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Why Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak isn’t concerned about Utes being picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12

Ute sophomore forward Timmy Allen was named to the preseason All-Pac-12 second team.

Utah’s Both Gach, left, and Timmy Allen speak during the Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day, in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.
D. Ross Cameron, AP

SAN FRANCISCO — Utah was picked ninth in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. It’s the lowest the Utes have been projected to finish since being picked in the same spot in 2013-14.

The poll, though, doesn’t mean a lot to head coach Larry Krystkowiak. Never has, never will.

“It doesn’t matter,” Krystkowiak said at Pac-12 media day. “It doesn’t matter to me.”

Krystkowiak added that it shouldn’t matter to the players either.

“If you have to seek motivation from a preseason poll you’re probably not cut from the right stuff,” he explained. “I’ve always felt personally that it’s easier to be the arrow than it is the target. There were a few years there where we were picked first, second, third, whatever. That’s no easy task either. This season is never easy. On paper, with the youth and all that, I don’t hold it against anybody. It’s a starting point, but I think we’ll find our motivation from within.”

Utah’s Timmy Allen speaks during the Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day, in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah has been picked to finish in a variety of spots in the conference preseason poll. The Utes were projected second in 2014-15 and third in 2015-16. Other prognostications include seventh in 2017-18; eighth in 2016-17 and 2018-19; as well as last in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

However, Utah has a run of exceeding expectations. The Utes have finished in the top four and earned a bye in the Pac-12 tournament for five straight seasons.

Sophomore Timmy Allen, who made the preseason all-conference second team, said it’s no surprise that Utah was picked ninth in the preseason poll. If nothing else it provides some fuel for the upcoming season.

“We didn’t care about the rankings before and we still don’t care about them,” Allen said. “It’s all what’s in here and how we’re going to play and the edge we are going to play with, so we’re just going to go with what we know and just play hard.”

Teammate Both Gach also said the poll results seem to be the same every year.

“To see that, I’m not surprised. But at the end of the season you look at us and we finish in the top five and stuff like that,” Gach said. “So it’s just another challenge, something you work hard for.”

• . • . •

2019-20 Pac-12 preseason media poll

(first-place votes in parentheses)

  1. Oregon (9) — 291
  2. Colorado (9) — 288
  3. Washington (6) — 273
  4. Arizona (2) — 263
  5. USC (1) — 198
  6. Arizona State — 187
  7. Oregon State — 161
  8. UCLA — 148
  9. Utah — 131
  10. Stanford — 84
  11. Washington State — 47
  12. California — 35