Program, Interrupted: Student Tryouts For Utah?

After the University of Utah’s 2009-10 basketball season under then-head coach Jim Boylen, four scholarship players with eligibility remaining left the program.

Larry Krystkowiak

(Utah Coach Larry Krystkowiak: Pac-12 Crash Landing)

Following the 2010-11 season, Utah fired Boylen and replaced him with Larry Krystkowiak on April 3. Since then, eight more scholarship players with eligibility remaining have left the Utah program.

Two months after his hire, Krystkowiak had already signed several future Utes to scholarships, a class of which was noted by Bill Oram of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE:

It was a whirlwind recruiting season for Krystkowiak, who pieced together a recruiting class of two Division I transfers, three junior college transfers and three incoming freshmen. Krystkowiak said the process was “as high-intensity as any coach can go through.”

While Pac-12 schools such as Arizona and Oregon added five-star, top-25 recruits, Utah’s highest-rated signee is three-star forward Javon Dawson, who backed out of a commitment with Colorado State to join the Utes.

“I’m not a big fan of the two-star, three-star, four-star kind of recruits,” Krystkowiak said late last week, “but I’m a big fan of character guys. We’ve got a group of guys who are high-character guys, hard-nosed players.”

In its inaugural Pac-12 conference game last Saturday, Krystkowiak’s Utah squad was beaten by Colorado 73-33 - dropping the Utes to 3-10 overall. After the latest of what has been a series of unimaginable losses already this season, Utah player Cedric Martin said of Krystkowiak’s postgame remarks:

His main message was that if you’re not prepared off the court, you’re not going to be prepared on the court.”

More from Oram’s postgame report in the Salt Lake Tribune:

To hear Krystkowiak tell it, the Utes have been far from prepared.

“Practices have been going great,” Krystkowiak said, “with the exception we’ve had a lot of guys be late for things and not show up for things.”

“When you’re right around the corner from this Pac-12 thing cranking up and the inaugural season,” Krystkowiak said, “it’s pretty important. For me, all it is a statement from all of our players that other things are more important.”

Krystkowiak did not specify which players had been the problem. He simply said the Utes now have a “zero-tolerance” policy.

“If somebody’s late again, they won’t be in the lineup,” Krystkowiak said. “They won’t be on the team.”

But even without the possibility of Krystkowiak enacting such drastic disciplinary action in the future, the injury- and defection-addled Utah squad put out a call today for student bodies:

“We’re probably going to have tryouts when school starts,” Krystkowiak said.

“I’m not sure there’s not a couple of guys in the student body that wouldn’t come on over and lend some help,” Krystkowiak said. “When we’re beat up we need some more bodies to practice. Utah’s a pretty good basketball state, I would imagine there’s some good hoopers on intramural programs running around. We’re going to look into that when school starts.”

Utah may indeed be a “pretty good basketball state” but unfortunately for its flagship university’s basketball team, it hasn’t translated into a single in-state player on scholarship this season.

Not that you necessarily need scholarship players from the state or, for that matter, the school itself, to win - as Rick Majerus proved during the 1992-93 season.

On March 25, 1993, Doug Robinson of the SALT LAKE DESERET NEWS reported that the Utah squad that finished with a 24-7 record that season did so despite “losing six players during the offseason and replacing them with student tryouts.”

Of course, Utah didn’t play a Pac-12 schedule that season. Or UNC-Asheville.

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