I've been told by a few that Giacoletti needs time to rebuild Utah basketball. The Utes are struggling because they're young and the program is far from being the great success it was in the 1990s. I can grant fans that the Utes aren't going to be contending for a national championship anytime soon. However asking for a winning season and a conference championship three years into Giacoletti's career at Utah is a realistic and attainable goal.
Utah has a long basketball tradition that stretches back to the early 1900s. They've won a national championship, have played for 4 Final Fours, rank 11th all-time in NCAA Tournament appearances and are the 10th winningest program in college basketball history. Outside of UCLA and Arizona, the Utes have been the most consistent college basketball program in the west, however that's changed since Giacoletti took over for Majerus.
In his first season Giacoletti guided the Utes to a Sweet 16 and it looked like the Utes were returning to the path of national glory. Then in his second season the Utes took a major step back, producing their first losing season since 1989 and now the Utes are off to their worst start since the 70s. 0-3 with three losses to terrible teams, two at home, does not bode well for the future of this program under Giacoletti.
With the failure of this Utah team, are we, as fans, expecting too much out of Giacoletti? What exactly should be expected from a Utah basketball coach? In reality, I think it's far greater than this because Utah has a history of fantastic coaches. In fact, the transition between coaches has been failry smooth over the past 90 years, but that may be changing.
From Peterson on, Utah basketball has been fairly elite. Yet along with the consistency of Utah basketball has been the consistency of the coaches success. Where does Ray Giacoletti, after two seasons and three games, rank among Utah coaches? Well I looked it up and this is what I found out. Now realize Giacoletti went 29-6 in his first season, which highly skews his record.
Vadal Peterson is the only coach to start his first three years with a losing record. However he went on to become the winningest coach in Utah history and was the architect in building Utah basketball. Yet even though he struggled, there were obvious signs things were improving by year three. In fact, that's something shared by every coach on this list, outside of Ray Giacoletti so far. Here's a break down of each coach's third year with Utah.
|NCAA Regional Finals
|NCAA First Round
|NIT Final Four
Gardner, Pimm and Archibald all won the conference in their third year, while Foster finished 2nd. I doubt Ray Giacoletti will come close to sniffing the top of this conference, let alone 4th -- which is the lowest any coach has placed in their third year.
If Ray Giacoletti is going to turn things around, it begins this week. An 0-3 start for a third year coach at a program that hasn't typically lost is inexcusable. And frankly the above tables pretty much prove Giacoletti is well on his way to becoming the first coach in Utah history to have a losing season in his third year with the program. That even goes back before Peterson, when Bennion, Nordgren and Fitzpatrick were coaching.