Jim Les is a good coach. I have a lot of respect for him. They’ve got a nice squad. —Larry Krystkowiak, Utah head coach
SALT LAKE CITY — Larry Krystkowiak and Jim Les first crossed paths at the NABC All-America Game in the midst of the 1986 Final Four gathering in Dallas. Both were completing stellar college careers — Krystkowiak as a post player for Montana and Les as a backcourt star for Bradley.
Each went on to play in the NBA, doing so from non-traditional backgrounds — defying the odds in many ways. Although they played different positions and were never on the same team at the same time (both are Utah Jazz alums), they did share similar work ethics.
On Friday, Krystkowiak and Les will work the same court as coaches of Utah and UC Davis, respectively, in the Huntsman Center. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.
“I know Jimmy pretty well over the years,” said Krystkowiak, who is expecting quite a battle from the Aggies (1-1) — despite a 100-83 setback they suffered at Portland last week.
“I’m not sure Portland could play much better than they did that night. So we’ve got our hands full,” Krystkowiak said. “Jim Les is a good coach. I have a lot of respect for him. They’ve got a nice squad.”
UC Davis has a trio of scoring threats in senior guard Ryan Sypkens, senior forward Josh Ritchart and junior guard Corey Hawkins. They average 18, 17 and 16 points, respectively. Hawkins is the son of former NBA star Hersey Hawkins.
Utah sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds in the Utes’ 84-point season-opening win over Evergreen State, said UC Davis looks solid all around.
“They’ve got good bigs, they’ve got good smalls, so it’ll be a tough challenge for us,” he said.
If nothing else, it’s expected to be a lot more competitive than last week’s 128-44 victory. Krystkowiak acknowledged that there weren’t a whole lot of weaknesses in a win by that margin.
Besides Loveridge, other bright spots for Utah included the play of Delon Wright (17 points, seven rebounds) and Brandon Taylor (16 points, six assists).
Contributions were widespread as evidenced by the 26 assists the Utes tallied.
“I was really pleased with the way we moved the basketball and shared the basketball in an opportunity where maybe guys can get a little selfish and think about putting up some big numbers,” Krystkowiak said.
UTES SIGN TRIO: Krystkowiak is pleased with Utah’s signing class Wednesday. The Utes received letters from Brekkott Chapman (6-foot-8, F, Roy HS), Kyle Kuzma (6-foot-9, F, Rise Academy, Pa.) and Isaiah Wright (6-foot-2, PG, Borah HS, Idaho).
“It’s a sense of accomplishment having them join us and become part of the family. But again, I think all three of them need to be challenged when they get here,” Krystkowiak said. “They know that this isn’t the end of anything. It’s really the beginning of something, and so they’re excited about being part of the program and they’re perfect guys, I think, moving forward. They’re going to work as hard as anybody. They’re solid guys on and off the court and the kind of players that we’re looking for as we build the program.”