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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Utah Hoops - Utes suffering from injury bug up front

The biggest news is junior center Marko Kovacevic. He's out for six weeks due to a fractured wrist.

Dallin Bachynski is cause for worry. The junior seven-footer is still on the shelf with a high ankle sprain.

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Jordan Loveridge missed Wednesday's practice with swelling on his knee.

By now, there's a pattern. Utah's a little banged up. Especially in the frontcourt.

That's the reality of the preseason. Injuries occur when there's a month of practice before the season begins. For the Utes, injuries have been plentiful.

Kovacevic received an MRI on the wrist a few weeks ago. He will at the very least be out until the middle of November. Last season, Aaron Dotson broke a bone in his foot around this time and had the same timetable for return. He never became fully healthy.

That's not to say Kovacevic will meet the same fate. Indeed, every player is different. But it's clearly a setback for the 6-11 junior, even if it's not expected to end his season.

"It's a blow and it's tough," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "He's a guy who's been through a lot in order to get on the floor. The good thing is that it's his wrist, so the injury shouldn't affect his conditioning too much. He still has to get the range of motion back when the cast comes off. So there will be some rehab there. But he can still run and still ride the bike. So there won't be quite as bit of a comeback needed in terms of conditioning."

The injury all but knocks Kovacevic out of contention for a starting spot. At this point, it appears the top two big men are Renan Lenz and Jeremy Olsen. A big part of the rotation hinges on whether the coaches want to start Loveridge at small or power forward. It appears more likely the sophomore will begin the season in the frontcourt, which means Lenz and Olsen are likely fighting it out at center.

Tony Jones

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