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News » Utah's young bigs stuck on bench

Utah's young bigs stuck on bench

Utah's young bigs stuck on bench Even with the Jazz down to a scant nine available healthy players for their last two games, young bigs Kosta Koufos and Kyrylo Fesenko played sparingly in Friday night's win at Philadelphia and Saturday night's loss at Cleveland. Both appeared for fewer than two minutes of garbage-time against the 76ers, while Fesenko logged just four minutes against the Cavaliers and Koufos, despite having more than a dozen friends and family members in the stands from his nearby hometown of Canton, did not play at all. Finding time for one, let alone both, has proven problematic so far this season, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan readily admits. Regarding 22-year-old Fesenko, Sloan said, "I'd like to get him in the game a little bit more, but our chore is try to win the game.

Just to put a guy out there to give him minutes sometimes when he's not quite ready to play that kind of difficult." The case is similar for Koufos. "The minutes are always tough, but that's what the D-League's about," Sloan said. "I think sometimes they think that's a demotion," he added. "What it is is a way to try to learn how to become a better player." Fesenko, being a third-year NBA player, no longer is eligible for assignment to the NBA Development League. But Koufos, who played 10 games as a rookie last season for the Orem-based Utah Flash, is. With the Jazz lineup depleted as it is, Koufos won't be headed to Utah County any anytime soon. But it could happen sometime this season, Sloan suggested before Saturday's win in Cleveland. "He's big and long, and probably now he needs a chance to play a little bit more," the Jazz coach said. "But, like I said, we're trying to win games every time we step out there, and it's not an exhibition season now. Everything's on the line." Sloan had effusive praise for Koufos' work ethic, but he hastened to add that after just one season spent at Ohio State - that playing mostly zone defense - the 20-year-old still has a lot to learn. "He's improved a great deal," Sloan said of Koufos, who got a surprise start when the Jazz visited Cleveland last season. "It's just that being so young, trying to understand the mechanics of the game has probably slowed him down a little bit," the Jazz coach added. "But his work habit has not slowed him down." RUSSELL AND JORDAN: Ex- Jazz swingman Byron Russell still is trying to drum up interest in his September challenge to fellow NBA retiree Michael Jordan for a charity 1-on-1 showdown. According to Sports Illustrated's Web site, "Russell said Jordan agreed pending review of an official proposal" and "Russell had the plan drawn up... but Jordan hasn't returned his calls." The two were Washington Wizards teammates, but their relationship is best known for Jordan's pushoff/non-pushoff controversy when he hit a 1998 NBA Finals game-winner against Russell and the Jazz . Jordan's mention of Russell in his Naismith Hall of Fame induction speech spurred the challenge. "I think he's afraid to play me," Russell told last Friday. "I know he has an image, but I don't think this game would hurt it. Who can hurt Mike's image? I don't think I can. I hope he takes me seriously because I'm taking him seriously. I know I'm not going to lose." STOCKTON NOW A FATHEAD: Fathead, the company known for officially licensed life-sized cutouts of professional athletes and team logos, has added a John Stockton image to its line of Jazz products, which already included Karl Maloneand Deron Williams. The new Stockton cutout features the retired hall-of-fame point guard dribbling in an all-purple uniform with the Jazz note logo. Cost is $99.99 on the company's Web site, e-mail:

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Added: November 17, 2009


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