Utes men’s basketball coach Larry Krysktowiak wants his team to have tunnel vision focused on its next opponent, Washington. However, he knows the final weeks of the season could get wild in the Pac-12.
Utah (15-9, 7-6) enters this week in a four-way tie for sixth place in the conference along with No. 25 Arizona State, Colorado and Stanford. Washington and Oregon are tied for fourth at 7-5 in conference play. UCLA and USC sit in a tie for second at 8-5 behind No. 17 Arizona (10-3). Utah’s goal remains to climb into one of the top four slots and avoid having to win four tournament games to win the Pac-12 title.
“The fact that the league is all jumbled up, I don’t know that that’s any more of a factor in how important it is to get one of those top seeds. I think it anything, it’s an indication that anybody can win any game. You get to Vegas in a neutral site and some crazy things can happen.”
“Colorado did it, I think, the first year we were in the league where they won four games in a row,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s hard if you’re not a deep team to be able to turn it on four consecutive nights. It’s not impossible.”
ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi projected five Pac-12 teams to get into the NCAA Tournament’s field of 68 in his latest forecast. He listed Utah in his “next four out” behind Boise State, Nebraska, St. Bonaventure and Syracuse, who were his “first four out.”
Thursday’s opponent, Washington, is ahead of the Utes in the conference standings as well as RPI.
“We’ve just got to approach it the same way we’ve been approaching these past few games and just try to go out next game and get a W,” Utes guard Sedrick Barefield said. “That’s encouraging to know that if we do get a win, we could be in a good position.”
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who played collegiately for Arizona, allowed several players to run timeouts and draw up plays on the clipboard in huddles on the sidelines in a game against Phoenix earlier this week.
“Steve’s a smart guy, and I think there’s plenty of times when you can empower your team,” Krystkowiak said. “We’ve done it in the film room. I’ve done film clips and taken the labels off the clips so they don’t know why I clipped it. I’ll just call on a guy and say, ‘As a coach, tell me what we did wrong here.’
“They’ve got to think the game a little bit and see it from an overall perspective. I think as a player you get caught into your own little deal all the time and you don’t realize how many moving parts are going around you.”
Krystkowiak added that he has no plans to turn timeouts over to his players.
Down the stretch they come
The women’s basketball team will play its final two home games of the season this weekend in the Huntsman Center. The Utes (15-10, 6-5) host Washington State (10-16, 3-11) on Friday night and Washington (7-18, 1-13) on Sunday afternoon.
The Utes will celebrate senior day Sunday when Wendy Anae, Tanaeya “Tay” BoClair, Tilar Clark and Emily Potter play their last game in front of the home crowd.