Utah Post-MortemPosted by PBaruh on April 26th, 2013
Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Utah.
What Went Right
After winning only three games in its inaugural 2011-12 Pac-12 season, Utah improved by finishing the season on a high note in beating both Oregon State and Oregon to go 5-13 in conference play. The Utes were still one of the worst teams in the Pac-12, but they upset Washington on the road and Colorado at home. They also scared Arizona twice as they lost to the Wildcats only by a combined seven points in the two contests. Utah found a player to build its team around with freshman Jordan Loveridge who averaged 12.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game during the season. Jason Washburn had a successful senior campaign himself, averaging 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game too. When the Pac-12 Tournament came around, the Utes were lucky enough to face USC without DeWayne Dedmon and defeated the Trojans in the first round before landing the surprise of Vegas by upsetting Cal in the quarterfinals 79-69.
What Went Wrong
Utah had some troublesome losses in non-conference play against Sacramento State and Cal State Northridge and headed into the conference season overmatched. They lost five straight games to start off the Pac-12 and were a woeful 3-13 before beating Oregon and Oregon State. The Utes’ guard play was inconsistent; Glen Dean and Aaron Dotson, who were supposed to be two of the Utes’ best players this year, disappointed tremendously. Dotson sat out some of the season with a foot injury, but could never gain traction in Larry Krystkowiak’s rotation as he averaged 2.7 points in 17.3 minutes per game. Dean only scored 5.5 points per game in over 25 minutes a game — both guards are now leaving the school.
Jordan Loveridge was the Utes’ best and most valuable player this year. The 6’6″ freshman used his 230-pound frame to out-muscle smaller players and was a major part of Utah’s offense as he used 24.7 percent of the team’s possessions during the season. He played his best basketball down the stretch by tallying games of 17, 14, 15, and 20 points against Oregon State, Oregon, USC, and Cal, respectively. He logged the highest amount of minutes per game on the team at 31.7 MPG and despite only shooting 40 percent on twos, Loveridge was successful from behind the arc by shooting 36 percent and shot 76 percent from the free throw line.
Larry Krystkowiak will miss Jarred DuBois and Jason Washburn the most. Washburn was always a threat to score down low and created problems for opponents with his 6’10” frame. He was a rarity in that he was a big man who shot higher than 80 percent from the free throw line. DuBois provided the head coach a transition scorer and someone who could get a basket in the half-court. He averaged 12.4 points per game this year while shooting 41 percent from the three-point line. His 22- and 21-point performances against USC and Cal were his two best games of the season and the Utes wouldn’t have reached the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals without him.
Players Coming In
The Utes have Parker Van Dyke, Brandon Miller, Ahmad Fields, Marko Kovacevic, Delon Wright, Kenneth Ogbe and Princeton Onwas committed to play next year, and out of those, Van Dyke, Fields, and Wright stand out the most. Van Dyke is a 6’3″ guard who has good handles and can shoot it from long range. Fields is a 6’4″ shooting guard who is lengthy and athletic and can finish around the rim. Wright could be the best player out of this group as he is a 6’5″ point guard who handles the ball very well, is an explosive finisher, and a great passer.
Reason For Hope
Utah will return its best player, Loveridge. Freshman Dakarai Tucker got some major minutes near the end of the Pac-12 season and showed he could potentially be an impact player next season. Brandon Taylor, another freshman, should be much improved as well. Taylor only averaged 6.9 points per game, but shot 42 percent on threes and 44 percent on twos last year. Taylor, Loveridge, and Tucker are all young players who can really help Larry Krystkowiak avoid another disappointing season in Salt Lake.
Reason For Concern
The Utes will struggle to replace Washburn and DuBois’ leadership and scoring. They have some talent, but certainly not enough, and youth will be a factor. With Taylor and Loveridge the only players on the Utes’ roster who can consistently compete with the talent in the Pac-12, the Utes may be in for another rough season. The Pac-12 could potentially be better than this year with Arizona projecting as a top five team. UCLA and Colorado also return a good amount of talent, which will make it more difficult for Utah to compete and pick up the upset wins that they did last year.
C- Utah was one of the worst teams in the Pac-12 once again this year. However, they were no longer getting blown out by every team in the conference and had a great weekend to end the season when they beat Oregon and Oregon State. Despite being better than last year, they still were at the bottom of the Pac-12 once again and shouldn’t be given too much credit for finishing 10th.