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December 19, 2011Basketball is a game of momentum. Success does not just happen overnight.
There are bound to be growing pains when a team has only four returners and a new coaching staff. It only gets worse when you lose your starting center and defensive linchpin to injury.
Unfortunately for the 2011-2012 Runnin' Utes they have had to take their bumps and bruises (losing eight games) before they taste success. However, judging them by their last two games, head coach Larry Krystkowiak's squad might have finally found an identity.
"All of our guys I think a lot of times there was a little paralysis by analysis where they were trying to sort out where they needed to be, (and) a lot of the terminology," said Coach Krystkowiak.
After the Idaho State game it seemed that finally the players were comfortable out on the court.
"When you play hard good things happen," said Coach Krystkowiak. He then went on to explain that his players are finally starting to figure their roles.
"Jiggy" Josh Watkins has become more of a distributor. Jason Washburn has made his presence known in the lane. Javon Dawson has become an enforcer, and Kareem Storey has become a spark plug off of the bench.
Dawson struggled at the start of the year with tendinitis in his knee, but since the BYU game he has finally seemed like he's getting healthy and in shape. His effort has gotten rave reviews as of late with Washburn and Coach Krystkowiak.
"He came in scrapped and got us some extra possessions, set some great screens, and then low and behold he ends up scoring two buckets for us at a crucial time (against Idaho State)," said Coach Krystkowiak.
The most interesting development to watch over the next few games will be the shooting of junior shooting guard Cedric Martin. After struggling with his shot most of the year Martin, who might have the smoothest jumper at Utah since Nick Jacobson, finally seems to have worked his way out of an early season slump. The Utes have severely lack an outside threat.
While the team has finally started to gel due to more and more game experience, they believe that the biggest key to the rest of the season will be the fans in the stands.
"The crowd gets loud and I try to match their intensity. I try to match the energy man, I love hearing the Huntsman Center like that. They deserve this as much as we do and man I love hearing the Huntsman Center like that," said Washburn.
Martin agreed with Washburn while hinting that his newfound confidence has come from the re-energized Huntsman Center crowd.
"It makes you wanna play defense more. It makes you wanna fight just more and more and more," said Martin.
Coach Krystkowiak is looking forward to catching a few extra Z's at night now thanks to the renewed energy of the fans as well as his team after a trying eight game stretch.
"I'm gonna get a little sleep and feel good about what we accomplished. It's a situation where the old saying in the NBA is you're never as good as you think you are. On the other side, you're never as bad as you think you are. I would like to believe some of those dismal performances early we were a better team that we played (as) at the time," he said.
"I'm really happy for our guys and I am happy for the people that support our team."
Dean Is About The Team
By now, most Ute fans know about the scary moment last week when sophomore Glen Dean (who is redshirting) had emergency brain surgery after suffering severe headaches and blurry vision.
Initial indications are that the surgery went well and Dean is eager to rejoin his team when he is cleared to do so by his doctors. The team has made it a point to visit Dean (who they describe as a team leader) as much as possible.
Coach Krystkowiak came to see him immediately after his surgery.
"The first thing he said (was), 'Coach how was practice?' He wants to be a part of this and get it turned around and I thought it was really interesting when all the focus should have been on him he was wondering how we were doing," said Coach Krystkowiak.