Utah Men’s Basketball Is Running Their Own Race

Mar 28, 2024, 11:26 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – The Runnin’ Utes 2023-24 season didn’t go exactly as planned, but that is often how life works- you pivot and make the best of your own race.

No, that opportunity is not the NCAA Tournament like many hoped, but it’s still the most meaningful season the Utes have had since 2017. Even more important, it’s happening in an era where players don’t always want to see something through unless it’s the biggest prize.

This Utah basketball team genuinely likes each other, and they don’t want the magic to end until it has to. That in and of itself feels like a pretty big win.

A Night Of Memories And Records For The Runnin’ Utes

Tuesday was a night of records for the Runnin’ Utes as they hosted their third and final game of the NIT against VCU.

Deivon Smith is now the forever Pac-12 record holder for triple-doubles in a single season. (He’s also closing in on the NCAA record (6) held by BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth.)


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Gabe Madsen set an all-time school record for made threes in a season.

Branden Carlson got his flowers one more time in the Huntsman Center for all of his accomplishments and loyalty to a program that has been down and out, but is beginning to find itself again.

“These are memories of a lifetime,” Utah head coach Craig Smith said. “When you play college athletics- doesn’t matter what sport- that’s a four- or five-year window in your career that these guys always look back on very, very fondly and this will be a game they will remember for the rest of their life.”

Runnin’ Utes Focused On Their Own Race

There certainly was some disappointment at the end of the season about missing out on the NCAA Tournament after the Utes looked poised to make it earlier in the season.

Smith ended his postgame press conference with some sage, Ted Lasso-like advice about handling life’s disappointments and making the most of what is in front of you.

“We all have our own race,” Smith said. “We all have our own race. We all have started somewhere. We all have our own race to run. I’m incredibly proud of this team because it was tough there for a stretch. We’ve had some really amazing times and some really tough times. Sometimes it’s not how may punches you can throw, but how many you can get up from. It’s amazing the power of connectivity and love and caring for one another.”

“This is our Final Four,” Smith continued. “This is our tournament that we are in. This is the race we are running. No matter what is in front of you or where you are at- I think it says a lot about your character to move forward with the hand you are dealt and where you are at. Take advantage of that moment. It’s never too late. That’s what makes March amazing.”

Putting his point into perspective, Smith pointed out come Sunday there will be 354 Division I men’s basketball teams that are not still playing college basketball. Utah is one of the lucky eight that will continue on through April, NCAA Tournament or not.

“Our next game is April 2,” Smith said. “Our first day of practice was September 28. Today is March 27. Today is exactly six months. Tomorrow is the start of our seventh month of the season. It’s a long stretch here. By Sunday there will be eight Division I men’s teams playing out of 362 and we are one of those eight. I’m proud of that.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Men’s Basketball Is Running Their Own Race