SALT LAKE CITY — Utah basketball's revamped roster will get a chance to mesh this summer in Brazil. The Utes are scheduled to visit the country Aug. 4-14. NCAA rules allow teams to make a foreign trip every four years, complete with 10 days of practice to prepare and 10 days on the road. They plan to play four or five games on the excursion.
"The timing is perfect for us," said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who enters his second year at the helm with only two scholarship players on the active roster from last season's 6-25 team.
Center Jason Washburn and wing Cedric Martin are joined by 7-foot-3 pivotman David Foster, who was sidelined with a foot injury in 2011-12, as the seniors on a squad featuring 10 players set to make their on-court debuts with the program this fall. The newcomers include center Dallin Bachynski (Southern Utah), guard Glen Dean (Eastern Washington), guard-wing Aaron Dotson (LSU), guard Jarred DuBois (Loyola Marymount), forward Renan Lenz (Arizona Western), forward Jordan Loveridge (West Jordan HS), forward Jeremy Olsen (returned LDS Church missionary), guard Justin Seymour (Wheeler HS, Ga.), guard Brandon Taylor (Pacific Hills HS, Calif.) and wing Dakari Tucker (Serra HS, Calif.).
"We're just going to be a little family on the road. I think it's going to be an opportunity to really kind of break down some barriers and maybe advance our station with the program," Krystkowiak said. "Hopefully we can get a little kick start and advance us down the road a little bit."
The trip, Krystkowiak added, should be beneficial in a lot of ways. He compares it to a condensed training camp that will allow the new-look Utes to get better acquainted and break through some comfort zones. Other benefits include getting terminology down and moving past the early stages of forming a team. Some real competitive situations will have guys vying for playing time.
"We'll be able to get a little bit of a barometer of where people are," Krystkowiak said, while noting that when school starts this fall individual skill sessions can address weaknesses instead of assessments.
Krystkowiak noted that team-building activities are also being planned to help everyone get to know each other better off the practice court.
"I don't know exactly what the number would be but I think in 10 days of going on a foreign tour with a group of guys you could probably learn more about them than you can learn in three months when you're not around each other all the time," Krystkowiak explained.
Although the team has yet to practice together as a whole — Foster is still recovering from his foot injury; Washburn is just being cleared after minor finger surgery; DuBois is wrapping things up for graduate school after transferring from Loyola Marymount; and the true freshmen won't enroll until the second session of summer semester begins on June 18 — Krystkowiak was pleased with what he saw in an hour-long workout on Monday.
"Just based on what I saw with eight guys, I like what some of those guys are doing," Krystkowiak said. "It gave me cause to be a little optimistic about some things."
Utah's trip to Brazil includes stays in Sao Paulo, Rio De Janeiro and Cabo Frio. It'll be a homecoming of sorts for Lenz, a highly touted junior college transfer who is from Porto De Alegre, Brazil.
Krystkowiak could have taken the Utes on a foreign trip last summer. He opted to wait until this year, however, after getting a late recruiting start when hired to replace the fired Jim Boylen.
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