Utes' youth proves to be downfall in Myrtle Beach
Make no doubt about it, Utah's showing at the Myrtle Beach Invitational wasn't the what the Utes were looking for.
After starting the season 3-0, the Utes fell to 4-2 on the season after a dismal showing in a tournament the Utes figured they'd do well in.
“It’s not easy; only one out of eight teams can win it,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak prior to the tournament. “Things have to line up pretty well for you to win a tournament, and we’ll see what we’re made of.”
Based on that pre-tournament assumption, it suffices to say that Krystowiak isn't exactly thrilled with the showing by the Utes, especially considering all three of Utah's opponents were non-Power 5 teams.
They opened up the tournament with a 79-57 loss to Coastal Carolina on Thursday, rebounded with an 80-66 win over Ohio on Friday before losing 65-61 to Tulane on Sunday.
"You can try to find these big-picture elements, but to me, at the end of the day, it's about being a little bit crisper on the next possession, to not put yourself in a position where another team's going to go on a run to finish a game like that," Krystkowiak said following the loss to Tulane. "There's a lot of chicken we left on the bone, I thought, at different spots."
Sophomore Timmy Allen was a bright spot offensively, leading the Utes in scoring in each game after averaging 16 points per game.
Despite the losing record, Krystkowiak believes there are positives and negatives to take away from the tournament.
Among the negatives is Utah's defense, which has lacked focus and physicality at points that cost the Utes in both losses. But the positives are also good, as Krystokowiak really likes the way his team bounced back following the loss to Coastal Carolina, believing that sort of bounce back will pay dividends later in the season.
"It was ugly last night. ... We broke down the film and we were deficient in a lot of different areas," Krystkowiak ssaid after the win over Ohio. "I thought we bounced back really well. We came out with a great focus, we played hard and we shared the basketball. It was good to get a win. It’s a tough environment and I was proud of our guys."
The tournament wasn't all about the games though, as the team had numerous bonding moments, considered huge growth pieces for a team with just two upperclassmen.
Utah now returns home for a game Friday night against UC Davis. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from the Jon M. Huntsman Center.