Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Big Picture

I like where this team is right now. Nobody likes the record. And it would be nice if rebuilding didn't take as long as it takes. But Utah has a good coach, a good foundation of young players, and it has been competitive in several games against good teams. The future looks bright.

There are four reasons I am encouraged:

First, most of the players have improved over the course of the season. Coach Krystko and his staff have coached these players up. The big men, especially, have made great progress over the course of this season. This is a well-coached team and players improve under this staff.

Second, the Freshmen core is strong. Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor have the potential to be special. Dakari Tucker, Justin Seymour, and Jeremy Olsen have all had confidence-building moments this season. This group, along with a strong recruiting class, makes up the core of the Utah basketball program. I am okay with that.

Third, Utah plays good defense. Utah gives up just over 62 points a game and they have held several teams under their season average. The foundation of every good team is a good defense. Utah is not a good team yet. But it is slowly building that foundation by creating an identity as a strong defensive team.

Fourth, Utah is recruiting well. Delon Wright is a great JC pickup for the Utes and Parker Van Dyke was a kid the Utes had to get. I also like what I see in Ahmad Fields (assuming he signs).

Utah still needs a lot of help on the boards. They have really been beat up on the boards this season, especially when they play zone. They need to shoot better. They need to keep improving their athleticism. And they need Dallin Bachynski to be the player we all know he can be. With a watered-down schedule, I thought Utah might get to 15 or 16 wins this season. Tough losses to Sacramento State, Cal State Northridge, and Washington State make that win total unlikely. But even though they didn't get to 16 wins and they won't sneak into post-season play, there was a lot to like about Utah basketball this season. If they can get one or two more wins and maybe steal a game in the Pac 12 tournament, they will have a little momentum going into next year. If the kids can sneak into a lower echelon tournament next season, they will be on schedule to make the NCAA's by this Freshman class's senior season. In my view, that is what it will take to call this rebuilding project a success. I am optimistic that Utah is on schedule to do just that.

Week 17 TV Schedule

Salt Lake
Feb. 27th7:30Arizona at USCPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 27th9:00Colorado at StanfordESPN2669 (HD)144
Feb. 27th9:30Arizona State at UCLAPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 28th7:00Utah at CaliforniaESPNU755 (HD)141
Feb. 28th9:00Oregon State at OregonESPNU 755 (HD)141
Mar. 2nd1:00Arizona State at USCRoot Sports693 (HD)414
Mar. 2nd3:00Colorado at CaliforniaESPNU755 (HD)141
Mar. 2nd7:00Arizona at UCLAESPN668 (HD)140
Mar. 3rd1:30Washington State at WashingtonRoot Sports693 (HD)414
Mar. 3rd3:00Utah at StanfordPac-12 Net757 (HD)413

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekly Postseason Tracker

Two weeks ago, Cal had just one win against the RPI Top-100 (Oregon) and seemed a good fit for the CBI. But a lot happened since then. After a stunning comeback against an improved USC last night, the Bears now have six Top-100 wins and are on the verge of being NCAA-worthy.

Meanwhile, Arizona State is still holding strong as the conference's fourth NCAA team; they've been doing just enough to stay there. They followed up a loss to Utah (RPI 172) with a win against Colorado (RPI 21).

The Buffaloes, meanwhile, appeared poised to get over the hump after they beat Arizona (RPI 10), but then couldn't get it done against ASU (RPI 71) at home.

Conference RPI: #6

Arizona (21-4, 9-4) | RPI: #10 | SOS: #12
Top-100 Wins: vs. Miami (Fla.) (2); vs. Florida (4); vs. Colorado (21); San Diego State (34); vs. Southern Miss (37); at Arizona State (71); vs. Stanford (73); at Washington (89); vs. UTEP (97); vs. USC (100)
Sub-100 Losses: None.
Arizona State (19-7, 8-5) | RPI: #71 | SOS: #120
Top-100 Wins: at Colorado (21); vs. Colorado (21); vs. UCLA (41); vs. California (53); Arkansas (77); vs. USC (100)
Sub-100 Losses: at Utah (172); vs. DePaul (183)  
Oregon (21-5, 10-3) | RPI: #39 | SOS: #102
Top-100 Wins: vs. Arizona (10); at UNLV (19); at UCLA (41); vs. Arizona State (71); vs. Washington (89); at Washington (89); at USC (100)
Sub-100 Losses: None.
UCLA (19-7, 9-4) | RPI: #41 | SOS: #35
Top-100 Wins: at Arizona (10); at Colorado (21); vs. Missouri (38); vs. California (53); vs. Indiana St. (61); at Stanford (73); vs. Stanford (73); vs. Washington (89)
Sub-100 Losses: vs. Cal Poly (180)

California (16-9, 8-5) | RPI: #53 | SOS: #32
Top-100 Wins: at Arizona (10); vs. Oregon (39); vs. UCLA (41); at Denver (90); at USC (100); vs. USC (100)
Sub-100 Losses: None.

