Larry Krystkowiak will enter his 10th season as Utah head coach when the next college basketball campaign commences, aiming to get the Utes back on the track he had them in the middle of last decade.
Krystkowiak took over a beleagued basketball team when he took the job in 2011. The program hired him to replace Jim Boylen after two-straight losing seasons and one NCAA Tournament bid in four years. It took the new boss a few years to turn things around, dealing with an abysmal 2011-12 campaign his inaugural season in Salt Lake City, another below-.500 record in year two, then a Sweet 16 by his fourth go, the program’s first since 2005.
Krystkowiak was a strong candidate for the job in 2007 when Utah was also looking for a coach, but a last-second deal from the Milwaukee Bucks kept him in the NBA instead. The Utes took Boylen, delaying the inevitable by four years. It only made it that much sweeter when the Montana-native came to the school in 2011.
It has been almost a full decade since Krystkowiak brought his new ideas and extremely-difficult-to-spell last name to Salt Lake City after spending the years preceding in the NBA. We know how his tenure has gone this far into it, but let’s look back and what people were saying all the way back in 2011 when the coach was introduced.
Reactions to Utah Selecting Larry Krystkowiak as Head Coach
“The search is over at the University of Utah.
New Jersey Nets assistant Larry Krystkowiak signed a five-year contract late Saturday night to become the new head coach of the Utes.
The deal, which includes Krystkowiak’s base salary, radio and television appearances, plus an Under Armour agreement, will pay $950,000 per year.” – Dirk Facer, Deseret News
“The hire is an important one for (athletic director Chris) Hill, now on his third coach since Rick Majerus departed.
Hill gave Boylen a contract extension after the 2008-09 season that saw the Utes go 24-10 and win a share of the Mountain West Conference regular-season title. Because of that extension Boylen is receiving a $2 million severance package.
Hill also hired Ray Giacoletti, but fired him four years ago after a 54-40 mark.
Neither could match the success of Majerus, a fan favorite and cult figure during 14-plus seasons at Utah. Under Majerus, the Utes qualified for the NCAA tournament 10 times, advancing to the Sweet 16 twice, the Elite Eight once and the title game in 1998.” – Associated Press
“Nets assistant Larry Krystkowiak has been hired as the men’s basketball coach at the University of Utah. Krystkowiak, who has held head coaching positions with the Milwaukee Bucks and in college at Montana and Idaho, has been a Nets assistant for the past eight months.
Nets head coach Avery Johnson said the hiring is well deserved.
‘We’re going to be losing a man with strong character, solid family. A really good basketball coach. He did a lot of nice things for us behind the scenes. So we really enjoyed working with him. I think this is a really good opportunity for him. He talked about getting back to college, and we think it’s really good timing for him. So, again, we’re excited for him.'” – Michael J. Fensom, NJ.com
“Nets assistant Larry Krystkowiak is the new head coach at the University of Utah, and will be introduced at a press conference on Monday. Krystkowiak signed a multi-year contract late Saturday night, ending his one-year tenure under Avery Johnson, who had said last week, ‘We’d hate losing him.'” – Net Income, NetsDaily
“Larry Krystkowiak will be announced as head coach of Utah Utes basketball at 2 pm Sunday, according to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Lya Wodraska. The program has been after Krystkowiak for quite a while now, first approaching him about the job in 2007, though he opted to coach the Milwaukee Bucks instead.
A three-time Big Sky Conference MVP for the Montana Grizzlies, Krystkowiak certainly has history in the Rocky Mountain region. He also played a season for the Utah Jazz in the early ’90s.” – Jason Kirk, SB Nation
“Krystkowiak, who played for the Utah Jazz in 1992-93, is returning to Salt Lake City as a college coach for the first time since leading Montana into the second round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament at the Huntsman Center. He was 42-20 in two seasons at the helm of his alma mater.
Krystkowiak then opted for the NBA and became an assistant for the Milwaukee Bucks, where he worked with former Ute Andrew Bogut.
When Utah parted ways with Ray Giacoletti that March, Krystkowiak interviewed with Hill for the position. The Bucks, however, swept in and fired head coach Terry Stotts and promoted Krystkowiak to the top spot – signing him to a four-year deal worth $2 million annually. The Utes then hired Jim Boylen, an assistant at Michigan State.
Krystkowiak was fired after 100 games over two seasons with Milwaukee, going 31-69 overall.” – Facer
“Under Majerus, Huntsman Arena was full.
