Ok so now that I’ve apologized for the entire fan base for booing a baby and spent the morning watching this GLORIOUS Alabama Lady go full Bama on some Sooner fans, it’s time to talk about Utah Hoops.
So here are my thoughts. I like this team and think they are doing some good things. I think Larry does a great job of dictating tempo to teams who want to run. And it is AWESOME to see people going back to the games.
But there are two things that are gnawing at me this morning.
The first is this theme, picked up by the national folks now, that Utah has made some sort of wild improvement this year and that it’s somehow all different. I don’t mean to rain on the parade (ok, I do but with a good reason) but Utah mastered losing close games to good teams last season. And I’m sure you want some facts, so here they are.
BYU 61 Utah 58
Arizona St. 55 Utah 54 OT
Then #3 Arizona 60 Utah 57 in Tucson
UCLA 57 Utah 53
Then #9 Arizona 68 Utah 64
I think you get the picture. Now I’m glad we competed and played hard. But don’t we have to be done celebrating the close losses. Haven’t we seen that film already. Isn’t it time for a team that should be much improved to step up and close that game out?
And that leads me to my second point. Larry has some serious late game coaching issues. I noticed he has some real questionable time out usage the first season but chalked it up to, well nothing is really going to help that team so why not. It surfaced last year when our end game shots often came down to Jared Dubois standing around for 20 seconds and throwing up a contested three. Again, that team had limitations so at least some of it I chalked it up to not having better options.
But in the two tight games we’ve had this year player meltdowns late in games have really surfaced again. In Boise we saw Delon rush up court and turn it over when he had no need to be so out of control. Then Jordan Loveridge hucked up a 3/4 court shot when he had 3 to 4 more dribbles.
But last night really took the cake. At the end of the game our best shot was a fading three from Loveridge at the top of the key that someone told me wouldn’t have counted anyway (I haven’t seen the game footage to confirm). And then the last 30 seconds of OT were just an abortion. Utah takes 3 time outs with 30 seconds and possession and can’t get a play run. Larry was screaming at Brandon Taylor for not doing something. But it’s clear the team was discombobulated.
Then we call a play and inbound to Dallin Bachynski. I know Larry said that Dallin was the last option, but it begs some questions.
1. Why was he in the game. It’s not like he’s a shooter or has mad speed to get to the hole in that situation. Maybe you want a tip, buy why is he at the free throw line.
2. It was like no one moved to get open.
Again this is not an indictment of the entire program or all that we’ve done. But in the Pac 12 in the future Utah is going to have a lot of close games. And if Larry is wildly over-coaching these situations, we’re going to lose more than we win.
This is a real problem and if we’re going to take the next step that everyone wants us to take. It needs to get fixed tout suite.