Category Archives: Utah

UtahWins

Utah Wins: The Changing Luck of the Utes

A couple weeks ago, as I was contemplating a content calendar, the idea of Luck came up. I’ve previously written about Utah’s luck but decided not to address it. I figured the stat wasn’t worth diving in to as it ultimately supplements the narrative – nice – wasn’t necessarily going to help us understand this year’s team.

Until last night. Continue reading

GreggMarshall

A Wichita State – Utah Q&A…With Me!

Tonight’s main event? #8 Wichita State at  #25 Utah, the first top-25 game in SLC since 1999. Which naturally means the Pac-12 has an unknown opponent for us to learn about. And who else would we ask to scout the Shockers than…me! Yup, couldn’t track down a Shoxpert so the preeminent Pac-12 blogger will be a momentary Valley critic. Arch Madness. Tip is at 8pm PST, 9pm MST.

So if I were a Wichita State basketball fan and was asked to answer questions about my favorite team – the Shockers, of course – this is how I’d presumably respond. Considering I once dated a girl – now married to someone else – from Kansas, I think this qualifies me. I also once went to Allen Fieldhouse and a friend of mine spent Thanksgiving in Kansas. I kinda have a Judy Garland crush. I could go on.

Nevertheless, those Shockers are headed to the Huntsman Center for a top-25 showdown. Here’s what you need to know about a less familiar WSU, from me, by me: Continue reading

DelonWright

Utah Utes Basketball Preview: Delon Rimttacking

You might not love it when your girlfriend, best friend, or really anyone around you over-plans. When they’ve buttoned up the schedule with everything dotted and crossed and you don’t have to do a thing but show up. It can sort of ruin the adventure. Larry Krystkowiak is not an adventurer. He took over this Utah program with a plan, a vision, for how he would build it up. He stuck to that plan and it’s now expected to pay off. Which is, of course, all a part of his plan. Look at the scheduling since he took over. The Utes played teams nicknamed the GeoDucks and a religious school out of San Diego which should be taken about as seriously as Hogwarts. We ripped them for their SoS while Larry K just stayed the course. And then last year happened and heads turned. Larry K has a plan, you guys. He scheduled the GeoDucks because that’s what his team could bear. Now? This year he’s taking his team to San Diego State, BYU, Las Vegas and Kansas. Delon Wright might be the best player in America if you listen to this guy and they have a crop of incoming kids that are not only good but local; a sign of sustainable and forthcoming success. And it’s all a part of the plan.

Why I Love Them:

Continue reading

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Where They Affect the Game: Delon Wright

Delon Wright will not win the Pac-12 Player of the Year award. His team is too far down the standings, his stats not quite adding up to those of a few others. But he’s most certainly in the conversation. He’s terrific – as I’m about to explain – and the conversation that I want to have regarding his POY candidacy is less _OY and more VP. As in valuable player.

What I like so much about Wright is – shocker from this blog – his ability to create shots at the rim. I examined Kyle Anderson’s ability to do such only to discover that Delon Wright is ridiculously good at it. My opening context will center around gross numbers. Wright has made 119 shots at the rim. Here’s the context:

RimBucketsWright has gotten 20 more baskets at the rim than any other player in the conference. Including Aaron Gordon. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not positive if this is a true top 12 but it’s twelve names that I thought we would all agree were getting shots at the rim. This group averages about 56% of their shots at the rim and the D-1 average is 38.3%. Interestingly enough, for the vaunted frontcourt of Huestis, Powell, Brown and Nastic, not one Stanford Cardinal makes that list.

Revisiting the data from our Anderson study, Wright creates a shot at the rim on 62% of his possessions. That’s easily the best amongst the players I studied and easily contributes to the Utes’ gaudy 71.6% FG shooting at the rim (4th in the country) and 55.2% from inside the arc (9th in the country). Even more impressively, Wright gets half of his rim attempts in non-transition offense. By comparison, Jahii Carson gets just 35.1% of his rim shots in non-transition scenarios suggesting Wright just may be the better shot creator. Only 18.6% of his non-transition rim buckets are assisted (Carson’s is 28.6%). Is this a good thing? I’d assume so considering Utah has a propensity for late offense. They have the 266th longest possessions in America (18.8 seconds).