Colorado (17-8, 7-6) | RPI: #21 | SOS: #11
Top-100 Wins: vs. Arizona (10); vs. Colorado St. (13); at Oregon (39); vs. California (53); Baylor (54); vs. Air Force (72); vs. Stanford (73); vs. USC (100)
Sub-100 Losses: at Utah (172)


Stanford (15-11, 6-7) | RPI: #73 | SOS: #39
Top-100 Wins: vs. Oregon (39); vs. California (53); vs. Northern Iowa (70); at Arizona State (71); vs. Denver (90)
Sub-100 Losses: None.

Washington (14-12, 6-7) | RPI: #89 | SOS: #37
Top-100 Wins: vs. Colorado (21); vs. St. Louis (45); at California (53); vs. Arizona State (71); at Stanford (73)
Sub-100 Losses: vs. Nevada (134); vs. Utah (172); at Oregon State (173); vs. Albany (175)

Oregon State (13-13, 3-10) | RPI: #173 | SOS: #125
Top-100 Wins: vs. New Mexico State (76); vs. Washington (89)
Sub-100 Losses: vs. Towson (162); vs. Washington State (189)  
USC (12-14, 7-6) | RPI: #100 | SOS: #26
Top-100 Wins: at UCLA (41); at Stanford (73); vs. Stanford (73); vs. Washington (89)
Sub-100 Losses: at Nebraska (106); at Georgia (120); vs. UC Irvine (188)
Utah (11-14, 3-10) | RPI: #172 | SOS: #65
Top-100 Wins: vs. Colorado (21); vs. Boise State (42); vs. Arizona State (71); at Washington (89)
Sub-100 Losses: at Oregon State (173); at Washington State (189); at SMU (193); vs. CS Northridge (218); vs. Sacramento State (296)

Washington State (11-15, 2-11) | RPI: #189 | SOS: #93
Top-100 Wins: None.
Sub-100 Losses: vs. Oregon State (173); at Pepperdine (191)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Week 16 TV Schedule

Salt Lake
Feb. 20th8:00Washington State at Arizona StatePac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 20th9:00Washington at ArizonaESPN2669 (HD)144
Feb. 21st7:00California at OregonESPNU755 (HD)141
Feb. 21st8:00Utah at ColoradoPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 21st9:00Stanford at Oregon State
ESPNU 755 (HD)141
Feb. 23rd1:00Washington State at Arizona
Root Sports693 (HD)414
Feb. 23rd4:00California at Oregon State
Pac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 23rd6:00Stanford at Oregon Pac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 23rd9:00Washington at Arizona StateESPNU755 (HD)141
Feb. 24th1:30UCLA at USC
Root Sports693 (HD)414

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Shout-Out to the Baseball Team

Today is Opening Day for the Utah Baseball team. At 3:00 MST, the Utes will be down in Los Angeles for the first of a three-game series against Loyola Marymount. I want to dedicate this bit of blogspace to wish them the best of luck. We'll be pulling for you all season long, fellas! Do us proud!

We've never been a baseball school, but our guys have given us plenty to cheer about over the years. Who could forget about the 2009 season when we won the MWC Tournament and represented very well in the NCAA regionals? That was the A.J. Cron team that won 28 games.

But my favorite Utah baseball team, hands down, was the 2004 squad. No contest. And it's not because they kicked butt on the diamond -- it's because of what they did in the hills above Provo. Late one night during a series against BYU, eight of the players took 15 gallons of red paint and hiked to the concrete "Y" on the side of the mountain. They painted a large "U" and some other marks on the "Y." Then they took a few snapshots of the deed:

Unfortunately, the prank didn't last for long. The "Y" was quickly re-painted white the next day and that was that -- until two weeks later when Ryan Breska went to pick up his pictures from the photo store that developed the film. Police were there waiting. Breska was arrested and, along with the other seven players, was charged with a second-degree felony. The charges were later reduced to misdemeanors and the eight players each pleaded guilty. The pleas were held in abeyance until the players paid a fine in the amount of $6,267.20, plus interest, to Brigham Young University.

