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Thread: The curious case of the Coach Krystkowiak era

  1. #1

    The curious case of the Coach Krystkowiak era

    I was reading through the Chris Hill retirement thread and saw a couple similar comments that got me thinking. I can't remember who said what, but the gist was that Coach Krystkowiak may eventually be seen as another one of Chris Hill's home run hires. I agree, that is yet to be seen. Which is what is weird. LK has had SEVEN FULL SEASONS and we still don't know for sure what we have. Isn't that weird? I mean after three years of Giacoletti I was ready to move on. And after four years of Boylen he had shown us his stripes.

    Yet here we are, after seven years of LK hoping, but not really knowing, if we're on the edge of another breakout.

    Here's how I see his tenure so far, and I'm curious if anyone else sees it similarly:

    Stage 1: Draining the Swamp.
    This was the first two years of his tenure. Ute hoops was in a very bad place. We knew we were bad and no one expected much of his first year. What was hotly debated at the time was whether Larry needed to go as scorched earth as he did letting guys like O'Brien and Clyburn walk. There wasn't much bright side to these first couple of years other than seeing Washburn become who we thought he could become, and getting the commitment from Loveridge which was the hope we all needed at the time.

    Stage 2: The Turn Around
    We finally start to see the fruits of LK's labors and our patience pay off. Delon Wright was a breath of fresh air, and recruiting seemed to be picking up steam as we were finding hidden gems like Ogbe and Poeltl and pulling in four-stars like Chapman and Kuzma. Poeltl surprised, Bachinski developed and we went from an NIT flameout (which oddly felt like progress) to a Sweet 16, to a year full of young studs post-Delon that felt like we were about to affix ourselves back on the national scene. Poeltl's sophomore year was going well, we were ranked, we were young, and we were competing at the top of a power conference.

    Stage 3: The Hiccup
    To me, this stage actually begins before the Poeltl era ended. It began with our no-show against Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament. What a bummer way to end an otherwise entertaining season. Predictably, Poeltl bolts for the NBA. Then mysteriously Chapman bails for Weber State? Ogbe can't get on the court here but thrives at UVU? Daniels is a stud, but also a problem? Kuzma thinks he's ready for the jump that LK and most the rest of us think he's a year away from (He was right! We were wrong). Our recruiting stalls and Arizona becomes a thorn in our side even more off the court than on it (funny what a bag man can do for recruiting). We can't seem to beg a 4-star to commit and our team is now a bunch of role players, JCs, and transfers. Our Gonzaga gag job turns into two NIT years. Just when we're all about to throw in the towel on the Krystko era, Timmy Allen commits followed by several more promising recruits. The future is bright.

    I've always believed in LK. The first five seasons all felt right. We knew a fix wouldn't likely happen over night. But progress was happening and success finally came. Which is what made seasons six and seven feel so strange. What went wrong? No, we're not Arizona or UCLA, but aren't we a *little* better than begging mid-major grad transfers and disgruntled players to fill our ranks? And after all of this, I actually still see LK and our program through rose-colored glasses. I don't know what next year will bring as we try to give a very talented but young roster some experience, but I see several NCAA Tourney appearances for us. If, (and this is a HUGE "IF") LK can follow up recruiting classes with more that look like this year's, we'll PROBABLY be pretty good in the next five years (Mannion, or not).

    Yet here we are, seven years later clinging to a lot of hope rather than concrete evidence considering how much history we have with this coach.

    I'm still a Krystkowiak believer and supporter. But what a strange ride its been.

  2. #2
    I think our program is a top 25 level program. Our conference allows for us to be ranked every year. Our facilities allow for us to be ranked every year. Our coaches pay allows for us to be ranked every year.

    As as far as Larry goes, labeling him a homerun hire is very premature. I wouldn’t even say he is guaranteed to be here in two years.

    He he should be given time, which he has. He has done some good things, with the two tourney appearances. He’s also done some really dumb things as well.

