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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes forward Jordan Loveridge (21) and Washington State Cougars forward Josh Hawkinson (24) look for the rebound as the University of Utah hosts Washington State, NCAA basketball at the Huntsman Center Saturday February 8, 2014 in Salt Lake City.
Pac-12 taps Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak to coach all-stars in China
Men’s basketball » Utes Taylor, Loveridge and Olsen will join coach on China tour.
First Published May 23 2014 12:10 pm • Last Updated May 23 2014 11:10 pm

It’s fairly audacious, really, that a group of schools huddled near a stretch of the ocean’s northeast coast — none of them separated by a drop of seawater — branded themselves the "Pacific-12."

Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak, Brandon Taylor, Jordan Loveridge and Jeremy Olsen have joined an effort to live up to the name.

At a glance

Pac-12 China tour roster

Andrew Andrews, Washington » Sophomore, guard

Bo Barnes, Arizona State » Junior, guard/forward

Malcolm Duvivier, Oregon State » Freshman, guard

Jacob Hazzard, Arizona » Sophomore, guard

Xavier Johnson, Colorado » Sophomore, forward

Nikola Jovanovic, USC » Freshman, forward

DaVonte Lacy, Washington State » Junior, guard

Jordan Loveridge, Utah » Sophomore, forward

Roger Moute a Bidias, Cal » Junior, forward

Cheikh N’diaye, Oregon State » Freshman, center

Jeremy Olsen, Utah » Junior, center

Rimmer Schuyler, Stanford » Freshman, center

Brandon Taylor, Utah » Sophomore, guard

Tentative itinerary

Aug. 7-9 » Practice in San Francisco

Aug. 10 » Depart for Shanghai

Aug. 11 » Arrive in Shanghai

Aug. 13 » vs. Chinese University All-Stars in Shanghai

Aug. 14 » vs. Jiangsu Dragons or Shanghai Sharks in Nantong

Aug. 15 » Pac-12 Academic Symposium

Aug. 16 » vs. Shanghai Sharks in Shanghai

Aug. 17 » Youth clinic at the Yi Jianlian Basketball Camp

Aug. 18 » vs. Guangdong Southern Tigers in Shenzhen

Aug. 19-20 » Depart for United States

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The Pac-12 announced Friday that Krystkowiak will lead a team of Pac-12 all-stars on a 10-day outreach trip to China, in a role previously held by fired Oregon State coach Craig Robinson.

"It’s an honor to have the chance to represent the University of Utah and the Pac-12 in China this summer," said Utah’s head coach in a statement. "This is a great educational experience for everyone involved and I can’t wait to work with this select group of outstanding student-athletes."

The Chinese Basketball Association estimates that 300 million people play basketball in the People’s Republic. A release says the Pac-12 team will travel to at least two cities in China, playing three games against pro teams and one game against a Chinese university all-star team.

Krystkowiak has coached in a United States vs. China scenario before — but from the opposite bench. In 2005, Krystkowiak led the CBA’s Beijing Ducks when they visited Wisconsin for a pair of exhibition games. As head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, he also coached Chinese power forward Yi Jianlian. Jianlian now plays for one of the pro teams Krystkowiak’s group will face: the Guangdong Southern Tigers.

The Pac-12 team will also challenge the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks. A news release said they will participate in youth clinics and visit historical sites in Shanghai, Nantong and Shenzhen.

That the conference chose Krystkowiak may reflect his rising profile during the recent Runnin’ Utes’ revival. In three years at the helm of the program, Krystkowiak’s Utes have gone from 6-25 in Year One to 21-12 last season. Earlier this month Utah signed Krystkowiak to a new five-year, $8.3 million contract.

Krystkowiak will be joined by Loveridge, a junior small forward, Taylor, a sophomore point guard, and Olsen, a junior center.

Olsen said he was in Utah’s weight room when he found out from the coaches. He checked his schedule and signed up.

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"I’ve never been [to China] but I watched the Olympics when they had them there," he told the U.’s sports information staff Friday afternoon. "They love basketball and treated the athletes well so I’m excited to see the crowds. It will be really great to go against players like Yi Jianlian."

Both Olsen and Taylor said it’s an added bonus that they get to play for Krystkowiak.

"It means a lot," Taylor said. "That’s my head coach and I have a feel for who he is and the coaching style already in place."

The tour is part of a broader, 3-year-old effort the Pac-12 has dubbed its "Globilization Initiative. In November, Washington will meet Texas in China for a nonconference game — the first time any major U.S. sports league will stage a regular season game in the world’s most populous country.


Twitter: @matthew_piper

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