For this reason, Eric SchalerRyan FlorenceTyler KmetkoJay BrossmanTyson OlsonJason PriceJacob Waldram and Ryan Breska will forever be remembered fondly by Ute faithful as "The Utah 8." Well done, boys.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week 15 TV Schedule

Salt Lake
Feb. 13th6:00Arizona State at UtahPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 13th8:00Oregon State at Washington StatePac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 13th9:00Oregon at WashingtonESPN2669 (HD)144
Feb. 14th7:00UCLA at CaliforniaESPN2669 (HD)144
Feb. 14th8:00Arizona at ColoradoPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 14th9:00USC at StanfordESPNU755 (HD)141
Feb. 16th2:00UCLA at StanfordESPN2669 (HD)144
Feb. 16th5:00Oregon at Washington StatePac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 16th7:00Arizona State at ColoradoESPNU755 (HD)141
Feb. 16th9:00Oregon State at WashingtonRoot Sports693 (HD)414
Feb. 17th1:00Arizona at UtahPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 17th8:00USC at CaliforniaRoot Sports693 (HD)414

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Gameday: Utah at Oregon State

One of my finest moments as Utah's head coach came during the 1966 NCAA Tournament. Most college basketball fans remember Texas-Western's magical run for the championship that year; but Ute fans best remember the play of Jerry Chambers -- who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Before Texas-Western got the best of us in the Final Four, Chambers led us to a really great win against Oregon State at the Western Regional in Pauley Pavilion.

I was worried about the Oregon State game. They excelled in ball control; they kept a real slow pace and didn't make mistakes. And they had a couple sharp-shooters named Loy Petersen and Rick Whelan. So the plan was to get a jump on them and make them play catch-up. Thanks to Chambers, Merv Jackson and Rich Tate, we were able to do just that. We took a 17-point lead into halftime and cruised the rest of the way en route to a 70-64 win. We controlled the tempo and Chambers went off for 33 points that night. Oregon State simply could not keep up with us on either end of the floor.

The win established us as the best in the west. From there we were off to College Park, Maryland to face Don Haskins and the Texas Miners. And the rest is history.

+ + +

• Don't miss's 600 Words on Why Utah Might Be Good.

• Coach Krysto is a fan of Joe Burton, and Challe Barton is expected to get some more minutes to take the focus off Ahmad Starks.

"Desperate" may not be the right word, but both the Utes and Beavers could really use a win tonight.

• And as always, there's a lot of good info on the Tribune's blog.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Weekly Postseason Tracker

Colorado was on the cusp of climbing into the NCAA bid category. Most bracketologists had them in the field all year long -- owing to their great RPI and SOS. So after sweeping Stanford and Cal a week ago, it looked like Colorado would solidify itself as the fifth Pac-12 team in the tourney.

But the loss to Utah will keep them out for at least another week. In that sense, Utah's win on Saturday was bad for the conference. The same could be said for Utah's win in Seattle a couple weeks ago. The Utes are spoilers -- spoiling other teams' resumes and the Pac-12's chance of landing five NCAA bids.

In another sense, however, Utah's two Pac-12 upsets are great for the conference. They represent progress for a program that has the potential to compete in the top half of the league. Ute fans are thrilled with the win on Saturday, but expect more great things to come. We expect the progress to continue until Utah's a regular contender and NCAA participant again.

So Saturday's win was a solid step in the right direction. The sooner Utah can get over the hump, the sooner they can be a regular credit to the conference.

+ + +
Conference RPI: #6

Arizona (19-2, 7-2) | RPI: #4 | SOS: #5
Top-100 Wins: vs. Miami (Fla.) (2); vs. Florida (3); vs. Colorado (25); San Diego State (33); vs. Southern Miss (36); at Arizona State (63); at Washington (69); vs. UTEP (74)
Sub-100 Losses: None.
Arizona State (17-5, 6-3) | RPI: #63 | SOS: #112
Top-100 Wins: vs. Colorado (25); vs. UCLA (44)
Sub-100 Losses: vs. DePaul (182)  
Oregon (18-4, 7-2) | RPI: #27 | SOS: #90
Top-100 Wins: vs. Arizona (4); at UNLV (19); at UCLA (44); vs. Arizona State (63); vs. Washington (69); vs. Nebraska (85)
Sub-100 Losses: None.
UCLA (16-6, 6-3) | RPI: #44 | SOS: #30
Top-100 Wins: at Arizona (4); at Colorado (25); vs. Missouri (35); vs. Indiana St. (52); vs. Stanford (67); vs. California (70)
Sub-100 Losses: vs. USC (110); vs. Cal Poly (202)


