Here we go again.
The Utah basketball team was picked to finish eighth in the Pac-12 preseason poll which was released during Pac-12 media day on Thursday.
However, this shouldn’t surprise anyone as the Utes have used it as motivation over the years which has helped them exceed the media’s expectations six of the past seven years since joining the Pac-12 Conference.
Last year, the Utes finished third, despite being picked to finish seventh. The year before, they were picked eighth and finished fourth. See the trend?
In the one year that they didn’t “live up to expectations,” — the 2014-15 season — the Utes finished third after being picked second.
So of course, both players and coaches weren’t bothered by the lack of respect around the league as they look to take the league by storm once again.
“I don’t mind, I’m comfortable being the arrow rather than the target,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak told reporters. … “We don’t pay too much attention to it.”
The Utes did lost a number of starters, but bring back a lot of talent to make another run this yea. Senior guard Sedrick Barefield will be called on as well as senior guard Parker Van Dyke. Sophomore forward Donnie Tillman is back after an impressive freshman season, despite injuries. As a freshman last year, Tillman averaged 20 minutes per game and scored 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Christian Popoola, a highly-rated three-star recruit from Bishop Gorman and who won several slam dunk contests is athletic as they come and will have a chance to show off his athleticism this yer with more minutes and after having a year under his belt.
The Utes do have nine newcomers to teh team, including graduate transfer Novak Topalovic and junior college transfer Charles Jones Jr. from College of Southern Idaho. Jones, was named the NJCAA Player of the Year and will make an immediate impact. Center Brandon Morley joins the team after playing for Salt Lake Community College in 2016-17.
Oregon was picked to win the Pac-12 title after receiving 16 of 25 first-place votes and 288 total points. UCLA (264) was picked second, followed by Washington (249), Arizona (205), USC (203), Arizona State (165), Colorado (161) and Utah (122). Stanford, Oregon State, California and Washington State were all picked after the Runnin’ Utes.