What makes Utah mbb "back" to you?

It’s always good beating BYU in anything, but especially to end yet another losing streak in hoops. I saw some not-serious comments from fans saying Utah basketball is “back.”

What would show you that Ute hoops is back? Here’s what I think:

  1. Regarding BYU, beating them in SLC is a given. When Ute mbb is where we should be, it’s about HOW MUCH we win at the Hunty, not IF we win. As for down in Provo, we should be getting our share down there, too.

  2. Making and winning in the NCAA tournament is expected and common. So, for me, we won’t be “back” if we simply make the field this year. I’ll know we’re “back” once we’ve made the tournament a couple years in a row.

  3. Great prospects for the future. Recruiting of Portal and non-Portal talent will hit a stride where we’re confident the program will reload — particularly (or especially) after a good year.

This third point is important to bringing larger crowds back to the Hunty. One-off rivalry wins are nice (sure beats losing!!) but fans are more willing to invest time and money into a winning program, not just a winning team.

I agree with all of this.

Good points. I’m more optimistic than I’ve been in a while, and it seem like we might now be on track to someday be back. I hope this team has the depth to get through the conference schedule, and make the tourney this year. It has been too long since we have complained about a crappy seed.

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Need more fans AND STUDENTS in the seats. A very fun time on Saturday (and the humbled silence of the boisterous Cougar fans in the upper bowl at the end was very gratifying). Obviously not going to get that kind of support every single game, but would be nice to see a few 100 students on a regular basis and most of the seats below the concourse occupied.


First of all, I totally agree.

Second, getting more students to the game needs to be a higher priority and is different animal than getting non-student fans to the games.

At a school of 30k students, surely the admins and MUSS can figure out how to get 1 or 2 thousand to go to the games regularly.

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I feel like I just need to enjoy this year and not think about next year. We’re a senior heavy team and lose like 90 percent of our production this year. Next year could be rough again. When we’re young and good – you’ll know we’re back on track long term.

When parents take their kids to the game, then out for a piece of pie after a nice win…on a school night.

Because that’s the rule - pie with ice cream after a win.


It takes several years of rosyer building through recruiting to build a winning program. Not even Majerus made the NCAA tournament every season

I’m waiting till Craig Smith lights a handful of Sweetgrass and wafts the smoke in the Huntsman center to exorcise the demons and bad energy.


Well, Majerus was pretty close to making it every year. The only years his teams didn’t were 1991–92 and 1993–94. In '91–'92, Josh Grant missed most of the season with an injury, as did Craig Rydalch. In '93–'94, the Utes suffered heavy losses due to graduation from the '92–‘93 team. It was easily Majerus’ worst year at Utah (14-14). Fortunately, the Utes had a freshman named Keith Van Horn who would help turn things around.

Utah also missed the tournament in 2000–2001, but Majerus coached just one single game that year, so I’m not going to count that. In fact, a Majerus-coached Utah team only suffered one first-round loss in the tournament, 2002 to eventual runner-up Indiana. Utah actually got drilled in that game by 21 despite seven three-pointers from Phil Cullen.


I hope the program makes it “back.” A couple of Larry K’s teams almost got there, and maybe they were, but it was just so brief. The 2014–15 and 2015–16 squads were really good. Unfortunately, those teams lost a couple of games they shouldn’t have and couldn’t beat Oregon or Arizona. But Delon Wright, Jakob Poetl, Jordan Loveridge, Brandon Taylor, and Kyle Kuzma brought some excitement back.

In the glory days under Majerus, Utah rarely lost at home, and that’s an advantage I’d love to see again. In fact, Majerus never lost back-to-back home games at Utah. it was almost shocking when they lost at home. His teams largely won with defense and rebounding. Even his best teams (96–99) were often pretty ordinary offensively, at least as far as the scoreboard was concerned. But they were so good defensively. I believe in his time at Utah, Majerus’ Utes only allowed an opponent to hit the century mark once. And that was against Kentucky in the Elite 8 in 1996. You know, that amazing Kentucky team that may be a top-five team of all time. They had like 10 future NBA players and beat Utah 101-70, and that was a really good Ute team.


Can’t refute that one

So, here’s the question, is it time for us to stop using Majerus as a measuring stick?

There’s almost nothing the same now as when he coached. The game has changed. Recruiting has changed. The NBA eligibility rules have changed.