Now as a trained scientist, or at least someone with a degree in Human Biology, I’m aware of variables within an investigation. You want just one and so it’s difficult for me to validate Wright’s impact by comparing to last year’s Utes. After all, the current Utes played only 40% of 2013’s minutes. And that was a team that ranked 213th in 2pt FG%. Variables be damned, it’s happening.

So enter Delon Wright and now the 2014 Utes rank ninth in the country in 2pt FG%. They’re 25th in eFG% and I can’t rank it but their true shot percentage is 9% better than the D-1 average. Like I said, there are multiple variables, but the Utes’ offense is vastly improved from inside the arc and amongst their six top contributors, Wright is the only newbie. Perhaps there is only one variable.

Wright isn’t about to win the Pac-12’s POY award, but it just might be such that he’s the most valuable.

Pointing Larry K

Utah Earns Signature Win

I can’t dive into too much hyperbole because it was just one weekend. But I’m really impressed with the Utah Utes. They’re not on the tournament bubble but they might – might – have a chance to have their name at least discussed inside the tournament war room. But not going to dive into hyperbole. OK, maybe some:

Was Utah’s 74-69 win over UCLA on Saturday the Utes’ biggest win of the Larry K tenure?

I’m not sure if that question even really means anything but looking back at his three years in SLC he’s got a few good ones under his belt. They knocked off #19 Oregon last season and eliminated Cal from last year’s Pac-12 tournament. They also held court against CU a season ago and blew BYU out this season. But this win, against a ranked UCLA squad that is…well…UCLA, comes as the greatest Krystko-win at Utah.

Firstly, it was UCLA. The school of Wooden-lore and 11 national titles and everything else that is the powder blue. As a reminder of that lore, I almost got swallowed into the 40th Anniversary of Notre Dame ending the 88 game win streak documentary, but then I realized that it was half Digger Phelps and that my mom was waiting for Pops and I at a restaurant down the street. I digress.

Utah didn’t win this game as the little team that could. It wasn’t like last year’s P12 tourney with the ninth seeded Utes battling into the third round. No, this was a 13-4 team with the belief that they can play with anyone and so they did.

I present the game’s win probability chart courtesy of KenPom:

Utah-UCLA Win Probability
Utah was the expected victor from the first half’s 8-minute mark on. That’s 28 minutes of gameplay in which Utah was the statistical favorite. They subsequently advance their record to 14-4, further validating for themselves that they are to be taken seriously.

Certainly their fans do. To date, the Utes are second in the conference in per game attendance (9711) as well as second in the conference in total attendance (145,658). Sure the latter of those numbers is slightly inflated by their fifteen total home games (most in conference). But the fact of the matter is people are coming to watch this team play. This program develop.

Like I said, I don’t see this as a tournament bound basketball team but I can’t yet rule that out. For example: They’ve jumped into KenPom’s top-50 and have contests against Colorado (x2), Arizona (x2), UCLA, and Cal remaining. Which is to say they still have opportunities to bolster that light resume. Am I pining to a possible Utah audience? Absolutely, but what is there, if not hope, amongst fans?

Saturday was a resounding victory for the Utes. The signature win of the Larry Krystkowiak era. Which is to say it wasn’t a fluke, the aforementioned chart suggests it was expected almost wire-to-wire. I’ll try to mute the hyperbole, and Hoyos Revenge will help us remember that Utah tried to give that one away, but that wasn’t just your average win. It was UCLA on the heels of a rough road trip. The Utes, as an emerging program, asserted themselves as an arriving program.

Because sometimes arriving doesn’t necessarily mean landing on the moon and planting your flag.

Sometimes it’s enough to just say that someday you can.

Larry K eyes

Utah? Utah! Utah. And a Few Other Thoughts from Opening Night

A few months ago I asked Jordan Loveridge about his role on this Utes team. He said something about his growing role as a leader, but that might have only been because I lead him into it. He did talk about the conversations he’d been having with his coach about him becoming more of a leader before trailing off as teenagers in front of microphones tend to do.

But it was clear that Loveridge was being groomed to lead. On Thursday night he showed us he’s ready. Because leaders don’t always win but they do lead and Jordan took 23 shots in the losing effort. He took the last shot in regulation and the last shot in overtime. In a game ripe for Utah to slink away from, Loveridge scored 11 first half points. We are here to play.

