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Runnin’ Utes Looking to ‘Pick Up the Tempo’ This Season

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There are more questions than answers about the Runnin’ Utes this year. Who will step up and score for the team? Who will be the starting point guard? What will be their identity?

After speaking with Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak this week, it’s clear that the answer to all of those questions and more is that, only time will tell. One thing that is certain right now is that Utah is looking to pick up the pace this year on defense.

Coach Krystkowiak said the main focus this week in practice has been transitioning on defense.

“We’re not a team that by nature pushes the tempo. At least we haven’t yet, but we’re just finding that that’s a big area. It’s one of the elements of easy baskets. It’s what you need to do defensively to eliminate or limit the number of easy baskets a team gets in transition. We’re getting that concept down. Getting the right people back early, different matchups and communication,” Krystkowiak said.

As the Utes gear up for the season, coaches are still working on defining roles for each player as they become more familiar with the team. One person who is still developing into a more leadership role is senior forward/center David Collette.

“In the past, that’s not my personality to step into that role, said Collette. “I feel like this year being my last year I don’t want to have any regrets about anything. I am going to do everything I can to give everything I got to this team. That’s on the court and that’s also being a leader as well.”

“It’s not something we (the coaching staff) have talked about specifically but I’ve had all the coaches tell me that I need to be that person. That’s who they want me to be and it’s something I wanted to do as well,” added Collette.

Who will be leading this team’s offense? According to coach K there’s no set point guard.

“We never have had a point guard,” Coach K responded when asked if Justin Bibbins, the senior transfer from Long beach State, has developed as the team’s primary point guard. “The back court can be a combination kind of thing. They (Sedrick Barefield and Bibbins) are playing together. There are times when we will want Sed on the ball and Justin on the ball. It depends on what you are facing defensively.”

“He (Bibbins) in definitely in that category where he’s a decision maker and ball in hand guard,” added Krystkowiak. “But Parker (Parker Van Dyke) has done a nice job at the point. That being said, Justin and Sed will probably be our guys.”

“I agree with coach,” Bibbins said. “We don’t really have a point guard. We have a lot of great ball handlers that can get the rebound and initiate the offense. Whether it’s me, Parker, Sed or Pop (Christian Popoola), it doesn’t matter. We’re just trying to get it and go,” Bibbins responded when asked about the team not having a primary point guard.

The Utes will finally see some action against another team on Wednesday, November 1 when they take on Montana Tech during an exhibition game in Salt Lake City at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

BlockU.com’s Brittany Johnson received a tip that the Utah Women’s Basketball team destroyed the Runnin’ Utes in a 3-point shootout contest. Hear what Bibbins had to say about that.