Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Pain of Rebuilding

Utah played a great first half in Provo last night.  Utah came out and gave the Cougars its best shot, and it almost got the job done.  The Utes out-rebounded, out-shot, and out-played BYU in the first half.  And for awhile, it looked like the Utes would get out of Provo with a victory.  But like the game against Sacramento State, Utah went cold down the stretch.  The Utes couldn't penetrate the Cougars' zone and, with Jared Dubois struggling, the Utes couldn't muster the necessary leadership on the floor to score points.  Dubois, Loveridge, Dean, and Washburn all struggled when the game was in the balance.

While the loss was disappointing, it is not surprising.  Winning close games is a skill.  And Utah will likely not win close games until it learns how to win close games.  Coack Krystko will teach the team how to attack the top-heavy zone BYU ran last night.  But the more important lesson will be to make his players self-aware of the mistakes they made when things started to tighten up.  That comes with experience and Utah will get there.  The Marriott Center is a difficult place to play and the Utes will get better from that game.

It will be interesting to watch this team for the remainder of the preseason and for the first couple of weeks of conference play to see if they play better in close games down the stretch.  The difference between average teams and good teams, and good teams and great teams, is the ability to play well in tight situations.  Utah will get there, but expect further struggles in that area and more close losses.  It is a process, but at least Utah has entered that process.  The same could not be said about last year's team.  Last year was a transition year, while this year is the first year of rebuilding.  The foundation is there, and I'll enjoy watching as the coaching staff continues to build on the great history that is Utah basketball.  But I'll continue to expect some bumps and bruises along the way.

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