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SL Trib columnist Kragthorpe embraces downfall of Utah basketball

I mean, why else would he write this?

In today's Salt Lake Tribune, Kurt Kragthorpe lets his readers know Utah should stick with Giacoletti for at least another year to see if he can regain that winning tradition. Fair enough, I guess, but has he even been paying attention to the past two years of Giac Ball? I'm thinking he hasn't, or he's part of some diabolical plot to bring down the Utah hoops program through influential Pro-Giac articles that actually do have an impact on Chris Hill's decision.

Kragthorpe tries to back up his claim with shoddy journalism and enough logic to probably fill a thumbtack. But what's worse is his inability to realize Giacoletti has taken a step back this season and if he continues at this rate, maybe he'll have the Utes winless in '08.

So what's he say that's so wrong? Well, let's take a look.

Saying it is premature to discuss Giacoletti's future would be naive, in this climate of college athletics. Yet firing him after his third season, with four years remaining on his contract, would be too soon and too harsh of a response to what's happening at the moment.

Why would it be too soon? It's said right there in the article that Giacoletti is in his third year at Utah and currently Giacoletti has posted the worst third year record of any coach in modern Utah history. It doesn't take over three years to build a team and Utah should have improved this season over last, or at least shown signs of improvement as this season has progressed. Except none of that has happened and Utah continues to regress so far back, that they're now equaling records that are over 50 years old. Just because Giacoletti has a few years left on his contract does not mean Utah should sit idly by and watch him pillage this program of all its history and talent.

While this season is a mess, the program is not ruined. There's enough young talent to suggest the Utes will improve steadily in the next two years, as long as they can keep from being overwhelmed by the current troubles.

I actually agree with Kragthorpe here, except staying with the status quo will do nothing to benefit the current talent. Giacoletti has proven he can't coach defense and his players, while showing signs of brilliance at times, have all struggled this season. I think most Utah fans knew the football team had talent in '02, when they limped to a 5-6 record. It took a new coach, someone that could win, to come in and guide that talent to a 10-2 and 12-0 record in consecutive seasons. Just because Utah appears to have talent does not mean Giacoletti is capable of coaching them and based on this year, it would seem that's the case currently.

Undoubtedly, Giacoletti will have to show significant progress next season to keep his job. And finishing last in the Mountain West Conference, just for the sake of leaving more room for improvement, is not part of my solution.

This is why Utah needs to act at the end of the season, instead of waiting another year. In my mind it's prolonging the inevitable because the Utes are certainly building a bad foundation for their worst season in program history. If Giacoletti were to have any chance of saving his job, he would need to get to the NCAA Tournament and let's face it, that's just not going to happen. Anything less than that, on the heels of this miserable season, probably won't cut it, especially when you realize Giacoletti would be in his fourth year as Utah's head coach.

That's not going to happen. So let's lower the standards a little bit here. The Utes are 5-12 with six straight losses, including four to open league play, so the No. 1 goal is to top their lowest win total (eight) of the past 34 seasons.

Wait, is Kragthorpe actually using this goal of winning 8 or more games as proof that Giacoletti should stay? What in the hell is wrong with this picture? Surely Giacoletti has proven his ineptitude by getting Utah to this low point. I understand expectations are low, but that's because the head coach has lowered them. If the number one goal of this team is to get to 8 or more wins, well then it just proves how badly we need a change.

And for all the blessings that came with Andrew Bogut, Giacoletti inherited some problems. There's a reason Giacoletti received a seven-year deal, almost unheard of for a newly arriving coach. NCAA sanctions cost the Utes a scholarship and Majerus' last recruiting effort yielded Jake Schmidt and Jermaine Calvin. Who? Exactly.
    And then Giacoletti lost two players now thriving at other schools, Justin Hawkins (New Mexico State) and Richard Chaney (Troy). I view those defections as tough breaks for Giacoletti, as opposed to problems he created.
    Regardless of whose fault it is, it's all becoming quite a fight for Giacoletti, trying to re-establish Utah's program. Certainly, nobody figured that evoking memories of the 1972-73 Utes would be this season's tribute to the school's tradition.
 

I'll admit Majerus didn't leave Utah at the top of his game and that there was a shortage of talent once we got beyond Giacoletti's first year. However I have no doubt Majerus could step in right now and coach this team to around 20-wins. Most of Utah's problems, poor defense and close losses, are because of Giacoletti's coaching and it doesn't take much to realize this.

Whether Hawkins and Chaney's leaving is Giacoletti's fault or not doesn't really matter, because Utah should have at least replaced them by now. This is year two since both bolted the program and Utah is even worse now than they were last year. They're losing games they shouldn't lose (Kragthorpe can't even admit Southern Utah, Santa Clara, Colorado, Rhode Island, Albany and TCU have more talent than Utah) and they're losing games in a fashion that shows poor coaching. Allowing Giacoletti another year most likely means another season of coaching mistakes and bad losses. Maybe Kragthorpe can endure such pain, but I'm guessing most Utah fans can't and in the end won't.