SALT LAKE CITY — After not having any players worthy of Pac-12 Player of the Week honors in its first two years in the league, the Utah basketball team has had two already this season, with junior Delon Wright earning this week’s honor.
Wright averaged 17 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists in the Utes’ two victories over USC and UCLA last week. He joins teammate Jordan Loveridge, who won Pac-12 Player of the Week honors in December.
Over the course of the season, Wright has shown how valuable he is to the Utes by the way his name is all over the Pac-12 statistics.
Wright ranks in the top 10 in seven different categories, more than any other player in the league, and is just 0.3 rebounds away from being in the top 10 in rebounding.
In the latest stats for all games played, Wright ranks first in field goal percentage, second in steals and minutes played, fifth in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, sixth in blocked shots and 10th in scoring.
If you think Wright just padded his stats in the soft preseason schedule, think again. He also ranks in the top 10 in seven conference-only stats — first in steals and minutes played, fourth in blocked shots, sixth in scoring, seventh in field-goal percentage, eighth in assists and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s also 12th in rebounding.
NEEDS IMPROVING: Coach Larry Krystkowiak was thrilled with Saturday’s victory over UCLA, but came out of the game concerned about a couple of things in particular — rebounding and turnovers.
The Utes were outrebounded for the fourth time in six Pac-12 games, this time 35-31, and they had their highest turnover total of the season with 15.
Krystkowiak said his team had too many turnovers that were their own fault rather than the opponent doing anything unusual.
“We had a lot of them that weren’t imposed upon us,’’ he said. “We had a bunch that were just crazy. It’s like the free-throw line where it gets a little contagious. Their zone press wasn’t really a situation where they came and trapped you. We’ve got to make plays where we don’t put ourselves in a predicament like that, and obviously our passing needs to improve.’’
As for Utah’s work on the boards, he said, “Rebounding is an area where we’ve been a little deficient in. We’re heading into some territory where we’re playing some good rebounding teams, and it has to be a better focal point.’’
BETTER OFFENSE: The Utes went from averaging 52 points a game on their Washington trip to averaging 79 in two wins over the weekend.
So what was the difference?
Krystkowiak said it basically came down to aggressiveness on the offensive end.
“You have to play hard on offense,’’ he said. “We were sloppy getting open, then we’d make the pass and jog through, a defender might knock us off, and that would lead to a sloppy screen and the timing would be a little off. We weren’t engaged and ready to pass or receive the pass, so we had a lot of errors to keep us from getting a good shot. Then when we were presented with good shots, we didn’t make them. It was almost the perfect storm of how bad can you be on offense.’’
UTE NOTES: Utah’s only senior on the team, Renan Lenz, who sprained his ankle at Washington State, was working out on the bicycle during practice Monday morning and is listed as “day-to-day” by the Ute training staff, meaning he could play later this week. Thursday’s game at Arizona State starts at 7 p.m. MST, while Sunday’s game against No. 1 Arizona begins at 6 p.m. MST. Utah center Dallin Bachynski will play against his older brother, Jordan, for the second straight year at ASU, although he isn’t expected to start Thursday night. Utah is still No. 2 in the conference in attendance behind Arizona with 9,711 per game.