Utah basketball: Return to health key to Utes' success inside
Injuries have rendered Utah a short-handed team on the interior through the first two weeks of the season.
But the Utes are closer to full strength.
Junior center Dallin Bachynski practiced for the first time in 14 days Monday, and his sprained ankle feels better. He even dunked on a few teammates in one-on-one drills.
Marko Kovacevic, another junior center with a fractured wrist, had his cast removed. He didn't practice Monday, but he's a few weeks from returning, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
The Utes desperately need the size and the versatility. Bachynski is Utah's lone 7-footer, and Kovacevic is 6-11. Renan Lenz and Jeremy Olsen are the only two players in the rotation taller than 6-6.
The lack of size hasn't been an issue in Utah's first two wins, but there are bigger teams on the horizon namely Boise State and BYU who will exploit that lack of size inside if the Utes aren't at full strength
"It's going to be nice to have those two back," Krystkowiak said. "Right now, it's Renan and Jeremy, and both of those guys are playing a lot of minutes in practice and the games. We need the depth that those two will provide."
Utah plans to use Lenz at power forward as well as center when the team is healthy. He's the one player who can spell effectively Jordan Loveridge.
Brandon Taylor primarily played the role of setting up Utah's offense last season. That's changed at bit this season. He's still the starting point guard, he's been looking for his shot more with Delon Wright handling the ball more.
He scored 21 points against UC-Davis.
"I was just trying to be aggressive," Taylor said. "The openings were there, and I was just going to the basket and trying to make plays."
Utah's game Thursday against Grand Canyon won't be shown on the Pac-12 Network. The Utes plan to stream the game on the school's website. It will be the second straight game Utah plays against a team coached by a former NBA player. Dan Majerle was a longtime sharpshooter for the Phoenix Suns. The matchup against Grand Canyon is the first of three games Utah will play on consecutive days.
"I'm OK with the game being blacked out," Utah athletics director Chris Hill said. "It's one of our only games this season that won't be on television, so it's fine how it worked out."