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Go Utes!
Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak's Weekly Press Conference

Feb. 25, 2013

Larry Krystkowiak Presser – 2/25/13

Q : Can you talk about this tough road trip you have coming up?

“California is playing as well as anyone in our league right now. After watching a few of their games, it’s easy to see why they are having success. Their offense is clicking, they’re defending and they have some great firepower with Crabbe and Cobbs to start with. A lot of those other guys are playing their best basketball of the season as well. They do a great job passing the ball. When guys are open, they get it. They are really efficient right now.”

Q: Jason Washburn is closing in on 1,000 points for his career. How big of deal is that for you and the program?

“I think it’s a tremendous accomplishment. I don’t know when the last time someone scored 1,000 points was, but it would be nice to get that rolling. I think we need a number of 1,000-point scorers if are going to get this going. That starts with some of our freshmen right now. Washburn has been in the program for a number of years and he is closing in on it down the stretch. I think that speaks volumes about his consistency over the last couple years and the importance of having a guy put up some numbers over the course of a career.”

Q: Can you talk about Allen Crabbe and what he does best?

“I think he’s one of those wings where you really can’t take away his options. Their offense is kind of built around him. If you deny him the ball with one angle on one side of the floor, he’s got an option of coming off the other post. So basically when you’re trying to defend him, you can’t be in the right spot. I think that’s an indicator of what a great wing he is. He goes where the defense isn’t. Coach Montgomery puts him in positions where he has those options. We call it an ‘L screen’ where you can come off either way. Basically half what they do revolves around him, and those kids move the ball. It’s not a one-option kind of deal. If Crabbe comes off and he’s not open, he’s great at attacking. Usually there’s a flare on the other side of the floor for the other guard, and it’s continuous. So they wind you up and end up getting a pretty good shot. Lately he’s been distributing the ball too, passing to the open guy and getting those big guys involved. I think that’s why they are having success as team, they’re getting everyone involved.



Q: The league has been hard to predict this year, but is Cal playing as well as anyone in the league right now?

“I think so. Watching the UCLA game was somewhat of a clinic offensively. Then going into Oregon and winning on the road, taking care of business against USC and Oregon State…I know the OSU game was close but that’s not an easy place to play. Winning five games in a row, regardless of who it is, I would say they are the hot team right now for sure.

Q: Teams have been wary of your ability to competitive with the top teams. Do you see that as a sign of respect or progress or does it not matter?

"I don’t pay too much attention to it. A lot of questions come up over the course of a season about what another team is thinking. We got into that with Colorado, talking about whether I was afraid that they were thinking about revenge. I’m not capable of paying too much attention to what anyone is thinking about us. I only have enough energy to focus on our guys and what we are trying to do. I am proud of the fact that we have played some teams really close. But at the end of day, we get into the business where winning is really important.

"We haven’t caught a lot of breaks I would say. Even at CU, it’s a five-point game with five minutes to go and it’s right there in front of us. But we miss a ‘3’, we miss an open layup, then they go down and hit some free throws, and it goes from five to 10. It’s a fine line between that and being an even game. So I’m proud of the fact that our kids are putting themselves in a position to win some games at the end, and I’m hoping we can save up a little bit of that luck down the stretch with four games to go plus the tournament. I guess it’s satisfying not to get blown out but we’re eager to get some W’s.”

Q: Do you expect to make any rotation tweaks for Thursday, especially given Dakarai Tucker’s recent performances?

“I really like the way Dakarai has been playing. Not just the fact that he is hitting shots, which is what gains everyone’s attention. But defensively he has come a long way. He got give deflections against Colorado and he anticipates really well. He is making fewer mistakes than early on and what you’re seeing is a player who is not thinking as much as he did for the first two thirds of the season. Hs mind is  freed up and you’re seeing his natural athletic ability and instincts and anticipation. I think he is probably our best anticipator as far as knowing when to get his hands on the ball. So I anticipate him getting more minutes than he has. Let’s face it, to get to this point season heading down the stretch…specifically thinking about Vegas…the four games leading up to Vegas, to be successful we need a lot of guys to step up. That probably means less of a load for Washburn, [Jordan] Loveridge and [Jarred DuBois] and some of those guys, and an opportunity for some of our core bench guys to step up and win some games. Not only Dakarai but we need two or three guys to step up and play their best basketball.”

Q: What has Dakarai done specifically to get more playing time?

“Everyone is noticing his shots, he’s close to the percentage leader on our team. But defensively he’s not making the same mistakes. You’re looking at a kid who is just going out playing now instead of thinking all the time. Some of that is natural, but it’s a credit to him for staying with it. He has been as coachable as anyone we’ve had in terms of soaking everything up. There’s a lot of system offensively and defensively to learn. In high school they relied a lot on pressing and getting out and using their athleticism. So it’s a different style of game and he’s starting to get adapted to it and feeling more and more comfortable.

Q: You had a couple of guys banged up at Colorado, has having a little time off helped them?

“Yes, I spoke with [athletic trainer Trevor Jameson] this morning, and three of our starters [Washburn, Brandon Taylor and Cedric Martin] had numerous treatments Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and I was told they should be ready to go today. Trevor said they might not be 100%, and I said I don’t think any of us are 100%. But we’re at that point in the season where you need to dig in.

“I think there are two things that are most important in my mind. One is having the mental ability to not turn the ball over, being mentally strong. Hopefully if we’re physically rested we will be better and capable of doing that. And the second is having an energy level at this point in the season where you have to go out and play really hard. Our focus has to be on loose balls, rebounding, taking charges and those kinds of things. You can talk about those things but if you’re not fresh, I don’t know if you have much of a chance.

“Realistically I don’t know how much better we’re going to get. It’s like being at a summer basketball camp. I always ask at the start of camp ‘How much better do you think you will get at this four-day camp?’, and everyone raises their hands. The reality is that you don’t improve during camp, you improve after camp when you take this stuff home and work on it. So I don’t know how much better we will get skill wise in the next two weeks. So for us, being physically rested and mentally sharp I think are the two keys that will allow us to be successful.”

Q: How will you approach this week with the travel and playing a Sunday game?

“We will stay in the Bay Area. Logistically it’s different than the Pullman-Seattle trip. We will just be a bus drive away [for both games]. Our guys will be able go to class on Wednesday. I think the game in Pullman was a Wednesday game, so it made more sense to come home in between. We’ll attend class Wednesday and just miss Thursday and Friday. Then with the early game Sunday we will be able to get back Sunday night, so they won’t miss class on Monday. And it will be 70 degrees and sunny there.”

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