Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Oregon's Carlos Emory dunks in front of a the Pit Crew student section against Washington during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Jan 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Pac-12: Utes should look to Oregon for turnaround blueprint
Pac-12 basketball » Ducks have rebuilt quickly and without blue-chip recruits.
First Published Jan 29 2013 03:11 pm • Last Updated Jan 29 2013 11:37 pm

Three weeks before the season began, Utah assistant coach Tommy Connor took a look at the improved talent on the practice floor at the Huntsman Center.

Even with the upgrades from last season being obvious — Jordan Loveridge and Justin Seymour being key freshmen — Connor knew there was still a lot of work to be done in rebuilding the program.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"We still have a long way to go," Connor said that day in late October. "But we’re all committed to turning this thing around."

If Utah fans are looking for a blueprint of how to turn this thing around, look no further than Oregon.

Ute fans, meet the Ducks, a team that was all but left for dead when Ernie Kent was fired in 2010. You may find that you have a lot in common with them.

When Dana Altman came over from Creighton, he pretty much had no players outside of E.J. Singler. But in three short years, he has Oregon at 18-2 overall, 7-0 in the conference. The Ducks have everything, from point guards, to Singler, to superior big men to wings who get out and finish on the break.

Barring a meltdown in the next month, Oregon will be a high NCAA Tournament seed out west and a candidate to make it all the way to the Final Four. In a season where college basketball seemingly has more parity than in recent years, the Ducks are as good a choice as any to make a run at a championship.

So, how did Oregon become this complete a team? You can point to its great facilities, and the Phil Knight/Nike money machine. But, look closer, particularly at the Ducks’ recruiting. Dominic Artis is the only bona fide top-100 recruit on the roster.

Damyean Dotson, the small forward out of Houston, has been much better than advertised. Tony Woods, an athletic 7-footer, transferred in from Wake Forest. Players like Carlos Emory and Waverly Austin were junior college recruits.

In short, Altman recruited smartly, gave Singler players to work with, and is now doing an excellent job of coaching his talent.

story continues below
story continues below

The same can be done at Utah. It doesn’t take five-star guys to turn the Utes around. Loveridge is proving to be an excellent start, a player the staff can build around in the next three years. Seymour and Brandon Taylor have shown flashes of brilliance in their rookie seasons. And the Utah coaching staff is optimistic about the class of recruits coming in next season.

Connor’s words look prophetic now. The fact is, Utah is better. But the Utes are still taking a lot of shots from an improved Pac-12 Conference, and there is still a long way to go.

Consistency is the key. Oregon has put together three consecutive solid classes. That’s what the Utes need to do, build upon recruiting momentum. Once that happens, bank on that turnaround tomorrow that seems so elusive today.


Twitter: @tjonesltrib

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.