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Utah Utes basketball: Coach Larry Krystkowiak gets questioned and has the answers

Published: Sunday, April 17 2011 11:22 p.m. MDT

Utah basketball head coach Larry Krystkowiak poses in the Huntsman Center. He is trying to return the Runnin' Utes to previous heights.

Lennie Mahler, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Larry Krystkowiak was named as the head coach of the Utah basketball team two weeks ago Monday. He hit the ground running and has hardly had time to take a breath ever since, as he has been working putting a staff together, meeting with each of the players, starting his recruiting and taking care of the small details that come with the new job.

The Montana native and his wife, Jan, have five children ranging in age from 11 to 3 and they are excited to be settling in Utah. In a wide-ranging interview, Krystkowiak came off as sincere and unpretentious, yet confident about his ability to bring success to the Utah basketball team. He doesn't try to impress with fancy slogans and has a pretty simple philosophy as a coach — play hard.

He revealed that his name was mispronounced when he was here with the Utah Jazz 18 years ago, he talked about his memories of Jerry Sloan, Karl Malone and John Stockton, how he plans to recruit and that he plans to stay at Utah a long time.

Deseret News: First of all, let's get your name straight. It seems like when you were here with the Jazz (in 1992-93), people pronounced your name with a T after the first syllable as in Krys TOH viak, rather than Krys KOH viak.

Larry Krystkowiak: I know, but I never bothered saying anything. There is a K in there if you do it properly. All of a sudden it's important to people, but I've heard it so many different ways. "Coach" is always easy, or "Coach K" ... I'm not too particular about it."

News: Do you have any particular memories of your time with the Jazz that stand out to you?

Krystkowiak: No specific game memories. I tore the plantar fascia in my foot, which was a big injury for me. It was toward the end of the year and I didn't make the playoff roster. So that was a little bit frustrating. But the positives leading up to the injury were just being on the same floor with John (Stockton) and Karl (Malone), playing against Karl every day in practice and being around coach Sloan. That was pretty neat.

News: You been on the job for just over a week — what are your first impressions of being the head coach for the University of Utah?

Krystkowiak: It's been so busy, absolutely the busiest week of my life with a lot of different things cooking. But it's also been one of the most rewarding weeks. A lot of this stuff is first time, things you've got to do it maybe once like get your parking pass, get your keys, all the little details. Once that was out of the way, we've focused our time and energy on the players and the staff. I knew what I was getting into and that building a program is going to take a lot of energy. Just look around — it's a beautiful place to be, with the program and the resources in place to get the deal rolling. It's been a whirlwind. I haven't been able to kick back and take a deep breath. But it's good.

News: I know you may not want to talk about specific players, but what have you discovered about the returning players in the limited amount of time you've been able to work with them?

Krystkowiak: It's really hard to get a feel in just one or two practices. In the first practice there was a tremendous number of turnovers and a lot of individual play but it was the first time. Everybody gets a little amped up and wants to show the coach what they can do and maybe that leads to some of the ragged play. But we're just starting to get into some skill workouts where we get three or four guys together in a group. I've had a chance to visit with everybody now and get their sense of what their experience has been and what they'd like it to be like and what their strengths and weaknesses are. But we do have a group of guys who want to work and are eager to get better. From a coaching perspective, that's what you want to see. It's hard to assess it, but I think we're moving in the right direction.

News: Can you give us an idea of the style of basketball you're going to bring to Utah?

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