Larry Krystkowiak

Utah hoping that new coaching approach will lead to improved efficiency

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With the game of basketball not being one that relies on situational substitutions in a fashion similar to that of football, coaching staffs tend to focus on positions as opposed to ends of the floor. You’ll have assistants who work specifically with the guards, wings or big men, but rarely will an assistant be assigned the offense or defense.

That isn’t the case at Utah, where head coach (and part-time crime fighter) Larry Krystkowiak is using a “football-like” approach to his coaching staff with assistant Tommy Connor having the task of overseeing the offense and Andy Hill entrusted with the defense. The goal for the Utes is a simple one: to become a more efficient basketball team after ranking at or near the bottom of the Pac-12 in both offensive (12th) and defensive (10th) efficiency in 2012-13.

Early returns on the new line of thinking have been positive, but will the progress carry over to the regular season?

“I think it’s made us more efficient. It’s helping us in our teaching with the guys and things that we’re trying to do and I really like it,” said Krystkowiak, who explained that football got him thinking about making such a move. “There’s an awful lot going on from a head coach’s perspective with different elements and I wanted to make sure we were getting stuff done.”

Utah won four straight games before falling to Oregon in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament, and it was during that stretch that the Utes played arguably their best basketball of the season. Utah scored an average of 73 points per game in those four wins, more than 12 points better than their average in conference play (60.6 ppg).

But two of the key pieces in that late-season run, guard Jarred DuBois (12.4 ppg, 3.1 apg) and center Jason Washburn (11.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg), are out of eligibility. That means even more will be demanded of sophomores Brandon Taylor (6.9 ppg, 2.0 apg) and Jordan Loveridge (12.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg), and City College of San Francisco transfer Delon Wright will need to be an impact player in his first season in Salt Lake City.

Will the new coaching strategy help make up for the losses of DuBois and Washburn? Utah fans hope this will be the case.

VIDEO: Marquette’s Henry Ellenson shows off his versatility

Marquette's Henry Ellenson is fouled by Providence's Ben Bentil as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
(AP Photo/Morry Gash)
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I’m on record saying that I would consider Marquette freshman Henry Ellenson if I had the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, and while, at this point, I think that Brandon Ingram is probably going to end up going No. 2 — (Maybe No. 1???) — I still believe that Ellenson is going to be one of the best players from this draft class.

Why?

Well, just take a look at these highlights from the 26-point, 16-rebound performance he had in a win over Providence last night.

Then remember that Ellenson is 6-foot-11:

POSTERIZED: Pensacola State’s Jamal Thomas dunks through block attempt, makes coach go nuts

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A solid poster dunk went down in the junior college ranks last night as Pensacola State sophomore Jamal Thomas finished a dunk through a block attempt against Northwest Florida State.

The 6-foot-3 Thomas used his power and momentum to go through the opposing shot blocker and the play made his head coach, Pete Pena, go nuts with an over-exaggerated fist pump. The video is short, but be sure to watch for Pena’s reaction near the logo at the top right of the screen.