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.

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