Seeing as how the Pac-12 reprimanded Larry Krystkowiak last year after he made some relatively benign comments about center Matt Van Komen being unfairly hit with a technical foul for hanging on the rim too long after a dunk, some sort of fine or reprimand is likely in store for the coach this week for comments he made about a controversial call after the 67-64 loss to Oregon Saturday night.
Last year, the reprimand came on a Tuesday, three days after an 83-64 loss to Arizona State in Tempe, Arizona, because Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day that year.
Krystkowiak wasted no time in voicing his displeasure over a double-dribble call, curious to some, that went against star Utes’ forward Timmy Allen with 3.4 seconds remaining at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon, and gave the ball back to the Ducks, who were leading 65-64 at the time.
Asked about the call made by official Deldre Carr in a Zoom teleconference with reporters a few minutes after Allen’s last-gasp 3-point attempt to tie the game didn’t come close to going in, Krystkowiak laughed sarcastically for nearly 10 seconds before exclaiming: “Wow. All I can say is ‘Wow.’”
He was only getting started. Clearly, Krystkowiak was attempting to keep his emotions reined in, disguising his anger with awkward laughter, but the disgust was evident, even through his face covering.
“I can show you 15 (video) clips of palming tonight (that weren’t called). So I am really confused and I feel really bummed for our team. I feel bad for the game, that it has to be that way. That’s how I feel about it.” — Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak.
“You know, what a team goes through (is hard), and we scrapped and we played our butts off, and it wasn’t error-free by any means. And we made plenty of mistakes. Oregon made plenty of mistakes. (Oregon coach) Dana (Altman) and I probably made plenty of mistakes,” he said. “But I think at the end of the day we let the players determine a game. And so to make up a call at the end that didn’t even happen is mind-boggling, when we have palming, is also a rule. As is double dribble.
“And palming doesn’t seem to be called,” Krystkowiak continued. “I can show you 15 (video) clips of palming tonight. So I am really confused and I feel really bummed for our team. I feel bad for the game, that it has to be that way. That’s how I feel about it.”
Utah (9-10, 6-9) dropped below .500 with the excruciating loss, but has to be considered the best sub-.500 team in the country after pushing the Ducks (14-4, 9-3) the entire 40 minutes, never trailing by more than five points.
Utah’s NET ranking dropped from No. 94 to No. 96, and the Utes are now No. 81 in Kenpom.com, Oregon No. 37.
Up next for the Utes, losers of three straight, is their first home game since that 73-58 win over Arizona on Feb. 4. Utah hosts UCLA (16-5, 12-3) , which is tied for first place in the league with nationally ranked USC, at 6 p.m. MST on Thursday. The Utes host USC on Saturday.
Along with how the Pac-12 will deal with Krystkowiak’s comments, the big question for Utah is whether starting forward Mikael Jantunen will be cleared to play. Jantunen is back in Salt Lake City after missing Utah’s last three games to play for the Finnish national team in the EuroBasket 2022 qualifier against Switzerland in the country of Georgia, but could have to quarantine for up to seven days, per CDC guidelines.
Krystkowiak said he doesn’t know, either.
“I have been completely focused in on this,” he said. “There is going to be protocol (to follow) when he lands and gets back. … with our health department and the Pac-12. Those are all areas that I am not in charge of. It has been like this the whole year, where people are going to tell us and we will know fairly soon. But I don’t know that answer at this point.”
Point guard Rylan Jones’ status is also uncertain, after the sophomore missed the last four games with a shoulder injury. Krystkowiak said he “appreciated” a question about the Utes missing their steady point guard during crunch-time situations, but was only focused on the players who almost delivered Utah’s second win in Eugene since Utah joined the league in 2011-12.
“I didn’t miss anybody tonight, because I was 100 percent in with the guys that were on our bus, coming in here. Bench, players, subs, starters, you name it,” he said. “We are a connected group of guys. … There are not going to be any issues. We need to get Rylan healthy, we need to get (Jantunen) back. But for the time being this is our squad and I was really proud of the squad that competed tonight.”
Meanwhile, the Utes remain an enigma. It wouldn’t be surprising if they swept the league-leaders this week, or got blown out by both, or settled for a split. When they stay out of foul trouble, rebound well and shoot a reasonable percentage, they are in every game.
But as Allen put it Thursday night after the loss at Oregon State, in Pac-12 play they “have no margin for error.”
For instance, the Utes went 13 of 16 from the free-throw line vs. Oregon and are No. 22 in team free-throw percentage in the country (77.6%), but a couple more made free throws Saturday night could have meant the difference between winning and losing.
And might have saved Krystkowiak from getting another reprimand, or worse.