The Runnin’ Utes could take lesson in sharing the ball from Utah’s unbeaten women’s basketball team

Larry Krystkowiak is unhappy with a style that’s ‘not part of Utah basketball.’

Tribune staff photo by Rick Egan. Utah guard Sedrick Barefiled barrels up the floor while BYU defender's give chase during the Utes' 74-59 loss to the Cougars on Dec. 15 at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

The solution is right there, in the same building. The issue for the Utah men's basketball team is how to develop the traits that are creating offensive success for the other squad that operates in the Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Facility.

The theme was inescapable Tuesday, when men's coach Larry Krystkowiak and women's coach Lynne Roberts staged their first tandem news conference of the season. Coincidentally or not, everything Roberts said about her unbeaten team's unselfishness in her session came as a contrast to the elements of his team's game that have disappointed Krystkowiak.

Even with a late flurry Saturday, his Utes (4-4) couldn’t reach the 60-point mark in a 74-59 loss to BYU at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Repeating the message of a Monday film session with his team, Krystkowiak spoke of “mindset changes and trust issues, really depending on each other to get a much higher-quality shot that we’ve been getting.”

Krystkowiak has tried to simplify Utah's offensive scheme the past two weeks, but one-on-one play was not part of the plan.


When • Saturday, 3 p.m. MST


The lack of sharing the ball is “not good,” he said. “It's not part of Utah basketball. It's not the way I want to coach; it's not the way players want to play. … We have no chance when we get in the mindset that we're going to go try to do it ourselves.”

Krystkowiak wants his players to have some offensive freedom, but not in what turns into a individual effort to score. That’s tricky; the Utes need all the points that senior guard Sedrick Barefield and sophomore forward Donnie Tillman can give them, but Krystkowiak cited examples of them trying to do too much on their own against BYU — and shooting a combined 8 of 26 from the field.

Utah’s offense is “probably not in the best spot right now,” senior guard Parker Van Dyke acknowledged. “We have the right plan, I just think we need more time together.”

The film study suggested the Utes are only “an extra pass away” from being more efficient, Van Dyke said. “We learned a lot; we learned how close we are.”

The Utes will need all the offense they can produce Saturday at No. 19 Kentucky (7-2). The kenpom.com analytics continue to say that Utah’s defense is much worse than its offense, but Krystkowiak is convinced that the improved attitude created by having more players touch the ball offensively will translate to the defensive effort.

That approach is working for the Ute women’s team (8-0). “I’m very happy with our shot selection right now,” Roberts said. “We’re not perfect … but I think this team’s really unselfish. There’s nobody out there trying to get theirs or score for themselves. It’s fun to play that style.”

Senior forward Megan Huff was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after scoring 28 points in a 78-67 win over BYU and guard Dru Gylten was voted the conference’s Freshman of the Week for her 17-point, eight-assist effort.

Utah will host Weber State on Saturday (2 p.m.) at the Huntsman Center, with three nonconference games remaining before launching Pac-12 play Dec. 30 at Colorado.