Back to the Hardwood: Utah Basketball Week 2

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Curtis Lin

The University of Utah Men’s Basketball Team’s bench celebrates after University of Utah freshman guard Jaxon Brenchley (5) drills a three point shot in an NCAA Men’s Basketball game vs. Washington State at Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday January 25, 2020. (Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Writer

 

The Utes just wrapped up their second week of practice as they continue to prepare for the 2020–21 season. As they’re about a month away from the opener, Utah is preparing for an uncertain schedule. They still don’t have a concrete order for opponents and are unsure of when the schedule will be released. Still, the Utes are preparing as well as they can amid COVID-19 protocols.

“We’ve gotta be dialed in for the first few weeks of our schedule,” coach Larry Krystkowiak said, “But a lot of this stuff is more based on what we need to do. The rebounding and the defense in transition, being a highly executing type of basketball team, because it doesn’t matter who you play, if we do those things consistently, we’re gonna be okay.”

The Utes are warming up for the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, SD on Nov. 25-27 and then will have a 20 game Pac-12 schedule with three other non-conference games. The non-conference teams have yet to be scheduled, and Utah doesn’t know what the Pac-12 season will look like in terms of travel and timing of games. 

“We’ve gotta really be cognizant,” Krystkowiak continued, “that we are taking care of business and wearing masks, and washing, and distancing, and making sure who it is we’re around. Those are going to be things that we can control that are probably far more important than exactly who it is we’re gonna play later on in the season.”

Sophomore Branden Carlson talked about the uncertainty of the season and adjusting to new protocols.

“Not knowing if we were gonna play,” he said, “who we’re gonna play, what our schedule is gonna be like, if we’re even gonna have full-contact practices. Coming in each day, not knowing what was really happening, that was kind of concerning. But once we got the news and things started moving in the right direction, it started to feel more natural and started to get better.”

The Utes still feel good about their chances to compete in the Pac-12 despite the schedule uncertainty. 

“I definitely feel optimistic about (our chances to compete in the Pac-12),” sophomore Jaxon Brenchley said, “Seeing the potential we have as a team, as long as we keep working hard, being a cohesive group and doing what coaches have us do we should be in good shape to make a Pac-12 run and hopefully our goal, an NCAA Tournament berth. So I for sure see the potential there.

Utah has about a month until the season opener against Creighton. With no preseason or prep-games the team has to be ready right off the bat, and there seems to be optimism that they will get there. Coach Krystkowiak opened his media availability by strumming some chords on the guitar in his office, and the players were all in good spirits as they continue to get ready for the season.

As the Utes adjust to the new normal in the sports world, they seem poised and ready for whatever the season throws at them.

 

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