SALT LAKE CITY — Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak's second season at the helm officially gets under way with the opening of practice Friday evening.
Although Krystkowiak "can't wait" to get started, he acknowledged that a lot of groundwork has already been done thanks to the Utes' trip to Brazil in August.
"We got a lot of stuff done this summer and we're ready to go," Krystkowiak said. "We have a real solid understanding of the guys that we have and what they can do and what they can't do. We've had a lot of team-building stuff."
A revamped roster featuring only two scholarship players who saw action last season — seniors Cedric Martin and Jason Washburn — were able to bond on the 10-day trip. The Utes split four games in Brazil and were able to get in valuable practice time, giving them a solid foundation to build upon as they seek to improve on last season's 6-25 record.
Although Krystkowiak expects the Pac-12 to be a much-improved league this season, he also thinks the Utes will be better.
"We've got some weapons," Krystkowiak said. "We are going to be more competitive."
Newcomers on the floor this season include Utah's reigning Mr. Basketball, Jordan Loveridge of West Jordan. He led the Utes in scoring and rebounding on the Brazil trip. He'll be joined by freshmen Dakarai Tucker (Serra HS, Calif.), Justin Seymour (Wheeler HS, Ga.) and Brandon Taylor (Pacific Hills HS, Calif.).
Returned LDS Church missionary Jeremy Olsen is back in the fold, which now includes transfers Dallin Bachynski (Southern Utah), Glen Dean (Eastern Washington), Aaron Dotson (Louisiana State), Jarred DuBois (Loyola Marymount) and Renan Lenz (Arizona Western).
Krystkowiak noted that the roster is really competitive.
"I wouldn't say that we've got a starting lineup. That's going to be set on how we practice on that week," Krystkowiak said. "If somebody has a great practice week I'm of the mindset that they might get to start. To me, starting has never been that big of a deal. It's just the minutes are there."
Krystkowiak and Washburn will represent Utah at the Pac-12 basketball media day Nov. 1 in San Francisco, a day before the Utes host Simon Fraser in an exhibition game. Their preseason opener is Nov. 9 at home against Willamette.
Utah's second Pac-12 campaign begins Jan. 2 at Arizona State.
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