    So far, he has been a “C” grade coach. Very average. Two tournament appearances in 7 seasons is an “F” grade.

    But, we should look at the whole picture and grade with a curve. He came into a dumpster fire and turned us around a lot quicker than we thought possible. Getting to the sweet sixteen was an “A” grade.

    But, since Poeltl left, he’s been very mediocre with no tournament appearances.

    But, he has a great class coming in this fall.

    I’d say we should treat him like I said we should treat Whitt. I always said it wasn’t fair to judge Whitt as a HC until he had a full fledged PAC-12 team. Last season was the first time we had PAC-12 depth from top to bottom. Hell, you could even argue we haven’t had that until this upcoming season in football.

    Same for Larry. I think enough time has passed that he has recovered from the dumpster fire he inherited and has been able to learn how to recruit.

    Now it’s time to be a top 25 program. If he doesn’t make the tournament this next year, his seat should get very warm if not hot. If he doesn’t make the tournament this upcoming year and the next? I don’t see how he is still our coach.

    Its time for results. We’ve been more than patient with him.

  3. #3
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FountainOfUte View Post
    I was reading through the Chris Hill retirement thread and saw a couple similar comments that got me thinking. I can't remember who said what, but the gist was that Coach Krystkowiak may eventually be seen as another one of Chris Hill's home run hires. I agree, that is yet to be seen. Which is what is weird. LK has had SEVEN FULL SEASONS and we still don't know for sure what we have. Isn't that weird? I mean after three years of Giacoletti I was ready to move on. And after four years of Boylen he had shown us his stripes.

    Yet here we are, after seven years of LK hoping, but not really knowing, if we're on the edge of another breakout.

    Here's how I see his tenure so far, and I'm curious if anyone else sees it similarly:

    Stage 1: Draining the Swamp.
    This was the first two years of his tenure. Ute hoops was in a very bad place. We knew we were bad and no one expected much of his first year. What was hotly debated at the time was whether Larry needed to go as scorched earth as he did letting guys like O'Brien and Clyburn walk. There wasn't much bright side to these first couple of years other than seeing Washburn become who we thought he could become, and getting the commitment from Loveridge which was the hope we all needed at the time.

    Stage 2: The Turn Around
    We finally start to see the fruits of LK's labors and our patience pay off. Delon Wright was a breath of fresh air, and recruiting seemed to be picking up steam as we were finding hidden gems like Ogbe and Poeltl and pulling in four-stars like Chapman and Kuzma. Poeltl surprised, Bachinski developed and we went from an NIT flameout (which oddly felt like progress) to a Sweet 16, to a year full of young studs post-Delon that felt like we were about to affix ourselves back on the national scene. Poeltl's sophomore year was going well, we were ranked, we were young, and we were competing at the top of a power conference.

    Stage 3: The Hiccup
    To me, this stage actually begins before the Poeltl era ended. It began with our no-show against Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament. What a bummer way to end an otherwise entertaining season. Predictably, Poeltl bolts for the NBA. Then mysteriously Chapman bails for Weber State? Ogbe can't get on the court here but thrives at UVU? Daniels is a stud, but also a problem? Kuzma thinks he's ready for the jump that LK and most the rest of us think he's a year away from (He was right! We were wrong). Our recruiting stalls and Arizona becomes a thorn in our side even more off the court than on it (funny what a bag man can do for recruiting). We can't seem to beg a 4-star to commit and our team is now a bunch of role players, JCs, and transfers. Our Gonzaga gag job turns into two NIT years. Just when we're all about to throw in the towel on the Krystko era, Timmy Allen commits followed by several more promising recruits. The future is bright.

