Editor’s Note- Many of you know the man who goes by the internet moniker ColoUte. Here are some of his thoughts on Utah basketball. Which maybe more will listen to because he is seen as much more reasonable than I.
Ute hoops: Is it OK to have hope?
Oh, if only our record against the spread could get us an NCAA invite.
That’s right, Ute fans, I’m calling it now, Ute hoops is back…or Ute hoops is on its way back…..or there’s potential for Ute hoops to someday, maybe, be back….Ute hoops is little in the middle, but we got much back…or something like that.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that the talent upgrade from our self-imposed death penalty to now was imagined. We really are substantially more talented than we were a year ago. Last year, the Ute basketball team was not even in the Top 300 of all D1 teams. This year, they’re solidly in the Top 250. But last year Utah wasn’t last in the PAC. This year, they probably will be. Last year Utah won 3 PAC games. They’ll struggle to equal that this year. So yeah, we’re getting better….just not as fast as every other team in our league.
So, if we’re way behind everyone else in the PAC….and trying to catch up by going slower….can we really hope to avoid going more than a decade between NCAA tournament appearances? We won’t sniff the NCAA tourney without being in the top 3-5 of the PAC, and since the other teams ain’t dropping back anytime soon, do we really have any hope?
The only way I can fathom getting into the top half of the PAC – even if our stay is short lived – is if one of 2 things happens: 1) We get an under the radar star player (foreign: Andrew Bogut, academic questions: Andre Miller, only plays in a garage: Neon Boudreau) dropped in our laps – cause we won’t be legitimately recruiting a true star anytime soon. 2) We actually develop our freshman class instead of turning it over and hope the rest of the league’s most talented underclassmen leave for the pros early.
Well, despite all I’ve said, there are a couple of things that give me hope:
1) I know this won’t be an overly popular opinion here, but I actually think Larry can coach a little bit. The fact that we have – by far – the least talented team in the PAC, but still lead the conference in FG% defense is an indication of at least semi-competent coaching. There’s still a long way to go with the development of an offense – but that requires improved talent as much as it does a system.
2) We actually have, for the first time in a long time, a decent freshman class.
Unfortunately, those hope-bringers are quickly dashed by 2 main bring-down factors which are there as well:
1) I don’t know if Larry can recruit. As I’ve said, the talent in the PAC is getting better and better. We’re not going to be able to keep up by signing the 3rd and 4th best players in Utah and a JUCO center who some guy swears BYU was just about to offer.
2) I don’t have any confidence that we can keep the bulk of our freshman class.
The biggest issue with the program right now is the constant blight of player turnover. In the past 4 years, the Utes have turned over almost 3 complete rosters. More players have transferred the last 3 years than 4-year players have graduated in the past 10 years. We haven’t had a senior night ceremony for scholarship players in 2 years. There will be one this year, but ¾ of the players being honored will have played 2 or fewer meaningful seasons for the Utes. (Dubois – 1 yr, Martin 2 yr, Foster 5 yr, but injured for most of 3).
We won’t have any 4 year graduates next year, nor the year after. Next chance is in 3 years with the decent(ish) freshman class I pointed out earler. Loveridge is inconsistent as all-get-out, but is averaging 12 and 7. Those aren’t All-American numbers by any stretch, but when you consider Andrew Bogut as a Freshman averaged 12.5 and 10, they’re not without potential. Justin Seymour certainly doesn’t look any worse than Lawrence Borha did as a Freshman. Brandon Taylor won’t be confused for Andre Miller ever, but if he continues to develop and really commits himself, maybe, just maybe, he could be an actual realistic benchmark for optimistic Ute fans to compare future Point Guards to….”Wow, Freshman xxx is no Andre Miller, but he might be the next Brandon Taylor someday.” Jeremy Olsen may actually become what I was hoping Dallin Bachynski would become before he realized he doesn’t like playing against guys who are less than 3 inches shorter than him. And Dakari Tucker looks to have a lot of potential to become the next guy we’ll regret losing when he’s putting up 14 and 7 at UCSB in 3 years.
The last time we had an actual decent team on a national level was in 2008-2009. That team had 3 4-year seniors on the team (and a 4th 2 year JUCO senior) . That senior class was Nevill, Green, Borha, and a JUCO Senior in Tyler Kepkay. Question that needs to be answered is: Is this class as good (preferably better) than that class as freshmen? They’re similar statistically to this point – at least Loveridge, Taylor, and Seymour compared to Nevill, Green, and Borha, but comparisons can be tough based upon the other talent that surrounds/surrounded them, and the team’s dependence on them.
In the end, the current class is deeper, but it remains to be seen who from the current class sticks and who bolts, what is recruited to supplement them (not much is the answer for the Nevill class, as most of the next two classes transferred out), and can the ones from the latter class who do stay develop as much from their freshman year to their senior year as the former class did. If it turns out that Giac/Boylen actually did develop the former players better, hope is a bleak proposition indeed.