Utah Basketball Coach Craig Smith Expresses Gratitude For Solid Season

Apr 2, 2024, 9:52 PM

INDIANAPOLIS – It wasn’t the result the Runnin’ Utes were hoping for, but head coach Craig Smith couldn’t help but express gratitude to everyone involved with Utah’s season after losing to Indiana State in the NIT semifinal.

Despite not making the NCAA Tournament, and not making the NIT Championship, the Utes had one of their most successful seasons in years, posting a 22-15 record including a 17-2 record at home.

Smith took a minute during his postgame press conference to recognize all the people involved who helped the Utes turn a corner in 2023-24.

Craig Smith Says ‘Thank You’

The NIT was never the goal for the Runnin’ Utes, but it was the opportunity afforded to them after a bit of a slump to end their last season in the Pac-12. Utah ultimately seized that opportunity into a run in the NIT and Smith took time to recognize the people involved with the tournament.

“Thank you to the NIT and all the people involved,” Smith said. “It’s been first class in every way from two weeks ago in our three games at home, and then certainly here.”

Smith continued on by thanking Utah’s administration for the work they did to make the first three NIT games at the Huntsman Center a possibility with a bunch of other postseason events taking place.

“I want to thank our administration,” Smith said. “It’s not always easy when you get to March and April- there’s a lot- I’ve never been an administrator and I don’t want to be, but there’s a lot that goes into this thing. For us specifically being able to play three games at home- here’s a lot of things that goes into it.”

“So, our administration and everybody that’s a part of doing that- and our band coming here, and our cheer squad all hopping on the plane to get here, it’s been an amazing ride,” Smith continued. “So thank you to them, and all the people throughout the season. We were able to reestablish home court and having a great home court. A lot goes into that with our student body and fan base everything and in between.”

Family On Three

Smith then turned his attention to his staff and the players who helped get the Utes back on track.

“[I] want to thank our coaching staff,” Smith said. “We have a great staff. Those guys are behind the scenes doing all those types of things. And then of course, our players. Because those guys do it, man. You get to the end, and you know, I always have felt like in college athletics, it’s changed so much, we all know this, in the last three years- Cole [Bajama] and BC [Branden Carlson] will never put on that uniform as a college student-athlete. If they do it again, it’s as a pro. It’s just different at that point.”

Smith finished by recognizing that the work for himself and his staff has only begun. Utah took a huge step forward in the 2023-24 season. However, there is still plenty of work to be done, and the path only gets harder from here.

“The experiences that you gain, and the relationships that you make that last a lifetime- that’s what it’s about,” Smith said. “I’m proud of these guys, how they galvanized and came together, and now we get on the recruiting trail and make it happen.”

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 Basketball Coach Craig Smith Expresses Gratitude For Solid Season