Program, Interrupted: Student Tryouts For Utah?

After the University of Utah’s 2009-10 basketball season under then-head coach Jim Boylen, four scholarship players with eligibility remaining left the program.

Larry Krystkowiak

(Utah Coach Larry Krystkowiak: Pac-12 Crash Landing)

Following the 2010-11 season, Utah fired Boylen and replaced him with Larry Krystkowiak on April 3. Since then, eight more scholarship players with eligibility remaining have left the Utah program.

Two months after his hire, Krystkowiak had already signed several future Utes to scholarships, a class of which was noted by Bill Oram of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE:

It was a whirlwind recruiting season for Krystkowiak, who pieced together a recruiting class of two Division I transfers, three junior college transfers and three incoming freshmen. Krystkowiak said the process was “as high-intensity as any coach can go through.”

While Pac-12 schools such as Arizona and Oregon added five-star, top-25 recruits, Utah’s highest-rated signee is three-star forward Javon Dawson, who backed out of a commitment with Colorado State to join the Utes.

“I’m not a big fan of the two-star, three-star, four-star kind of recruits,” Krystkowiak said late last week, “but I’m a big fan of character guys. We’ve got a group of guys who are high-character guys, hard-nosed players.”

In its inaugural Pac-12 conference game last Saturday, Krystkowiak’s Utah squad was beaten by Colorado 73-33 - dropping the Utes to 3-10 overall. After the latest of what has been a series of unimaginable losses already this season, Utah player Cedric Martin said of Krystkowiak’s postgame remarks:

His main message was that if you’re not prepared off the court, you’re not going to be prepared on the court.”

More from Oram’s postgame report in the Salt Lake Tribune:

To hear Krystkowiak tell it, the Utes have been far from prepared.

“Practices have been going great,” Krystkowiak said, “with the exception we’ve had a lot of guys be late for things and not show up for things.”

“When you’re right around the corner from this Pac-12 thing cranking up and the inaugural season,” Krystkowiak said, “it’s pretty important. For me, all it is a statement from all of our players that other things are more important.”

Krystkowiak did not specify which players had been the problem. He simply said the Utes now have a “zero-tolerance” policy.

“If somebody’s late again, they won’t be in the lineup,” Krystkowiak said. “They won’t be on the team.”

But even without the possibility of Krystkowiak enacting such drastic disciplinary action in the future, the injury- and defection-addled Utah squad put out a call today for student bodies:

“We’re probably going to have tryouts when school starts,” Krystkowiak said.

“I’m not sure there’s not a couple of guys in the student body that wouldn’t come on over and lend some help,” Krystkowiak said. “When we’re beat up we need some more bodies to practice. Utah’s a pretty good basketball state, I would imagine there’s some good hoopers on intramural programs running around. We’re going to look into that when school starts.”

Utah may indeed be a “pretty good basketball state” but unfortunately for its flagship university’s basketball team, it hasn’t translated into a single in-state player on scholarship this season.

Not that you necessarily need scholarship players from the state or, for that matter, the school itself, to win - as Rick Majerus proved during the 1992-93 season.

On March 25, 1993, Doug Robinson of the SALT LAKE DESERET NEWS reported that the Utah squad that finished with a 24-7 record that season did so despite “losing six players during the offseason and replacing them with student tryouts.”

Of course, Utah didn’t play a Pac-12 schedule that season. Or UNC-Asheville.

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Pac-10 Commish Denies Wednesday Utah Presser

CSNBayArea.com reported Tuesday evening:

Pac-10 Commissioner Denies Wednesday Utah Announcement

The Pacific-10 Conference will extend an invitation to the University of Utah to become the league’s 12th team, Comcast SportsNet has learned exclusively from sources close to the situation.

A press conference is expected to formalize the announcement on Wednesday.

Following the CSNBayArea.com report, Lya Wodraska of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE reported that Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott denied that a Wednesday announcement was forthcoming: Read more…

With 12-Pac, Cougars Should Be Attractive Enough

There’s nothing to wonder about Pac-10 expansion. If it happens, it’ll be BYU and Utah. Perhaps the conference could interest another school of similar stature to join the league, but unless that school is Texas, it won’t unseat BYU.

Cougar

(Or a mere 40 of OE in this case)

From a competitive, financial and logistical perspective, there’s not enough financial upside a non-BYU school could provide to not go Cougs and Utes. Especially considering the state of Utah’s ultimate trump card - as noted today by SALT LAKE DESERET NEWS columnist Dick Harmon.

Harmon observed today that if the Pac-10 tries to claim Utah but not BYU for its league, the Utah Governor Gary Herbert has legal precedent that could block the move.

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In The MWC, We Really Feel The National Anthem

Hey man. You cool? You look cool, man. Don’t be narc-ing on me or nothin’, all right? Let’s all just be cool. You got any of the good stuff on you? Aw man, you’re sober? Here? Now? Too bad, man, you’re totally missing out.

Keep on Rockin' in the Free World
(Lady Liberty’s reaching me! This is the most intense anthem EVER!)

Don’t look at me funny; I get kinda ‘noided out when people start looking at me funny. Totally harshing my mellow. Like, it’s cool if you’re allergic to LSD or whatever, I got a cousin like that who won’t touch the stuff, that’s cool man! That’s cool. I’m just sayin’, you haven’t lived through the Star Spangled Banner ’til you expand your mind. Aw, hold on, hold on, the show’s about to start! Here we go! This is gonna roooooooooooock!

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If You Hate The BCS, Don’t Root For Boise State

Ah, the beginning of October. It’s a magical time, when a good 20 college football teams are still dreaming of hoisting the glass football. That includes Boise State, oddly enough; the perennial mid-major Cinderella is counting its ifs for reaching the title game, according to the IDAHO STATESMAN, and none of them are entirely unreasonable.

Boise State Statue of Liberty
(”Give me freedom or… wait, the Statue of Liberty doesn’t say that. Great, now I just look ridiculous.”)

But wait. It seems paradoxical, but is getting a non-BCS team to the BCS Championship Game really in the best interest of the non-BCS conferences? It really depends on your definition of the word “fair.”

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CFB Update 2: Locker, Huskies Take Down Trojans

Earlier this week, Pete Carroll raise a few eyebrows when he more or less said that Washington’s Jake Locker was a better QB than Terrelle Pryor. After all, Carroll’s Trojans just beat Terrelle’s Buckeyes, and #3 USC was expected to humiliate the Huskies up in Seattle today. I mean, come on - Washington was winless last year and needed to beat lowly Idaho last week to end a 15-game losing streak.

Jake Locker USC

Turns out Pete was right all along - and we’re sure he wishes he wasn’t.

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Non-BCS Conferences Give In To BCS Demands

It’s a scientific fact* - the only people who like football’s BCS system are the people who are getting rich off of it. The suits who run the BCS conferences and athletic programs, the corporations who sponsor college football games and broadcasts, the  sham “non-profit” organizations whose “revenue in excess of expenses” overfloweth - these are the people who love the BCS, and unfortunately it’s their opinions that count when it comes to any potential reorganization of college football.

Boise State Oklahoma 2007 Fiesta Bowl

(Small conference football doesn’t matter, right?)

The non-BCS conferences have been complaining about this for years. Programs like Boise State have proved that teams from smaller conferences can compete and win at the highest levels of competition. The Mountain West and Western Athletic conferences and people like Sen. Orrin Hatch have been yelling loud and clear that the system is broken. But when given an opportunity to take a stand and strike a serious blow to the BCS’ legitimacy, what did the MWC and WAC do? They signed an agreement to keep the current system in place. So much for social justice.

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Speed Read: Lakers Crush Magic, TV Execs Hearts

That sound you heard in New York last night were league officials and ABC executives quietly weeping into their gin and tonics while watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Because what they were watching was the one thing they didn’t need: a Los Angeles Lakers blowout. For the casual fan, the 100-75 drubbing of the Orlando Magic just confirmed what they already knew, that this series is a letdown after the hype of Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James, and the Lakers are going to crush the upstart Magic.

Kobe Bryant

Sure, it was close…for a little over a quarter. The Magic did have a five-point lead early in the second quarter, and then the roof collapsed. This is what happens when a team that relies on three-point shooting has a sub-par shooting game (going 8-for-23 from beyond the arc). Without having to fear the Magic from the outside, the Lakers could double and triple-team Dwight Howard, a form of kryptonite that even Superman couldn’t overcome, going 1-for-6 and scoring just 12 points.

Dwight Howard

So while Howard struggled, Kobe was superb, scoring 40 points while coming close to a triple-double. He had 12 points in the second quarter as the Lakers established their dominance, and was able to create opportunities for Pau Gasol and the rest of his supporting cast. And with Phil Jackson being 43-0 in series where his team wins the opening game, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has to be sweating through his Men’s Wearhouse coat.

But if the Magic need any inspiration, they only need to look to the Stanley Cup (assuming they get Versus in central Florida). Facing a 2-0 deficit against the defending champion Detroit Red Wings, the Pittsburgh Penguins have rallied to tie the series after a 4-2 win in Game 4. Which is especially impressive since they managed to turn an early lead into a 2-1 hole in the second period, which could have easily crippled a lesser team.

Pittsburgh Penguins

And in what can only be seen as a good sign for the Penguins, Sidney Crosby had his first goal of the series, while Evgeni Malkin added a goal and an assist. So now we basically have a best-of-three series starting tomorrow night in Detroit. While the Red Wings are still probably going to win the series, at least the Penguins have made it interesting.