And this could be the article where I tell you how close Jordan and the Utes were to knocking off #10 Oregon. I could yap about how hard the Utes played and that they really were in that oneThey can hold their heads high knowing they went toe-to-toe with a top-10 team. Then I’d call it a moral victory and we’d all roll our eyes. And agree.

Not gonna do it.

Not gonna do it because that’s not how the Utes feel about it. That’s not the way it looked and it’s not the walk away feeling on the matter. There was a Duck dog pile afterwards as dejected Utes shook the hands of the Oregon coaching staff. And such a celebration is not indicative of much beyond the fact that it was a fantastic finish; but it is telling to the necessary release after such a struggle. Oregon had lost that game. Utah had won it. And then the buzzer sounded and the score didn’t really say that. It was a terrific basketball game lost in seemingly the most inconceivable of ways.

Oregon is a good basketball team. They have some front court issues but enough talented and contributing guards that they’re always going to be a tough out. It’s worth noting that they showed plenty of toughness themselves.

This being a Utah-centric piece, however, let’s talk about those guys. They held two separate leads in two separate final minutes. That highlights the inconceivability of the loss. But whatever, losses happen and so do wins:

Because Larry K has weathered quite a storm in Utah to get to this point where we don’t have to call his team’s work cute. Or Cinderella. Or morally victorious. Because for all the talk of their bummer of a schedule, the Utes have been winning – something they haven’t done a ton of these past four seasons.

Leading to Thursday night, the Utes had been sticking to a high potent and effective offense. They’d relied on their leader – Loveridge – to lead (27% of the shots). Their model of 56% eFG shooting had won them eleven previous games. Unfortunately, the distance shooting let them down on Thursday: 3-19 ain’t gonna Duck it. They’d previously been shooting a nationally average 33% from three (for help, 3-19 is 15%). The final shot was a good Loveridge look that rimmed out.

But breaking this one down doesn’t tell us much. This was a basketball game featuring two teams scoring like Wilt: 90.8 ppg for Oregon; 87.4 for Utah. So naturally they played to the tune of 70-68. Collectively they barely broke 0.9 ppp. That was a dog fight.

What we learned from it:

  • Jordan Loveridge wants to be a star and so he is
  • Delon Wright is as talented as any guard in the conference and he carries himself like it
  • Utah is not soon going to sneak up on anyone
  • Bachynski is hereditary

It is a moral victory, though. We watched Utah play like they expected to win the whole time. Larry K was upbeat after the game not because he was giddy at how close his team came to winning but because he knows that his team now has  every reason to believe in themselves. Jordan Loveridge had talked about becoming a leader and Thursday night he showed us he can be. I like to be process oriented and we’ll learn a lot more about these Utes in how they react to this game. Should they lay an egg on Saturday, drop one to Oregon State, well we can start to make some different assumptions.

But a seemingly jovial K suggests he knows how his team will react. He expected that performance. He expected to win but he didn’t.

Sometimes that happens.

LarryKBigHead

AND NOW THE THOUGHTS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE’S OTHER FOUR GAMES:

  • Washington State scored .46 points per possession. Washington State scored .63 points per minute. Washington State put the ball through the basket 14 total times. Washington State scored one touchdown in the first half. All of this is to suggest that Washington State did not score. Arizona won. Contextually, Colorado State scored 18 points (matching WSU’s second half output in Tucson) in 2:52 at the New Mexico bowl [insert too soon BOOs here].
  • I suppose it wouldn’t be the start of conference play if we didn’t have a WTF moment. That’s what happened inside Wells Fargo as the conference’s worst defense naturally shut down ASU. The Huskies have been nothing short of pretty bad and they beat the Sun Devils handily. On the road. Makes total Pac-12 sense. They did this last year, too, jumping out to a 4-0 conference record, all outside Seattle. So I ask, upset alert in Tucson on Saturday?
  • And while all things Tempe were unexpected, there was something delightfully expected about a depleted Cal team going into Maples and beating Stanford. Because they don’t make sense. Cal won, Stanford disappointed and now let’s talk about Justin Cobbs step-back jumpers with the clock winding down. Maybe the most perfect shot in the game.
  • The return of Eric Moreland was the only game I missed and by many accounts I didn’t miss the most exciting of games. The talent level at Oregon State seems to be better than their record and trajectory indicates but such is the Craig Robinson era? Big tilt forthcoming on Sunday as we have our first top-20 matchup in the Pac-12 since Bill Walton liked UCLA!
DelonWright

Utah is Playing Hard and is 9-1

For awhile I was hung up on Larry Krystkowiak’s comments from media day in which he called “playing hard” a talent. Sure he’s right and maybe it was just a ton of humble coach speak, but I didn’t love it. I didn’t even like it. But I understood the crux of what he was saying as he doesn’t have an Aaron Gordon, Jordan Adams, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Jahii Carson on his roster.

