Larry Krystkowiak will embark on his sixth season as head coach of the Utah Runnin’ Utes when the team takes the floor in 2016-17. To label Krystkowiak’s rebuilding of the Utah program anything but successful would be an understatement.
In five seasons at the helm of the Utes basketball program, Krystkowiak has accumulated 95 victories, which includes three consecutive 20-win seasons and back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths. Krystkowiak guided Utah to a 27-9 record in 2015-16 and was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) District VIII Coach of the Year.
Since winning just six games in his first season (2011-12), Krystkowiak has only added to the program’s win total by winning 15 games in 2012-13, 21 games in 2013-14 and 26 games a year ago. The former NBA veteran has increased the squad’s win total in Pac-12 play as well, finishing with 13 conference wins in each of the last two seasons.
In 2015-16, Utah defeated its highest-ranked opponent since 2002 when it took down No. 7 Duke at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The Utes closed out the regular season with a program-best seven straight wins in Pac-12 Conference play to finish as the league runner-up for the first time ever. Utah also played in its first Pac-12 Tournament title game since it joined the league in 2011.
Sophomore Jakob Poeltl earned 2015-16 Pac-12 Player of the Year honors – the program’s first POY since 2009 – and senior Brandon Taylor was named the program’s first-ever Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Poeltl would go on to be named the program’s second-consecutive consensus All-American under Krystkowiak, while also taking home the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year awards.
Krystkowiak led the Utes to a 26-9 record, a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16 and a No. 15 final national ranking in 2014-15. Utah was ranked in the Top 25 for 19 weeks – the most time spent in the national polls since the Final Four campaign of 1997-98. Delon Wright won the Bob Cousy Award and was a Wooden All-American selection. The senior guard was also named a second team All-American by the USBWA and the NABC. Wright, Taylor and Poeltl garnered Pac-12 postseason honors.
Utah has also excelled in the classroom. In the latest multi-year Academic Progress Report (APR) announced by the NCAA, Utah men’s basketball led all Pac-12 programs with a perfect score of 1000.
Striving for success both on and off the court are trademarks of the Krystkowiak era, and due to improvements in both areas he was recently rewarded with a contract extension that runs through the 2023-24 season.
The resurgence of the program under Krystkowiak has also ignited Utah’s fan base. The Utes averaged more than 12,000 fans at home games the past two years, and ranked second in the Pac-12 and No. 24 in the nation in home attendance in 2015-16 with an average of 12,998 fans per game.
Krystkowiak was introduced on April 4, 2011 as the 15th men’s basketball coach at the U., with prior head coaching experience in the NCAA, CBA and NBA.
In his previous collegiate head coaching post, Krystkowiak led his alma mater, the University of Montana, to a 42-20 record and two NCAA appearances from 2004-06 before joining the NBA coaching ranks. Hired as an assistant coach by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2006-07, "Krysko" was elevated to head coach with 17 games remaining in the season. He was retained as the Bucks' head coach in 2007-08. Among the players he coached was former Ute All-American Andrew Bogut. Krystkowiak's other head coaching experience was in the CBA with the Idaho Stampede in 2003-04.
After a nine-year NBA playing career in six cities, Krystkowiak’s first coaching job was as an assistant coach at Montana from 1998-2000. The Grizzlies were the Big Sky champions in 2000. He then moved on to Old Dominion as an assistant in 2001-02 before signing on as the head coach of the CBA’s Idaho Stampede. In his lone season with the Stampede in 2003-04, he led the team to a 38-14 record and a berth in the CBA Finals.
Krystkowiak spent the next two seasons as the head coach at Montana. The Grizzlies were Big Sky champions in 2004-05, winning the conference tournament and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They appeared in the Big Dance in 2006 as well, earning an at-large bid and advancing to the second round with an upset victory over fifth-seed Nevada. It was UM's first NCAA tournament win since 1975. Montana finished the season with a 24-7 record, after going 18-13 in Krystkowiak's first season, losing to No. 1 seed Washington in the NCAA First Round.
The only three-time Big Sky MVP in league history and two-time Academic All-American for Montana from 1982-86, Krystkowiak is still the school's all-time career leader in points (2,017) and rebounds (1,105). He was selected in the second round (28th overall pick) of the 1986 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls and played in the league for nine years with San Antonio (1986-87), Milwaukee (1988-92), Utah (1992-93), Orlando (1993-94), Chicago (1994-96) and the Los Angeles Lakers (1996). Over his NBA career, he averaged 8.1 points and 4.1 rebounds a game with his best season in 1988-89 when he averaged 12.7 points and 7.6 rebounds a game for Milwaukee.
Krystkowiak made the Dean’s List four times at Montana, including in 1996, when he completed the degree he began over a decade earlier in business administration. He graduated with honors, boasting a 3.5 grade point average.
Krystkowiak and his wife Jan have five children, sons Cam, Luc, and Ben, along with twin daughters Samantha and Finley.