Dec 19, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes guard Brandon Taylor (11) prepares to shoot the ball as Texas State Bobcats guard Phil Hawkins (0) defends during the second half at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Utah won 69-50. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
So I’m back from my own Holiday break. And I’ve missed you people.
There wasn’t much to chat about over the break. Utah Football hired a new OC but we haven’t met him yet, I’ll talk more about that in the coming days. The Utes also played a really bad basketball team and I just couldn’t bring myself to watch.
But here come the Utes are and it’s about to get real, really real.
As in 10th team in the nation real.
The undefeated and 10th ranked Oregon Ducks come to town and I see a whole lot a Ute fans talking about an upset. But we’ll discuss that in a minute.
Oregon, who had to be concerned when Dominic Artis and Ben Carter were suspended, instead has turned in their best start since their Elite Eight run. They are paced by Houston transfer Joseph Young and UCLA/UNLV transfer Mike Moser. In fact the work Dana Altman has done this season in light of the suspensions is remarkable. (when watching this also remember Dana Altman could have been Utah coach in 2004)
The Utes are off to their own best start in a really long time. Although that is in large part to Utah putting together the worst OOC schedule in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy.
Which leaves us guessing as to what these Utes really are. In the only two “games” Utah had, they blew a game in Boise, looking just terrible down the stretch. And of course the Utes jumped all over BYU.
So what does that mean for tonight?
The argument I’m hearing from Ute fans expecting the upset comes down to these points.
1. Utah beat Oregon last year.
2. BYU played Oregon close.
3. Just Because.
My thinking on that comes down to this.
1. Oregon is well aware they lost in Salt Lake City last year so I don’t think we’ll be sneaking up on them. This isn’t a late season game where we have a bad record, it’s the Pac-12 opener and we’re 11-1.
2. People need to learn to not read too much into games that happen on campus in the Christmas break. Finals have just happened, teams haven’t practiced much and the students are gone. Plus Utah had circled the BYU game on their calendar, Oregon hadn’t. I’m not saying it isn’t a reason for optimism, but there are a lot of reasons to say wait a minute as well.
3. I’m glad there is some joy and optimism around Utah hoops again. But this is the best team Utah has faced by far this season. Oregon is better than Utah. Further and this is something no one is talking about, Larry has not been good down the stretch in close games (the real exception being the Cal game last year). Last season I was willing to chalk that up to the talent. But the way this team folded like a cheap suit against Boise should make it as a point of real concern.
But at least after two months of dog crap basketball, it’s nice to see something interesting.
So GO UTES and here’s to the Pac-12 season arriving.