top six from each division—and will be contested March 2-7 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
WAC’S TOP TEAM: Utah, in its 24th season, is the most successful program in the history of the Western Athletic Conference. The U.’s 472-191 (.711) overall record, 76-22 (.776) mark in league games and eight NCAA Tournament appearances are all top marks in the WAC. Utah’s two conference championships, including the 1997 Mountain Division title, rank second to San Diego State’s three WAC titles.
EUROPEAN VACATION: Utah got a head start on the 1997-98 season by playing five games against European professional teams during a 10-day trip to France and Switzerland last summer. The Utes went 4-1 on the tour. The team left for France on Aug. 15, spent the first four days in Paris, toured Switzerland for three days and went to Nice, France, for the last three days of the trip before returning home on Sept. 5. Senior Julie Krommenhoek averaged 18 points a game to lead the team in scoring. Sophomore 6-2 center Kristi Rose averaged 15 points and 15 rebounds a game.
UTAH IN THE NCAA RANKINGS LAST YEAR: Utah ranked 17th in the nation in scoring defense in 1996-97. The Utes gave up an average of just 57.9 points a game, and held five opponents to under 50 points. Utah’s defense gave up more than 80 points on only one occasion, surrendering 81 in a loss to Southern California on Dec. 14. Utah also limited opponents to 38.7 percent field goal shooting on the season. Utah held the opposition to under 40 percent field goal shooting in 19 games, including the first nine games of the Western Athletic Conference season. The Utes also ranked 17th in the nation with a .806 winning percentage, the best of any team in the WAC.
UTAH ON TELEVISION: The Utes will make at least three appearances on television this season. Utah game with Colorado State on Jan. 18 at 2:00 p.m. (MST) will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Net. The contest is part of an eight-game Western Athletic Conference Game of the Week package—the first of its kind in conference history. Fox Sports Net will also televise the WAC Championship game on March 7 tape-delayed at 6:00 p.m. (MST).
Utah will also make at least two appearances on local television. The Utah/Brigham Young game on Jan. 10 at 3:00 p.m. in the Jon M. Huntsman Center will be televised by KJZZ-TV (Ch. 14, TCI 3). KJZZ is also tentatively scheduled to telecast either the Utes’ quarterfinal or semifinal game in the WAC Tournament on March 4 or 6. The Utah/Brigham Young game in Provo, Utah, on Feb. 4 at 7:00 p.m will be televised by KBYU-TV (Ch. 11).
UTES ON RADIO: Once again this season, KALL-910 AM in Salt Lake City will be the radio home for Ute women’s basketball. The majority of the regular-season games and all postseason contests will be carried live or tape delayed when they conflict with Utah men’s games. KALL-910 AM Sports Director Brad Stone and Utah Assistant Sports Information Director Mike Lageschulte will share the play-by-play duties. Former Ute Reggie Wright-Jewkes will be the analyst for home games and select road games.