A college basketball season is a long, winding road of different matchups, contrasting styles and sometimes unfavorable scheduling conditions. Indeed, the most successful teams are the ones who can navigate with aplomb.
This is a big reason that the month of November is one for experimenting. And coach Larry Krystkowiak is currently playing the mad scientist with his Utah Utes.
The Utes split the first two games of the season, and their next four will feature three days of Thanksgiving tournament basketball, starting with Wednesday night's matchup against Idaho State at the Huntsman Center.
Krystkowiak fully expects the legs to be weary by Saturday night. Call it an ongoing test over the next 72 hours. It's one Krystkowiak hopes his team will easily pass.
"We set this up intentionally," Krystkowiak said. "We wanted to give our guys differing styles, and we want to simulate what things could be like later in the season in a tournament format. A lot of teams do this early in the season. This is out way of challenging our guys."
Over three games, the Utes expect to play against three different types of teams. There's Idaho State, the school from Pocatello that is expected to play a patient style of hoops. The Bengals want teams to defend for 35 seconds on each possession. Friday night features Wright State, the athletic team that will look to push the ball in transition whenever possible. The shot clock won't be much of a factor in that matchup. Lastly, there's Central Michigan, a hybrid of the first two schools.
For Utah, each team presents a different challenge. After a disappointing loss last Friday to Sacramento State, it isn't a stretch to think these three games will prove important to the overall mental health of the Utes.
"We want to come out and play well through the start," senior center Jason Washburn said. "We think playing in a nonconference tournament like this can help us down the road when games come one after the other. The better we play now, the more we think it will benefit us later in the season."
Idaho State at Utah
P At the Huntsman Center
Tipoff • Wednesday,7 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network
Radio • 700 AM
Series history • Utah leads 23-4
Last meeting • Utah 71, Idaho State 59 (Dec. 16, 2011)
About the Bengals • Idaho State is looking for its first win of the season. … The Bengals are led by Melvin Morgan, who is averaging 14 points per game. … Tomas Sanchez is the main playmaker for ISU, dishing out 4.5 assists per game. … Utah is the second in-state team Idaho State will play this season.
About the Utes • Jason Washburn has scored 700 points in 92 career games. … Aaron Dotson is listed as doubtful for the tournament with a stress fracture in his foot. … Utah is coming off a loss to Sacramento State. … Glen Dean and Jarred DuBois average a team-best 13 points per game.