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Utah basketball is like that drunk guy trying to walk home

A lot of stumbling, falling and in the end, you just hope he makes it out all right. 

Right now, I don't know what to make of the basketball program, Jim Boylen, or its future. What I've seen this season is what I see every time I go out drinking with friends - a lot of steps, but not many leading in one direction. It's safe to say this season wasn't an utter disaster and because of that, the situation we are in is muddled. 

Had the bottom fallen out on the Utes this season, we would at least have an idea where the program stood. But that wasn't the case. No, the program hasn't collapsed and Boylen, whether it pans out or not, has done enough over the span of three seasons to give us at least some hope the ship will turn itself around before it slams into an iceberg (I'm using a lot of metaphors tonight!). 

I hope Wednesday's performance against the Cougars proves to be the bottom. You know, a moment similar to the UNLV game for Kyle Whittingham & his staff back in 2007. God knows the team can't sink that much lower before everyone jumps ship and we actually do plow into that iceberg. Right now, though, things aren't at its darkest. 

Or I hope, anyway. 

What we do know is that this team has not improved much from where it was back in November. Sure enough, this season started out with some jilting losses. When you open the year with a loss, at home, to Idaho, you know there are problems. Fortunately, (at the time, at least) there appeared to be a glimmer of hope that, as the season progressed, things would improve.

Take Utah's stunning 60-58 win over Illinois. The Illini were ranked 20th at the time and the Utes entered that game at 2-2. It was an amazing comeback in the second half that culminated with the best finish of the year. Things looked right. Sure, Idaho and Seattle proved too much for this young Ute team - but they had just knocked off a good Illinois squad. A team that, at the moment of this post, is above .500 in the very solid Big Ten. 

They followed that win up by winning only two of their next seven. One of those losses came at home against Illinois State.

Like the drunk, the team stumbled around, got turned around and when it looked like they were finally heading down the right street - they fell flat on their face, forcing them to start all over again.

And they did. 

After that stretch of only two wins in seven tries, the Utes ran off a string of three straight. They went on the road in SEC country and beat LSU. They opened conference play 1-0 after drilling TCU. Hell, they started 2010 undefeated. Then they beat UNLV! On the road! Again, the drunk looks like he's collected himself just enough to manage. 

But like before, they would win only two of their next seven. 

Different verse, same as the first...

That has been the season. That has been the last five years. Each success story seems to be overshadowed by an uglier and darker failure. Beating UNLV and then losing to San Diego State at home. Running off two straight conference wins and then laying one of the biggest eggs in the BYU-Utah rivalry history. 

It's easy to forget the good when you're faced with so much bad. And right now, that is exactly what faces this program. They're not good. They haven't been good at all this season. Each time we think they might have turned a corner, they fall flat on their faces and we wonder if they'll ever make it home. 

Well there are only two guaranteed games left in the 2010 season. Both will be played away from Salt Lake (where the Utes have lost 8 this season, as if it matters). It's unlikely the Utes can climb above .500. It's more likely they finish at .500 in Mountain West play with a win over CSU Saturday. 

That's what we should be shooting for, I guess. Finish at .500 to avoid a losing conference season, which would be the fourth in five seasons. 

Ultimately, though, like the drunk, in the end you might get home - but you'll have embarrassed yourself greatly along the way and probably lost your dignity. 

Utah basketball has embarrassed itself a lot this year. As for dignity? Well it's hard to find any of that in a 20-point loss at home to your bitter rival.