What he had was another brand new roster and seven new players to integrate around Jordan Loveridge. Who’s a fine player, but perhaps not immediately NBA-bound like the aforementioned. The Pac is talented.

But it’s mid-December and we find ourselves staring at a Utah team with but a single loss and an impressive holding of home court against a pretty good BYU team. That solitary loss was to Boise State on the road and late in the contest. They haven’t played the hardest schedule to be certain (ok, they’ve played the 3rd easiest schedule) so it becomes somewhat difficult to define this team. Are they talented? Are they playing hard? Are they the benefactors of playing Evergreen State, Grand Canyon, and St. Katherine (coming 12/28 to Huntsman)?

So how might we quantify this? Or, perhaps more directly asked, what’s going on?

I want to examine whether the Utes are playing hard. That’s how their coach has said they’re going to win games and without watching every minute of Runnin’ Ute hoop, I don’t really know where to start. And this is perhaps the crux of my issue with Larry K’s comments. Saying your team is good at playing hard doesn’t really mean anything.

In an effort to quantify, however, my initial hypothesis was such that the Utes perhaps are limiting shots at the rim; more effectively playing their defense and not allowing easy shots. As it were, they’re allowing more shots at the rim this season but doing a better job of contesting those. Teams are shooting just 56.7% there against the Utes and that’s well below the 60.9% D-1 average. They hold teams to the 19th lowest eFG% in the nation suggesting indeed these Utes are playing hard on defense. They lead the country in 2pt FG%. But ultimately those are just niceties.

Offensively they’ve got the 8th highest eFG% (58.3%). They shoot 77.7% from the rim and Delon Wright has been fantastic. The guard is taking nearly 70% of his shots at the rim and is making a stupid 83% of those shots(compare that to Jordan Loveridge’s 32% shots at the rim which is a bit mystifying but he still seems to be getting his; handily leading the team in usage) and putting up a talented 16/7/6. He’s been a delightful back court, transfer surprise for K and seems to have really allowed Loveridge to thrive as the primary scoring option all over the court, not just on the blocks. Now I’d love to see Jordan taking fewer threes. He’s a thicky thick body taking 40.8% of his shots from distance and making 31.4% of them. A season ago he was jacking up just 27.7% and making 36.8% of them. I like the latter stats for sustainability reasons; but it’s hard to argue against a guy with a 118.7 ORtg on team with a top-10 eFG. The Utes are doing something right and Loveridge just won Utah’s first ever Pac-12 Player of the Week Award.

But lots is still up in the air. Those are lovely numbers I’ve cited and that’s really about all I’ve done. While Larry K is seemingly quick to say his team isn’t the most talented, I have no qualms in saying they’re more talented than the aforementioned Geoducks, Antelopes, and Fightin’ Firebirds.

Looming large is the first conference game when the Ducks of Oregon come to Huntsman (Thursday, 1/2). This will undoubtedly be the Utes’ first big test and telling of just how “hard” this team plays. Looking at things long term, I’ll be curious to see where this budding program takes its scheduling. First tests shouldn’t come in conference play.

But that’s where we are today: staring at a 9-1 Utes team that I haven’t quite revealed anything about. There’s nothing too shocking in the numbers besides that they’ve beaten up on some cupcakes (to jog your memory it’s the 348th most difficult). But there is no denying that the Utes are 9-1. And when that left column keeps moving, you start to believe its supposed to move.

Here’s to playing hard.

LoveridgeFOY

Getting to know Utah: Playing hard

For awhile now I’ve been stuck on this quote from Larry Krystkowiak at media day. The 6’9″ catcher of bike thieves had this to say about his program:

I think, that playing hard is a talent.

