SALT LAKE CITY — Carlon Brown is downplaying his return to the Huntsman Center. On Saturday, the three-time Utah letterman will play in the arena for the first time since transferring to Colorado following the 2009-10 season.
"It's not special," said the senior guard, who sat out last year because of NCAA transfer rules. "It's just another day at the office, minus the paycheck."
Brown insists his focus is on helping the Buffaloes (17-8, 9-4) succeed. They're in the thick of the Pac-12 title chase and he would like to keep it that way.
"We've got to make sure we win every game," Brown said. "We can't harbor any personal feelings."
To do so, he added, could lead to slipping and falling off the mountain — leaving Colorado short of its goal to win the conference championship.
Contending is exactly where Brown hoped to be when he switched schools.
"I didn't want to regret staying at Utah and finish out my senior season losing and pretty much being unhappy," Brown said. "I wanted to go somewhere where I could contend for a championship and possibly make it back to the NCAA Tournament. And right now, this team has a shot at that. We've just got to keep getting better each day and focus on the task at hand."
Brown considers it ironic that his old team ended up in same conference as his new one. When official word came that Utah and Colorado would both compete in the Pac-12 this season, Brown chalked it up as just another team to play, another place to travel to, and another game the Buffs need to win on the schedule.
Since making the change, Brown hasn't looked back. He has consistently declined to discuss specifics that led to his transfer.
"I just didn't like the direction it was going and didn't feel I was being used as best as I could," Brown said. "I don't have any regrets making that decision now that I'm here."
Brown is averaging 12.6 points per game at Colorado, the exact same average he had as Utah's leading scorer in 2009-10. The Utes, however, struggled as a team — going 14-17 in head coach Jim Boylen's third season at the helm. Boylen was fired a year later, following a 13-18 campaign.
"I don't really want to go there," Brown said when asked about his decision to transfer from the program. "I think its something you would have to be in the locker room and actually come to every practice and endure every film session to really understand. Only the guys on that team that year really knew, especially the guys who decided to leave."
Besides Brown, Jordan Cyphers, Marshall Henderson and Matt Read also left Utah that offseason.
"It just wasn't how we envisioned playing basketball in college and we just were unhappy," Brown said. "So a lot of us made the decision to move on and there's no turning back or looking back from there."
The departures came a season after Utah went 24-10, winning the Mountain West Conference title and advancing to the NCAA tourney.
"That was a good year for us," Brown said while praising teammates like Luke Nevill, Shaun Green, Tyler Kepkay, Luka Drca and Kim Tillie. "We really put everything together."
Brown led the Utes with a team-high 3.3 assists per game that year.
"It was definitely a fun season, one that I will remember but I think a lot of people don't realize what went into that season as well," Brown said. "It wasn't as fun as it looked."
There were moments — ups and downs he explained — that only the team knows about.
Things grew worse the next season, Brown noted, when Utah went 14-17.
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