A lot of ink will be spilled on Pac-10 blogs about the two new trespassers of the confer..."/> A lot of ink will be spilled on Pac-10 blogs about the two new trespassers of the confer..."/> A lot of ink will be spilled on Pac-10 blogs about the two new trespassers of the confer..."/>

Getting Familiar with the Newest Member of the Pac-12, Utah


A lot of ink will be spilled on Pac-10 blogs about the two new trespassers of the conference (sorry; I still haven’t gotten over the end of the Pac-16), but most of it will be about their respective football programs. We’ve seen both of their football teams in recent years, but not much of their basketball programs. We haven’t seen Utah since the days of Luke Nevill, and their program has been in a constant state of poor play since. Could these Utes challenge for the conference championship in Year 1?

The answer, in simple terms? No. This is a team who went 13-18 and 6-10 in the Mountain West a year ago, and 14-17 the year before. If you’re not good enough to compete in the Mountain West, no matter how good BYU and San Diego State are, you’re not good enough to compete in the new Pac-12. The team does have a new sheriff in town;  Jim Boylen was fired after a record of 69-60 in his 4 years as head man. The new coach, Larry Krystkowiak (I’m not going to spell that name again) comes in from assisting the New Jersey Nets. Like Boylan, he has NBA experience, previously head coaching the Milwaukee Bucks. His best experience comes at Montana, where he made the NCAA Tournament twice in two years and the Grizzlies pulled off an upset over Nevada in one of those appearances. Larry has experience pulling talent from a place with little talent in Montana, and he’ll have to pull the same trick at Utah. He’s the right man for the job.

The Utes lost a lot when Will Clyburn and JJ O’Brien transferred and recruit Josh Sharp spurned Utah for BYU. Both Clyburn and O’Brien were starters, and Sharp was projected to compete for a starting job in the post. Clyburn was a huge loss, as he led the team in scoring and rebounding, was second team All-MWC, and was the most efficient scoring threat on the team. He scored 17.1 points per game. All the departures after the season, plus all of those during the season, leave the cupboard blank. Josh Watkins is a decent little point guard, but he’s the only one of the top 6 scorers returning. David Foster can block some shots, but where’s the offense going to come from? There’s quite a few prospects they signed- 6 in all- but none are rated above 3 stars, and none of them look to be a big impact player right away. They may be something to build around in the future, but the future is not now for this team.

Utah will eventually be a solid team in the Pac-12. They have the tradition, their location isn’t too bad, and they got the right coach for the job. But for now, Utah is destined to reside in the cellar of the conference. They might avoid last place, but their place in the bottom three is all but assured. Just not enough talent, either returning or incoming, to be anything more then that. The rebuild won’t be quick either; it may take them 3-4 years before any real progress is seen.

As much of a threat they may be in football, the Utes won’t be doing much damage in basketball. Not enough scoring, not good enough on defense, and simply not enough talent for a big conference…yet. It’ll be intriguing to watch the development of the program as the years go on, however. Will they eventually stack up with the rest of the conference, or will they forever be the football school only? Time will tell. Hopefully the Bears pick up victories over Utah while they’re weak. Go Bears!