Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP
SAN FRANCISCO — The Utah men’s basketball team is making progress as far as the Pac-12 preseason media poll is concerned. After being picked a distant 12th in their first two seasons in the conference, the Utes were tabbed to finish ninth this time around.
Despite the show of increased respect, neither Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak nor forward Jordan Loveridge are putting too much stock in the poll — released Thursday morning at Pac-12 media day.
“It really doesn’t matter. It’s the same way I felt when we were picked 12th,” Krystkowiak said. “Picked first or 12th, it really doesn’t really matter. We’ve got a lot of work to do. So it’ll be fun seeing how it shakes out.”
Loveridge agreed that the preseason projections aren’t all that meaningful.
“To see the way we finished last year and see the progress we’re making you can tell it doesn’t really matter,” he said.
The Utes went 15-18 last season and reached the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.
“People are noticing that we’re getting better and things are headed in the right direction,” Loveridge added.
Arizona was tabbed as the team to beat in the Pac-12 this season. The Wildcats were the runaway choice in the poll, netting 21 of the 23 first-place votes. UCLA and Colorado received the other two. The Bruins edged the Buffaloes by one point in the balloting for second place. Oregon edged California for fourth place with Stanford, Arizona State and Washington rounding out the top eight.
Utah was well back at ninth, finishing just one point ahead of Oregon State. USC was five points back at 11th, while Washington State rounded out the field.
Although he declined to discuss specifics, Loveridge noted that he doesn’t believe the Utes will be a ninth-place team.
“Of course not,” he said. “We just want to win as many games as we can. Of course the ultimate goal is make it to the tournament.”
Loveridge and Krystkowiak were joined by representatives from the conference’s 11 other teams for the annual gathering at the Pac-12 Networks studios.
After completing the Utes' on-stage interview with the media, Krystkowiak noted that he was excited about the upcoming season.
“I’m pleased with where our team is,” he said, while adding how much fun it is to be part of a league like the Pac-12. “I feel like we’ve got a nice foundation in place with our program. We’re able to start working on some really important things and take the next step. I’m excited about the future.”
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