The revival that Larry Krystkowiak has done with the Utah men's basketball team within the last couple of years is rather remarkable. The 2013-14 season appears to be a major stepping stone back to national relevance.
First off, Utah has reclaimed the state of Utah as its own. The Runnin' Utes have won a majority of the high profile recruits, including Jordan Loverage, Parker Van Dyke, and Brekkott Chapman. They have also won the state back on the floor as well, with a dominating victory over BYU at the Huntsman Center this past season.
Utah, this past season, put the Pac-12 on notice that they are on the verge of being a major player. The Utes took Arizona to the wire twice, and had many chances to beat them. Utah got their signature conference win by beating #25 ranked UCLA at the Huntsman Center. As Steven mentioned in his 2014 expectations article, Utah was only a couple of games out of being a top three team in the Pac-12 this past season.
Going into this next season, Utah appears to be ready to continue its ascent up the conference standings. With the changes and turmoil that fellow conference members Oregon, UCLA, ASU, Oregon State, Cal, and Washington have had this off season, Utah should challenge Arizona as the premier team in the Pac-12 conference.
While the Utes have had some departures with Ahmad Fields, Princeton Onwas, and Marco Kovacevic leaving the program, and Parker Van Dyke leaving on his LDS mission, the talent that is coming in should easily make up for the talent leaving. The good news is Van Dyke, a sharp shooting guard, will be back.
Incoming freshmen Brekkott Chapman, Kyle Kuzma, Isaiah Wright, Jakob Poeltl and incoming transfer Chris Reyes should bolster a Utah lineup that was offensively challenged at times this past season. Chapman and Kuzma give major length and scoring upgrades on the wings, Wright may be that true point guard Utah needs, and Reyes may bring some nasty to the low post.
All of that, and so much more, is discussed in today's edition of the U Fan Cast. Overall, there is a lot to be excited for when it comes to Utah Runnin' Utes basketball.