Let’s stop short of calling Larry Krystowiak the next Bo Ryan but, despite obvious differences in their systems, the Utah coach appears to be building something special in Salt Lake City. Something special predicated good defense, responsible decision-making and team-ball that doesn’t rely on one playmaker.
He took the Utes from the Pac-12 cellar and brought them almost all the way to the Elite Eight last March, before losing to eventual national champ Duke by six points in the Sweet 16. Utah must replace one of the best players in program history in NBA first round pick Delon Wright, but welcome back center Jakob Poeltl (who flirted with draft chatter) along with guard Brandon Taylor and forward Jordan Loveridge.
They led the conference in scoring defense (57.1 points per game) and field goal percentage defense (39 percent) but weren’t great on the boards, something many expect to change with Poeltl returning and the continued development of Chris Reyes and Brekkot Chapman.
Head Coach: Larry Krystkowiak
2014-15 Finish: 26-9 (Lost to Duke in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament)
2014-15 Conference Finish: 13-5 (Second Place in the Pac-12 Conference)
Projected 2015-16 Conference Finish: Second
*F/C – Jakob Poeltl – Sophomore
*G – Brandon Taylor – Senior
*F – Jordan Loveridge – Senior
*F – Chris Reyes – Junior
G/F – Dakarai Tucker – Senior
Losing a star like Delon Wright is never a good thing but it’s possible the Utes could be better without the slashing guard in 2015-16, with Brandon Taylor being a huge reason why. The most underrated guard in the Pac-12, we’d like to see him get the distribution numbers up but love the shooting stroke (45 percent) and efficiency with the ball.