Utah Utes basketball: Despite difficult season, Larry Krystkowiak maintaining his resolve

Published: Tuesday, March 6 2012 12:00 p.m. MST

"We all understand where we want to go but it's a step-by-step process," Hill said. "Larry was dealt about as tough of a hand as you can be dealt."

There have been times, Krystkowiak admitted, when he wondered if yet another unexpected challenge or two loomed on the horizon,

"There was a few of those moments," Krystkowiak said. "But it's kind of like you preach to your players — next point. You've got to forget about the last point and start focusing on what you can control. So you've got to really kind of heed your own advice and make sure you're doing the same thing."

It's an approach made easier, Krystkowiak explained, because of the players and the fans. Things haven't gone according to script and it's been a rough year on everyone, he continued, but everyone's spirits are up and no one has thrown in the towel.

"We didn't have a lot of attitudes and egos. The kids coming to work all the time have made it pretty darn easy," Krystkowiak said. "The people in the community have been patient and kind of understanding as to where we need to get. It's been pretty tough but I think it's all going to be worthwhile."

Hill is excited about the future and appreciates how Krystkowiak is handling things. He says the coach is confident in a modest way.

"I think anybody that knows basketball knows that we've seen progress." Hill said.

And more is expected with talented players like West Jordan's Jordan Loveridge joining the program. The highly touted signee considers Krystkowiak a great all-around guy on and off the court.

"I know when I go up there he's going to be like a second dad to me. That's how he treats his players. You see him around his family and it's the same with his players," Loveridge said. "He's going to make you work hard. He's not going to let you go through things. If you're doing the wrong thing, then you can't play for him. I love that about him."

Krystkowiak made an immediate impression.

"The first day he could recruit he was in my gym," Loveridge said. "So that showed me from there, that's the coach — that's the one I want."

Not even a 61-60 exhibition loss to Adams State changed things. Loveridge was on hand for that game in the Huntsman Center on Nov. 4.

"They didn't do too well, but now they're competing with every team in the Pac-12," Loveridge said while noting he also attended the Feb. 25 victory over Stanford in the home finale. "That was great. I just know it's going to even get better from there. So it's very exciting."

Washburn shares Loveridge's optimism.

"When I first met Coach K I didn't know really what to expect," he said while noting that Krystkowiak doesn't really talk as much as his predecessor Jim Boylen did. "He's much more about work on the court. Let's do it, not talk about it so much. Let's just go out and let's do it, let's work on it."

Washburn acknowledged it was a little bit of an adjustment at first, but has proved to be quite beneficial.

"We go out on the court and we work hard — every day," Washburn said. "I've come to really appreciate and respect how Coach K does things and I've really been enjoying it."

Krystkowiak's background as a player and coach, Washburn noted, shows that he knows what he's doing and is good at it. "All I had to do was listen. I think he's helped me improve tremendously over the year."

The education, however, is a two-way street. Krystkowiak insists coaching is always a process. Since taking over up on the hill, he says he's learned a great deal basketball-wise, team-wise and organizationally.

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