Randy Johnson

Finally, let’s tip our hat to Randy Johnson, who became the first pitcher since Tom Seaver in 1985 to get his 300th victory in his first attempt thanks to the Giants’ 5-1 victory over the Nationals. Thank you for sparing us of the daily update on the ESPN crawl and live game updates ruining our PBA Tour broadcasts on Wednesday nights on ESPN2. The Giants are planning a pregame celebration before their next home game to congratulate Johnson on his 300 career wins - all four of them with San Francisco.

  • The French Open women’s singles final is set, with Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova taking each other on in an all-Russian final. In terms of eye candy, this isn’t exactly the Maria Sharapova vs. Ana Ivanovic Australian Open final from last year.
  • Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova

  • Calvin Borel isn’t just confident that he’s going to win the Belmont Stakes on Mine That Bird to win the jockey Triple Crown, he’s guaranteeing it. (At least that’s what we think he said with molasses-thick drawl.) If he does pull this off, does this mean he gets put out to stud?
  • LeBron, here’s your slap on the wrist: the NBA fines King James $25,000 for bailing on the post-game press conference after the Cavs’ Game 6 loss to the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals. Plus, you made David Stern cry. How does that feel, LeBron.
  • You want Dontrelle Willis to succeed in his comeback with the Tigers, but then something like this happens: in 2-1/3 innings against the Red Sox yesterday, Willis gave up five runs without allowing a hit, walking five and hitting a batter.
  • Just when you thought that it couldn’t get worse for the New York Mets than getting swept by the Pirates, it also turns out that Jose Reyes has a torn hamstring.
  • John Raines, a substitute teacher and athletic trainer at Sussex Central High in Delaware, has been arrested and charged with “inappropriately touching a student-athlete while treating her injury and threatening to prevent her from playing her sport when she tried to stop his advances.” Which is bad enough, but even worse when considering he’s the second faculty member arrested on sex crimes in the past two days and the third within a year.
  • Spencer Cruise, an all-state high school football player in Iowa, allegedly bodyslammed a cop who was busting up a party and then Tasered him with his own weapon.
  • Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has selected ESPN’s Chris Berman to introduce him before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and PRO FOOTBALL TALK wonders if that’s such a great idea. (Seriously, was Jim Kelly busy?)
  • Former Tulsa football player Neal Sweeney apparently got into a business dispute with the wrong person, as it ended up with him being shot dead at his fuel sales company. Police have arrested the person they believe is the triggerman, and hope this leads to further breaks in the case.
  • Maurice Neal, a linebacker for the Utah Utes, has been arrested in connection with a bar fight where he took out two men. Shouldn’t Utah be the last place that a bar fight should be happening?

Who is going to be the next 300 game winner in baseball?

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Filthy Sign Language Lessons With Rick Majerus

Rick Majerus: good-natured goofball or basketball tyrant? Despite the image he tries to project (and his resemblance to the Dad from “Just the Ten of Us,” it’s becoming abundantly clear that the only thing the former Utah and current St. Louis coach loves more than a free buffet is making his players’ lives miserable. At St. Louis, he’s managed to set the bar so low for his team before the season that they’ve tripped over it and later said his team had no chance to win the conference tournament.

Lance Allreds new book and Rick Majerus

But that’s nothing compared to his exploits at Utah, where according to an earlier SPORTS ILLUSTRATED piece he had a thing about being naked and showing off his … ahem … Running Ute. Somewhat lost in the hubbub and mass vomit that took place thanks to the mental images created of a sweaty, naked Rick Majerus naked in a steamroom was his treatment of certain players, including center Lance Allred, who has 80 percent hearing loss. Majerus might have been cleared of any wrongdoing in a school investigation, but a new book by Allred reviewed by CLEVELAND SCENE sheds more light onto his claims.

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Nick Saban Blames Fans For Sugar Bowl Blowout

Ever since Lane Kiffin arrived at Rocky Top, the Tennessee head honcho has been making his case as the kookiest coach in the SEC. (Ripping off recruits’ shirts, warning other recruits they’ll end up pumping gas for a living, that sort of thing.) And it seems Lane is well on his way to leap past the previous king of SEC lunacy, Nick Saban. (Comparing a loss to Louisiana-Monroe to 9/11 & Pearl Harbor, threatening recruits that he’ll turn them in to the NCAA, that sort of thing.)

Painted Alabama fan Nick Saban

But we should all know well enough that you can’t keep the Crimson Tide coach down for long. Sooner or later, Saban will do or say something silly once again to reclaim his crown as the SEC’s top screwball. And he doesn’t disappoint, as Nick knows who to blame for Alabama’s poor performance in last season’s Sugar Bowl:

The fans.

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