    I've always believed in LK. The first five seasons all felt right. We knew a fix wouldn't likely happen over night. But progress was happening and success finally came. Which is what made seasons six and seven feel so strange. What went wrong? No, we're not Arizona or UCLA, but aren't we a *little* better than begging mid-major grad transfers and disgruntled players to fill our ranks? And after all of this, I actually still see LK and our program through rose-colored glasses. I don't know what next year will bring as we try to give a very talented but young roster some experience, but I see several NCAA Tourney appearances for us. If, (and this is a HUGE "IF") LK can follow up recruiting classes with more that look like this year's, we'll PROBABLY be pretty good in the next five years (Mannion, or not).

    Yet here we are, seven years later clinging to a lot of hope rather than concrete evidence considering how much history we have with this coach.

    I'm still a Krystkowiak believer and supporter. But what a strange ride its been.
    It has been disheartening at times during Stage 3. He will need to start producing pretty soon or his seat will get very warm in the post-Jon Huntsman and post-Chris Hill era. The only possible explanations I can come up with for the hiccup are, first, his thyroid issue, which may have taken more of a toll on him then we realize; and second, the obvious corruption at competing programs, notably Arizona, who seem to have stolen some top-level recruits. And I don’t even believe those explanations because they’re really theories, not explanations.

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  4. #4
    I think he thought he could recruit top shelf kids. And he wasn’t willing to pay, so he couldn’t and we suffered greatly these last two years because of it.

    That being said, I think he learned a lot and has fixed his mistakes. I think we make the tournament this year and most years going forward.

    I dont one think he is a homerun hire yet. But I think he will be in four years.

  5. #5
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    The conundrum we all face as fans in trying to judge Larry is the Pac-12 just isn't that good of a basketball league. Yes, we outperform our predicted finish just about every year (we've never gone out and flopped miserably), but how much of that is Utah, and how much of that lies on the other 11 teams in the league just playing like dogs?

    The two years Delon was here -- 2013-14 and 2014-15 -- the league was very good. Every other year has seen mediocrity in the regular season (2012, 2013), a stunning collapse in the NCAAs (2016) or both (this year).

    Four seniors be damned -- none of them arrived at Utah out of HS -- the program is 100 percent Larry's next year and we should be loaded for bear. It's his best recruiting class, and there's no real favorite next year, certainly not a team that's gonna run away with the league title. If another weak non-con keeps us out of the Dance with yet another top-4 finish, his seat becomes very warm. Another weak non-con and a finish of 7th or worse? He's coaching for his job the following year.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by FountainOfUte View Post
    I was reading through the Chris Hill retirement thread and saw a couple similar comments that got me thinking. I can't remember who said what, but the gist was that Coach Krystkowiak may eventually be seen as another one of Chris Hill's home run hires. I agree, that is yet to be seen. Which is what is weird. LK has had SEVEN FULL SEASONS and we still don't know for sure what we have. Isn't that weird? I mean after three years of Giacoletti I was ready to move on. And after four years of Boylen he had shown us his stripes.

    Yet here we are, after seven years of LK hoping, but not really knowing, if we're on the edge of another breakout.
    Major hires by Chris Hill, and their accomplishments after 7 years ...

    Rick Majerus: Two S16s, two R32s, four league regular season titles, one conference tournament title. And that's counting his 6-game rookie year. (If I didn't count that, Year 7 would be our Elite 8 year).

    Ron McBride: Five winning seasons (only one losing season), four bowl games (1-3 mark), one league co-championship, one top 10 season-ending national ranking.

    Urban Meyer: 22-2 overall mark (two seasons), two bowl games (Liberty, Fiesta), two outright league championships, two season-ending national rankings (high of No. 4)

    Kyle Whittingham: Would you believe his 7th season was our first in the Pac-12? Seven winning seasons, seven bowls (6-1 mark), four season-ending national rankings (high of No. 2), one league championship.

    Larry Krystkowiak: Five winning seasons (out of 7), two NCAA appearances, one S16, zero league titles, zero conference tournament titles, two season-ending national rankings, three NIT bids.