And I don’t think he’s wrong. I really don’t. But my goodness is this the most little brother thing imaginable? I can wrap my mind around the fact that you’ve been overhauling a roster for three consecutive seasons and started with a squad capable of being one of the worst high major, D1 teams of all-time (finished 6-25). I don’t love this quote because I feel it’s a consolation; an admission that everyone is going to be better than you before anyone steps on the floor. We’re going to play harder because it’s our only shot. It’s commonplace that high motors win ball games, and so starting each game under the guise that you can only win if you play hard feels short sighted. Defeatist. But before I get too far in to one quote, allow me…

Why I love them: Jordan Loveridge. I’ve said it in a previous post that one man does not a team make but one man can redefine a program. While those statements contradict one another, Loveridge is a talented ball player; and not just because he plays hard. He’s a big body with the ability to stretch the floor and he can cause fits. Particularly with the emergence of fellow sophomore Brandon Taylor. A season ago, Taylor took his sweet time in finding the floor and perhaps letting his talents flourish. But as the season wore on, he garnered more tick and didn’t let K down – averaging 11/1/2 in the season’s final five games as the Utes closed 4-1 with a win over #19 Oregon (in which Taylor dropped 14 points). What I’m getting at is he peaked as the Utes were peaking and I like these sort of coincidences. I like maturing freshmen heading into their sophomore seasons. I like Brandon Taylor and Jordan Loveridge. I’m beginning to like Utah’s actual talent.

Why I hate them: Once again Larry K is bringing in a fresh new crop of Runnin’ Utes. This year it’s seven noobs which means we have to call the aforementioned Loveridge and Taylor “veterans.” Laughable, no? Such is reality inside the Huntsman Center and it’s reason enough not to love this team. Continuity will go a long way in restoring what this program will become and that begins with Loveridge and Taylor.

Stat you need to know:

40

Percentage of returning minutes played. That’s the fewest in the Pac-12. The question, however, becomes whether or not that’s good or bad news. The perspective of the former would suggest that one wouldn’t want to return too much from a 15-18 team that finished 10th in the conference. Not returning much is another clean slate. The contrary opinion is such that 15-18 was an improvement. Losing 60% of the minutes that contributed to the Utes’ best season since 2009 is detrimental to the continued, year-over-year progress K has been making. What do you think?

Quotable:

“Larry Krystkowiak would back everyone down and you wouldn’t be able to keep him from scoring in the paint.  Not that he couldn’t shoot.  But that’s what he would do.  Then he definitely would foul you every time you had the ball.  So he would be tough.” – Lorenzo Romar on which Pac-12 coach wins in a 1-on-1 tournament

Outlook: It’s an improving one. The Runnin’ Utes aren’t soon to compete for a Pac-12 title or even a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament (top-4 finish); but they’re going to be better once again and we can start to take them more seriously. Their schedule is starting to look less MWC and more Pac-12. Only St. Katherine College is a glaring blemish of childishness this season. Of note: The StK Firebirds will be taking on my Alma Mater, the UCSD Tritons, on 11/27. Larry K is building a good thing in Salt Lake but he’s taking his sweet time. That’s probably the right thing to do but with that comes with further growing pains and 2013-14 won’t soon be any different. But it will be better and they’re going to win a handful of those games you thought they had no business competing in. Because, you know, playing hard takes talent.

LarryK

Krystkowiak Will Steal Your Honey Like Someone Else Stole a Bike

I’ve long been a fan of his intensity. And by fan I mean petrified of it because I’ve received a few tongue lashings from coaches in my day and I still remember the best of ‘em. And those best ones happened to come from a goatee’d man I’d still call coach.

But he wasn’t 6’9″ and he – to my knowledge – never ran down a bike thief.

And that’s what Larry Krystkowiak did this weekend and it’s piled upon the lore of wildly intense Coach Ks. He ran the fool down, held him until the authorities arrived, and then coached his team. Tweeted about it, too:

He’s drops Barney Fife on you. What?

And ss I’m one to brag I would like it known that I recognized these qualities long ago in the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match. Here’s what I forwardly had to say about Larry K after just a handful of games in the Pac-12:

K, Utah – Dude’s 6’9” and you can’t pronounce his last name which is the same qualifications as that guy Jason Bourne killed with a ball point pen. And sure that dude may have died, but he took Bourne to the brink. Savage.