Colorado (14-7, 4-5) | RPI: #25 | SOS: #18
Top-100 Wins: vs. Colorado St. (15); Baylor (49); vs. Stanford (67); vs. Air Force (68); vs. California (70)
Sub-100 Losses: at Utah (166)

Stanford (14-8, 5-4) | RPI: #67 | SOS: #51
Top-100 Wins: vs. Oregon (27); vs. California (70); at Northwestern (86); vs. Northern Iowa (94)
Sub-100 Losses: at USC (110)

California (13-8, 5-4) | RPI: #70 | SOS: #53
Top-100 Wins: vs. Oregon (27)
Sub-100 Losses: None.

Washington (13-9, 5-4) | RPI: #69 | SOS: #24
Top-100 Wins: vs. Colorado (25); vs. St. Louis (56); vs. Arizona State (63); at Stanford (67); at California (70); vs. Loyola (Md.) (100)
Sub-100 Losses: vs. Nevada (133); at Oregon State (162); vs. Utah (166); vs. Albany (172)

Oregon State (11-11, 1-8) | RPI: #162 | SOS: #105
Top-100 Wins: vs. Washington (69); vs. New Mexico State (76)
Sub-100 Losses: at USC (110); vs. Washington State (165); vs. Towson (186)  
USC (9-13, 4-5) | RPI: #110 | SOS: #15
Top-100 Wins: at UCLA (44); vs. Stanford (67)
Sub-100 Losses: at Georgia (132); vs. UC Irvine (185)
Utah (10-11, 2-7) | RPI: #166 | SOS: #75
Top-100 Wins: vs. Colorado (25); vs. Boise State (51); at Washington (69)
Sub-100 Losses: vs. USC (110); at Washington State (165); at SMU (193); vs. CS Northridge (197); vs. Sacramento State (260)

Washington State (11-11, 2-7) | RPI: #165 | SOS: #103
Top-100 Wins: None.
Sub-100 Losses: at Pepperdine (200)

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Week 14 TV Schedule

Salt Lake
Feb. 6th7:00Stanford at ArizonaESPNews711 (HD)142
Feb. 6th8:00Utah at Oregon StatePac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 7th7:00Washington at UCLAESPN668 (HD)140
Feb. 7th7:30California at Arizona StatePac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 7th8:00Colorado at OregonESPNU755 (HD)141
Feb. 7th9:30Washington State at USCPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 9th5:00Stanford at Arizona StateESPNU755 (HD)141
Feb. 9th6:00Utah at OregonPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 9th8:00Washington State at UCLAPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 10th5:00California at ArizonaPac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 10th7:00Colorado at Oregon StatePac-12 Net757 (HD)413
Feb. 10th8:00Washington at USCRoot Sports693 (HD)414

Friday, February 01, 2013

Friday afternoon links and notes

There was a lot of Pac-12 action last night and a lot of day-after recaps this morning. Note, particularly, Oregon State's heartbreaking loss at Cal. The Beavers have now matched Utah's 1-7 conference record. We go head-to-head in Corvalis next week, in what may be Utah's next best chance to pick up a road win.

And amid the usual recaps comes another fantastic piece from my friend at; this time giving a first-hand account of Oregon's loss at Maples on Wednesday.

A few other notes from around the conference:

• ESPN posted its regular Pac-12 Power Rankings. Can't say I disagree much with the order -- though I'd probably swap Arizona and Oregon at the 1-2 spots.

• There was a great atmosphere at Pauley Wednesday night. The LA Times explains "All the planets were aligned for a night of Bruin buzz ... And then it happened. UCLA lost."

• You can't underestimate the damage Utah did to Washington a couple weeks ago. The Huskies (who were 4-0) have now lost four in a row. The losing streak has them in jeopardy of missing an NIT bid.

• I didn't see this earlier, but apparently Jon Wilner called the Stanford win on Wednesday.