Thursdays With Raider: Being Larry Krystkowiak

Raider Thoughts

Over the weekend while I was up in Boise introducing my girlfriend to some of the family, I was thinking a few things.  The first of which was how the reaction to what I can only assume could be described as a moral victory against BYU might be.  Look, I didn’t go into this season thinking the Utes could get a victory in Provo, but I’m not going to have the mentality that everything with the basketball program is all hunky-dory.  To paraphrase Mike Leach, “we lost a g– d— game to Brigham Young University, and we could’ve won the mother—”…well, here, just watch some classic Texas Tech era Mike Leach and you’ll see what I’ve quoted and yes, it’s NSFW.

But since what you and Larry have together is special, I want to make my position known that, while this whole winning a whole bunch of theoretically winnable non-conference games is all well and good, but where I will ultimately judge Larry’s tenure here is how well things go in conference play.  Now, I’m not exactly being profound when I say that it’s important to do well in your own conference, but look at the current state of the PAC right now.

–Arizona State will be at worst 11-2 going into their game against us on January 2.

–We know by now how good Arizona will be this year, so that will be my token “hey, we have one program in this conference that is going to kick ass” comment.

–UCLA is a hot mess right now, but quite honestly, I’d take their mess with some fava beans and a bottle of Chianti compared to ours.  I probably shouldn’t think like that, but it’s hard not to.

–Cal fans are all mad that they lost to UNLV.  Puzzled by a loss to UNLV…line forms to the left, honey!

–Colorado was a better team than we were last year (but then again, who wasn’t?) andtheir losses to Kansas and Wyoming don’t really change my mind on the fact that I don’t think we can get so much as one victory against them this year.

Speaking of Wyoming, I have to get your thoughts on Wyo winning 10 games and remaining undefeated before Christmas and see if you can do so without lamenting how much you’d rather be in their shoes than ours.  You are a Poke of the Dembo/Leckner era, so I’m curious to see how you think this era will stack up to those teams of the 80s?  What has amazed me about this current run of Cowboy basketball is the fact that they are doing it with a head coach that seemingly couldn’t wait to get out of town 15 years ago when he took the Clemson job.  I haven’t seen the Pokes play at all this year, but I’ll have to get back to you to see if they’re better than the Josh Davis/Marcus Bailey teams.

Now is as good of a time as any to address the Raiders loss on Thursday evening, so I’ll write down a quote from the radio Voice of the Raiders, Greg Papa:

“How many players, I’m talking about players, guys that should even be on the 53 man roster do they really have? I count maybe 10.”

And there you have it.  From your view as a Denver fan, how was that score only 26-13?  On the plus side, if it means Star Lotuleleli ends up wearing Silver and Black, I’ll take my lumps with a potential 3-13 season.  And then, there’s this particular dose of reality I found on Twitter:

Yep, this is what I deal with.

Before I hand this off to you, I know I have taken more than my fair share of pot shots at Boise and most things associated with that part of the world.  But if any of your gentle readers are in the Boise area, you have to try the Flying Pie Pizzaria.  I think in the five years I lived there, I probably went there at least once a week.  If you go there between 11:30 am and 3:30 pm, you can get a huge slice of pizza and all the breadsticks you can handle for about 5 bucks.  This is perfect for me to wrap up, because I’m hungry now and I only get a half hour for lunch.  Take it away, Evanston High!

Mac Thoughts

Since I have to start somewhere and I’ll start with a happy play. Wyoming basketball. BTW first things first.  If you care to watch one of the top three wins in Wyoming basketball history, start here.  Wyoming over UCLA in the 1987 basketball tourney.  UCLA had Reggie Miller, Pooh Richardson and a guy named Dan Immel with a super sweet blond Cali Mullet.  This game truly holds a special place in my heart.  And thanks to my partner in crime here for finding it.

As for what is going on in Wyoming basketball, it’s just remarkable really.  In 2010-11, Wyoming was 10-21, 3-13 in the MWC.  The team was a total disaster under Schroyer in every way possible.  Two years later they are 10-0 and could be 13-0 headed into the MWC.  Considering the teams they’ll get shots at they might be an NCAA team.  If he wasn’t at Wyoming he would be considered for coach of the year.

As I understand the Shyatt story, I think he’s figured out that if you find a place in college hoops you can win, maybe you should just go there.  I think Mark Few started the trend.  He’s older, can win at Wyoming at some level, they will love him for it and he gets to coach basketball.  Plus Denver isn’t that far away so you don’t have to hang out in Laramie.

And look at me, I wrote that without pointing out that Shyatt took over the exact same time as Larry.  Utah destroyed Wyoming both times they played in Boylen’s final year and no one can possibly argue that Shyatt had a single advantage over Larry.  I’m proud I didn’t mention that.

Now for how we do in the Pac-12.  Watch the SMU game in SLC.  SMU is worse than most Pac-12 teams but they are athletic.  In Dallas, they ran us off the boards and generally killed us by being athletic.  If it happens again, well we might worry.  If we win, well we’re still not doing anything but we might get to 15 total wins and we’ll have a whole nother season of the Larry lovers telling us how that isn’t piss, it’s in fact rain.

