Let the Holy War rivalry talk begin. On Wed. Dec. 3 moments after the No. 25 Utah Utes basketball team upset No. 8 Wichita State, handing the Shockers their first loss in 35 games, head coach Larry Krystkowiak opened his big mouth seated in front of a red backdrop filled with Pac-12 Conference and Under Armour logos.
Some reporter asked Coach K a question about his next opponent, the BYU Cougars of the West Coast Conference. What followed might rank up there with former BYU coach Roger Reid’s comment about Chris Burgess letting millions of Mormons down when the returned LDS missionary chose Utah over that school down South. Heck, even Lenny Gomes comment about Ute players pumping his gas–or anything Max Hall said–geez, even Utah player Brian Blechen’s fake baptism might not rate.
Going back through the years, can anyone think of a basketball coach on either team–other than peg-legged Roger Reid–making such an inflammatory comment about the other? In doing so, Coach K–well, the Coach K west of the Mississippi–has opened a new chapter of Smack Talk, one that makes next week’s all-important showdown with rival BYU one for the ages.
“I said going into this stretch of tough games and playing five elite teams…I think, well, four and a half if you count BYU, I guess…” said Krystkowiak, trailing off as his comment elicited laughter before he continued talking in a more serious tone. “Even if we went 0-5 in these games I wasn’t going to give up hope because I feel like it’s preparing us for conference.”
Wow, Utah sure seems confident all of a sudden after winning one big game, huh? That’s strange, considering that just last week, the Utes played and defeated a slew of nobodies, including North Dakota and Alabama State in a so-called Thanksgiving tournament at home, while BYU played and barely lost in the Maui Invitational to a perennial Top 25 team and a team from the Big 10 filled with 7-foot giants.
Of course, in true BYU fashion it will probably play down Coach K’s sarcastic comment, say all the right things leading up to next week’s game and then go out and score 85-plus points on the Utes–same as it did against the nationally ranked Aztecs of San Diego State and against the giants from Purdue.
In other words, don’t expect a similar response from the two-loss Cougars, who are every bit as dangerous as the Wichita State team that wouldn’t go down without a fight and stretched the game past midnight, Salt Lake City time. But by all means, let the Holy War commence–after the years of silence made some wonder if there even was a rivalry.