Utah Utes basketball rebuilding
Krystkowiak's 1st season rough, but the future looking better for utes
In fact, even though the Utes don't lose a single senior from this year's team, it's not a stretch to say they could have an entirely new starting lineup next year with this year's starters available as valuable backups.
Let's begin with Foster, who has started for two seasons, including the 2009-10 season when he was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and set the school record for blocked shots. Even if he just split time with this year's starter Jason Washburn, who was the Utes' best overall player this season, the post position would see a big improvement. Also the two could play together on the front line with Washburn playing the big forward spot.
Two redshirt guards sitting out, Aaron Dotson and Glen Dean, have already been starters at their previous stops at LSU and Eastern Washington, respectively, and should be an upgrade to this year's starters, according to some who have watched them play.
Of the three freshmen coming it, small forward Jordan Loveridge from West Jordan High could move into a starting role as a freshman.
The two other freshmen who signed with Utah in the fall are Justin Seymour, a 6-3 combo guard from Georgia whom Krystkowiak believes "will surprise some folks" and Josh Hearhily, a 6-7 forward from California, whom Krystkowiak calls "a diamond in the rough."
And either of the two returned missionaries, 6-10 Jeremy Olsen, who redshirted a year before his mission, and 6-11 Dallin Bachynski, who played at Southern Utah before his mission, could be good enough to start at the power forward position.
The Utes could add even more players during the spring signing period, but that would mean the Utes would have to jettison more players from this year's team.
The Ute coaches haven't made any decisions yet, but right now at least three scholarship players on this year's team won't be back next year to make room for all the new players.
Most likely to return are seniors Chris Hines, Cedric Martin and Dijon Farr along with freshman Kareem Storey, each of whom started this year. Those who might want to leave or be encouraged to leave would be freshmen Anthony Odunsi and George Matthews and JC transfer Javon Dawson. Freshman Blake Wilkinson, who started some games as a freshman after coming out of Viewmont High, is leaving on an LDS mission this spring.
Besides recruiting, Krystowiak says another key component to the Utes' future success is scheduling. Like it or not, a team has to have a favorable schedule with a lot of home games to instill some confidence in a young team, while padding its record.
This year, the Utes had the most challenging non-conference schedule in the Pac-12 with only six home games. Ten of the 12 teams had from eight to 10 non-league home games, and only Washington State had as few as six home games.
Krystkowiak said his team will have a comparable schedule to other Pac-12 schools with as many as 19 home games, including 10 in the preseason. This year the Utes played their three "exempt" games in a tournament in the Bahamas, but next year will play three such games at home over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Despite his overall optimism, Krystkowiak knows it won't be smooth sailing at Utah for a little while.
"There's going to be some turnover and we'll go through the newness again," he said. "But I think next year's going to be a heck of a lot better than this year. I know that will be the case, I think we've come quite a ways in one year and I feel comfortable we can make good strides again next year."
UTAH BASKETBALL YEAR-IN-REVIEW
Overall record: 6-25 (3-13 Pac-12)
Wins: San Diego Christian, Idaho State, Portland, Washington State, Arizona State, Stanford.
Losses: Boise State, Montana State, Harvard, Massachusetts, UNC Asheville, Fresno State, CS Fullerton, BYU, Weber State, Colorado (three times), Washington, Stanford, California (twice), Arizona (twice), Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Oregon (twice), Oregon State (twice).
Home: 6-9. Away: 0-12. Neutral sites: 0-4.
Average home attendance: 8,394.
Average away attendance: 6,500.
Average neutral site attendance: 3,591.
Scoring: Jason Washburn, 11.4 ppg.
Rebounding: Jason Washburn, 6.2 rpg.
FG percentage: Jason Washburn, 55.2 percent.
FT percentage: Jason Washburn, 77.4 percent.
3-pointers made: Chris Hines, 66.
Minutes played: Cedric Martin, 31.1 mpg.
Assists: Kareem Storey, 97.
Blocked shots: Jason Washburn, 43.
Steals: Dijon Farr, 27.
Turnovers: Kareem Storey, 81.
April 4: Larry Krystkowiak introduced as head coach.
Nov. 4: Senior center David Foster injures his foot in 61-60 exhibition loss to Adams State and is sidelined for the rest of the season.
Nov. 14: Utes defeat San Diego Christian in season-opener, 58-55.
Jan. 5: Utah edges Washington State 62-60 in overtime for historic first Pac-12 victory.
Jan. 18: Team scoring and assists leader Josh "Jiggy" Watkins dismissed from squad for unspecified violation of team rules.
Feb. 25: Utes close out their home schedule with 58-57 upset of Stanford..
March 7: Eventual champion Colorado eliminates Utah from the Pac-12 Tournament, 53-41.
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