It just keeps getting worse for the Utah men's basketball program.
Speaking on his weekly radio show on Monday night, head coach Larry Krystkowiak said he and multiple of his players have recently tested positive for COVID-19.
During his interview, Krystkowiak said that there were two households primarily infected, and that the “lion’s share” of those players became infected. Five players were living in one house and three in another he told program host Bill Riley.
Also in the interview, Kyrystkowiak said that multiple players had returned for a workout conducted today. With Utah's season opener against Washington now 10 days away, Krystkowiak is hoping to return to the team later this week.
“We still have a few guys that haven’t got it, but I think we are certainly past the darkest days,” he said. “We just need to keep some optimism here with the vaccine and some of the positive news. That’s all we can control right now.”
This is the second string of bad news that has hit the Utes today because a few hours prior to Krystkowiak's interview with Riley, the program announced that it was canceling Friday's season opener against the University of New Orleans at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
According to reports that surfaced last Friday by CBS Sports Matt Norlander, the Utes program was forced to shutdown for the "foreseeable future" as the program continues to be ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After taking the weekend off to continue testing and assess the program's health, the team was able to return for a workout today. Their focus is now on getting healthy and prepared for their conference opener.
“And then we are going to have to play ourselves into shape,” he said. “Let’s have a few scrimmages and get out and have some fun and focus on playing hard and smart, and playing together.”
This news comes on the heels of athletic director Mark Harlan stating the previous Friday (Nov. 13) that the program would be pausing all team-related activities as the first positive tests surfaced.
“Yeah, effective this morning. We got some positives on their daily antigen test,” Harlan said on Nov. 13. “We’ll have to confirm those with some PCR tests. But we have paused until we have a better understanding of that. They’re not confirmed tests yet. It’s fair to say it’s a handful.”
According to an email sent out by the Utah program, the decision to not play against New Orleans was made "was made to keep the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches and support staff at the forefront for both teams."
Utah will now open the season against Washington, who was picked to finish in ninth place, one spot behind the Utes in the Pac-12 preseason rankings. Tipoff time is TBD but it will be taking place at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The Ute, were originally set to begin the season at the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic but they pulled out due to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging South Dakota.
The Pac-12 released its preseason rankings last Thursday and Utah was picked to finish in eighth place, the same spot they finished in last year.
Junior forward Timmy Allen was the lone Ute to be represented on the preseason all-Pac-12 teams, being chosen to the first team. He was named to the all-Pac-12 second team last year after averaging 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
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