After a career that included playing and coaching gigs from Montana, to Milwaukee and France, Larry Krystkowiak is happy to have a hoops job in Utah again. Back in Salt Lake City — where he has a similar job title as one of his old Jazz teammates and happily no longer lives in a hotel room — the new University of Utah basketball coach spoke with Deseret News sports writer Jody Genessy about his past and present.
1. How have you been welcomed back to Utah after all of these years?
(We) found a nice home here in a great neighborhood. The kids are all happy. My wife's rolling right along. If there's a better place to bring up a family with five kids — and what we've got going on in America — that would welcome us more, I'd like to know where it is. Because I've been to a lot of places and I've never seen anything quite like this, so we're really enjoying it right now.
2. Who do you emulate your coaching style after? A little bit of Jerry Sloan and a little bit of everybody you played for?
I think so. I'm not going to think about it too much. You kind of coach what you know and a lot of that's the coaches you've had. Coach Del Harris was an NBA head coach of mine in Milwaukee for five years; Mike Montgomery at Stanford, now Cal, for four years. So those guys are mentors. Phil Jackson. Jerry Sloan. It's a nice combination.
With all of the knee injuries that I had, I was looking at coaching a little bit more, and you pay a little bit closer attention to what coaches do and what they don't do and try to make a little bit of a file over the years for that stuff. You just kind of end up being a combination of all those people.
3. You went from Montana to New Jersey (after a head coaching job with the Bucks) in the NBA. Was it your end goal to return to college coaching?
I was out of work after the two years in Milwaukee. I got an assistant job at New Jersey. I wanted to get back in the game again. … I'd coached both. I felt like the best opportunity (because of my kids' ages) for me was going to be college, so this ended up being kind of a dream come true — a top job, back in college, in the West. It had so many things we were looking for that it was a no-brainer for me. … I feel really blessed to have this opportunity.
4. Of course, now you have to worry about what kids do in class and in study hall. Do you like the different challenges that accompany working with the younger guys?
The flip side of that is you can actually have something to do with the developing of a young man. Some of that you miss out on in the NBA. Like you're in the NBA and you're coaching for a while and you go, 'Man, I wish I had some control over who I could actually coach.' Because you want to be involved with player-personnel decisions, well, you can't.
Now you go to college, you control the whole thing. The problem is you have to go and spend the time to find them, so you have to be careful what you ask for because there's kind of a plus and minus to everything.
Maybe it takes a little bit more effort and energy to keep these guys in line, but when you see the light bulb come on and there's progress then that's really rewarding. You can't really put a price on that.
5a. Looking back at your Utah Jazz career, what's your best memory?
The locker room in Utah, my time with John (Stockton), Karl (Malone), Ty Corbin. Some of the teammates in that locker room were real professionals, being around those players. I think I was only here a year (1992-93), we had some pretty big wins. We had some fun times out on the road with the coaching staff. It was just kind of neat being a part of this franchise. Some of the success and you see the sold-out crowds, being a part of it was probably most memorable. There wasn't really a game or any kind of playoff series that captured my attention, but it was more just the overall experience.
5B. Did you ever think that some day you and Corbin would be head coaches in Salt Lake City together?
No, absolutely not. It is pretty ironic, though, thinking about that. There's a few Jerry Sloan prodigies out there. Ty spent a lot more time with him than I did, but playing for Jerry Sloan I don't think ever hurts your chances of being a coach somewhere at any level.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: DJJazzyJody