This team doesn’t lack confidence, so it’s not like you have to remind them of all the good things. This is the kind of group that you need to push their buttons and remind them of what we’re not doing. – Larry Krystkowiak
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak waltzed into his weekly press conference clutching a white sheet of paper and holding a giant grin on his face.
“I’ve got something for you guys,” he said in his rich baritone voice, before reading off the Dr. Seuss classic “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” — with a little emphasis on a basketball flavor to it (audio available on the side).
If Krystkowiak was concerned about his team’s loss to No. 5 Arizona on Saturday or the possibility of the No. 13 Runnin’ Utes not finishing second in the Pac-12 heading into the conference tournament, he definitely didn’t show it Monday.
Some of that has to do with what the Utes have accomplished this season, even with the recent losses to Oregon and Arizona. Utah remains sixth in defensive and 15th in offensive efficiency heading into the final week of the regular season. Kentucky, Gonzaga, Ohio State and Arizona are the only other teams currently in the top 20 for both statistics.
And with that, there isn’t time — or the need — to reinvent the game plan.
“I’m pleased where we are number-wise, when you talk about efficiency — points per possession offensively, points per possession defensively,” Krystkowiak said. “I still think we’re in the top 20 for both of them, so I got to remind myself that we are still doing some good things. It’s certainly never going to be perfect and Saturday was far from it.
“We do have a good team. The guys are figuring some things out and we’ve got a handful of games left before hopefully the March Madness selection Sunday thing.”
However, Utah has struggled with some parts of the game, and Utah might spend its final two weeks before the NCAA tournament working on some basic elements.
The little things can make a big difference.
“We need to get back to screening,” Krystkowiak said. “We were trying to figure out how to score against Arizona, and it doesn’t matter what play you’re running, if you don’t go and set a physical screen with a sense of urgency and sprint over there and try to get a teammate open, you can flounder like we did a number of times Saturday night. Forget the fancy play, let’s just get back to the basics.”
There isn’t a concern for attitude, and time isn’t running out on Utah’s season.
The Utes close out their regular season this week at Washington State and Washington, which will give them time to perfect their craft before heading into the conference tournament and even beyond that.
Perhaps that's why Krystkowiak didn't appear all too worried Monday.
“This team doesn’t lack confidence, so it’s not like you have to remind them of all the good things,” he added. “This is the kind of group that you need to push their buttons and remind them of what we’re not doing.”