Utah Utes basketball: Coach Larry Krystkowiak gets questioned and has the answers
Krystkowiak: The important thing to me is that guys are playing hard. I mean really hard. I think everybody thinks they're playing hard, but it's getting guys to play in another gear. We want to play a game of basketball where we're taking a high percentage shot. I don't want us to take bad shots. When the percentages go up, I think it's a funner game to play and to watch when the ball is moved around. I have no problem if somebody misses a shot, but it can't be a shot that's not within the context of our team. So we're going to execute and try to put people in position where they can score in a place where they can be successful. We want to play good, hard, defensive-minded basketball. Just try to keep it pretty simple.
News: So you don't have a specific offensive style like, say, a motion offense or a set-play offense?
Krystkowiak: It's going to be a combination. You have to figure out what kind of team you have. You have to have some motion offense, you have to have some sets and different things. It's not gong to be strictly one or the other.
News: What about defense?
Krystkowiak: It's hard-nosed team basketball, putting a lot of pressure on the person with the ball, yet if there is a breakdown, you know where your help is coming from. What kills you is when you give up easy baskets whether that's in transition or if you're not running back hard enough. The other thing is offensive rebounds for your opponent. If you give up too many offensive rebounds, they're at a point blank range and that ends up being Russian roulette too. To me that's a focal point, making teams have to earn baskets, instead of easy baskets. There are times you want to throw curve balls at teams, but I wouldn't anticipate being a 94-foot up-tempo defense. Sometimes if you've got a really athletic team, you can go out and wreak havoc on teams and cause turnovers and get baskets. Right now I don't think we've got that kind of roster that can do that."
News: You talked in your opening press conference about recruiting international players. Tell us more about that.
Krystkowiak: I have a lot of connections overseas. Australia, Germany, France — I played a season in France and have great friends there — Latin America, Brazil. I've built a lot of relationships over the years when I wasn't a college coach. Now I'm in a position where I can take advantage of some of those relationships. I didn't befriend them because I wanted to recruit their kids or people they knew. Whenever you're talking about international players and going a long way from home you have to know there's somebody there that really cares about them. I think through some of the relationships I've developed, those people know they'd be in a safe place if they came here.
News: Any chance of getting some international players for next year?
Krystkowiak: It's too soon to tell. But I wouldn't be a bit surprised if we had one or two international kids.
News: You have said you want to recruit kids from Utah. Where else will you look for players?
Krystkowiak: We're recruiting some kids that are on the East Coast right now. There's really not a home where I could say, we can't go there with where we are league-wise and some of the things that are around the corner here. Some kids in the East want to get away from home. Maybe there's a kid from L.A. that says he wants to get away from home. So there's really no stone that you can't flip over and try to find out. But Utah's going to be a big part of it. We're a Utah school and we need to get some Utah players. There's not going to be any restrictions. We certainly feel this league is as good as any in the West and one of the top conferences in the country, so we're in position to get in a few people's doors.
News: How familiar are you with the Pac-12?
Krystkowiak: I'm pretty familiar with it. I've watched quite a bit of basketball. I know a lot of the coaches that are in it. Once we get our whole staff, we're going to split up and do scouting reports on different teams. I'd like to have coaches help me get familiar with it and get them familiar with it. Maybe take three teams each and do a scouting report and present it to the rest of the staff, so we understand what teams are doing. It's one thing to watch a team casually — I've watched a ton of Pac-10 basketball — but it's another thing when you're sitting down and breaking down video and trying to figure out what they do. That's probably what we need to do right now more than anything.
News: Attendance at U. games has fallen from over 14,000 in 1996-97 to just over 8,000 last year. What can you do besides winning to increase attendance?
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