Is Ute hoops trending down?

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    • #31010
      1 2

      Ute Fan

      An NIT bid (and even an NIT first-round loss) is palatable if you know it’s a step for a team that’s on the way up. That’s how the 2014 NIT loss @ St. Mary’s felt. It was disappointing, but we knew things were looking up with D. Wright coming back, Loveridge maturing, and a seemingly stacked recruiting class coming in to add needed depth and talent.

      Two years from what we hoped would be the first of many NCAA runs with Krystkowiak, it feels like momentum is going the wrong way.

      There are two trends forming that I don’t like to see:
      1) two years straight of underperforming in the post season based on seed.
      2) Recruiting that’s stalled since the great class of Chapman, Kuzma, I. Wright, and Poeltl.

      First, with recruiting, that class with Kuzma, et al, looked like what we felt every class should look like: the biggest stud in Utah, a strong foreign prospect, and a couple solid out-of-state that should add immediate depth and grow into solid starters over their careers. All of them were coming out of high school. But since then that kind of class has not kept to form.

      We’ve filled the recruiting pipeline up with JC’s (Bealer, Bonam), D1 transfers (Collette, Barefield) and RMs (Van Dyke, Miller). And the HS Senior is becoming less common of a committ. We’ve had some hits (Daniels), some TBDs (J. Johnson, Tillman) and busts (Mawien). Meanwhile, our list of nearly missed keeps getting longer. Why aren’t we getting kids to verbally commit in the early signing period? Why are we leaning so heavily on other school’s cast offs?

      As for post season flops, they pretty well speak for themselves. But they do merit extra mention because it’s been two year in a row, and both were preceded by similar portentous losses in the PAC-12 tournament. We seem to have a history of not just losing, but getting completely demoralized when we take a loss in the PAC-12 tournament.

      But getting beat the way we did by Gonzaga last year when we were the higher seed, and again, losing at home to Boise State? What’s going on? Does LK not have a knack for coaching tourney games? Is his style such that his players aren’t listening to him by the end of a season? Why can’t our team time its peak with the end of the season?

    • #31014

      Ute Fan

      This was a down year and last year’s recruiting felt like a downturn but overall I think this program will keep trending up. We’ve got a good core and a good coaching staff. Sometimes we’ll get a difference maker or two on the team. Just how it works when you’re not Arizona or UCLA. One of LK’s strengths is that he’ll keep getting big man projects and some of them will step up. He’s good at bringing them along.

    • #31015

      Ute Fan

      I hope so. I don’t think I have crazy expectations for the program/LK. I’ve seen fans unusually disappointed when a 5-star chooses Arizona over us or when we’re not getting to the Sweet 16 every year. That’s definitely not where I’m coming from.

      On the other hand, I don’t see any reason that we can’t firmly place ourselves in the second tier of the PAC-12 (assuming UCLA and Arizona are the top tier). We have the facilities, the fan and booster support, the coach, and (for whatever it’s worth) a historically successful program that says that it’s not crazy to think that we could annually stay in the top half of this conference. Most years, being in the top 5 of the PAC gets us to the Dance.

      I already outlined my expectations of this program in another thread: Based on that, I’ve built in the occasional NIT post season or post season with no game at all into my expectations.

      I guess all I’m saying is that LK’s first four years seemed to show progress and build. We’re now in our first regression in Krystkowiak’s era and I’m hoping it’s short lived. I don’t expect regressions NOT to happen, but like any hand-wringing fan, I pray that the dips are short and not UW-esque NCAA droughts.

    • #31026

      Ute Fan

      I haven’t given up on Larry, but I know this much….

      I turned the game off at half the other night and went to bed.

      My wife said aren’t you going to watch the rest of the game? I said no, the Utes are going to lose.

      Even up 7 at the half, the body language was terrible.

      That was a team that wanted to be on the beach, not playing basketball.

      I get the whole NIT thing now……the P5 schools lose to the little guys. Look at TDS….look at Cal.

      Next year I’m going to Vegas during tournament week and I am betting all road dogs in the NIT.

      I don’t know what is going on with the Utes, but Tuesday night was ugly.

    • #31027


      LK is a good coach, but his recruiting has been a mixed bag. Not getting good kids out of high school and relying on transfers and JC players. Some have worked, others have been busts. With the facilities Utah has, he should be able to recruit better.

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