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Next week's exhibition game against St. Martin's can't come fast enough for the Utah men's basketball team.
It represents the opportunity to play against someone else for the first time since last March. These are truly the dog days for the Utes. The novelty of practice has long ago worn off. There are nagging injuries to deal with. Simply, Utah's players are becoming weary of seeing their own uniforms each and every day.
In short, a change is needed.
"We're all a little tired of beating up on each other in practice all the time," sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge said. "We're all kind of looking forward to the season starting for real. We want to see someone else."
On Wednesday, the public will see Utah for the first time at the Huntsman Center. The annual Night with the Runnin' Utes begins at 7 p.m. and will conclude with an intrasquad scrimmage. But the regular schedule doesn't begin for another nine days.
The boredom has hit the coaching staff as well. In watching film, Larry Krystkowiak has began to find grading a little difficult. If the offense has a good day in a practice, Krystkowiak's upset with the defense, and vice versa.
Once Utah starts playing against actual opponents, weeding out weaknesses on both sides of the ball becomes easier.
"We're trying to make it a little more interesting," Krystkowiak said. "We're not running as many plays anymore in practice. There's a lot less communicating from the coaches to the players about plays. Guys are starting to communicate with themselves and that's a good thing."
No decision yet
Krystkowiak said the playing rotation is still in a little bit of flux. He has an idea of who will play and who won't. For instance, he says people like Loveridge and junior guard Delon Wright will be tough to keep off the floor.
It seems those two, along with senior forward Renan Lenz and sophomore guard Brandon Taylor will figure prominently into the rotation. The one battle spot appears to be at small forward, with sophomore Dakarai Tucker and junior Princeton Onwas.
"It's more than putting your best five guys out there," Krystkowiak said. "We want to try to find the five guys who play the best together."
Back at it
Junior center Dallin Bachynski has returned to practice, having recovered from the sprained ankle that has sidelined him for the past few weeks.
The 7-footer looked lively at Monday's workout, showing lift off the ground and running the floor with ease. Krystkowiak said he's looking forward to sitting down with Bachynski and outlining what he would like the center's role to be this season.
"We need him to be kind of a junkyard dog," Krystkowiak said. "We don't need him to score as much. We want him to bring energy and to grab every rebound and to protect the rim on defense."
Night with the Runnin' Utes
O Wednesday, 7 p.m.