    I would say Larry's feats rank closest to McBride's. Larry needs another big year to fill the goodwill tank. Mac almost had that year in 2001, and when the roof fell in on him in 2002, it made the decision pretty easy to move on from him.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by SoCalPat View Post
    The two years Delon was here -- 2013-14 and 2014-15 -- the league was very good. Every other year has seen mediocrity in the regular season (2012, 2013), a stunning collapse in the NCAAs (2016) or both (this year).
    Last season was good too. Oregon in the final four.

    If another weak non-con keeps us out of the Dance with yet another top-4 finish
    Has this happened? What year are you referring to?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sancho View Post
    Last season was good too. Oregon in the final four.



    Has this happened? What year are you referring to?
    Didnt we finish third in the PAC-12 this year and fourth last year? Has a top 4 PAC-12 team missed the tournament two years in a row? As much good as Larry has done, he has his share of blunders as well.

    I think its it’s time to raise expectations as fans and start expecting more. He has had 7 years. That’s more than 90% of coaches get, especially coaches at a top 25 program.

    Larry has done just well enough to keep the heat off. It’s time to take that next step.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Utah View Post
    Didnt we finish third in the PAC-12 this year and fourth last year? Has a top 4 PAC-12 team missed the tournament two years in a row? As much good as Larry has done, he has his share of blunders as well.
    He said that a weak non-con kept us out of the tournament. That was not the case this year. I can't remember if that was the case last year.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by sancho View Post
    He said that a weak non-con kept us out of the tournament. That was not the case this year. I can't remember if that was the case last year.
    So, if a weak non conference didn’t keep us out, why did ASU get in and we were left out?

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Utah View Post
    So, if a weak non conference didn’t keep us out, why did ASU get in and we were left out?
    ASU had quality wins, and we did not. We had opportunities for quality wins (vs Arizona, UCLA, USC, ASU, and Butler), but we didn't take advantage. I've seen some folks on twitter lament that if we'd played two okay teams instead of PV and MVSU, we'd have been in the tournament. That doesn't appear to be true.

  12. #12
    ASU's quality wins were OOC. So, had we had a better OOC schedule, you could very well argue that we'd made the tournament. It was ASU's OOC play, not their conference schedule, that got them in.

    I went back approx 10 years, and only the 2011-2012 Oregon team finished 3rd in the PAC and didn't make the tournament.

    So, what Utah accomplished was rare and not good. To schedule so poorly OOC that you must finish second in the PAC-12 or higher to make the tournament, that is not a good strategy.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by sancho View Post
    ASU had quality wins, and we did not. We had opportunities for quality wins (vs Arizona, UCLA, USC, ASU, and Butler), but we didn't take advantage. I've seen some folks on twitter lament that if we'd played two okay teams instead of PV and MVSU, we'd have been in the tournament. That doesn't appear to be true.
    I think what it means is that we would've at least been really in the discussion for the tournament, whereas we were barely in that discussion this year, and those three SWAC games really dragged down our RPI. It's been reported a million times, but had we just not played those three games, our RPI jumps like 10 spots, which, again, puts us in the discussion. Now, the reality is that we just didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had (Butler, BYU) and lost to UNLV who ended up being Terrible. So really what they need to do is put a schedule together that allows them to lose some games and still be in the discussion. Stanford really had a perfect schedule last year, but lost 3-4 Q3/Q4 games, and that sunk their season. Had they won the games they were supposed to win, with the schedule they had, I think they easily get in the tournament. Utah needs to take aim at that.
    “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.”

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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by DrumNFeather View Post
    Utah needs to take aim at that.
    I don't disagree with that at all. I only disagree with the false notion that scheduling is what cost us a tournament birth this season. USC's RPI was still much lower than ours would have been, neither of us had quality wins, and they didn't get in.

