The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Print Issues

Miller: UW loss was bad, but Utes will be strong in Vegas

This one was bad.

Washington came into Saturday’s contest losers of 10 of its last 11 games and were without the services of Shawn Kemp Jr. The Utes shouldn’t have had any trouble wrapping up the No. 2 spot in the Pac-12 Tournament, but that’s exactly what they couldn’t do and will now head to Vegas as the three-seed.


Was it really just a week ago that the Utes were a missed block-out away from essentially a share of the Pac-12 title? How quickly things can change, but alas, there is still hope.

So, who are the Utes?

Throughout the year Utah has held a lot of labels: dark-horse conference contender, top-10 squad and Final Four sleeper, among others.

Because of the Utes’ steady climb up the rankings, they have received their fair share of national press, and as a result have gotten a lot of teams’ best shots — especially on the road.

Utah hasn’t always handled that shot well, as we all witnessed on Saturday and earlier against Oregon and UCLA.

Whatever the reason, the Utes have lacked energy and hustle on the road, while their opponents have been filled with spirit and determination. Even when Utah won away from home, it wasn’t always in encouraging fashion. Is anyone really going to claim the Utes were impressive in their wins over Oregon State and Washington State? Didn’t think so.

Because of those struggles another label has been put on the Utes — overrated. But I don’t think that’s fair, at least not yet.

It’s true, Utah has had its troubles the last few weeks, and with the postseason less than a week away, it’s not really the best time to be losing momentum and confidence. But I’ve never felt this team was lacking confidence, the Utes have just been lacking motivation.

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said himself the team isn’t worried about seeding — in the conference or NCAA Tournament. The Utes have stuck with the “we’ll show up and play who they tell us to” approach. So, if that’s the way they wanted to treat it, them taking the day off in Seattle isn’t all that shocking.

Let’s not forget, Utah went toe-to-toe with a very motivated Arizona team that is now a top-five squad. The Utes are still really, really good.

On Saturday, Utah beat itself. Not by mistakes necessarily, but by effort. On Senior Night, Washington wanted to make one last positive memory taking long threes and contested floaters, while driving fearlessly. The Utes just didn’t match Washington’s passion, and when the Huskies got hot from the field, Utah didn’t seem to have the motivation to punch back.

Yeah, Washington outplayed Utah, but it’s not like the Utes have suddenly turned into a bottom-of-the-barrel Pac-12 team. I’m sure Utah thought it would be able to turn it on late, like it did against Washington State and walk away with the victory — that just didn’t happen.

The good thing is Utah won’t have that mentality the rest of the season. It’s do-or-die time, and the Utes have something to prove.

Let’s flash back to last year’s Pac-12 Tournament — remember the excitement leading into the Arizona-Utah quarterfinal matchup? A lot of people, and not just Utah fans, thought the Utes had a chance to upset the Wildcats, but after a 32-point Arizona blowout victory, it was clear how incorrect that was.

A season ago, the Wildcats showed Utah firsthand a template of what top teams do when the real games begin. Don’t be surprised when the Utes follow that example come Thursday.

[email protected]


Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

We welcome feedback and dialogue from our community. However, when necessary, The Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to remove user comments. Posts may be removed for any of the following reasons: • Comments on a post that do not relate to the subject matter of the story • The use of obscene, threatening, defamatory, or harassing language • Comments advocating illegal activity • Posts violating copyrights or trademarks • Advertisement or promotion of commercial products, services, entities, or individuals • Duplicative comments by the same user. In the case of identical comments only the first submission will be posted. Users who habitually post comments or content that must be removed can be blocked from the comment section.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *