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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak during the second half of the game at the Huntsman Center Thursday January 24, 2013. Cal won the game 62-57.
Utah basketball: Krystkowiak thrilled with more practice time
Men’s basketball » New NCAA rule allows nearly double previous preseason preparation
First Published Oct 03 2013 12:45 pm • Last Updated Oct 04 2013 12:38 am

More practices equals happy coaches.

In past years, Larry Krystkowiak has had precious little time — less than three weeks — to implement his system and get his team ready for the season.

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Now, thanks to a new NCAA rule, the Ute men’s basketball coach and his program get 30 practices over the six weeks leading up to the November 1 opener against St. Martin’s at the Huntsman Center.

"We’ve been in survival mode for the last few years," Krystkowiak said this week. "I remember one specific game where we didn’t do something right down the stretch. I told the team it was my fault because I didn’t have them ready. When you’re starting practice on October 15, and you have a game on November 8, there’s not a lot of time to get your stuff in."

Over the past week, Krystkowiak has been doing his best to take advantage of the extra days. The biggest focus has been on the defensive side of the ball.

The Utes finished second in the Pac-12 last season in scoring defense. Part of that is because of the slower pace Utah played at. Another part of that is that the Utes actually did a good job defending. But with the team expecting to play faster in 2013, Krystkowiak wants to make sure his guys are in tune to guarding the ball and being in the right places in help side situations.

Krystkowiak said he’s concerned with the number of "blow bys" that he’s seen on film in the last few days — a term for when a player easily goes past his defender off the dribble. Krystkowiak said there is one player — he wouldn’t name him — that was blown by eight times on film in two practices.

"We have to make sure that we pay attention to defense and always playing defense," Utah point guard Brandon Taylor said. "We can’t get too caught up in trying to run and play in transition. We know that defense is what wins games."

The injury bug

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story continues below

Junior center Marko Kovacevic was diagnosed with a sprained wrist on Tuesday following an MRI. He returned to practice and is playing with a brace to prevent further damage. ... Junior guard Delon Wright missed Tuesday’s practice with a sore foot. He went to see the team doctor earlier on that day. The injury, Krystkowiak says, is precautionary and not expected to be a lingering issue.


on twitter: @tjonessltrib

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