SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Jim Boylen is glad the Utes don't play again until hosting Colorado State on Saturday.
"I think we need a bye week. I think it's a good thing," Boylen said. "I think it's coming at about the right time for us."
After following three Mountain West Conference losses (Air Force, San Diego State, BYU) with three consecutive victories (Wyoming, New Mexico, TCU), the Utes (10-10, 3-3) are taking their turn for a little time off in the league's scheduling rotation.
The time off, though, is from games — not practices.
With games the week of Thanksgiving and a Christmas trip to Hawaii for a tournament, the Utes haven't had a lot of opportunities to practice without preparing for a game.
"It's been hard to find that block of time to make your team better," Boylen said.
That, however, is changing.
Boylen is devoting the first two days of practice this week to "working on us and developing our team." The plan calls for taking Wednesday off and then preparing for CSU on Thursday and Friday.
"I'm really excited for practice today and tomorrow," Boylen said at his weekly press conference on Monday. "I think they are two huge days for us and I'm excited to coach the team."
50TH ANNIVERSARY: Players and coaches from the University of Utah's 1961 Final Four team will be honored at halftime of Saturday's game against CSU. A commemorative video and jersey presentation is scheduled and the Utes will wear retro uniforms from the 1960s.
Expected attendees include players Joe Aufderheide, Allen Holmes, Neil Jenson, Billy McGill, Jim Rhead, Ed Rowe, Rich Ruffell and Mel Yergensen. LaDell Andersen and Bucky Buckwalter will represent the coaching staff. Administrator Ted Jacobsen and the family of late trainer Walt Deland round out the honorees.
HOME, SWEET HUNTSMAN: When it comes to conference play, Boylen considers 12 "kind of a magic number." The number, he explained, is reached by winning all eight home games and splitting the road contests.
Utah's quest for 12, though, will require a different combination. The Utes are currently 1-2 in the Huntsman Center and 2-1 on the road.
"We started in a hole. We're fighting our way out of it. We're crawling our way out of it," Boylen said. "We have to continue to grow. We have the talent. We have a good group of guys that are resilient and willing."
Utah's remaining MWC contests include home games against CSU, Air Force, Wyoming, TCU and UNLV. The Utes still have to face the Rebels on the road as well. Other trips include San Diego State, BYU, New Mexico and Colorado State.