The season hasn’t yet begun and already Utah is facing a number of injury issues.
David Foster is on the shelf for the season due to a broken foot, and now projected starting small forward Aaron Dotson will miss four to six weeks due to surgery to repair a stress fracture, also in his foot.
To compensate, freshman Dakari Tucker and senior Cedric Martin figure to see more significant roles in Larry Krystkowiak’s rotation. The good news? The Utes actually have capable bodies behind their starters.
That wasn’t the case last season.
“What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger,” Krystkowiak said. “We feel that we have some depth now and that we have the chance to plug people into the rotation and keep going. We’re lucky in that regard. This is a hard thing for Aaron, and we hope the surgery went well for him. We feel that we can play well without him and be stronger when he gets back to us.”
The timetable should bring Dotson back to the floor before the Pac-12 portion of the Utes’ schedule hits.
Tucker is a 6-foot-6 small forward, and he has the chance to benefit most from Dotson’s absence. Martin is still a leading candidate to start at the position, but Tucker has the length and the shooting touch to garner significant minutes in the first month of the season.
“He’s going to get a chance, for sure,” Krystkowiak said. “He’s probably the only bona fide small forward on the roster. He’s been playing pretty well lately.”
Making it through the grind
Krystkowiak sat in a folding chair at half-court of the Huntsman Center. His voice measured, he implored his players to keep playing hard, despite their fatigue.
“We get this drill right, fellas, and we’re done,” Krystkowiak said.
These are the dog days for the Utes.
The euphoria of officially starting practice is over. The first true exhibition of the season, next Friday against Simon Fraser, is in sight. But for now, all that exists is practice. Day after day of defensive drills and offensive sets. Day after day of tedious work, but work that can mean the difference between a good season and a bad one.
“We have to grind through it, that’s the biggest thing,” senior guard Jarred DuBois said. “People may be tired, but this is an important stretch for us because we have to make sure that we execute. Good teams are the ones who are good at this time of the year.”
With Runnin’ Utes Night on Wednesday at the Huntsman Center, Krystkowiak previously said the team will scrimmage two 20-minute halves with another 10-minute session tacked on.
That may be amended to just 40 total minutes with the injuries, Krystkowiak said on Monday. But the team will still go hard with referees.
Night with the Runnin’ Utes
P Full-speed team scrimmage.
Wednesday, 7 p.m.