Pac-12 Previews: Utah Utes

Posted by PBaruh on October 18th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Utah Utes.

Strengths. Although Utah had a terrible season last year with almost nothing going right, their coach, Larry Krystkowiak, took charge of the team and made sure that his players knew he didn’t need them if they didn’t play by his rules. He kicked leading scorer Josh Watkins off the team midway through the season. Although Krystkowiak hasn’t had consistent success yet, he’s a good leader for this young team. The Utes have few strengths on this unproven squad right now. However, Utah will have a lot of size, although it will be of the mostly inexperienced variety. They have some returning scoring and rebounding ability with Jason Washburn, but also welcome transfers Dallon Bachynski and Renan Lenz into the fray. Although Bachynski is raw, he still stands at 7’0″ and Lenz should be able to come in and rebound right away and provide a complement to Washburn. Also, the Utes bring in a promising young ESPN 100 recruit in Jordan Loveridge. He could easily become Utah’s best player as the season develops due to his ability to score in the lane, shoot from the outside, and rebound well for a forward.

Jason Washburn, the best player returning for the Utah Utes, will have to step it up this year for Utah to be competitive in the Pac-12 (AP)

Weaknesses. The Utes’ biggest weakness coming into this season is the fact that they don’t have a core of returning players to rely on. Krystowiak brought in 10 new players between recruits and transfers, but none of these players are coming from notable schools. Consequently, Utah doesn’t yet have the talent to really compete in the Pac-12. Last year, the conference was terrible and still they somehow managed to win only three games in the conference. This year, the conference is better, which doesn’t bode well for the Utes especially since they just lost 7’3” David Foster to the same foot injury that hindered him and kept him out for most of last year. It looks like it’s going to be another long season in Salt Lake.

Non-Conference Tests. Utah has quite an easy non-conference schedule for a team in the Pac-12. It’s understandable because they are most likely going to be the worst team in the conference and need to get some wins, but they do have a couple tests that could cause trouble. The Utes take on SMU twice in their non-conference season, who should be a tougher game now that they are coached by the legendary Larry Brown. Without question, their toughest non-conference opponent will be BYU, led by Brandon Ashley. The Utes will unquestionably struggle with the Cougars and most likely get blown out in this game. The likes of Texas State, Sacramento State, and Idaho State fill up the rest of Utah’s non-conference slate so they really don’t have any other significant tests.

Toughest Conference Stretch. The entire conference schedule should be problematic for Utah, and at the end of the year it could get really ugly. Utah will take on Arizona at home, then travel to Colorado, Cal, and Stanford, and finish up with Oregon and Oregon State at home. Hopefully, the Utes can pick up a win on their final home stand to end the year, but it’s very likely they could finish off the season on a brutal six-game losing streak. There are no easy breaks throughout the conference season for Larry Krystkowiak’s team, but an early conference victory would really help the Utes start off conference play on the right foot.

If Everything Goes Right… Utah finishes above where everyone projects them and gets some upset victories at home over Arizona State, Washington State, and Oregon State and finishes 9th in the Pac-12. The Utes don’t make any postseason tournaments, but their future looks bright as Jordan Loveridge makes the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team with ease. Jason Washburn has an excellent senior campaign while Cedric Martin assumes a senior leadership role off the bench. Glen Dean, Aaron Dotson, and Jarred DuBois create a formidable rotating backcourt of transfers and Utah keeps things competitive all year long and competes for a game in the Pac-12 Tournament. Krystkowiak finishes the year happy with the improvements his team has made and gets one small step closer to bringing Utah back to the national relevance it had in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

One of Utah’s most notable transfers, Glen Dean from Eastern Washington, will likely assume the point guard role for this Utes squad.

If Nothing Goes Right… Krystowiak’s easy non-conference schedule doesn’t work out as he had hoped as the Utes open up with losses to Wright State, Central Michigan, and Idaho State. Nothing seems to work well for the team as there is no continuity in the offense with so many new parts. Jason Washburn fails to come close to posting the numbers he did last year and the lone bright spot is Jordan Loveridge. The Utes match last year’s win total in the conference as they only pick up three victories, and manage to only record eight Ws overall on the season. Krystkowiak is given another year to turn things around, but the program remains at its lowest point in a long time.

Projected Starting Lineup

  • PG: Glen Dean (Jr. 5’10” 175 lbs. 13.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG at Eastern Washington in 2010-11)
  • SG: Aaron Dotson (Jr. 6’4” 204 lbs. 6.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG at LSU in 2010-11)
  • SF: Jordan Loveridge (Fr. 6’6” 225 lbs.)
  • PF: Renan Lenz (Jr. 6’9” 240 lbs. 13.2 PPG, 9.4 RPG at Arizona Western JC)
  • C : Jason Washburn (Sr. 7’0” 244 lbs. 11.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG)

Key Reserves

  • PG: Brandon Taylor (Fr. 5’9″ 150 lbs.)
  • G/F: Cedric Martin (Sr. 6’4” 200 lbs. 7.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG)
  • G: Jarred DuBois  (Sr. 6’3” 180 lbs. 1o.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG at Loyola Marymount in 2011-12)
  • SF: Dakari Tucker (Fr. 6’5” 185 lbs.)
  • C: Dallin Bachynski (So. 7’0” 255 lbs. 3.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG at Southern Utah in 2009-10)
PBaruh (54 Posts)

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