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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Krystkowiak’s Lucky Number 7

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Ute Lorenzo Bonam (15) attempts to drive past Husky Noah Dickerson (15) during the Utah Utes 85-61 victory over the Washington Huskies at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Most people familiar with Runnin’ Ute head coach Larry Krystkowiak understand that his lucky number is seven.

In 2015 when the team opened its doors to its new basketball facility, former Ute Brandon Taylor joked that Krystkowiak could keep the players in the gym for seven hours if he wanted to since he had such a fascination with that number.

Even though the University of Utah basketball team looks as if it will be on the outside looking in by the time the NCAA Tournament rolls around, Krystkowiak isn’t counting his guys out.

As of late in the sports world, there have been some remarkable comebacks in the championship rounds. The Cleveland Cavaliers came back to win the NBA Championships after going down 3-1. The Chicago Cubs came back to win the World Series after they went down 3-1, and most recently the New England Patriots came back to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl after they had gone down by 25 points.

Recently, someone handed Krystkowiak a sheet saying the team had a 22 percent chance of making it to the NCAA Tournament this year, and as he was driving to work on Monday morning he recalled that statistic. He wanted to share it with his team in light of all the recent comebacks across the major professional sports leagues, because he thinks his team is capable of mustering up a performance like that and it all goes back to that lucky number seven of his.

“I looked down at my phone when I was just starting to think that yesterday when I was driving to work, and it was seven o’clock, straight up 7a.m. and I had seven percent battery on my phone,” Krystkowiak said in his press conference on Tuesday. “I took a snap shot of it. We have seven games left and it’s the seventh. I believe completely that we’ve got a chance.”

Current Runnin’ Ute Parker Van Dyke has completely bought into that lucky number seven mentality.

Van Dyke also favors the number seven and if he were allowed to have it as his jersey number he would. He thinks the number seven appearing is more than just a coincidence and so hearing that story has done something to uplift the entire spirit of the team.

“We’ll stop practice and it’ll be 4:07 or something like that,” Van Dyke said. “We’ll stop the clock and it’ll be seven minutes and seven seconds. I think that’s something that could hopefully work in our favor.”

It’s going to take more than just a lucky number to make it to the NCAA Tournament, however. 

Krystkowiak thinks the back-to-back losses the Utes suffered this past week probably came at the most opportune time. There are still seven games left in the regular season and he would rather his team realize some things they need to fix now as opposed to finding some problems later down the road when losing isn’t really an option (not that losing isn’t necessarily something to be okay with early in the season).

Krystkowiak needs his team to buy into his message— that there is still plenty left to be said and done. He thinks the Runnin’ Utes will fare just fine throughout the rest of the season if they approach each outing with a game-by-game mentality.

“As long as our guys don’t give up, and they’re in, we’re going to go down swinging,” Krystkowiak said. “We’ve lost a number of close games against the big opponents, and we need to start clicking. It wouldn’t be the first time around here we started playing really good basketball this time of year, so I’m confident we can do that, and hopefully everybody’s in.”

[email protected]

@kbrenneisen

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