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.