Sometimes in moments of anger and disbelief, all you can do is chuckle and keep moving forward.
That was the exact situation Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak found himself in when he met with reporters via Zoom on Saturday night, just moments after the Utes suffered their third consecutive loss in a 67-64 defeat to Oregon.
So as he took his seat and began to prep for the litany of questions that were to follow, all Krystkowiak could do was smile and laugh because he knew what was upcoming. It wasn't because the result was hilarious in any regards, it was far more ridiculous.
“Wow, all I can say is wow,” Krystkowiak said. “You know what a team goes through and we scrapped and we played our butts off and it wasn’t error free by any means, and we make plenty of mistakes. Oregon made plenty of mistakes. Dana (Altman) and I probably made plenty of mistakes. But I think at the end of the day, we let the players determine a game and so to make up a call at the end, that didn’t even happen is mind boggling."
Here's how the situation unfolded....
Trailing 65-64 with 10 seconds left, freshman guard Pelle Larsson had the ball and drove to the hoop where he was cut off. He then pivoted and kicked the ball out to junior forward Timmy Allen.
The errant pass eluded Allen and bounced out towards midcourt, where he ran it down and began to dribble towards the hoop with five seconds left. But official Deldre Carr had other ideas, blowing his whistle and calling a double-dribble on Allen — a call that was met with shock, anger and disgust.
Despite protests from players and Krystkowiak, the call held true and Oregon was able to run out the clock the rest of the way.
When speaking with reporters after the game, both Larsson and sharpshooting senior Alfonso Plummer had similar feelings to the whistle as neither one of them agreed with the call.
“Not from my angle,” Plummer said when asked if the call was correct.
Newsflash, they were right. Allen never had full possession of the ball prior to dribbling, which means he had the ability to dribble. No other way to say it but it was a blown call, and a potentially big one at that.
But with that being said, it's not as if the call completely changed the outcome of the game.
First off, Larsson probably shouldn't have passed it in that situation, especially to Allen who is shooting just 29.4% from beyond the arc. He should've taken the shot himself after already being in a good position for the bucket.
Also when Allen did retrieve the ball and gain full possession, he was 45 feet away from the hoop with a defender draped all over him and five seconds remaining on the clock. Those aren't the best of odds for somebody who doesn't shoot the ball extremely well.
Odds are, Utah loss the game when the ball was passed out to midcourt and that's the truth.
But Krystkowiak was even more correct when he said the players should be the ones determining the outcome of the game, not the officials.
Making matters even worse, which Krystkowiak spoke of very pointedly in his postgame presser, was the fact that the officials repeatedly missed calls throughout the game so calling a double-dribble in that situation was "mind-boggling."
“And palming doesn’t seem to be called. I can show you 15 clips of palming tonight,” he rattled on about. “So I am really confused and I feel really bummed for our team. I feel bad for the game, that it has to be that way. That’s how I feel about it.”
These comments could definitely warrant a fine from the Pac-12 — but that's unlikely. More likely is that Krystkowiak will be reprimanded by the league and that'll be the end of it.
But it's a worthy punishment for standing up for his players and defending their rights to determine the outcome of a game. After all, it's what they're supposed to be doing on the court.
To recap, it was the wrong call by Carr and Krystkowiak was justified in his comments postgame. But also, that wrong call didn't determine the outcome of the game as Utah already found itself against the odds following the errant pass by Larsson.
There's nothing the Utes can do about it now except move forward and prepare for their toughest two-game stretch of the season when they host UCLA and USC on Thursday and Saturday, respectively — both teams sit tied atop the conference standings at 12-3 (as of Monday).
Tipoff with the Bruins is set for 6 p.m. and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network
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