2019 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day

Tuesday, Oct. 8 | #Pac12Hoops
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2019 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day: Youthful Utes turn to sophomores Timmy Allen, Both Gach for leadership

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Sizable roster turnover is expected these days in college basketball with players transferring, graduating and going pro. Not many teams, however, deal with as much year-to-year roster change as Utah is experiencing this season.

The Utes return just three rotation players from a 2018-19 squad that finished third in the Pac-12. They have one senior, and he’s a walk-on. They have one junior, and he’s a junior-college transfer playing his first year of NCAA Division I hoops. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak hsa never been in charge a team this young – not in college, at least.

“Seventh graders in San Diego, yeah,” Krystkowiak quipped at 2019 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day when asked if he’s ever coached a team with this much youth on the roster.

As such, the first couple of weeks of practice have been spent teaching and getting the guys to learn terminology, but Krystkowiak has been pleased with the group’s effort thus far.

“It’s a big adjustment for a lot of these kids. But it’s an unbelievably hard-working group. Culturally we’re really dialed in, and a lot of the focus has been basketball,” he remarked. “There hasn’t been classroom issues or teaching kids how to act or anything like that. It’s just been really functional and trying to get our team better.”

With a dearth of experienced upperclassmen, Utah has turned to sophomores Timmy Allen and Both Gach for their on-court leadership. Allen was just the second Ute ever to be named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team for men’s basketball after ranking second on the team with 12.2 points per game, while Gach started nearly half of the team’s contests, averaging 7.7 points per game in 20 minutes per outing.

“Not a lot of sophomores get to be the big leaders of the team, so we just try to set an example for the young guys and just get them as ready for Pac-12 games and non-conference games because a lot of them haven’t played college basketball,” said Allen, who lost 35 pounds in the offseason to get in to better shape.

Allen and Gach both said they learned a great deal of leadership from departed senior Parker Van Dyke, who told them to live in the moment and to look to be a leader.

“Parker Van Dyke was a great leader coming in as a freshman because he had been through everything in college basketball,” Gach said. “He was on the bench, he was playing, he was in and out of the game, he was knock-down some nights, missed some nights, so he was great to learn from.”

Krystkowiak says Allen and Gach set a great example as the more experienced guys on the team through their work ethic.

“Both [Timmy] and Both spent a lot of their summer in Phoenix and worked their tails off, and even now when we start practice, weight room to practice, they’re some of the first guys in the gym, some of the last guys to lead,” Krystkowiak said. “There’s always a correlation with guys that are successful that do – it’s about walking the walk and not just talking the talk. So that’s been really impressive.”

Follow Pac-12 Basketball this season with the Pac-12 Now App. Download today and set alerts for Utah men's basketball to make sure you never miss a moment of the action. Pac-12 Now is available today in your app store for iOS, Android, and Apple TV.

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