Utah Utes: Go Big and Go Young

Last year the Utes basketball team sucked. The Runnin’ Utes had no bounce in their step as they only won 6 games last season. However, with all the losses the Utah fans rarely felt the sting of defeat as the losses were expected. This year, to most fans surprise, the Utes are competing. They came out on non-conference play with more wins than last season. Now, three games into the conference schedule, these Utes are proving they are a team with fight and no let down. With that fight, Utah fans are really feeling the sting of defeat. Utah has lost the last 3 games by a total margin of 8 points. The Runnin’ Utes have been seconds away from conference wins on the road and at the Huntsman Center. But, there are no moral victories as Coach Krystkowiak. So, I thought I would do some research and see if there are any changes that could be made to improve the Utes and fast.

Coach Krystkowiak is doing an amazing job at the U. He is clearly improving the recruiting and talent coming to the school. I am extremely impressed with the way he has come in and given this team an identity. But is he looking at who the most efficient players are on his team and putting them on the floor?

John Hollinger has been running with his self-created player rating system for a while now called PER. The idea of the stat is to show how efficient players are. So, what about the Utes’ players?

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Unfortunately, PER is only calculated for players that have an average of 6+ minutes per game. (Any other players not listed have PERs so low they didn’t make ESPNs list of PAC-12 players.) So, there may be young talent on the bench that we simply don’t know how efficient they are or could be (ex. Jeremy Olsen, Alex Mortensen, Ryan Osterloh, Xan Ricketts, Brandon Taylor, and Harry Witt).  This is one young team with a lot of freshman and sophomores on the bench. How this coaching staff helps these players develop is going to decide where this basketball program grows. However, what can be changed now?

The first player I noticed is Glen Dean. He has one of the lowest PERs on the team. He is a junior, but I am wondering if he might be better coming off the bench and splitting more time with Dakari Tucker. Tucker has been more efficient in his limited time. Just try it out. If Tucker shows his youth then they can go back.

Another idea would be to go with a huge lineup. This would include starting Washburn, Bachynski, Loveridge, DuBois, and ______.  That blank according to PER would be filled with Tucker. But I imagine Dean or Martin would also be an option. Think about being an outside defender knowing you have help in the paint with Washburn and Bachynski? Pressure, Pressure, Pressure. With so much protection around the rim, Martin’s defense isn’t as needed allowing him to come in fresh and contribute more from the bench. The same goes for Dean.

Of the 2 changes presented, I would go with the second. Turn this team into a defensive power house where there will be no where to shoot. Then bring Lenz, Martin, and Dean in to hold down the second unit with Olsen making the bigs a 3 player rotation. Maybe this lineup would put the Utes in the lead without having to come from behind.

What do you think about the Utes this season?

About the author

Grant Bagby

Since moving to Utah in 2005, I have changed from following all sports in D.C/Virginia to following all sports in Utah. I am a Chicago Bulls fan first (Born and raised by my father), but I am also a hardcore Jazz fan with 7 years of being a season ticket holder under my belt. I started TornBySports to write about the BYU/Utah Rivalry after Max Hall ran his mouth.