Utah begins a new era playing as a member of the Pac-12 under new coach Larry Krystkowiak when it plays in the season opener on Monday. Unfortunately for the Utes, they'll have to do it with only two members of the team from last season.
Eight players transferred following the firing of coach Jim Boylen. And on Tuesday, it was announced two more players -- center David Foster and guard Chris Hines -- will be out indefinitely with injuries.
Foster, the 7-foot-3 Mountain West defensive player of the year in 2010, is scheduled to undergo foot surgery after suffering an injury during the team's exhibition game on Friday. In that same game, Hines suffered a rib injury that will cause him to miss between two to four weeks of action.
What's worse for Utah is that it lost that exhibition to Adams State, and it came in cruel fashion when a freshman signaled for a timeout with 38 seconds left and the game tied. The Utes were out of timeouts, and the made technical foul shot ended up being the difference in a 61-60 loss.
"This is a great learning experience," Krystkowiak said after the loss.
At Pac-12 media day last month, it was announced Utah had been picked to finish last in the Pac-12. Sitting next to Foster that day, Krystkowiak fought the perception that it will be a poor year for the Utes.
"Just because we're picked last in my mind has no relevance to it," he said. "I made the comment earlier that there are always two or three teams in every league that exceed expectations. There are always two or three teams in every league that don't quite live up to expectations.
"I certainly hope we can be one of those two or three team that's exceeds some expectations. But further, we're in the foundation stages. The great thing about college basketball in my mind is whatever's broken on Thursday and Saturday night in your league, you get an opportunity Sunday through Wednesday and then again on Friday to fix it. We'll address some of those shortcomings, and continue to get better."