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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Runnin’ Utes draw charges to keep up a solid defense


UTAH vs Colorado 24

In Utah’s last game against Colorado, point guard Delon Wright was called for two offensive fouls in a span of minutes, giving the Buffaloes possession of the ball each time. But, as most offensive fouls called are, both plays were “bang-bang” plays, meaning the referee could really have called them either way.

On that night, the calls went against Wright early on, but instead of pouting about it for the rest of the game, he decided to even things up by drawing a few charges of his own on the defensive end.

“I wanted to return the favor a little because they whistled me for a few in the first half,” Wright said.

While the revenge card certainly was played in this sequence of events, Wright taking the charges is all a part of the team’s defensive strategy. The basketball world has come to think of drawing charges as weak or petty. But for Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak, it’s a part of his game plan.

“[Drawing a charge] is my favorite play, and the players know that is my favorite play,” Krystkowiak said.

And the players are taking notes. Because the coaching staff at the U has preached day after day about taking charges, Wright and company have noticed the tactic has become more natural.

“One of our goals is to take charges,” Wright said. “If you take a charge on our team, you get a lot of praise. It’s just part of our defensive mentality, like closing out. Charges are things that our coaches definitely tell us to try and do.”

It’s no surprise that the Runnin’ Utes have reached the top 10 when you look at the defense they are playing. In its first three conference contests, Utah held each team to under 55 points and under 40 percent shooting.

Krystkowiak has repeated time and time again that if defense is being played, everything else will fall into place. On multiple occasions this season, a drawn charge has proved to be exactly the kickstart the Utes needed to go on an offensive run to put the game away.

“I find it kind of interesting. I’m a big believer in the karma of the game, and if your approach is right, things pay off,” Krystkowiak said.

And don’t mistake taking charges as a sign of weakness for these Utes. They aren’t taking charges because it’s a last resort — they are taking charges because they read what the opposing team is doing before they even do it.

“There’s not any flopping going on, there’s just guys beating people to a spot and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of,” Krystkowiak said.

The Runnin’ Utes are among the nation’s elite, according to the most recent Associated Press Top-25, so it’s no surprise these players can provide a cornucopia of highlights throughout the season. Just don’t be surprised if some of those highlights involve a few charges taken on the defensive end.

Following its 74-49 victory over Colorado, Utah moved up one spot to No. 8 in the AP Top-25. The Utes are now the highest ranked Pac-12 team, with Arizona dropping from No. 7 to No. 10 following its loss to Oregon State on Sunday.

Utah also moved up to No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll, climbing up three spots from last week.


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