I would never diss another Polish-American. Probably give him our secret handshake. I’m not going to tell you what it is. —Larry Krystkowiak
HOUSTON — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t recall running into Utah's Larry Krystkowiak at a 7-Eleven in Las Vegas while on the recruiting trail last summer. Krystkowiak said that’s where he met the other “Coach K” for the first time and had a brief exchange.
“I usually am not in 7-Elevens in Vegas. I’m usually at the Wynn doing something,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m not saying it didn’t (happen). I would never diss another Polish-American. Probably give him our secret handshake. I’m not going to tell you what it is.”
Krzyzewski went on to praise Krystkowiak and how much he enjoyed having him as a guest on his Sirius XM radio show about a month ago.
“His interview, his conversation was amazing,” Krzyzewski said. “His background and how he’s gotten to where he is right now, just a really incredible guy and I know the kids on his team benefit greatly from having a coach like him.”
HOWDY PARTNER: Reyes is hoping to meet some of the Texans while hanging out in their stadium. In particular, he’d like to cross paths with a certain All-Pro defensive end.
“I’m a big J.J. Watt fan,” Reyes said. “Some of the stuff he does is crazy and I want to get the chance to meet him.”
SEALED AGAIN: Krystkowiak was asked about Utah’s offseason Navy SEAL training and the decision to have commander Mark McGinnis return to see the team last week in Portland.
“When he walked into our cafeteria and saw our players and our players jumped out of their seats — like a sibling kind of deal — I knew we did the right thing by bringing him back and coming full circle from when we started the process in September,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s very important to me, you know, and I think a lot of things that the SEALs stand for, we’re trying to stand for.”
BRUINS UNITED: UCLA has made its way to the Sweet 16 despite some pundits proclaiming the Bruins (22-13) unfit for the NCAA Tournament after a somewhat mediocre regular season.
Sophomore guard Bryce Alford said the team has just tried to ignore all the negative talk.
“Outside voices don’t matter in the end,” he explained. “Keep it all in the locker room, listen to what’s going on in the locker room and focus on that.”
UCLA plays Gonzaga in Friday’s other South Regional semifinal (5:15 p.m., CBS).
A REMATCH: Gonzaga defeated UCLA 87-74 at Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 13. Even so, junior forward Kyle Wiltjer said the Bulldogs are capable of doing even better.
“That was so early in the season. We are going to take some things we did well — and we didn’t even play that great — so we just want to improve from that game,” he noted. “We’re playing with a chip on our shoulder right now.”
Gonzaga has played in 17 consecutive NCAA Tournaments but has reached the Elite Eight only once, in 1999.