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Utah Basketball Tasks To Be Completed When New Head Coach Is Hired

General view of the Jon M. Huntsman Center before the game between the Washington Huskies and the Utah Utes on February 10, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – When Utah AD Mark Harlan hires the new men’s basketball head coach, that person will have a lot of things to do when they begin the new era.

Larry Krystkowiak did a tremendous job when he was the new head coach as he transitioned the Utah basketball program to the Pac-12 but after 10 seasons, Harlan decided a change needed to be made.

Harlan likely has a long list of very well qualified candidates that can come in and take Utah basketball to the next level. Here are some of the things the new coach will likely need to focus on when they begin the job as the head coach.

Keep Core Intact

The Runnin’ Utes have a solid core of young players that will make the transition from Larry Krystkowiak to the new coach a little bit smoother. Timmy Allen, Alfonso Plummer, Rylan Jones, Mikael Jantunen, Ian Martinez and Branden Carlson all have bright futures with the Utes whether it’s immediate or in two years.

Martinez is the most important player that the coach needs to make sure he/she brings back. His potential shined brightly this season as he really showed his ability this season. The sky is the limit for the “Super Freshman.”

The others listed above will be critical in more than one area. They all provide leadership that any coach needs but they are all talented in their own ways. When Larry Krystkowiak took over the program in 2011, Jim Boylen left the cupboards empty and Krystkowiak had a true rebuild on his hands.

Schedule Appealing Non-Conference Opponents

Krystkowiak did a solid job with scheduling quality non-conference opponents. But there were seasons that Utah didn’t have any “resume builders” and it hurt them when it came to their chances to making the NCAA Tournament. The fact that they were able to get Kentucky to come out west (Las Vegas) was impressive.

Also, getting to play Duke at their home away from home, Madison Square Garden was fun. I am not saying that Utah needs to pack the non-conference schedule with blue bloods like Michigan, Syracuse, Kentucky, Duke and others. But get some of them to come to Salt Lake City. It may not be a home-and-home series but maybe do a two-for-one.

Get The Huntsman Center Packed Again

It’s not a great look when the upper bowl of your arena is closed off with curtains and anyone who purchased season tickets is forced (willingly) to move to the lower bowl. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, that is what Utah basketball did. But before the season started, their were health restrictions and fans were not allowed to attend games anyway so it worked out this season.

For the most part, the Huntsman Center is not even half full unless a ranked Pac-12 opponent comes to Utah or BYU is in town. Fans have not been nearly as excited about basketball as they are about football. That will be one of the more important tasks the new head coach will need to focus on is re-energizing the Utah basketball fanbase and packing the Huntsman Center.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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