SALT LAKE CITY — While the season opener against Evergreen State is still one week away, the Utah men’s basketball team won’t have to wait that long to play in front of a crowd in the Huntsman Center. The Utes take on NCAA Division II Saint Martin’s University in an exhibition game Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re excited about it,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “It’s kind of the culmination of a lot of work and putting a group together.”
After the “Night with the Runnin’ Utes” and a closed scrimmage, Krystkowiak acknowledged that “it’s time to go.” He announced that Delon Wright, Brandon Taylor, Dakarai Tucker, Jordan Loveridge and Renan Lenz will start against the Saints.
Citing advice found in Tony Dungy’s book, Krystkowiak noted that “the key to success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
As such, there’s no complicated approach in the works.
“I think our talent level is such that it’s not time to get too tricky with anything but just let the players go make plays,” Krystkowiak said.
Sophomore forward Loveridge noted that everyone has been joking about finally getting a chance to beat up on someone else.
“It’ll be fun. They’re going to come in here and play hard,” he said, before noting that it’ll be nice to see how things go in a full-game setting with fans and everything else.
Taylor, a sophomore guard, agrees.
“I know it’s an exhibition game and stuff like that, but we’re still approaching this game with the same mentality that we’re going to have all year — just go out and execute our plan,” he said.
PREPARATION PACE: While acknowledging that the team definitely got in good shape over the summer, Taylor said the new NCAA rule that allowed practice to begin six weeks before the first game has been beneficial. No more cramming things in like in previous years.
“We spent enough time focusing on different stuff that Coach wants to work on,” Taylor said. “So we don’t move on until he feels that we have it down. I believe that we’re going at a good pace.”
LIGHTER LOVERIDGE: At 218 pounds, Loveridge is more than 20 pounds lighter than he was last season and about 5 pounds less than his high school playing weight.
“It’s been really good,” Loveridge said. “It’s a lot nicer to go day to day and not have some of the aches and pains that I did have when I had so much weight on my legs or my knees or stuff like that.”
EXTRA STUFF: Friday's game is part of an exhibition doubleheader up on the hill. The Utah women play the University of Mary at 5:15 p.m. ... Saint Martin’s (of Lacey, Wash.) went 10-16 last season. ... Seniors Evan Coulter (9.8 ppg) and Rei Jensen (6.9 rpg) are the top returnees for the Saints. ... In 2008, Saint Martin’s knocked off Colorado State.