I wonder at what point it becomes ok to actually judge what Larry does and not pretend this is a soccer team of six year olds and anything they do is wonderful.

BTW… down the stretch at during the BYU game I taught my son how to take the lords name in vain.  And just before he sees his Catholic relatives for Christmas.  PARENTING WIN.

As for the Bronco-Raider game, seven blown redzone chances will do that.  I think it was a short week and even though this isn’t a ready for prime time Raider team, they still hate the Broncos.  But right now I’m in the mood of, we have 10 wins, if we can find a way at Baltimore next Saturday, we’ll be 13-3, and possibly a bye.  I’m not over-thinking anything right now.

Raider Thoughts

You and the internet may laugh at your parenting WIN, but not too long ago I got a phone call from my Mom recently all up in arms because my oldest nephew dropped his first F-bomb.  Truthfully, I’m surprised it took this long to happen, because I don’texactly come from a family that uses the Queen’s English.  The Adult Ralphie that narrated “A Christmas Story” described it thus:

“Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master.”

We have both spent more than enough time in the great state of Wyoming, so I’m sure your son comes across that honestly.  I know both of my nephews will in due course.

I’m probably going to bore you a little with these few paragraphs, but I’ve seen a few comments about looking forward instead of backward with the Larry Era, and I will now take this opportunity to tie in the past, present and future as I dig into my own neurons and see what I can find.

Like many, I didn’t like the fact Hill hired Larry.  The basketball program needed to bring some sexy back after Giac and Boylen–really, after Majerus, but you get the idea–and Larry just wasn’t it.  My brother had said to me when Larry got hired that Boise State wanted nothing to do with him.  I don’t know whether any of that is true or not, but I indulged in my own paranoia.  That lead me to the presumption that there would be this basketball school with a Big Sky mind in a Pac-12 world.  Because if Boise State, an athletic department that is every bit at lethargic about hoops as we are, doesn’t give you the time of day (allegedly), then you’re in real trouble.  Yes, I gave into my own insanity, I should probably not do that anymore.  I’m sorry.

At this point, all I really ask out of any Ute basketball coach from here until human beings are replaced with bees or yellow labs atop the food chain is to get to the NCAA Tournament field more often than not.  I got kind of used to that as a youngster and I’d like to keep that going, or at the very least, allow it to resume.  So I’m about to put those of us who aren’t immediately enamored with the man to ask ourselves this question: Is Larry Krystkowiak the man that can get the Utes back to the NCAAs?  And if so, can this sort of thing happen more than once?  For this season at least, I’ll have to side with the obvious conventional wisdom and that we’re still looking at a 14 or 15 win team.  What can I say, I’m a man, and I can’t commit.

I don’t necessarily mean to be a wet blanket when it comes to your team’s Manning Era–actually, that isn’t true at all, I enjoy that immensely–but there’s that 800 pound gorilla in the AFC and that’s New England.  Bear in mind, I have a special sort of hate for the Pats, but can this “hey, it’s so cool to be from Boston” trend come to an end, like, now?  The Pats, Red Sox and the Celtics winning titles in the past decade combined with a lot of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon just turns me off to the whole thing.  I’m preparing myself mentally and physically for a Manning v. Brady AFC Title Game, and I may have to go ice fishing that day just to avoid the festivities.

You are welcome for the digging up of the Wyo/UCLA game, but I have a bonus video that I also found.  This celebrates more of the 1988 Pokes, but I must warn you, there’s a lot of 80s and a lot of Benny Dees in this video.  Don’t shoot the messenger.

Mac Thoughts

Well I’m hoping for a couple of things concerning the NFL playoffs.  First is that Houston continues what they started Monday Night.  Allowing Denver to possibly win out and grab the number one seed.  Thereby forcing New England and Houston to battle before the winner has to come to Denver.  A guy can dream.

Now about Larry Krystkowiak.  At the end of two seasons from now Utah is going to have to make a decision.  Is Larry the guy to keep moving Utah basketball forward?  To answer that question, what do we need to see this year, next year and the year after for someone, be it Dr. Hill or a new hire, to say yes Larry is my man.  Honestly, if I wasn’t a Ute fan I would find that an fascinating intellectual debate.  But I am a Ute fan and wondering that answer makes me sick.

It will always trouble me too that we jumped at Larry when he couldn’t get an interview in Boise while begging for the job.  It’s what makes the paragraph above so interesting.

I’ll conclude with my son this week and his new found love of the more colorful parts of our language.  The final problem comes that the wife is bound to send him to Catholic School.  Something about getting a decent education blah blah blah whatever.  I’m just guessing that might not be the place we want him dropping the lords name in that context.

So I’m making an endeavor in my life to stop swearing.  We’ll see how this goes.

Topics: Basketball, Larry Krystkowiak, Larry Shyatt, Pac 12, Utah Utes, Wyoming Cowboys

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