    It is correct to say a tougher schedule would have given us more opportunities for quality wins. That's only true if the SWAC teams are replaced by quadrant 1 opportunities.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by sancho View Post
    I don't disagree with that at all. I only disagree with the false notion that scheduling is what cost us a tournament birth this season. USC's RPI was still much lower than ours would have been, neither of us had quality wins, and they didn't get in.

    It is correct to say a tougher schedule would have given us more opportunities for quality wins. That's only true if the SWAC teams are replaced by quadrant 1 opportunities.
    You are ignoring the subjective element and frankly being stupidly numbers bound and dogmatic. The NCAA selection committee rewards your program for playing competitive games and making November and December interesting whether you win them or not. This is a deliberate policy even if not officially announced; it’s for the good of the game in the holiday season as it competes with football.

    Beating a patsy does you no good at all, and if you lose to one, god help you. So why in the Sam Hill not schedule as many competitive games as you possibly can? In a sense this is like diversying your portfolio of stocks. Yes, you will win fewer games, but you’ll eliminate the chance of a deadly loss, and maximize the chance of getting that 1-2 quality wins that can put you over the top.Yes, one of those teams that you thought were competitive may turn out terrible, but you will have scheduled other teams that turned out to be as good as expected. For Pete’s sake, all you need is a couple of quality wins. Scheduling lollipops in the preseason is program malpractice. This is common sense.
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  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by SeattleUte View Post
    Scheduling lollipops in the preseason is program malpractice. This is common sense.
    I'll be honest, I would have thought that LK learned this lesson earlier in his Utah tenure. I'm thinking off the top of my head that our first NIT appearance could have been more with a better schedule, but LK scheduled light (somewhat understandably not knowing what he had in Delon). Then we had a couple good years of strong schedules then back to some weak sauce this year and last. Man, I hope we put this kind of scheduling behind us soon.

  17. #17
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    LK has said several times in the last month or two, in effect, that he now “gets it” regarding Q1 wins. I assume that means that going forward he’ll schedule fewer patsies, if any.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
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    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
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    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    LK has said several times in the last month or two, in effect, that he now “gets it” regarding Q1 wins. I assume that means that going forward he’ll schedule fewer patsies, if any.
    Larry just needs to hire me to work on the schedule...can you please arrange that?
    “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.”

    Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by SeattleUte View Post
    Beating a patsy does you no good at all, and if you lose to one, god help you. So why in the Sam Hill not schedule as many competitive games as you possibly can? In a sense this is like diversying your portfolio of stocks. Yes, you will win fewer games, but you’ll eliminate the chance of a deadly loss, and maximize the chance of getting that 1-2 quality wins that can put you over the top.Yes, one of those teams that you thought were competitive may turn out terrible, but you will have scheduled other teams that turned out to be as good as expected. For Pete’s sake, all you need is a couple of quality wins. Scheduling lollipops in the preseason is program malpractice. This is common sense.
    I agree 100%. Well, I agree 90%. The committee traditionally doesn't care much about losing to a patsy. But everything else is right on.

    The only thing I was saying is that we cannot claim that the three games against SWAC teams cost us a bid. That is not true. Our lack of quality wins cost us a bid.

    I do agree - and I did say - that a better schedule would have given us more opportunities for quality wins. Now, I don't think we'd have won those games based on our performance this season in quadrant 1 games, but we certainly should have tried.

  20. #20
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    LK mentioned recently he would love to play NC, Duke and Kentucky a dozen times pre-conference, but those teams won't schedule Utah. With the increased regular season conference schedule pushed back to mid-December, introduction of more holiday basketball tournaments, this ridiculous Beehive Classic and a week of finals, I don't imagine it's as simple to schedule as some here think. Additionally, next year's team will be very young most coaches want to build confidence by scheduling some easy wins.

