Miller: Don’t overreact, the Runnin’ Utes are just fine

Utah fans are a reactionary and stubborn type – it’s a Beehive State thing.

Jazz fans will forever say they were robbed of two championships, BYU fans will always thinkg they have the best team, and best player, in the nation and Ute fans constantly think the sky is about to come crashing down.


Such was the reaction from the fan base after Utah lost to UCLA last Thursday in Los Angeles. Suddenly a 17-4 record didn’t have the proper fight for a long tournament run, the Utes became a complacent bunch and Delon Wright wasn’t the type of player to take a program to the next level.

Oh, over reaction.

(Courtesy ofKatie Meyers/The Daily Bruin)

Sure, on paper, the Utes should have won, and by a lot. But stuff happens, so let’s all calm down a little bit.

Over the recent history of Utah athletics, the university’s teams have had a tendency of underperforming at times. Exhibit A: the Utah football team’s loss last season against Washington State.

Nothing that occurred before or after that matchup made that result make any sense at all – just like last Thursday.

After losing to Wazzu, the football Utes ran off three straight conference wins, including victories over two ranked teams. The Washington State loss was an anomaly, nothing else – much like the Runnin’ Utes defeat to the hands of the Bruins.

Delon Wright and crew are good, they know they’re good and they know that the rest of the conference – save Arizona, and maybe Stanford – isn’t. They are going to get bored. And they probably did Thursday.

Sometimes it’s hard to get up for games. I doubt many fans were excited to watch Utah play a less-than-good UCLA team. I know I wasn’t excited to cover it.

The Utes are a top-15 team now, and they’re getting their name circled on other team’s calendars. Utah will be facing motivated teams from here on out and except for a contest against Arizona, the Utes probably won’t be able to match their opponent’s excitement.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Right now, instead of playing for their tournament life, Utah can really coast to the end of the season, without any real ill effect. The Utes are going to be dancing, and they know they’re going to get a pretty high seed. Taking a few plays off, hell, even coasting through an entire game isn’t going to change that.

Think of how close the Utes played Arizona last year during the regular season – even taking the Cats to overtime in Salt Lake. But what happened when the Pac-12 tournament started and the games really mattered? Utah was slaughtered.

Now, the Utes might not be as good as the 2013-14 Wildcats, but they should have the ability to turn it on against weaker opponents when it matters.

The Utes have flipped that switch in games this season, and probably will again, so don’t be worried about a less-than-par performance in a game that motivation was lacking.

The Utes are still the exact same team they were before the loss to UCLA. Nothing has changed, and when the brightest light comes, they will be just fine.

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