Sparse crowds watched Boylen’s team go 3-5 at home in conference play this season.
It will only get tougher with the Utes jumping to the Pac-12, where they’ll see teams that perennially qualify for the NCAAs.” – Associated Press
“I am excited to announced Larry Krystkowiak as our basketball coach at the University of Utah. Larry has the ability to lead our program to the national prominence it has enjoyed for much of our history and he understands the important of Utah basketball to our university and community. Larry has outstanding experience as a player and coach, both collegiately and in the NBA. He has impressed me with his intelligence, intensity, basketball knowledge and love of the game. Through the search process, I found there to be a lot of interest in our job. In the end, I just kept coming back to Larry and am pleased he was as enthusiastic about becoming out coach as I was in offering him the job.” – Utah athletic director Chris Hill
“The move came three weeks after athletic director Chris Hill fired Jim Boylen following consecutive losing seasons. Krystkowiak will be introduced at a news conference Monday.
The 45-year-old Krystkowiak has been an assistant with the New Jersey (sic) the past eight months. He played for the Jazz in 1992-93 as part of nine injury-plagued NBA seasons after being drafted in the second round (28th overall) in 1986 by the Chicago Bulls.
This will be Krystkowiak’s fourth head coaching job.” – Associated Press
“This is such a bright time at the University of Utah and I am excited to have an opportunity to lead the basketball program. The University of Utah is a great institution with a proud basketball tradition in a great city. Starting play as members of the Pac-12 Conference makes this an especially exciting time and I am thrilled to be a part of this new chapter in Utah basketball history. My expectation, as well as the expectations of the Salt Lake community, is that Utah basketball should compete on a regional and national level. Our team will embrace that challenge. Working with young men on and off the basketball court is very rewarding for me and I look forward to feeling the pulse of the campus again.” – Larry Krystkowiak
“Hill, who was unavailable for comment Sunday, said he wanted to move fast and cast a wide net. Other names Hill reportedly considered included Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett and former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried.” – Associated Press
“A second chance to bring Krystkowaik to Utah came to fruition when Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett reportedly turned down an opportunity to pursue the position in greater detail earlier this week.
Former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried was also in the pool of candidates believed to be finalists for the job. However, he declined to comment on the situation when contacted Saturday.
‘Respectfully I cannot,’ Gottfried said via text message. ‘Sorry.'” – Facer
This is a bit of a ‘thud’ hiring. Utah has been at a level higher than most MWC schools other than UNLV. It’s had great coaches in the past such as Majerus. Now Utah is heading to the more prestigious Pac-12 and decided to let go of head coach and former NBA assistant Jim Boylen, 2 years removed from being in the NCAA tourney. So what is there (sic) first move enroute to the Pac-12? They hire an NBA assistant coach. The school was rebuffed by St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett, a clear home run pick. Reports say money was not the issue, so we can only guess that maybe Bennett has his eyes on a job like Stanford that could open next season. But even after Bennett, there seemed to be better options than the former Montana coach Krystkowiak. You have coaches with Pac-12 recruiting ties as options, both at the assistant level and head coaches that were interested. You have successful head coaches in the region that would be interested. But instead, the Utah search was between Krystkowiak and Gottfried, who has been out of coaching since leaving Alabama. Even other MWC coaches could have been pressed hard like Dave Rice, the former UNLV player and current BYU assistant. The hiring might serve to be fine. But it lacked the energy you’d expect for a school moving to the Pac-12 this year.” – Matt Peloquin, CollegeSportsInfo.com
“Krystkowiak has spent his coaching career between the college ranks and the NBA. He’s been an assistant at Montana and Old Dominion and was also the head coach at Montana – leading the program to a pair of NCAA tournament appearances. Over the last few years, he’s been in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks and New Jersey Nets.
GRADE: B+” – FoxSports.com
Comments: The Utes are still waiting to reach the highs they experienced under Rick Majerus. With the exception of a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2009, the Jim Boylen era never took, so Utah now turns to former NBA player and assistant coach Larry Krystkowiak. Krystkowiak has bounced around the NBA ranks for much of the past decade, but he does have some college experience, most notably a two-year stopover at his alma mater, Montana, from 2004-06. The Griz went 42-20 with two NCAA tournament appearances in those two seasons, which is nice enough. But does Krystkowiak have the chops to totally build a program from the ground up? Can he recruit players to a dormant program that is suddenly joining a new conference (Pac-12)? Is he in for the long haul, or will the NBA come calling again?” – Eamonn Brennan, ESPN.com