The University of Utah men’s basketball game bounced back from a two-game losing road trip to win a pair of games in the comfort of its home arena this past week. The win on Thursday night against Washington State was more of a wakeup call for the team, however, and the win on Saturday afternoon against Washington, albeit a 20 point victory, proved there is still plenty of things the Utes need to work on.
Early on in the game against Washington, the Utes went down 18-10 after turning the ball over on three consecutive possessions and as a result UW got three transition layups. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak wasn’t happy, and he was forced to call a timeout before the allotted media timeout at the 16 minute mark. He didn’t have to tell his guys much in that break and he mentioned he broke the whiteboard because of how frustrated he was with his team. Krystkowiak even needed a bandaid on his hand after that.
His players got the message and they returned from the timeout to go on a 20-0 run. Krystkowiak knows he shouldn’t have to get his guys fired up to play — it’s something they can easily do on their own and it’s something they will need to take care of when the Utes travel to Oregon this upcoming week.
“[We were] throwing the ball all over the gym, and I thought I was on an episode of bloopers, like Punk’d — come on guys,” Krystkowiak said. “I appreciate all the people coming out and watching us, the fans coming out, but the product’s not exactly sharp right now. We got things going, made enough plays, but we got some issues that we need to solve.”
All season long the Runnin’ Utes have struggled to maintain possession of the ball. Against the Washington Huskies they turned the ball 15 times, and six of those times came in the first few minutes of the game. While the team cut down the mishaps in the second half, Krystkowiak still needs to see more of an effort from his guys to make better decisions.
“There’s different kinds of turnovers,” Krystkowiak said. “I can tolerate an illegal screen, a three-second call, maybe if someone gets trapped. It’s the ones where you honestly look like you’re point shaving and throwing balls to the opposition and letting them go the other way. It’s mindless stuff: those ones I have a problem with.”
Parker Van Dyke is becoming a more formidable player in this Utah offense. Although he was coming off of the bench a few games ago, he has worked his way up to a starting role. Against Washington State he provided the team with a crucial three-pointer, and considering the fact the Utes were only able to make 2-of-3 from deep that game, that late-game three-pointer was a much needed cushion to seal the victory against one of the bottom tier teams in the Pac-12.
Like with other messages that have been resonating with the team, Van Dyke understands he too will need to do a better job of facilitating the basketball.
“It’s hard to defend turnovers,” Van Dyke said. “That’s our achilles heel, and it’s something we need to continue to work on.”