We’re talking 25 years now since Rick’s pinnacle. I think it’s time to stop comparing, because quite frankly we have no idea if the Rick of 1998 could do that in 2023


Especially since his teams played way weaker schedules back then. It’s simply a product of the situation. I mean, Utah is going to be joining an extremely difficult basketball league next year. The Big 12 next year will have all the following teams in it:

West Virginia
Oklahoma State

All of those are good to great basketball programs. The days of Utah being the dominant program in their league and winning championships every single year are over. That’s a freaking difficult league to manage. There are going to be more losses and likely fewer NCAA Tournament appearances, solely based upon the fact that their competition is much better, leading to more losses and not as good records. When your record isn’t as good, you’re not going to get at large berths, even though they will have more opportunities for better wins, which help your resume. So, in a year when they have a really good team (like this year) they’re likely going to get better seeds. But when they don’t, they’re going to struggle. Will Utah be able to compete with those teams? Yes probably. But dominate them like they did in yesteryear? I highly doubt it. It’s just not realistic



The game has changed… a LOT. We’ve been through 3 coaches, either trying to re-kindle the magic, or just letting go of hoops as the primary sport where success was the primary identifier for being a Ute fan.

We’ve gone away… and then we came back last Saturday, and it was kind of nice coming home. Yeah, the team won, that was nice. Against our historic rival. But it wasn’t over the top on the rivalry chest pounding. Which was also nice.

There isn’t the long term build watch anymore, like spotting an 18 year old Andre Miller in the crowd during his Prop-48 year and projecting how he’ll add to the team, how he’ll compliment the other pieces.

With the transfer rules, it’s more like getting a present for Christmas and really not knowing what you got. So, enjoy it. And starting next year, there’s a kick in the butt motivation to not be that team that doesn’t support their team through thick and thin, a little bit of positive peer pressure.

Just go watch the team, watch them develop over the course of a season, see who is representing our school and give them a lot of support. Because our role makes a serious difference.

Rocky Long told the UNM FB community when he left to go to San Diego: “If you want a FB team, you gotta support it”.

It’s not that dire for us and hoops, but we’re a big part of the pie. We need to be that “home” the players look forward to coming back to.

Go Utes!


Well said. We’re still in the “baby steps” phase but I have confidence in Craig Smith. I’ve heard several basketball minds say that when you’re rebuilding a program that has sunk low, the new coach should have three years to show a real change in direction. Smith is in his third year, and things are looking right on schedule, with steady improvement in all the areas you list. He just needs to keep going.


I think that’s a totally fair question. And I’d largely agree that comparing to Majerus isn’t productive. I think that’s honestly the reason I posted this question. What is “back”? What is success today? What is UofU basketball’s ceiling and floor in the transfer/NIL era? In an era where we’re a P5 (or, at least not a G5)? What kind of success should we expect? I think it’s better than what we’ve seen since 2017.

While the Majerus years may have been outliers of success, I REALLY hope our recent 7 year stretch of not even making the NCAA tournament — is an outlier of dearth. I pray that this isn’t the new normal.

I really believe we can expect better than we’ve seen lately.

I think Utah’s potential should be looked at in 5-year cycles. In five years, I think we should be able to make the NCAA tournament 3 times, advancing past the first weekend in one of those. Of the other two years in the 5, I think it’s okay to have one be NIT and another a post-season whiff.

Maybe that’s still a bit aspirational. I’m not sure how our history lines up with that, or if it even matters given the Portal/NIL change of the landscape. But I think that’s a fair target for our program.

If we put that kind of run together a couple times per decade, I’d have no issues.

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When we recruit players who are potential NBA players. Our best player is an LK recruit. CS hasnt recruited anyone comparable even to LK’s last years, much less Poetl Kuzma or Wright (except maybe Keiba, depending on how much he develops). Until that changes, we wont be back. When that changes, everying else will follow.

P.s. Pelle scored 21 for Arizona on Saturday.


With all the pro options and developmental leagues out there now, we are seeing a flattening of the competition in MBB. One and done also doesn’t help. Something tells me if coach can recruit enough of a team that will fight together against the competition, they may find success.

I agree, the days of blue blood basketball are likely a thing of the past. That said, having March Madness turn into complete bedlam like it did last season was fun to watch. I believe that is the future, and it will be scrappers who win that trophy.


I don’t disagree with what you are saying, but a couple of points:

  • would Krystko have been able to recruit and retain Wright, Kuzma and Poetl in todays NIL environment?

  • Larry was coach at Utah for 10 years and produced 3 NBA players. Smith is on his 3rd year and may have 1 NBA talent. I’m no math major but that seems like the same trajectory.

  • Although he didnt recruit them I think you have to give Smith credit for retaining and developing the two NBA players Smith had at USU, and the Utes Branden Carlson (who I believe has a chance to play at the next level).

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