This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
You may have noticed: Dallin Bachynski has a gap in his row of pearly whites.
For all the bumps the Utah senior center has taken in actual games during his career, he lost one of his two front teeth in practice. He was going for a rebound against freshman Jakob Poeltl in a summer session, when the back of Poeltl's head accidentally knocked into Bachynski's mouth.
That hasn't kept the grin off Bachynski's face this year, however.
"I'm a true Canuck now," he said. "It looks great, of course. Just smile big and deal with it, really."
The 23-year-old isn't afraid to show how much he's enjoying himself as the No. 10 Runnin' Utes (9-2) surge this year. While the Calgary native has ceded his starting role and a chunk of his minutes to Poeltl - in addition to his tooth - you won't hear him complain.
After Utah topped South Dakota State 80-66 last week, a reporter asked Larry Krystkowiak how Bachynski had responded to being overtaken in the starting rotation by a first-year player.
He responded with his own question: "Does he look disenchanted to you?"
Bachynski is one of Utah's most physical players, though his numbers (3.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg) are down from last season. His presence in the paint, along with Poeltl's, has helped Utah hold opponents to only 37.2 percent shooting on two-point attempts, the sixth-best figure in the nation. He's experienced a recent uptick in minutes, as well, as Poeltl has lately struggled with fouls.
He's also noticeably encouraging in huddles during timeouts, helping rally comebacks against Wichita State, BYU and UNLV. If Delon Wright is the leader by example, Bachynski is the voice.
"He seems like he's great," Krystkowiak said of Bachynski's attitude. "I think that's part of the evolution of Dallin. I'm not sure you could say that if this was a couple years ago. But now he's all about the team."
It could've turned out much, much differently. Bachynski was a post-mission transfer as a sophomore, but in his first year with the Utes, he got upset over dwindling playing time. After a batch of ugly games, he took an indefinite leave of absence from the program in January of 2013, but it lasted only 24 hours.
He reset his expectations, and told the Tribune back then a couple conversations with his brother, then-ASU star Jordan Bachynski, helped. Since he returned, Utah's coaches have a hard time picking bones with his effort.
"He's an easy guy to cheer for," Krystkowiak said. "He's engaged in practices. He's trying to do the right thing all the time. He brings a lot of energy. He's doing what we knew he could do."
For his own part, Bachynski said he's a little frustrated, but only with himself. He thinks he can do more with his 12.3 minutes per game: rebound better, shoot free throws more efficiently, set better screens. He wants to keep his standards high.
That goes for the rest of the team, too, he said. And that's why he can't say anything bad about the season or his reduced role so far.
He can only smile.
"If I'm playing, or Jakob's playing, the win is what matters," he said. "I want my senior year to be memorable. I know for a fact it will be memorable because of the guys we have, what kind of people they are, and the joy I have every day in practice and after practice."
Added Bachynski: "On the floor, if we can do something special this year, all the more to us."
Carroll College (Mont.) at No. 10 Utah
O At the Huntsman Center
Tipoff • 7:30 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network
Radio • ESPN 700 AM
Records • CC (11-2); Utah (9-2)
Series history • First meeting
About the Saints • Carroll won nine games all of last season but has surpassed that mark in coach Carson Cunningham's second year. … Sophomore guard Zach Taylor is averaging a team-leading 18.9 points per game. … The Saints average 8.2 steals per game.
About the Utes• Utah is No. 6 nationally at defending 2-point shots, allowing only 37.2 percent shooting inside the arc. … In the last seven games, Delon Wright is averaging 19 ppg while shooting 60 percent from the floor. … Guard Brandon Taylor ranks No. 10 in school history in both 3-pointers made (115) and career 3-point percentage (39.5 percent).
Utes crack AP top 10
For the first time in 15 years, Utah basketball is ranked in the AP top 10.
The Runnin' Utes (9-2) played only one game last week, a win over South Dakota State, but survived the holiday ambush that befell many of the other nation's elite. With Texas, Kansas and Washington among those who dropped, Utah ascended to No. 10.
It's the first time Utah has been in the top 10 since the end of the 1998-99 season, when the Utes finished the year at No. 6 after a 28-5 record and reaching the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.