If the University of Utah men’s basketball were to have a player, coach or other essential personnel member test positive for COVID-19, the NCAA would recommend, but not mandate, a 14-day shutdown of the program.
If such a thing were to occur at this point, the beginning of the Utes' season on Nov. 25 vs. first-year Division I program Dixie State would almost certainly be affected, if not postponed, so Larry Krystkowiak’s long-held advice on the matter isn’t changing any time soon.
“Months ago, I told our guys that everybody they came in contact with, I want them to assume they have the virus,” Krystkowiak said via Zoom as part of Pac-12 virtual media day. "I really feel like our guys have done a terrific job of isolating themselves and avoiding parties.
“You always talk about it in your program that you’re playing, but it’s bigger than you and your decisions are going to have an impact on your program. This is a shining example of that, and I’m proud of our guys up to this point, knock on wood.”
COVID-19 is by far the biggest story presently unfolding in college athletics. More specifically, deep in what would normally be the heart of college football season, COVID continues to ravage schedules and alter plans at the highest levels of the sport.
In the SEC alone, four football games were called off this week, but Krystkowiak and the Utes don’t need to look to the other side of the country to find COVID problems. Right at home, the Utah football team has endured a trying week of antigen testing as it attempts to open its season at UCLA on Saturday evening.
Utes athletic director Mark Harlan took to Twitter Thursday morning to offer another positive update on the situation, his third in five days. As the football game nears reality, there is something to be learned by the basketball team.
“One case can shut everybody down,” junior wing Timmy Allen said. "That’s the last thing you want, and we can’t afford it, especially at this pivotal time before the season starts. They were about to play their first game, but they got completely shut down. We can’t afford that for our program, so we just have to continue to be as safe as possible outside the gym, inside the facilities, and around each other.
“One case for them is one game. One case for us could be two games, or even four games.”
Timmy Allen named preseason All-Pac-12
Allen will start this season the way he ended last season, as an All-Pac-12 honoree.
The Mesa, Ariz. native was named to the 10-member preseason All-Pac-12 first team on Thursday morning ahead of the league conducting its virtual men’s basketball media day.
As a sophomore, Allen averaged 17.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game on his way to earning All-Pac-12 second-team honors.
All-Pac-12 first team also included two of the top freshmen in the nation in Stanford forward Ziaire Williams and 7-foot USC sensation Evan Mobley, a projected top-3 pick in the 2021 NBA draft.
Utes picked eighth in preseason poll
Earlier Thursday morning, Utah was picked to finish eighth in the Pac-12 preseason poll, voted on by 23 media members.
The Utes, 16-15 a year ago, received 131 points in the voting, 18 behind No. 7 Colorado and 26 ahead of No. 9 Washington.
UCLA was installed as the league favorite for the first time since 2011-12, garnering 251 points and nine first-place votes. Arizona State was second with 246 points and five first-place votes, while reigning Pac-12 regular-season champion Oregon was picked third with 241 points and seven first-place votes.
The other two first-place votes went to No. 4 Stanford and No. 6 USC.
Timmy Allen (Utah), Jr., F
Matt Bradley (Cal), Jr., G
Oscar da Silva (Stanford), Sr., F
Chris Duarte (Oregon), Sr., G
Remy Martin (Arizona State), Sr., G
Evan Mobley (USC), Fr., F
Will Richardson (Oregon), Jr., G
Chris Smith (UCLA), Sr., G
Ziaire Williams (Stanford), Fr., F
McKinley Wright (Colorado), Sr. G
Isaac Bonton (Washington State), Sr., G
Tyger Campbell (UCLA), R-So., G
Josh Christopher (Arizona State), Fr., G
Ethan Thompson (Oregon State), Sr., G
Alonzo Verge Jr. (Arizona State), Sr., G
James Akinjo (Arizona), Jr., G
Evan Battey (Colorado), Jr., F
Quade Green (Washington), Sr., G
Jalen Hill (UCLA), R-Jr., F
Jaime Jaquez (UCLA), So., G
PAC-12 PRESEASON POLL
First-place votes in parenthesis
1. UCLA (9) 251
2. Arizona State (5) 246
3. Oregon (7) 241
4. Stanford (1) 209
5. Arizona 173
6 USC (1) 154
7. Colorado 149
8. Utah 131
9. Washington 85
10. Cal 65
11. Washington State 54
12. Oregon State 36