Runnin' Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak parlayed a 21-12 2013-2014 season into a new five-year contract and a $1.4 million annual salary. Krystkowiak's teams have gone from 6-25 in his first season to 15-18 in his second to 21-12 this past season.
Clearly, Utah athletic director, Chris Hill, likes the improvement he's seen from Krystkowiak and from a basketball program that had sunk to historic lows. This past season, Krystkowiak's Utes logged an 18-2 home record (up from 11-7 the previous season), and crowds have begun to return to the once quiet Huntsman Center.
"Our men's basketball program continues to make tremendous progress under Coach Krystkowiak and his staff," Hill said. "He has embraced being a part of the Utah family and immersed himself in the Salt Lake community. I am excited about the future of our program under his leadership and look forward to continued success on, and off, the court."
After two years without a post season tournament, Krystkowiak's 21-12 Utes earned a bid to the National Invitational Tournament, losing 70-58 on the road to St. Mary's. However, Utah was in the running for the NCAA Tournament until the final weeks of the regular season.
While the first couple of years of Coach K's tenure were marred by losses and roster turnover, he appears to have his team on the course he set when arriving at Utah. In successive seasons, Krystkowiak and his staff have secured the best player in the state of Utah in Jordan Loveridge and an All Pac-12 caliber point guard in Delon Wright. With the recent commitment from Austrian 7-footer Jakob Pöeltl, the Runnin' Utes 2014 recruiting class has been ranked as one of the best in the Pac-12, even without the track record of other conference teams. Talent, it seems, will not be lacking for the future.
"I think this is one of the best college jobs in America," Krystkowiak said. "We have a lot of positive momentum right now with the team coming back and the offseason additions. We have the new facility being built and renovations are being made to the Huntsman Center. We still have a lot of work to do but we are on the cusp of doing some special things and I'm proud to be a part of it."
Next season, the bar will be set rather high for the fourth-year coach. Returning almost the entirety of his 21-12 team, Krystkowiak will be expected to get his team back to the NCAA Tournament and possibly put a player (Wright) in the NBA. After a 6-25 season just three years ago, fans will welcome high expectations.