Creating a Winning Culture
Larry Krystkowiak is entering his fifth year as the head coach of the Runnin’ Utes. Krystkowiak was introduced on April 4, 2011 as the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Utah and the man to lead the Runnin’ Utes into the next phase of their storied history. Krystkowiak, who has prior head coaching experience in the NCAA, CBA and NBA, left a position as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Nets to become the 15th head coach in Utah men’s basketball history.
Creating a winning culture was a key component to turning the Utes program around and Larry Kystkowiak did just that.
Krystkowiak, led the Utes to a 26-9 record, a berth in the Sweet 16 and a No. 15 final national ranking during the 2014-15 season. Utah was ranked in the top 25 for 19 weeks in — its most time spent in the national polls since the Final Four campaign of 1997-98. Utah also had its best finish since joining the Pac-12, placing third with a 13-5 conference mark and reaching the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament for the second time in three years.
The Utes defeated Stephen F. Austin and Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament before losing to eventual national champion Duke in the Sweet 16, 63-57.
The resurgence of Utah basketball under Krystkowiak has also ignited Utah’s fan base. The Utes averaged more than 12,000 fans to its home games this season, its highest attendance average since 2000-01
Striving for success, both on and off the court, are trademarks of the Krystkowiak era and due to improvements in both areas, the Utah head coach was rewarded with a five-year contract extension that runs through the 2023-24 season.
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 as the Grizzlies’ 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, Ben and twin daughters Samantha and Finley.