He’s taking those skills to the streets of SLC. What’s more, Utah is a biking state. People ride hard all over that place and Larry ran a bike thief down. That’s the stuff legends are made of. You don’t steal bikes in Utah. You steal Sugar Bowls from Bama. Roll damn Krystkowiak has a ring to it right?

Now if only he could do something about that left hand column…

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Waxing Seniority: Jason Washburn

With the regular season now wrapped and the Pac-12’s seniors having played their final home games, we’re taking a tour across the conference and bidding this group of seniors farewell.

The Ghost of Jack Gardner has been following the Utah Utes program since his days as a coach and now far beyond. His blog is a wealth of Ute knowledge, nostalgia, and hoops.

The college basketball career of Jason Washburn is a play of Three Acts. We first knew him as the four-star center from Battle Creek, who Jim Boylen recruited while an assistant with Michigan State.  He stood out as the energetic redshirt on the Utah sideline, often standing on his feet waiving a towel. That was the 2008-09 MWC Championship team led by Luke Nevill, Lawrence Borha and a promising newcomer named Carlon Brown.

Things were looking very bright for the future of Utah basketball.  The 2009-10 season was greatly anticipated by the fans.  Washburn made his playing debut in the Huntsman Center in a loss to Idaho. He played alongside Carlon Brown and the 7’3″ returned missionary, David Foster. Another newcomer, Marshall Henderson, also made his debut for the Utes that night with 18 points.  But Washburn stole the show.  He came off the bench and scored 20 points and pulled down 7 rebounds in 26 minutes.  As I said, the future looked bright.

End of Act I.

Washburn never got close to 20 points again for the next two years.  In fact, he only scored in double digits ten times over that period.  He was known to Utah fans and opponents as: 1) Soft; and 2) Enthusiastic.  It was so funny to see him lead the team in energy and cheering while on the bench, but then see him get pushed around by smaller players on the court.  He had no defensive presence, didn’t fight for rebounds and couldn’t finish in traffic.  I admit he was known for some time by yours truly as “Jason Heartburn.”

Yet he never lacked for enthuasism.

Those were Utah’s last two seasons in the Mountain West Conference, and the last two seasons of Jim Boylen’s tenure.  A mass player exodus ensued that spring.  Henderson, Clyburn, O’Brien and Glover all transferred.  We had no idea what our innaugural Pac-12 team would look like.  When the dust settled, we had a new coach, and entirely new roster, a returning juco named Jiggy, the oft-injured Chris Hines . . . and Jason Washburn.

Almost by default, Jason Washburn was the leader of the 2011-12 Runnin’ Utes.  His minutes increased and so did his production.  He was still soft but slowly improved offensively.  But fans didn’t expect much out of him at this point, especially since 2011-12 was a throwaway season.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened — I think it was during the Arizona game in Tucson when something finally clicked. I think Washburn was tired of losing and tired of getting pushed around.  No doubt about it: with just a few weeks left in the season, something suddenly changed.

End of Act II.

Washburn finished the season on a complete tear, which has carried through this year. He’s been a consistent scorer and has had several double-double games.  And his defense has stepped-up big time.  Each time Utah has found itself in a position to win, Washburn is always in the middle of things. There have even been a couple times I believe he would have been the Pac-12 Player of the Week if only Utah could have converted close losses to wins.

Utah fans love him.  But his biggest badge of honor is that opposing fans hate him.  And that just makes us love him even more.

Not to mention his love for the fans and for the school. He recently sat down with the Deseret News and discussed his decision to stay at Utah two years ago when many teammates were leaving:

“There was plenty of times where I was just ready to break down and throw my hands up in the air and say ‘I can’t do this any more’ just because we had so many guys leave . . . Even though I hold no grudges against anyone that left. They all did it because it was best for them and you can’t hate someone for that.”

“I put my head down and fought through the turmoil. Why couldn’t you? If I can take anything from my career I can be proud of myself for knowing that not only did I stick with my teammates and my coach and my new coach, I stuck with this program and this fan base. I know I can walk away proud of that.”

On a few occassions, I’ve taken posession of the body of some loitering Utah fan after a game to congratulate Washburn personally. The guy is genuine and loves interacting with the fans.  He’s the kind of guy you love to cheer for.  For that reason, he has become one of my all-time favorite Runnin’ Utes.

My only regret is he won’t be around next year for a fourth Act — when, I believe, Utah will finally turn the corner.