David Collette did not travel with the Runnin’ Utes on their Washington road trip because he was experiencing concussion-like symptoms. His status for this weekend’s game is up in the air, however, because head coach Larry Krystkowiak does not want to give anything away to the Oregon Ducks when they come visit Salt Lake City on Thursday night.
Facing another top 10 team in the country against No. 10 Oregon, Krystkowiak is not going to tip his hat, and unless Oregon head coach Dana Altman reveals anything about Dillon Brooks’ status, he isn’t going to share. Whether or not Collette does take the court, he will make sure his backup, Jayce Johnson is ready to go.
The redshirt freshman played in place of Collette against Washington State and Washington, and Krystkowiak thinks he is finally getting adjusted to the game. He hasn’t particularly scored well — he finished with nine points against the Cougars and four points against the Huskies — but he is doing his part to help the team earn a win.
“You got to earn your stripes and pay your dues,” Krystkowiak said. “We’ve had some good meetings and there’s a lot of different learning that takes place — it’s on the court learning, in my office it’s talking about things — it’s all a part of the process.”
Familiarity with Oregon
The last time the Utes squared off with the Ducks was in the Pac-12 Championship game in 2016. Oregon would go on to defeat Utah by 31 points, 88-57, and Johnson said it was frustrating to watch the game from the bench, knowing there was nothing he could do to help the team.
Since Oregon has a lot of the same players from that blowout loss they dealt the Utes in Las Vegas, Krystkowiak thinks they should be a bit easier to scout. However, Utah’s rather new team complicates things, and often times the Utes surprise Krystkowiak on the court, so he’s hoping their game plan will be enough to get the players prepared.
“We haven’t had very good success,” Krystkowiak said. “There’s been a variety of reasons, a different storyline most games, but that’s the great thing about sports — [a winning] streak goes out the window. I don’t think we need any motivation dangling in front of everybody to try and stir us up.”
Trusting the Process
The Utes have scored 80 or more points in their last five games. While this is certainly a commendable feat, Krystkowiak is making sure the team continues to clean up its play. At this point in the season, however, the players have a grasp on what they need to do to get a win, and they do not need their coaches pushing them in the right direction.
Krystkowiak is not too worried about the team slipping up because it’s better that it falters now than later down the road.
“You’re making new mistakes and I think that’s important,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s less of a grind for myself and our coaching staff to come in and get our guys up to speed with the different plays and the style and what we’re talking about and the shot we’re trying to get.”