I agree with the Judge. What is a Ute? We face more than just 2 of them today. We got at least 5 on the docket as Cal MBB takes on the Utah Utes and, presumably, my cousin Vinny fans everywhere. Cal is still in a position to get at least a share of the Pac-12 title. They just need to win, win, win, and then, when that is done, win some more. Not an easy task. This might be the easiest game that they face as Utah, well, they are not so good. However, on the road, deep in enemy territory, who knows what might happen?
We spoke with our Utah genii, Block U to find out more. Many thanks to JazzyUte for his awesomeness in answering our questions. Check em out after the jump and GO BEARS!
1. After the harsh harsh road of Utah's season - what does the future look like? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Recruiting? Liking what you're seeing from Coach Krystowiak?
We're hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it's clear this team needs an infusion of talent. They just don't have the horses right now to win many games. Still, Utah has been in most of their Pac-12 games this season, taking some good teams down to the wire, so, I think we get the sense we're getting there...even if it's going to take a while. Because of that, you have to like what you're seeing from Coach Krystkowiak because it shows that, even, without talent, he can coach. But, as we've also learned, you need talent to win games and he'll either succeed or fail by the players he brings in .
2.What is a reasonable timeline to see Utah turn its program around?
I guess it depends what you mean by turning the program around. I think we're a few years from the NCAA Tournament, but a winning record and some type of postseason success could come in year three. I would hope, by year four, we're pushing for the NCAA tournament. I think that is a reasonable goal for a program of Utah's level, but who knows how long this rebuild will take. We essentially gutted the entire program prior to the start of the season.
3. Does anyone remember Ma Jian?
I was pretty young when he played here, so, I have some memories of him. I remember he wanted to be the first Chinese-American to play in the NBA, but I don't think that happened.
4. Who is the most beloved Utah player of recent history? KVH? Bogut? Andre Miller? Hanno Mattolla?
That's a tough one. I mean, that is a really hard question to answer. Keith Van Horn was special, and really elevated the program while he was here. Of course, the best season in school history happened a year after he left, which endears fans to him (along with Michael Doleac and Hanno. Bogut, though, was a superstar. He became the #1 draft pick, led the Utes to a Sweet Sixteen almost entirely on his own and, that same year, won the Wooden Award. They're all great, really, and helped turn the program into a regionally good team to one that, even if briefly, rocked the national scene.
5. How have you guys finished the season - is the team playing better? More competative?
I think they're playing better. You can see it by the fact they're not getting blown out like they were earlier in the season. Take the Colorado game - at the beginning of conference play, Utah lost by like a billion points in Boulder and, last weekend, actually had a chance to win this one. They led Arizona down in Tucson and probably should have won (ugh) and have been in most their games (though, they are prone to laying awful eggs - especially on the road). So, yeah, definitely improvement. But it's not large enough to ultimately show in the win column, as the Runnin' Utes are still stuck at two conference wins.
6.Who is the #1 player on offense for the Utes that Cal fans should know about?
It really depends on the night. Jason Washburn has been the best player the last two games and when he plays well, Utah can generally compete. He's big, so, that can definitely pose some match-up problems, though, the last time the Utes played Cal, he was kind of a nonfactor. Of course, Josh Watkins, who led Utah in scoring, has been kicked off the team since, opening the path to someone else stepping up.
7. Who is the #1 player on defense for the Utes that Cal fans should know about?
I might be off, but I don't know if one player really stands out as the best defensively. Utah is just so up and down defensively this season that the entire team can look solid one night and awful the next. So, it's a crapshoot.