Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak has an apt description when it comes to his team’s five seniors.
“Everyone’s got their own story,” he said as the players prepare for their final game in the Huntsman Center. They’ll close out their home careers Saturday against 19th-ranked Oregon (Pac-12 Network, 12:30 p.m.).
“It’s an important thing,” Krystkowiak noted. “It’s kind of a culmination with each of those guys.”
The senior class, who will receive framed jerseys and photos in a pregame ceremony, represents quite a cross section. It includes the program’s career blocks leader (Dave Foster), the 35th player in team history to score 1,000 points (Jason Washburn), this season’s top scorer (Jarred DuBois), one of the Pac-12’s best defenders (Cedric Martin), and a determined walk-on (Ryan Osterloh).
“You want all those kids to do well, but you still have to kind of approach the game the same way,” said Krystkowiak, who noted that it’s fitting that the seniors emulate the bullet points the Utes are seeking for next week’s Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. He’s implored his team to play their tails off, make simple plays and be solid fundamentally.
“I don’t think we want to blow it up and put any pressure on any of our seniors to have an extraordinary type of performance,” Krystkowiak added.
The players understand that it’s all about the team at this point. Utah can secure the 10th-seed in the conference tourney with a win over the Ducks. A Washington State loss to USC would also clinch it.
Washburn made it clear after Thursday’s 72-61 win over Oregon State, however, that the first scenario is preferable. The Utes want to get it done on the court with what would be the program’s first back-to-back Pac-12 victories.
Although he acknowledged that getting it done on Senior Night would be like a “cherry on top,” Washburn said such an accomplishment would be for the team, their coach and the program.
The seniors, though, will be in the spotlight as fans, family and friends pay tribute to them.
The graduate student didn’t get a “Senior Night” at Loyola Marymount. He left the Lions for Utah after three seasons and 96 games, earning a degree in communications before switching schools.
“It’s been a good run I think for Jarred,” Krystkowiak said. “He’s made progress. He’s been great in our community and provided us with a little bit of skill in the backcourt.”
DuBois, who ranks among the top 25 career leaders in several statistical catagories at LMU, made a smooth transition to the Pac-12 — topping the Utes in overall scoring (12.1 points per game) and assists (3.0).
With his one and only season at Utah heading toward a finish, the 6-foot-3 guard from Inglewood, Calif., isn’t taking time to reflect on the experience. He’s not finished yet.
“It’s definitely been a good ride,” DuBois said. “Hopefully we can finish it the right way.”
DuBois, who has spearheaded a program to help feed the homeless in Salt Lake City, considers the opportunity to play for Utah as “a blessing.”
The 7-foot-3 center from Lake Forest, Calif., is regaining full health after being sidelined with a foot injury the past two seasons. He left his mark, however. Foster tops the Utah record book for most blocked shots in a career (219), a season (115) and a game (10).
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