Utah v Oregon - Pac-12 Semifinals

Could the Utah-BYU rivalry series be coming to an end?


Utah’s non-conference schedule this season has taken plenty of heat.

They kicked off their season against something called Evergreen. On Dec. 28th, they play something known as St. Katherine’s. In between those two non-conference bookends, the Utes have 10 games on their schedule. None of them are against high-major opponents. Only one of them is a road game, and, at most, two of those teams could earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, although that’s anything-but a given.

Struggling with the likes of Idaho State isn’t exactly going to be keeping Utah fans happy.

But the bigger issue isn’t what’s on the non-conference schedule, it’s what is not on it. Specifically, Utah State and Weber State.

Utah is a basketball state, especially at the collegiate level. They care about their teams, whether they are Aggies, Cougars, Wildcats or Utes, and while it’s not quite on the same level as the folks in Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Indiana, it’s really not all that far behind.

And Utah didn’t play Utah State or Weber State this season. They play not play them in the future either, as deals to extend those rivalries have not been easy to come by. Krystkowiak doesn’t want to play those games on the road, and it’s understandable. They’re very, very loseable, and while dropping a road game early in the season to a rival is certainly understandable, the NCAA tournament selection committee isn’t as understanding. Those losses could hurt on future Selection Sundays.

Utah still plays BYU. This season, it’s at the Huntsman Center. Next year, it will be at the Marriott Center. But after that? Well, it may not exist anymore, either. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

on his weekly coaches show on KSL Radio on Tuesday night, BYU coach Dave Rose said talks to continue the series beyond that have stalled.

“Coach [Jim] Boylen and I put that [four-game agreement] together. We were both really excited to continue the series even though the conferences were going in different directions,” Rose said. “In the last two years, as we have played through this contract, we have had discussions about extending the contract, but right now, we are kinda stalled. These may be the last two games we get.”

“Really?” host Greg Wrubell asked, incredulously.

“Yeah,” Rose said.

The Utes have said recently they won’t do home-and-homes with Utah State and Weber State any more, and now it appears they don’t want to give them to BYU, either.

Hopefully, this all gets worked out.

Rivalry games in November are a good thing for the sport. Non-conference games that people care about, that bring attention to the sport. For a coach, they bring attention to your team. They get fans in the seats and eyeballs on the TV.

More importantly, getting experience playing in a tough road environment before league play starts will help make a team better.

And what’s tougher than a road environment against a rival?

Colorado’s Tory Miller reprimanded by Pac-12 after biting opponent

Dusan Ristic, Tory Miller
AP Photo
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Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.

During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.

In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.

“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”

Miller also released his apology in the same release.

“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.

For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?


Michigan State’s Tum Tum Nairn battling foot injury

Lourawls Nairn Jr.
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Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.

According to a report from Kyle Austin of MLive.com, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.

The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.

If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.

Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.