Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Lennie Mahler | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah center Dallin Bachynski scores over Colorado's Josh Scott in the first half of a game at the Huntsman Center, Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Utah basketball: Utah draws St. Mary’s in NIT opener
NIT » Utes must win away from home for a shot at reaching NYC.
First Published Mar 16 2014 08:46 pm • Last Updated Mar 17 2014 11:09 am

The Utah men’s basketball team practiced early Sunday afternoon. Then the Utes dispersed and went to dinner before returning to learn their postseason fate.

Here’s what they found out: They were invited to the National Invitation Tournament. That was expected. What wasn’t expected was the No. 5 seed and a Tuesday opener at Saint Mary’s, one of the best teams in the West Coast Conference.

At a glance

Utah at St. Mary’s

Tuesday, 9 p.m.

TV: ESPN2

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

So if the Utes are to make a lengthy run through the NIT and get to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and finals, they will have to do it on the road, which hasn’t exactly been their strong suit this season.

"We’re happy to be playing," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said Sunday night. "We had a terrific practice [Sunday]. We were physical and we got a lot done. We’re looking to extend the season as long as we can. We’re looking to gain some experience and some valuable practice time. Frankly, road games aren’t the worst thing for this team. It’s something we need more experience at."

Saint Mary’s finished fourth in the WCC, behind San Francisco, BYU and Gonzaga. The Gaels are a team that regularly qualifies for the NCAA Tournament. They are coached by Randy Bennett — a onetime Utah coaching candidate — and led by people like Stephen Holt, Brad Waldrow and James Walker III, the latter of whom started his collegiate career at Utah State.

That makes this a difficult matchup for the Utes. Saint Mary’s shoots the ball well, is deliberate offensively and never hurts itself with excessive turnovers. Utah’s last game was a 71-39 loss to Arizona in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. Krystkowiak’s first order of business after returning from Las Vegas was to make sure there hasn’t been any residual effect from what was by far the worst loss of the season.

"We just told the players that it’s time to turn the page," Krystkowiak said. "We were happy to practice, because it meant that we were still going to be playing. That was a great thing. We just want to make sure that we’re sound of mind. We’re ready to go."

Krystkowiak said he didn’t know much about the Gaels, but that he and his staff will be breaking down game film over coming days. Utah will hold a practice early Monday morning, and will then travel to the Bay Area.

So the Utes, who have been so fragile on the road this season, will have to steel themselves. If they get past Saint Mary’s, a potential second-round matchup at Minnesota awaits.

It’s not exactly the ideal circumstance. But in many ways this is symbolic, because for this Utah team, nothing has come easy.


story continues below
story continues below

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tjonessltrib



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
Videos
Jobs
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.