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February 4, 2013After a promising start to his career at Utah, sophomore center Dallin Bachynski hit a rough patch personally, which translated to his on-court performance and hindered his ability to contribute significantly to his team.
The timing was poor as it coincided, or perhaps paralleled, the Utah Basketball team's own downward spiral, losing five straight conference games before pulling off an unlikely win at Washington. What ensued was a roller coaster of unlikely wins and losses, and in the midst, rumors swirled about Bachynski's standing on the team.
A quote about Bachynski from head coach Larry Krystkowiak after a home loss was the catalyst for speculation across social media and Utah-based fan web sites.
"I'm not sure that Dallin's not more worried about his own trials & tribulations than he is about what the University of Utah Basketball Team is going through," Krystkowiak said after Bachynski had another sub-par showing in the home loss to Cal. "In fact, he and I are going to sit down and have a visit tomorrow morning."
The weekend passed without confirmation or a statement about the situation, and UteZone was only able to confirm that Bachynski hadn't been released from the team.
Monday afternoon, however, the program issued the following statement on the situation, only adding to the drama, and casting a bigger and brighter spotlight on the situation.
"After meeting with Dallin, he and I agreed that it was in the best interest of both parties for him to step away from playing basketball for the time being," Krystkowiak's cryptic statement read. "He will remain a part of our program during this time as he takes a break from active competition."
Neither the statement nor the program confirmed the length of the non-release and non-suspension and sources inside the program identified the issues as "personal" without expansion or clarification, adding to the frenzy which grew throughout the week. Bachynski would not dress for practice, but did attend throughout the week, playing a vocal role as supporter from the sidelines.
Anticipating a longer "break", Thursday's practice brought a surprise, with Bachynski back to his normal self, dressed and participating fully just as the drama was subsiding.
Refusing to provide any more information, the program acknowledged his return to practice, but hinted strongly that Bachynski would not play in Saturday's contest against Colorado.
With a Jordan Loveridge injury which left a gap in the Ute lineup, junior Renan Lenz got his first start, but quickly got into foul trouble, which created an opportunity for Bachynski to get back on the floor sooner than anticipated.
In 10 minutes of playing time, Bachynski didn't make a big impact on the outcome of the game statistically with three rebounds, one block and one steal. Krystkowiak however, praised Bachynski's effort.
"I thought that Dallin really came in and gave us a lift, as well," said Krystkowiak while naming his stand-outs for the game. "His minutes tonight were really key."
After a week's hiatus, Bachynski discussed his return to the team, and his game day experience.
"It was huge realizing how much people support me here. It's really unbelievable, and I'm really grateful for it. I'm grateful for having such supportive coaches, teammates, trainers and everything," Bachynski beamed. "It's good to be back, but the week away definitely helped me out and I think, I hope, it's going to help the team as well."
Utah's thrilling win over Colorado took place in front of a decent crowd, former Ute greats in attendance to honor former coach Rick Majerus and the result was a spirited, engaged and vocal crowd which gave the Utes the lift they needed to get over the hump.
For Bachynski, and emotional player who tends to feed off of crowd energy, the environment couldn't have been scripted any better for his return.
"The crowd is a huge help. Coach always talks about being part of history, and not fading back or relying on the past. We talk a lot about making our own history, so we wanted to just play with energy and the crowd was huge for us that way," Bachynski said. "I just wanted to come out and play hard and with energy and find a way to help my team out. I didn't take any shots today and before it might have bugged me, but I was OK with it because I did other things to help my team win. My time away I think gave me some perspective, and it was just nice to get the win."