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Craig Smith Wants To Bring ‘Runnin’ Utes’ Brand Back To Utah Basketball

(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah men’s basketball program hasn’t been living by the “Runnin’ Utes” name on the floor with their slow tempo offense.

That is going to change with a new coaching staff in place with Craig Smith. That was the big topic of conversation in San Francisco at the Pac-12 Network studios where Smith, along with forward Riley Battin and center Branden Carlson participated in Pac-12 Media Day.

“We want to be the Runnin’ Utes, no doubt about it,” said Smith. “But in order to run on offense, you better run your butt back on defense too. Our style of play has always been one where we want to get up and down the floor. I know every coach says that, but we truly want to do that. It’s been a big emphasis for us in our practices. We always want to put pressure on our opponents on both ends. I don’t want our guys to be robots when they’re out there playing where they have to go from point A to point B to point C, right? We want our guys to be basketball players and I’m excited about this group.”

Over the last handful of seasons under Larry Krystkowiak, the high up-tempo style of basketball hasn’t really existed. That was mainly due to Krystkowiak wanting to play through the big men like David Collette, Jakob Poeltl and Branden Carlson. Smith has come in and changed the way they are utilizing Carlson and making him more of a stretch big man to space the floor.

The Runnin’ Utes will face Westminster College in an exhibition game on Thursday, November 4 at 6 p.m. MT at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. They will begin their 2021-22 campaign and the Craig Smith era on Tuesday, November 9 against Abilene Christian at home. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. MT on the Pac-12 Networks.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.