    Scheduling was one of the things most of us hated about Majerus, LK may not have a play anybody-anywhere type mentality, but we've had worse.
    Last edited by Scorcho; 04-04-2018 at 11:32 AM.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by FountainOfUte View Post
    I'll be honest, I would have thought that LK learned this lesson earlier in his Utah tenure. I'm thinking off the top of my head that our first NIT appearance could have been more with a better schedule, but LK scheduled light (somewhat understandably not knowing what he had in Delon). Then we had a couple good years of strong schedules then back to some weak sauce this year and last. Man, I hope we put this kind of scheduling behind us soon.
    To be fair, the committee moved the target this season with the quadrant stuff. And they decided to bind themselves more tightly than ever to their arbitrary lines. The inclusion of ASU was a shock to most NCAA coaches because it was a ridiculous statement that the committee is going to put quality secondary to other criteria.

    Of course, our schedule was bad under their old standards of RPI as well, so ... nevermind.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Scorcho View Post
    I don't imagine it's as simple to schedule as some here think.
    I don't know how ASU managed to do it. I guess schools weren't afraid of them? They have had amazing non-con schedules for the past two years.

    At any rate, if you can't get good teams, you can at least not schedule the very bad teams. This is, of course, dumb. Why not allow a school to schedule a few easy wins? Why not allow these tiny programs to get some cash and experience losing to Utah? A committee with a more reasonable criteria would be fine with 1-2 tune-up games. That's not the committee we have, though, and we need to play by their rules.

  23. #23
    With a new emphasis on scheduling up, I feel like the top 125-150 teams will start to schedule each other more and avoid the 151-351 type teams. Could be good for Utah.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrumNFeather View Post
    Larry just needs to hire me to work on the schedule...can you please arrange that?
    I would, but I've lost his cell number.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by UtahsMrSports View Post
    With a new emphasis on scheduling up, I feel like the top 125-150 teams will start to schedule each other more and avoid the 151-351 type teams. Could be good for Utah.
    I like it to, but I'm not sure its completely health for college basketball. Not sure what the long term ramifications would be?

    It seems similar to P5 teams only scheduling other P5 teams in football. That would hurt many of the non P5 programs.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    I would, but I've lost his cell number.
    I think Greg Hughes has Mrs. Krysko's number

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by sancho View Post
    I don't know how ASU managed to do it. I guess schools weren't afraid of them? They have had amazing non-con schedules for the past two years.

    At any rate, if you can't get good teams, you can at least not schedule the very bad teams. This is, of course, dumb. Why not allow a school to schedule a few easy wins? Why not allow these tiny programs to get some cash and experience losing to Utah? A committee with a more reasonable criteria would be fine with 1-2 tune-up games. That's not the committee we have, though, and we need to play by their rules.
    I think the committee is fine with 1-2 tune up games. Where you get in trouble is when half of your OOC schedule is those RPI 300 games. Now again, some of that is out of your control (i.e. Hawaii had an RPI over 300 last year, and could next year as well and if we get matched up with them in the first round of the Wooden Legacy, that will not help us at all), but I think a good deal of that is completely within your control.
    “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.”

    Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by DrumNFeather View Post
    I think the committee is fine with 1-2 tune up games. Where you get in trouble is when half of your OOC schedule is those RPI 300 games.
    I'm only counting two "tune up" games on the schedule last year if you define it as sub-300 RPI. Was our schedule really that out of whack compared to other tournament teams? What hurt us was not having Xavier on the schedule which was out of our control.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by DrumNFeather View Post
    I think the committee is fine with 1-2 tune up games.
    The committee might think they are alright with 1-2 tune up games, but 1-2 tune up games have a disproportionate negative effect on RPI, which the committee uses.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by UtahsMrSports View Post
    With a new emphasis on scheduling up, I feel like the top 125-150 teams will start to schedule each other more and avoid the 151-351 type teams. Could be good for Utah.
    If that happens, it should benefit all P5 programs more or less evenly. Strength of schedule is not an absolute; it's measured as a ranking, so it's relative.

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