Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak’s approach in scheduling has been geared toward getting prepared for Pac-12 play and based largely on the makeup of the team he expects to have going into the season.
Utah also annually counted on the competition in a Power 5 conference beefing up the schedule. Well, the NCAA Selection Committee will force that approach to be re-examined this offseason. Just three Pac-12 teams were selected for the year’s tournament, and two of those were relegated to play-in games. USC, the regular-season and tournament runner-up, got snubbed.
“It’s not that your conference doesn’t mean anything,” Krystkowiak said. “Unfortunately it was that our conference didn’t mean anything this year because we were supposedly down.”
Arizona State’s selection after having finished ninth in the conference and below .500 in Pac-12 games (8-10) clearly pointed to an emphasis on nonconference games. ASU (20-11) beat Kansas on the road and Xavier at a neutral site.
“When it comes time to select some of those games, we’ve tried to do what’s right for a particular team as you go into it,” Krystkowiak said. “Maybe if it’s a coin flip of who you’ll play, you’re going to probably bite off more than you can chew because apparently if you can beat Kansas and Xavier in the preseason and finish ninth in our conference, that’s going to be all she takes. Maybe by the time that happens they’ll change the rules on us again.”
Krystkowiak pointed to the Pac-12′s 7-2 record against the SEC and the fact that the SEC got eight teams into the NCAA Tournament as inconsistency and a sign of how the perception of the Pac-12 handicapped the conference. The Utes contributed to that record against the SEC with a 77-59 win over Missouri, which is an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s not like you’re going to go out and play 10 Xaviers and Kansases to try to get a couple wins because you have to be smart with it,” Krystkowiak said. “The reality is Arizona State was undefeated in the preseason, so they did a really good job of representing our conference overall.
“Somehow when they started losing conference games it wasn’t ‘Hey man, the Pac-12 must be pretty good.’ It was, ‘Geez, that ship is sinking in Phoenix. What’s going on there with Arizona State?’ I don’t know that that’s the narrative you would’ve heard around different conferences, but that’s out of our control.”
Utes senior forward David Collette and his wife, McElle, are expecting the birth of their first child. Collette said the due date is Saturday, and his wife even thought it was funny to text him the other day and jokingly tell him that her water broke.
Collette, who transferred from Utah State and also served a two-year LDS Church mission in the middle of his collegiate career, turns 25 in May. When a reporter quipped that the birth of his child will put to the test the importance of an NIT run for the Utes, Collette replied, “Family first.”
Return to Salt Lake City
UC Davis coach Jim Les, the Big West coach of the year, played seven seasons as a point guard in the NBA from 1988 to 1995. He played for the Utah Jazz for parts of two seasons. He played in 82 games off the bench for the Jazz in the 1988-89 season and one game in the 1989-90 season before he got waived and spent time with both the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings that season.