HONOLULU — It just wasn't the Utah basketball team's week.
Sure, the Utes got to spend a week in beautiful Hawaii, where the temperature was between 70 and 80 degrees the whole time. However, on the basketball floor, things didn't go well as the Utes lost three games and finished in eighth place in the Diamond Head Classic.
Then after a week of sunshine, they awoke Sunday, their free day to sightsee and go to the beach, to a downpour and the rain continued much of the day, putting a damper on the day's activities before flying home in the evening.
The Utes weren't blown out in any of the games and had a chance to win all three in the second half when they fought back from double-digit deficits. But they never had enough to win games down the stretch.
Utah coach Jim Boylen is staying positive, which he must do with his young lineup that is mostly new this year and consists of just one senior, Jay Watkins.
"I still believe we're close," he said. "We have some things we have to clean up and work on. Obviously making shots would make things a whole lot easier for us. When we don't make shots, the game's difficult."
Shooting was a problem all week as the Utes shot 39.6 percent against Butler, 33.3 percent against Hawaii and 38.6 percent against San Diego.
The 3-point shooting was atrocious as the Utes went 6-for-22, 1-for-15 and 2-for-16 from behind the arc. That's a grand total of 9 for 53, which is 16.9 percent.
The Utes also struggled from the free-throw line, shooting 56 percent against Butler, 66.7 against Hawaii and 69.2 percent against USD.
"We have to make more shots and we have to make more free throws," Boylen said.
The Utes are seeing a lot of zone these days as opponents are daring them to shoot from outside. But they need to get better play inside from centers Jason Washburn and David Foster, who combined for six total points in the first two games. Washburn finally had a good game with 16 points and eight rebounds in the third game against San Diego.
"We're going to stay positive," Washburn said. "We're going to do our best to fix this like we always do. It's hard to enjoy it when you expected to win. We expected to win at least two games here. We have identified the problems and we need to find a way to fix them."
The Utes' flight was to return home early Monday morning, and they'll prepare for a game against the University of Portland Friday afternoon. They open Mountain West Conference play a week later at Air Force.
TOURNAMENT NOTES: Butler, which beat Utah by 12 in the first round, won the tournament title Saturday evening, defeating Washington State 84-68. Florida State took third with a 68-61 victory over Baylor. Hawaii won the consolation title with a 68-57 win over Mississippi State . . . Butler's Matt Howard, who scored 23 points against Utah, was named tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Shelvin Mack, Washington State's Klay Thompson, Florida State's Chris Singleton and Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn.
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