International trip should help Runnin' Utes come together

Published: Monday, March 19 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

"Everybody's going to be trying to get better," Krystkowiak said. "So we can't just think if we can better, all of a sudden we're going to be competitive in the league because we're all in the same boat."

Utah's initial journey through the league featured wide disparities. Three wins and solid showings in a handful of losses were countered by lopsided setbacks that bookended the conference season. The Utes lost their league opener at Colorado 73-33 and the regular-season finale at Oregon 94-48.

The latter made history as the biggest deficit in team history.

Krystkowiak said "it is what it is" and doesn't look at it as a significant step back. He noted that the Utes bounced back the next week and gave eventual champion Colorado a battle in the Pac-12 Tournament before falling 53-41.

"At the end of the day, I don't mind bottoming out. I don't mind being responsible and having a little record book," Krystkowiak said. "I want to remember that we've got the worst loss in the history of Utah basketball and that we did this and we won six games. It's important that we remember all the stuff that we went through as a reminder of where we want to be.

"That's not to say that we're going to win 20 next year and it was just a little blip on the screen," he explained. "But it's all part of the process. So I'm hoping we're sitting here in five years and we can be talking about the improvement that we've made and, yeah, remember back then."

As for now, Krystkowiak insists he's not discouraged. He's excited to move on to the next stage of the building process. No need to dwell too much on the past.

"We can't change it," Krystkowiak said. "We've just got to try to learn from it."

Last year, The Sporting News examined the impact of international tours. The report noted several success stories.

After losing five first-round picks in 2010, Kentucky regrouped by heading to Canada that summer and went on to reach the Final Four the following season.

Michigan used a trip to Belgium to bounce back from a losing season in 2009-10 to win a game in the NCAA Tournament the next year.

And a journey to the Caribbean paid dividends for Memphis. The Tigers followed it up by winning Conference USA's automatic bid a year after failing to reach the NCAA tourney.

email: dirk@desnews.com

twitter: dirkfacer

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