Larry Krystkowiak

Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak receives new contract though 2018-19 season

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While his first two seasons as the head coach at Utah were a bit of a struggle due in large part to the bare cupboard he inherited, head coach Larry Krystkowiak has led the program in the right direction. His second season in charge didn’t produce a record above .500, but it did feature the Utes’ first trip to the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.

And in 2013-14 the Utes won 21 games and earned a spot in the Postseason NIT, with junior guard Delon Wright and sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge leading the way. With all key members of the rotation expected back in Salt Lake City next season there’s realistic hope that Utah can earn an NCAA tournament bid for the first time since 2009.

And on Thursday it was announced by the school that Krystkowiak’s been rewarded with a new contract that will run through the 2018-19 season as a result of his work thus far.

“Our men’s basketball program continues to make tremendous progress under Coach Krystkowiak and his staff,” Utah AD Chris Hill said in the release. “He has embraced being a part of the Utah family and immersed himself in the Salt Lake community. I am excited about the future of our program under his leadership and look forward to continued success on, and off, the court.”

In addition to the returnees Utah will add a very good recruiting class led by forward Kyle Kuzma, who spent the second half of the season working out with the team. What cost Utah in its quest to reach the NCAA tournament in 2013-14 was the strength of their non-conference slate, something that isn’t expected to be an issue in 2014-15.

While Arizona will once again be the favorite to win the Pac-12 next season there are teams capable of challenging, and Utah has the talent needed to be in that mix. The next step for Krystkowiak’s program is to perform better on the road, and if the Utes can do that they’ll be a factor in the Pac-12.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?