Jan 2, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA The Oregon Ducks celebrate after winning the game in overtime against the Utah Utes at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Oregon Ducks won the game 70-68 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Utah v Oregon: Some Different Thoughts...

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.

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Tags: Basketball Pac 12 Utah Utes

  • superdoo

    From what I saw Larry was going nuts because they ran the clock down and Taylor wasn’t in position or running the play drawn up. Larry made the mistake of calling a timeout because the truth is the worst case scenario at that point was the clock running out and going into double OT.

    I agree, the late game management is a big problem, and in fact I think some of what happened last night was a reaction to mistakes they made against Boise when they had no timeouts left.

    So we know we can hang with a top 10 team now, and it means we need to figure out some late game situational plays and also… I hate to say it, but it is true… inbound plays. Because we may be in that same situation again off of a foul or something else stopping the clock.

    I’ve gone back and watched that final play. I had remembered Bachynski being at the FT line, he was actually about 3-4 feet below it. It appears to me that the play was to draw people up away from the basket and get the ball in the hands of Wright, Loveridge and Taylor (probably in that order). With underneath the basket clear (which it was) they could slash and score and Bach would sweep in for the rebound in the event of a missed layup. Not a bad thought in theory (and he was in because with 12 rebounds he was the only big option we really had).

    Tucker panicked and threw it in pretty quickly to Bach probably on the 2-3 second count… so he had more time for a pass to present itself. Bach was clearly not expecting to get the ball (in fact it was passed way over his head… it easily could have been chucked straight over him and out of bounds). The rest of the team obviously wasn’t expecting him to have the ball, were pretty well covered, but none came to him to help him out. The rest is history.

    So I’ll blame Larry for this one as far as prep, but I’ll also chalk it up to some youth and inexperience too. Tucker panicked and threw it in too quick to the wrong guy. Were it Dubois from last year inbounding it this wouldn’t have happened. Bachynski panicked and didn’t realize he could either 1. hang onto the ball for a couple more seconds until someone came to get it or get open or 2. pivot towards the basket for what may have been an easy shot for him.

    Too bad too, up to that point I thought he had a monster game.

    How they bounce back against Oregon St, particularly with some fatigue will tell us much about how the rest of the season is going to go.

  • superdoo

    One other thing I think I’m seeing in this team, that I’ve experienced first hand (and forgive me for the high school sports indulgence).

    I was on a team that was absolutely awful… I think we won two games the whole year. We got a new coach and some special players came onto our team and we were a completely different team the next year, vastly improved. Our first few games against good teams where we were hanging with them and beating them we ended up losing because frankly we choked and played tight. We would get so excited to be doing what we were doing we’d freeze up and let the emotion of not wanting to suck keep us on the track of sucking.

    When we finally broke through that and got our big win it was relatively smooth sailing after that, but we lost a number of games we shouldn’t have just because of that. It’s kind of like the reverse of when a team has a win streak and all attention goes onto that and it gets to the point where it is just better to finally lose a game so you can play loose again.