Runnin’ Utes trying out new motion offense against Pacific

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- Chris Ayers

When head coach Larry Krystkowiak was brought into the program four seasons ago, it was expected the former NBA player would turn things around in Salt Lake City. After a few growing pains in the first season under Krystkowiak’s watch, the Runnin’ Utes have improved every year to the point of them being ranked in the AP Top-25 preseason rankings this season.

However, Krystkowiak believes there is more for the team to improve on, despite the drastic climb from cellar dwellers to potential contenders in the Pac-12. Something the head coach decided to bring in this season was a new offense. Krystkowiak has been using the off-season and the new crop of young guys to implement a motion based attack he hopes will push Utah into elite status.

Last season, the Utes ran a lot of set plays. Krystkowiak says the main difference between this new offense and the old offense is the constant motion. While the head coach claims it’s still a work in progress, the offense will see more movement, screens and pick-and-rolls that will potentially confuse opposing defenses.

“What we’ve done is kind of clean up a little bit of the unknown on what we’re doing offensively,” Krystkowiak said. “Hopefully it’s going to make us more efficient.”

Speaking of defense, with the new offense in place, Krystkowiak believes that the team’s defense will also be vastly improved, thanks to the movement the offense entails.

“Our motion, you can’t stop, and it’s not going to be for one particular guy,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s all based on reads of who’s open and what we do from that point. So, it’s a really good offense to run for your defense.”

In the 2013-14 campaign, there were a few instances where the Utes would crumble in the final minutes, gifting their opponent the victory. This season, with the new offense in place, Krystkowiak feels much more comfortable letting his team work things out on the court rather than calling a timeout to hash them out.

“There’s no doubt that we can [let them play],” Krystkowiak said. “Hopefully, we can sure some of those things up, eliminate some of the close games by doing those things, but we’ll be a lot better at the end of the year when it comes to what it is we’re doing.”

Fans will get to see Utah’s new offense for the first time Thursday evening in the Huntsman Center when the Runnin’ Utes open up the season in an exhibition game against Pacific. According to Krystkowiak, though, the offense will not be the only focus in Thursday’s game.

“There really isn’t a main focal point,” he said. “I’ve always said, ‘there are no little things.’ Everything turns into a big thing, so just all the staples that we’ve been talking about.”

The tip-off for the season-opening game is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. MT at the Huntsman Center, and the players are ready to get things rolling.

“The first game of the year is always a little nerve-wracking, a little scary,” said returning center Dallin Bachynski. “There’s a little bit of nervousness or anxiety going into it, but it’s a lot of excitement as well.”

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