College basketball • Competition fierce as players battle for starting minutes.
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Glen Dean isn't one for hyperbole. In fact, as Utah's starting point guard, the junior from Seattle is one of the more soft-spoken Utes on Larry Krystkowiak's roster.
His declaration, as a result, should be taken seriously. The goal for Utah is to get to the postseason. NCAA Tournament, NIT, CIT, it doesn't matter. Dean's just tired of the losing and his program being a constant punchline.
"We have the talent to be successful this season," Dean said. "Of course, our first goal is the NCAA Tournament. But we want to be playing in the postseason. That's the ultimate goal."
The Utes have had just four official practices, but there's a different feel around the program. Players speak openly of a dramatic turnaround following last season's 6-25 record. The confidence is high, despite Utah having yet to play a regular-season game.
It's spilling into the workouts. Practices have been lively and competitive. On Monday afternoon, different teams won intrasquad scrimmages, with the losers running laps.
The battle for minutes promises to be fiercely contested.
"We feel like we have two guys who can play minutes at every position," Krystkowiak said. "We definitely didn't have that last season. It's all about trying to figure out who plays best with who at this point. Some guys mesh better when they're on the floor with other guys."
A quick change
Through the first few days of practice, Jarred DuBois has played extensively at point guard, as opposed to his time at Loyola Marymount, where he played shooting guard.
It's a sign of the versatility DuBois brings to Utah. Even if he doesn't start initially, he figures to see major minutes backing up Dean.
"When we got him here, we knew he was more of a combination guard," Krystkowiak said. "He adds a lot of value to this team with what we can do. He's definitely going to help us."
An interesting combination
Three freshmen Jordan Loveridge, Dakari Tucker and Justin Seymour spent extensive time with the first team in Monday's practice. Seymour, out of Georgia, stood out. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard made shots from all over the floor, including four consecutive 3-pointers.
"I'm trying not to get dreamy," Krystkowiak said. "I'm pretty excited about the freshmen. They've been doing a good job, and they haven't hit a wall yet."
Utah will take Tuesday off and will resume practice Wednesday.