Utah unveils $36 million basketball practice facility

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah unveiled a $36 million basketball practice facility Thursday with dramatic upgrades from what players and coaches were accustomed to inside the university’s 46-year-old arena.

The 90,000-square-foot building will house the men’s and women’s programs and features two 12,000-square-foot practice gyms, recruiting lounges, a yoga room, rooftop terrace, a nutrition center and underground tunnels to the arena. Coaches’ offices have a panoramic view of the mountains. There is also a new strength and conditioning room and an athletic training center.

”There isn’t a nicer facility in our conference, for sure,” coach Larry Krystkowiak said. ”You can have the nicest church on the planet or the nicest basketball facility on the planet, but if the people inside are not worth a darn, it’s all for naught.

”We’ve stressed having the right kind of people and doing things the right way and now we have an unbelievable bonus of being able to call a place like this home.”

The building is expected to immediately impact recruiting. Athletic director Chris Hill said coaches and players have to close the deal, but it puts them in position to reach ”the highest of highs.”

The Utes are coming off a run to the Sweet 16 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, where they lost to eventual champion Duke. Utah begins practice for the new season on Friday.

”We had a couple years where we were picked 12th and there wasn’t a lot of momentum,” Krystkowiak said. ”My feeling’s the same. … That’s the great thing about our approach, we coach the guys the same when we won six games as we’re going to after a Sweet 16.”

Krystkowiak downplayed the fact that the program has trended upward, but senior Brandon Taylor did not shy away.

”There’s definitely a lot of expectations, but we’re OK with that,” Taylor said. ”That’s all pressure, but it’s good pressure. We’re going to do everything in our power to go out and cut as many nets down and win as many games.”