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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Utah's 1976-77 WAC Championship team is honored as assistant coach Jim Marsh, coach Jerry Pimm and Utah AD Chris Hill, left to right, as the University of Utah plays Colorado in men's PAC 12 basketball Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012,in Salt Lake City Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah coach Jerry Pimm likes what he's seeing from the Runnin' Utes. The fourth-winningest coach in team history, who was 173-86 from 1974-83, predicts a bright future in the Pac-12 under current coach Larry Krystkowiak.

"I believe what Larry's doing is the right thing. He's a solid person. I don't even know him. I met him for the first time last night but I watched him play. I watched him play in the pros and in college and I've followed what they've done this year," Pimm said. "This team could have quit months ago, but last week at Arizona I saw a fire in this team that only could come from the head coach. I think Krystkowiak is going to be a real good coach here and once he gets talent, I think they're going to be right on top of this league."

Pimm expects things to take off once Krystkowiak gets established, gets some recruits, gets his own people and some big players to work from the inside out.

Pimm, who attended his first game in the arena since leaving for UC Santa Barbara in 1983, was honored at halftime along with his 1976-77 team that won the WAC championship and defeated St. John's in the NCAA Tournament. Utah athletics director Chris Hill presented commemorative watches to Pimm, former assistant coach Jim Marsh, Michael Dunn, Tony Hodges, Jeff Jonas, Jeff Judkins (via his brother Jay) and Bradley Smith. The contributions of teammate Buster Matheney, who was murdered in Los Angeles in 2000, was also noted.

Introductions were also made for Greg Deane, Michael Grey, Richard Kieval, Coby Leavitt, Patrick McCanna, Donnie Rice, Earl Williams and trainer Billy Bean. They were unable to attend the gathering.

Those who did, like Pimm, enjoyed the reunion and showing their allegiance to the program.

"I root for the Utes," said Pimm, who was a longtime assistant at Utah before becoming the head coach. I'm a dyed in the wool Ute and I always will be because I was here for 22 years and they were great years."

MORE HOMECOMINGS: Besides paying tribute to the 1976-77 team, Utah welcomed back all former Utes for "Alumni Weekend." The players attended a social on Friday and the game on Saturday.

"It's easy, I think, for folks to forget about just exactly what has already been built here and what existed here at one point," said Krystkowiak, who would like to make "Alumni Weekend" an annual event. "There's been an awful lot of blood, sweat and tears that those guys have laid on the line for this school."

The past is very important, he added, just as the future is.

"What's been really nice is that Larry has recognized the past and not run from the past and has been excited about it," said Hill, who appreciates Krystkowiak's support of "Alumni Weekend."

Krystkowiak would like to expand the effort by adding a golf outing in the fall, perhaps on homecoming weekend.

TOUGH RETURN: Colorado senior Carlon Brown, who played his first three seasons at Utah before transferring to Boulder, struggled in his return to the Huntsman Center. He missed his first seven shots and wound up shooting 2-of-12 from the field, finishing with just five points in 25 minutes of action.

"He struggled a little bit. Ced (Martin) played wonderful defense on him," said Utah guard Chris Hines, who has remained friends with his former teammate. "He couldn't hit a shot and it helped us a lot."

Hines wasn't surprised that Brown was booed by the student section every time he touched the ball.

"I expected it," Hines said.

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Twitter: @DirkFacer