This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Spoke to a lot of folks today about Jordan Loveridge's decision to become a Ute and, by extension, the face of the rebuilding project that is Utah basketball. But perhaps the most interesting conversation I had was with Joe Cravens, the former Utah interim coach and former Weber State coach. He now works as a guidance counselor at St. Joseph, a 1A school in Ogden, where he also coaches girls' basketball. You've seen him recently as a hoops analyst on The Mtn.
[As an aside, when I spoke with Cravens today he was golfing with former Utah coach Ray Giacoletti. Cravens gracefully declined to pass my number and an interview request along to Giacoletti, for whom I had one question: What is Krystkowiak doing that you couldn't do?]
Anyhow, Cravens brings a lot of experience and insight to a discussion about building a program and the significance of in-state recruiting. He offered lots of nuggets that we didn't have room for in the story you'll find in tomorrow's Tribune. He pointed out that in the glory days of the Runnin' Utes, trips to the Elite 8 in 1997 and the Final Four in 1998, were led by players who were not from Utah. Andre Miller was from California, Michael Doleac from Oregon, Keith Van Horn from California. "They won and everyone was happy," Cravens said. Of course, winning beats all, right? But having some familiar players makes things a little easier. And Krystkowiak had coveted Loveridge since he first learned that there was a versatile forward, who could play the 3 and the 4, roaming in West Jordan. "I think they kind of had a game plan going in," Cravens said, "and they concentrated their efforts there and they made that commitment and that's exactly what they did. That's not to say previous coaches didn't make that effort, maybe they had a little bit different philosophy. At the end of the day it's how many you win, how many you lose. I don't care if you get guys from Mars." He added about Loveridge: "They made a commitment to recruiting in state and I think that's a great first-year get for them. I commend them on their effort to get the best the could close to home."• The Utes went hard after Loveridge, not just in the early stages. "Almost every week I would talk to them or they would send me something," Loveridge said. West Jordan coach Scott Briggs said he couldn't begin to estimate how frequently he spoke on the phone with assistant coach Tommy Connor, who, along with Krystkowiak, took the lead on recruiting Loveridge. "I think [Loveridge] really likes the new staff at Utah," Briggs said. "I think they've done a great job of making things comfortable for him and I don't think the move to the Pac-12 hurts." Bill Oram