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Utah Utes basketball: Larry Krystkowiak draws praise from Pac-12 peers

Published: Saturday, Oct. 29 2011 8:09 p.m. MDT

Utah basketball head coach Larry Krystkowiak speaks with the Deseret News in his office in the Huntsman Center. He has been on the job for a busy two weeks now.

Lennie Mahler, Deseret News

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LOS ANGELES — Washington State coach Ken Bone has crossed paths with Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak before. They matched wits in the Big Sky Conference from 2005-07 when Bone was at Portland State and Krystkowiak ran the show at Montana.

"Larry is intense. He gets his kids to be extremely intense and they play relentless basketball. I mean, they bring it," Bone said. "His teams at Montana were very well-coached."

Although Krystkowiak is a big guy, he did an outstanding job of balancing inside and outside play with his teams.

"(Utah is) going to be a team to reckon with. There's no doubt about it," Bone said. "They'll be well-organized, well-prepared, and they'll bring some serious intensity to the floor just like when he played."

California coach Mike Montgomery, who coached Krystkowiak at Montana, agrees. He expects Krystkowiak to be successful at Utah.

"He has a way with kids. He's very level-headed and has a way of explaining things that they get without being too heavy-handed," Montgomery said. "And his experience, obviously, speaks for itself. So I'm excited to see Larry at Utah and happy to have him in the league."

PRESEASON PICK: UCLA coach Ben Howland didn't make a lot out of the Bruins being picked to win the conference.

"Our team always has high expectations. It's the expectations we put on ourselves that matter most," Howland said. "It's always nice to be picked high, but that doesn't guarantee anything. It's where you finish."

ABOUT THE POLL: Krsytkowiak had a request for the media after examining the results of the Pac-12's preseason poll, where the Utes were ranked last.

"I was hoping somebody could do some research," Krystkowiak said while referencing a historical section of the press release that indicated the media poll had picked the eventual champion 12 times in 19 years. "I wanted to know how many times in 19 tries have you picked the bottom team correctly. Hopefully, that's not quite as high of a number."

SILVER LINING: The Utes may top the Pac-12 in something.

"I'd be really surprised if a team made more progress than we have in the last 10 days. Our goal is to try and get better from one week to the next and one month to the next," Krystkowiak said. "Whatever that happens to be, when the time comes, it's hard to say. Let's just try to get a little better today and we'll see where it all ends up."

STANDING TALL: When asked about the new locales Utah will visit in the Pac-12, David Foster's response drew laughter from media.

"I tell you what I'm not going to miss — traveling to Laramie, Wyoming, anymore," he said.

After mentioning the California schools and Arizona as places he's eager to visit this season, Foster delivered another quip with zip.

"Looking forward to playing at Oregon," he said of the design-heavy Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. "I've never played on a court with a bunch of trees. So it should be good."

Email: dirk@desnews.com, Twitter: @DirkFacer

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