SALT LAKE CITY – The theme for the Utah basketball this week is simplify, simplify, simplify.
After a roller-coaster start to the season in which the 3-3 Utes have won every other game and dropped a pair of double-digit games at the Wooden Legacy Tournament over the weekend, the Utes are trying to get back to basics and take some of the mental load off the young Ute team that has nine new players on the roster.
“We want to put some guys' minds at ease and not have paralysis by analysis,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “I’m sensing when their minds get put at ease a little bit more at both ends of the floor. You’re going to see a little more . . . kind of like a playground mentality where you don’t want to sit until it’s your turn to play again. We need a little bit more of that and freeing up the guys' minds.”
With so many young players, Krystkowiak said it’s sometimes been difficult for players to execute and acknowledges that coaches can do a better job helping the players.
“It’s really easy from a coaching perspective – simplify things in a defensive game plan and not expect our guys to remember too much. And from an offensive point of view, instead of having 20 things we’ve proven not to be very good at, we're going to pare that down to five or six and stick with a stable of plays. Sometimes as a coach you depend on some execution and making some things fancy in order to give yourselves a shot and that hasn’t necessarily worked to our advantage."
Senior guard Parker Van Dyke, who has been around the program since 2013, echoed his coach’s words about simplifying
“We’ve narrowed down the stuff we’re going to run and we’ve really tried to hammer those in so when we run those things, we can really execute them,” he said. “A lot of our issues were not executing the plays we were running. This just simplifies things and helps us to play a little more free.”
HENDRIX GONE: Krystkowiak declined to elaborate more on the departure of redshirt freshman guard Vante Hendrix from the Ute program, which was revealed in a tweet by Hendrix Tuesday.
Earlier Wednesday, the U. sports information department released a statement from Krystkowiak, which read, “Vante Hendrix will no longer be a member of our basketball program and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Later, in an afternoon practice, Krystkowiak wouldn’t say whose decision it was for Hendrix to leave the program.
“It didn’t work out, it’s nobody’s fault and we’re moving on,” he said.
Hendrix, who was known as DeVante Doutrive when he sat out last year, played in four games and averaged 7.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 17.8 minutes of action per game.
In Thursday night’s game against Hawaii he received a technical foul late in the second half of Utah’s 90-79 loss and had a brief exchange with Krystkowiak. Then Hendrix didn’t play in either of the next two games in the tournament.
UTE NOTES: The Utes will play Tulsa Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Huntsman Center. The Golden Hurricanes are 5-2 and coming off a 72-58 win over UT-Arlington Tuesday night. Last weekend they stayed close to No. 5-ranked Nevada, losing 96-86 at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic . . .
Sedrick Barefield leads the Utes in scoring at 13.5 ppg and assists at 3.8 apg, while Donnie Tillman leads the team in rebounding at 7.3 rpg and is second in scoring at 12.0 ppg , , , After Saturday’s game, the Utes play BYU the following Saturday in the Beehive Classic at Vivint Arena (12 p.m.), then head to Kentucky the following Saturday to play the Wildcats at Rupp Arena. Then it’s back home for a couple of games against Florida A&M and Northern Arizona on Dec. 17 and Dec. 21, respectively.