Too early 2023-24 Ute men post mortem

Everything pretty much fell into place in terms of personnel. The players have had strong individual seasons. Devion Smith has had a breakout year. Keita too. Lucky to have Brandon Carlson back one more year. Injuries have occurred, but the replacements have been better players.

The biggest failures have been on the road and one loss at home vs ASU. But that’s killer.

I don’t get why they could not get over the hump with this team. Need more quickness?

I don’t think Utah State is a fair comparison. It’s played a much easier schedule. But BYU has had a better season with less talent and maybe a harder schedule. A bunch of LDS hayseeds nobody wanted.

Most these players have at least a year of eligibility left. Maybe next year.

The team seems to play hard and Smith is trying hard. Hasn’t checked out like Krystkowiak. He may just need more time.

I think the road losses were always demoralizing. Kind of puzzling after they had some quality wins preseason on the road and on neutral court.

Then the triple overtime loss to Arizona may have broken them. They coulda/shoulda won that game. 46% from the line.

The Utes seem to have some mental problems. However, college basketball is so competitive. It’s hard to be a college basketball coach.

Notwithstanding one and done, I think with more population and foreigners it’s become more competitive and probably better.

Utah has a lot of built in disadvantages too. Isolated. Low population. BYU competing for recruits. Bad reputation as a place that’s enjoyable for or hospitable to Blacks.

In basketball, it seems rare that Utah and BYU have thrived at the same time. Zero sum competition? Smith needs to turn that tide.

This just goes to show you, it can take a while to build something meaningful. Sometimes more than three seasons. There are a lot of examples. The most immediate, Washington State’s coach.

Those who have been quick to ■■■■■ about Whit and call for his head should bear in mind that it’s easier to wreck something meaningful than build it.

Smith needs more time.

Watching the two games last night, the biggest thing that jumps out when thinking about our team is the athleticism and length the other schools have.

BC is highly skilled, the program leader in blocks, but just not a force on the block. Four inches shorter, Keba is the natural 5. (If he was 4 inches taller, he’d be talked about as a lotto pick, like his countryman Ballo.) I like how Lovering has come along. He’s not an athlete and he’s kind of a klutz, but the dude is 7-1 with a good frame.

Gabe has all kinds of skill and a ton of moxie, but when the dial gets turned up in conference, he’s not a primary creator. Same for Bajema, same for Ben C, same for Erickson, etc. Rollie can create and he’s great at running the offense, but against elite athleticism he plays more like 6-1 than 6-4.

Ideally, within a year or two, we’re a team that has a mixture of explosiveness and skill. That might get us to middle of the pack status.

If Exacte was available I think that would have gone a long way to playing the game at a higher level of athleticism, and he and Deivon could have set things up nicely for the bombers. But that’s two guys. UA has four really good guards.

LK lost some recruiting battles, kind of lost the team and ran out of gas. I agree Smith still seems to have some headroom… but we need a serious infusion of talent, especially next year.


He needs to pick up his recruiting. Getting the best player in Utah is not going to get it done.
In the portal he recruited Bajema who never started at UW & Hunter who could not make the rotation at BYU.
Aim higher & get your assistants out working the portals—find people who were at lower levels & could move up—not the leavings of other programs.
Not sure he is tough enough to run off players like Tarlac—who are just not good enough.?


I think this is a problem. Smith is the only player who seems able consistently to “out-athlete” the opposition. Keba has shown that ability too, and I think he will do so more often after a little more polish.

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If we can hang on to him. :grimacing:

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I was thinking the same thing. Surely by now other teams’ coaches have noticed him.