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Runnin' Utes host 3-day event; in-state tournament on the horizon?

Deseret News

Runnin' Utes host 3-day event; in-state tournament on the horizon?

By Tyson Maddy, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Nov. 21, 2013 at 11:56 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — The Global Sports Hoops Showcase will tip off Thursday night at the Jon M. Huntsman Center, where the Runnin' Utes will host three teams in three nights during a four-team tournament.

Utah will take on Grand Canyon, Lamar and Savannah State on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, respectively, with each of the four teams playing each other once during the event.

Tournament Information

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21

Match-up: Lamar Cardinals vs. Savannah State Tigers
Tipoff: 5 p.m.
Location: Salt Lake City
Arena: Jon M. Huntsman Center

Match-up: Utah Runnin' Utes vs. Grand Canyon Antelopes
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Salt Lake City
Arena: Jon M. Huntsman Center

Radio (For Utah Game)
Utah Sports Radio Network
ESPN 700 AM
Play-by-Play: Bill Riley
Analyst: Jimmy Soto

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22

Match-up: Grand Canyon Antelopes vs. Savannah State Tigers
Tipoff: 4 p.m.
Location: Salt Lake City
Arena: Jon M. Huntsman Center

Match-up: Utah Runnin' Utes vs. Lamar Cardinals
Tipoff: 7 p.m.
Location: Salt Lake City
Arena: Jon M. Huntsman Center

TV (For Utah Game)
Pac- 12 Network
Play-by-Play: Roxy Bernstein
Analyst: Ernie Kent

Radio (For Utah Game)
Utah Sports Radio Network
ESPN 700 AM
Play-by-Play: Steve Klauke
Analyst: Jimmy Soto

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23

Match-up: Grand Canyon Antelopes vs. Lamar Cardinals
Tipoff: 2 p.m.
Location: Salt Lake City
Arena: Jon M. Huntsman Center

Match-up: Utah Runnin' Utes vs. Savannah State Tigers
Tipoff: 5 p.m.
Location: Salt Lake City
Arena: Jon M. Huntsman Center

TV (For Utah Game)
Pac-12 Network
Play-by-Play: Roxy Bernstein
Analyst: Ernie Kent

Radio (For Utah Game)
Utah Sports Radio Network
99.1 FM
Play-by- Play: Steve Klauke
Analyst: Jimmy Soto

"In playing something like this, you try to pick some teams that give you a little different blueprint," Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "In the preseason, that's a big part of it. You don't want to get shocked with something when conference play starts that you haven't seen. I think these three teams present different challenges and different styles for us.

"We'll see some different zones, some pressure. Some teams are deep and are going to run a lot of guys in and the pace is going to be high, and other teams maybe don't have the depth and may be more of a grind-out type of basketball game."

Last season, the Utes hosted a similar tournament-style event over Thanksgiving weekend when they played host to Idaho State, Central Michigan and Wright State, downing each by double digits.

Krystkowiak said that experience played a part in Utah's performance during its surprise Pac-12 tournament run.

"I think there was some benefit last year in terms of scouting and prep work," he said. "It was good for coaches, too, to divide it up among our staff into groups — the certain teams, the short turnaround. And (players) know going into the week that there will be ample opportunity for them to have an effect in one of three games, if not more."

None of the teams coming to visit in this tournament are head-turners by any stretch of the imagination, but Krystkowiak is still taking a "one game at a time" approach.

"Personally, I dove into Grand Canyon," the coach said. "I'm trying to get through this one and we've got some staff guys that will throw some stuff on my desk the minute this one's over. And I've got a bunch of video to watch, but in talking to the staff throughout the week, there's some different challenges for sure."

Grand Canyon is a new member of the WAC and is off to a 1-2 start in its debut season as a Division 1 program. The Antelopes suffered close losses against Loyola Marymount and San Diego before a 91-41 win over West New Mexico.

Dan Majerle, a three-time NBA All-Star and former NBA assistant coach, has taken the reins as head coach at Grand Canyon.

"(Marjerle) was one of the younger players coming into the league when I was a player," reminisced Krystkowiak. "And of course, when I was coaching in the NBA we crossed paths when he was with the Suns. We're not overly close in terms of friendship but I think it's part of that brotherhood where there's mutual respect for each other."

Lamar hails from the Southland Conference and is 0-3 on the season, all three losses coming by double digits. The Cardinals' most notable opponent was Pac-12 foe Washington State, which dispatched them 84-64 in Pullman, Wash.

Savannah State, from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, has started 2-3 with wins over Tennessee Temple and Florida Atlantic. The Tigers fell to Pitt, Robert Morris and North Florida.

Each of Utah's three games will be broadcast on the radio at ESPN 700, with its Friday and Saturday matchups also airing on Pac-12 Networks.

Get in free

In a combined effort with the Utah Food Bank, the Huntsman Center is granting free admission to anyone that brings a canned food item any night of the tournament. The offer will get the donator a free upper-bowl ticket, which can be upgraded to lower bowl for $5.

The Huntsman Center will be continuing the offer for the Wednesday, Nov. 27, game against Ball State as well.

Utah Utes guard Delon Wright (55) as the 
University of Utah play Evergreen State in 
men's basketball for their season home opener 
(Tom Smart, Deseret News)
Utah Utes guard Delon Wright (55) as the University of Utah play Evergreen State in men's basketball for their season home opener (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Is an in-state tournament on the horizon?Krystkowiak wants to continue the tradition of hosting a three-day tournament in upcoming seasons, but hopes to further enhance it as statewide event.

"One of the things we're talking about is trying to get something in the EnergySolutions Arena, a multiple-team in-state tournament," Krystkowiak said. "I've had some discussions with Dr. Hill about it and he's reached out to athletic directors."

A possible scenario would pit Utah, Utah State, BYU and Weber State in a similar three-day tournament in which each program plays each other. In coming years, if it stuck as an annual event, perhaps it could grow to include Utah Valley, Southern Utah and others.

"Moving forward, it's something I think would make an awful lot of sense for this state — giving people an opportunity to come to a central place," said Krystkowiak. "And whether or not that becomes a year-after-year deal, I'm not sure. It sure would be great for all the parties." Tyson Maddy has covered the University of Utah football and men's basketball teams as a contributing writer for KSL.com Sports since 2011. Follow his Utes coverage on twitter @Tyson_Maddy

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