Inside the huddle: Krystkowiak prepares to face friend/foe in Round 2 vs. OSU

CEA_2905 Emily Juchau

The first time the Utes played the Beavers at home, Oregon State’s Jarmal Reid somewhat infamously tripped a referee in the closing minutes of a tie game. He was immediately ejected after receiving a flagrant-two foul, and Utah went on to win the game, 59-53.

The incident was replayed everywhere, and although coaches and players are sure nothing like that will happen in Corvallis, they’ll need to keep on their toes if they want another road win, the team’s sixth in a row.

Head coach Larry Krystkowiak thinks one play was blown out of proportion and isn’t even focusing on it. He’s reviewing game film to see what his team can do better.

“I think at the end of the day, that was a one-point play,” Krystkowiak said. “I think a lot was made of it, and unfortunately it was kind of a slow news day, and it was a national story, but we struggled against their zone. We weren’t very good offensively.”

Part of the problem on offense Krystkowiak has noticed from the first outing is how the team missed open shots. Although in recent games the Utes’ shooting percentage has increased, they’ll need to keep it up in another tough road environment.

Familiarity on the opposing sideline

OSU is coached by Wayne Tinkle, who Krystkowiak played basketball with in his college playing days at Montana. They were both Grizzlies as players and even coached on the coaching staff there together later in life. Tinkle then took over for Krystkowiak after the latter left the program.

Since the two know each other better than they do other coaches, it can either make it easier to scope out each other’s game plan or a bit trickier because the other team will more or less know what to expect.

“We both played for the same coaches growing up, and I think we were taught in college what we both feel like is the right way to play basketball,” Krystkowiak said. “When I look at their team, offensively, defensively, I think we probably coach on the same principles.”

Tinkle inherited a team with a lot of returning players from last season, but Krystkowiak thinks Tinkle gives his players more confidence each and every time they step onto the court. He has a lot of respect for his long-time friend and is not shocked to see how his team is responding to him.

“Wayne is the head of the snake that makes them all go and gives them a little bit of a swagger,” Krystkowiak said. “I’m not surprised at all. He’s got Beaver nation up and excited and rocking and rolling.”

State of the Pac-12

The team is halfway done with league play and only has nine regular-season games left on the schedule. Oregon currently sits on top of the Pac-12, but Utah is in a four-way tie for second place with USC, Colorado and Washington.

After a rocky start to the season, Utah feels as though there is plenty left to improve on and going up against the Beavers, who are near the bottom of the Pac-12, shouldn’t deter the Utes’ motivation in any way.

“What you try to do in this conference out when you’re in a road environment is give yourself a chance at the end,” Krystkowiak said. “There’s not many blowouts. The formula’s really no different. It’s just staying in the moment and trying to win the next possession.”

k.brenneisen@dailyutahchronicle.com

@kbrenneisen