Utah Utes basketball: Larry Krystkowiak bringing 'we' philosophy to Utah
Ute coach says he'll pour his 'heart and soul' into program
After expressing his thanks for being hired, Krystkowiak outlined his blueprint for success. It centers around a "we" philosophy and a mentality that it takes a village and not individuals to get it done.
"My goal is that we won't be outplayed," Krystkowiak said. "There won't be a team that outworks us very often."
The Utes, he continued, will play smart and with synergy.
Senior-to-be Jiggy Watkins, who stood near the front of the room with several of his teammates, liked what he heard from the new coach.
"He seems dedicated," Watkins said. "He seems to love basketball and is passionate about his work. So that's a good thing."
Watkins wants to stay at Utah and make amends for last season's 13-18 record.
"I think most of the guys want to stay together after the year we had. It was disappointing to us and we want to get better," Watkins said. "We know we can win these games and we've just got to prove it."
Teammate Will Clyburn, who will also be a senior next season, isn't as confident about the situation.
"I guess everybody's taking it day-by-day. No one is going to rush anything," he said. "People don't know what's going to go on and what the future holds."
Utah's leading scorer and rebounder last season is contemplating a transfer and plans to decide on whether or not to do so by the end of the week.
Krystkowiak, meanwhile, plans to meet with all the players (including Clyburn) and find out if everyone is on the same page as far as his "we" philosophy is concerned.
After playing or coaching in more than 1,500 games in his career, Krystkowiak is excited about his new position. He called Utah a special place, something he felt while playing for the Jazz in 1992-93. The city, the university and the program add to his enthusiasm.
"I can't tell you all how excited I am, honored to chosen as the next coach of the University of Utah," Krystkowiak said before adding that he and his family look forward to spending many years here.
Utah is Krystkowiak's second collegiate head coaching job. He guide his alma mater, Montana, to a 42-20 record and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances from 2004-06. After guiding the Grizzlies to a tourney win in his second season, Krystkowiak opted to take an assistant coaching job with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks. He eventually became the head coach, but was fired after going 31-69 over two seasons.
"Any time you deal with adversity and you lose a job as I did in Milwaukee, I think it makes you take a look at yourself," Krystkowiak said. "Sometimes it almost introduces you to yourself and reminds you of what's really important and what you need to stay true to."
He kind of "veered away" from what he knew was right.
"If anybody tells you that professional players need to be treated different than college players, they're crazy," said Krystkowiak, who believes he's benefitted from coaching at both levels.
The lack of practice time in the NBA proved to be frustrating, though. It kind of changed the way he coached. Krystkowiak said he loves practice and being able to fix what's broken, something that is extremely difficult to do in the NBA.
College coaching, he explained, has other advantages as well.
"There's nothing like being on a campus," Krystkowiak said.
As for the task at hand, he's taking a "Field of Dreams" approach to returning Utah's basketball program to prominence. Krystkowiak is confident more fans will return to the Huntsman Center to watch the Utes.
"If you build it, they will come," he said.
Birthdate: Sept. 23, 1964
Alma Mater: Montana (1996)
Bachelor's degree in business administration
Family: wife Jan, sons Cam, Luc and Ben, twin daughters Samantha and Finley
2010-11 — Assistant coach, New Jersey Nets
2009-10 — Head coach, Adidas Nations
2007-08 — Head coach, Milwaukee Bucks
2006-07 — Assistant coach, Milwaukee Bucks
2004-06 — Head coach, Montana
2003-04 — Head coach, Idaho Stampede (CBA)
2001-02 — Assistant coach, Old Dominion
1998-00 — Assistant coach, Montana
1996 — Los Angeles Lakers
1994-96 — Chicago Bulls
1993-94 — Orlando Magic
1992-93 — Utah Jazz
1988-92 — Milwaukee Bucks
1986-87 — San Antonio Spurs
1982-86 — University of Montana *
* Three-time Big Sky Conference MVP
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