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SALT LAKE CITY — One step forward, two steps back?
After a promising start in conference play, albeit not in the win column, the Runnin' Utes were absolutely man-handled by USC at home on Saturday. The loss, which dropped the Utes to 0-4 in Pac-12 play, prompted Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak to hold individual player interviews to better understand what is going on from an athlete's perspective.
"It's important that we communicate and everyone comes in individually. We're open for suggestions and we will give them our input," Krystkowiak said in Monday's weekly press conference.
"Then there isn't a whole lot of time for talk. We have a couple months and to get busy and start thinking about more action and less talk. We want to make sure guys don't feel like they aren't being heard and don't have any input."
The Utes went on the road and competed hard in a one-point loss in overtime against Arizona State. They battled tough against the then No. 3 Arizona Wildcats in Tucson before falling by three points. They played host and gave UCLA everything they had in the tank but fell just short, 57-53.
Then there isn't a whole lot of time for talk. We have a couple months and to get busy and start thinking about more action and less talk. We want to make sure guys don't feel like they aren't being heard and don't have any input.
–Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak
That's when the floor caved in. Facing a team that hadn't won on the road since 2011, the Utes were crushed by USC, 76-59 in the Huntsman Center.
The win wasn't enough to save USC head coach Kevin O'Neill's job though. O'Neill was fired Monday after a 48-65 record in four years.
With each individual player meeting, Krystkowiak looks to get on the same page.
"It becomes "What do I need to do for you Justin Seymour, what do I need to do for you Jason Washburn, to make things easier for you so we're on the same page?' And I want to let them know what I expect at the same time. We just don't have that much time in the season to be guessing anymore."
Moving forward, Krystkowiak hopes to simplify the game for his players, freeing them up to "go make some plays".
"I don't want us to think we have to be on a set of railroad tracks where it has to go a certain way and then if we get a shot, maybe we've been thinking so much that we can't make it," Krystkowiak said.
"I think that's been the nature of missing so many shots lately, to me we're thinking too much. So I want to free up our guys' minds to go make some plays, and hopefully don't turn it over."
The Runnin' Utes head back out on the road to face Washington State on Wednesday in search of their first ever Pac-12 road win.
A call to Utah fans
After getting their hopes up and having them crushed yet again, there seems to be a lot of disappointed Utah fans.
Things seemed to be going differently - fan attendance was as high as its been in years and there seemed to be more optimism surrounding the hoops team than the football team.
That being said, with another loss in what should have been a winnable game, the consensus from fans is that they are giving up on this season.
Blogger "Big Ben" hits the nail on the head with his latest post, There Are a Lot of Dumb Ute Fans. Give it a read and let me know what you think.