As a starter, Lorenzo Bonam typically gets a lot of playing time. However, on the road at Oregon this past Sunday, that wasn’t the case. He was only on the court for 14 minutes and got off just two shot attempts.
Head coach Larry Krystkowiak didn’t think he deserved to play with the poor defense he displayed, so he looked to his bench players to fill Bonam’s absence — players who would fulfill the team’s three main focuses: playing smart, playing hard and playing together.
Last week, Krystkowiak had a hard time naming anyone in his backcourt who did an adequate job of this.
“In Lorenzo’s case, it’s getting down to playing harder,” Krystkowiak said. “We got some guys who play really hard, but not very intelligently at times. We’ve got some guys who are pretty smart but don’t play hard enough.”
This week, Krystkowiak wanted to get his message across loud and clear that not only Bonam but everybody else on the team needs to put in as much work as they possibly can.
In practices leading up to the game against Washington, Krystkowiak called Bonam out in front of all the other players on the team. While he wasn’t the only one, Krystkowiak figured this would be the most effective way to reach his point guard.
“I told our guys after the Oregon game that as much as I would love to have little sit down, touchy-feely meetings, this isn’t the time of year to do it,” Krystkowiak said. “I pretty much addressed Lorenzo in front our our whole team and went around to half a dozen or eight guys just for the sake of efficiency and time.”
Wednesday morning, Bonam watched what little game film he had from Sunday’s game with assistant coach DeMarlo Slocum. Together they figured out what he could do better come game time. Although he may have gotten off to a rocky start against Washington, he finished strong.
Bonam was subbed out in the first two minutes of the game after showing a lack of effort on defense once again. He then returned to the court with about 13 minutes left in the first half with a renewed focus. He finished the game with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting. He also had four assists and two steals, all of which contributed to a 90-82 win for the Utes.
Bonam didn’t want the team to suffer three straight losses — this motivated him to be more aggressive and play harder on both ends of the floor.
“I just wanted to come back strong, and I had a different mindset from the last two games,” Bonam said. “I don’t like losing, so that just set it off right there and I wanted to attack more.”
While Krystkowiak is glad Bonam bounced back in front of the home crowd, one game isn’t going to cut it. He needs him to continue improving and giving it everything he has. He also needs Bonam to play more consistently if the team wants to make a deep run in any postseason tournament.
Krystkowiak is just hoping to give Bonam and the rest of the team the push they need to keep winning.
“You’re telling guys things they already know, but we aren’t going to be very successful if we don’t get he and a couple of other guys to change some of the mistakes,” Krystkowiak said. “The hard, smart, whatever element it is, they need to bring it.”
Krystkowiak is giving his players Thursday off to get some rest and catch up on school work, but when they get back to gym, he expects to see the same type of effort he saw against Washington in preparation for Sunday’s game against Washington State. Bonam still has a ways to go to catch up with the rest of the team, but there are other areas where he is ahead of the pack.
All in all, Krystkowiak is confident Bonam can reach where he needs to be in a timely manner.
“You can see when those bursts come — he’s really hard to defend, and that gives us a weapon,” Krystkowiak said. “Had a couple of dunks, and when we know that’s in there, I’d certainly like to see it more. He has some physical skills, talent, that not anybody on our team has, and we got to get him caught up in terms of some effort and focus.”