A new coach and a new attitude greeted the Utes early Thursday morning and that seems to be exactly what this team needs.
In the first practice since Jim Boylen was named head coach, the team got a taste of what the future entails, and it wasn't exactly easy. In fact, yesterday's early morning practice stands in stark contrast to the often lethargic glorified shoot arounds that were a staple in the Giacoletti regime. Boylen had the team running, running and doing even more running -- all actions to hold them accountable for mental breakdowns during the practice. He didn't take those mistakes lightly, but he also was shocked at how poorly conditioned Utah was and said they were one of the softest teams in the nation. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the past coaching staff.
But even though the team struggled adjusting to Boylen's far more disciplined and tough routines, Coach appeared to be impressed with the talent level and felt the team would only improve as they worked more and more together. And while they need to be toughened up, it's clear Boylen feels he can win with these guys, and as he said during Tuesday's press conference announcing his hire, he'll even go to war for them.
Later on in the evening, Boylen took the entire team out to the Sky Box to meet with the fans, eat and enjoy the NIT Finals between Clemson and West Virginia.
Even though I was happy to see a far more structured practice under Boylen, the best news of the day came when Morgan Grim recommitted to the Utes. Though I never felt he would waver after Giacoletti was fired, it's good to see Boylen at least kept him on instead of losing him to another school. Coach Boylen will now leave for the Final Four, where he's expected to interview a few coaches for an assistants position with the program. It's unclear if he will retain either Marty Wilson or Chris Jones.