The University of Utah basketball team is enjoying an upward trend through nine games, compared to last season.
In the number of wins and statistically, all signs so far point upward.
Early in the season, Utah ranks in the top five in 15 of 21 Pac-12 statistical categories, and in the top three in seven statistical categories.
Utah leads the conference in scoring defense (57.7 ppg), field goal percent defense (.343) and defensive rebounds (29.4 pg).
Averaging 14.4 turnovers per game, Utah ranks dead last in only one statistical category: turnover margin. Utah's -4.1 turnover margin is especially painful, as its the largest margin of defeat was seven points.
Utah lost to Sacramento State 74-71, and had 12 turnovers in that game. In a road loss at SMU, Utah lost 62-55 and committed 17 turnovers and most recently fell 61-58 at BYU after 15 turnovers.
According to Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak, one can quantify how much each turnover might potentially cost a team.
"There is something out there where, we figure that every turnover costs your team one point," he said after one game very early in the season. "So for every one of those we let slip, it's costing us one point. So that's something we've got to get fixed."
If the assertion is correct, the math is easy.
Ute turnovers in losses have cost the Krystkowiak's team 44 points in its three losses, which were lost by a combined margin of 12 points.
With such a critical facet of the game tangibly effecting Utah, UteZone caught up with one its senior leaders, guard Jarred DuBois, about what can be done to turn things around.
"I think [the turnover issue] definitely starts with me. I have the ball in my hands a lot. I establish our offense on the break. I'm the one with the ball, so me personally I think I have to make the easy play and not try to force passes," DuBois said, taking responsibility. "I have to try not to make plays that aren't there, or make passes where I think guys are going to be, or expect them to be. It's simple: I just have to make plays and passes where the guys are. So I need to do a better job of all of that."
Gearing the topic off of DuBois personally, the question was asked, this time more specifically to address what the team might do as a collective to resolve the problem, which is very much a team problem.
As evidence of that fact, five different Utes are in double figures in turnovers, including DuBois who has 18 turnovers on the season.
Even still, DuBois refused to budge on the matter.
"It still goes back to me. If you look at any good NBA team or even college team, if the point guard is taking care of the ball, the team is taking care of the ball," he insisted. "It just trickles down from there. If your team sees you valuing every possession, they'll do the same."
Stubbornly insistent, DuBois is impressive in his leadership and even more than that - his belief that it is indeed something he can do by sheer force of will.
With such willful, yet capable leadership, it's hard to imagine that DuBois won't correct the issue for the Utes. Just as much as it's hard to imagine that he'll let Utah fail.
After a sub-par performance at BYU Saturday, DuBois seems to have shouldered even more responsibility, and put that much more pressure on himself.
"I've got to be a better leader, and be more efficient in my time on the floor. I'm getting a lot of minutes, and I need to do more while I'm out there," DuBois summarized. "Whether that's rebounding, assists, taking care of the ball, scoring - everything. Just more everything, more efficient. Just being a better senior."
Nowhere are cliches more prominent, or more true than in sports.
In DuBois' case at this juncture in the season, it isn't that he had a bad game, but rather how he responds to it going forward.
Ute fans will get the chance to find out December 18, when Utah plays host to SMU and as a collective, gets another shot to respond to a road loss at SMU earlier in the season.