Ask A Coach Interview- Tommy Connor

The former Ute player and new assistant talks about leaving Westminster and competing in the Pac 12...

How have the first few months on the job been?

"It's been a whirlwind. We've been working very hard. Obviously we've had a huge transition with the loss of a number of players and the addition of a number of players. We've barely been able to catch our breath with that transition as we've moved right into recruiting for the summer and recruiting the 2012 and 2013 classes."

What went into the decision and what made you finally decide to come back to Utah?

"Well it certainly wasn't an easy decision for me considering I started that program from scratch. It was more than just leaving a team. It was leaving a program. Westminster is a great college and afforded me the opportunity to have a wonderful job and work with some great people over 12 years. It took a couple of nights and some real thought and discussion with my wife and my family. Once we made the decision we felt good about it and I haven't looked back."

What kind of relationsip have you maintained with the coaches and players at Westminster?

"The head coach now played for me and was my assistant so we communicate quite frequently. I am very close to the players on the team, but I'm not in contact with them. They have their own lives and I have a lot going on grinding away at this deal pretty hard. It's always nice to to pop in and say hi to them every now and then but I know what's going on in the program on a very personal level through Coach Hiatt. I hope they do well and I'll follow them during the season daily."

What was the though process on deciding to go back to Utah and take the job at Utah?

"First an foremost I'm grateful for the opprotunity that Coach K has provided my family and I. For me it came down to needing a new challenge, but I wasn't willing to move my family and uproot us right now to go do that. This is my alma mater. This is where I coached previously. All I had to do was change the directions of my drive each morning. That made it kind of an easy decision once I got through making the jump. The biggest things for me were the new challenge and I liked Coach Krystkowiak. I feel like I can have a nice working relationship with him. My goal is to work very hard and try to help Utah basketball transition into the Pac 12 and become consistently competitive."

With Utah being down over the past ten years, how much did pride was there wanting to get Utah basketball back to where it once was and how much did that affect your decision?

I've always been a Ute. I bleed red. Utah has been a big pat of our family even though we've been away for the past 13 or 14 years. I closely watched the basketball and football programs, the athletics in general and I've always pulled for Utah. There have a been a couple of great teams and a couple of great years, but it obviously hasn't been as consistent as it needs to be. I'm hopeful that we can become consistenly competitive. This is a challenge I'm absolutely looking forward to. I do want to be part of a staff and teams that do get Utah basketball back to get Utah basketball back into the upper echelon of the conference with a chance to compete for championships. and I'm looking forward to the challenge. I know it's a big one, but that's why I'm here. I know it's hard work. I'm not afraid of the challenge ahead of us. That was one of the biggest reasons. It was a wonderful opportunity. It's my alma mater that I'm trying to help get back on the map."

What is it going to take to get Utah basketball back to a competitive level and competing in the Pac 12, and what's a reasonable time frame that to happen?

"It really has been day by day and will continue to be that. As long as we're here as a staff, each day we have a plan, we do the best we can and then we move on to the next day. I think the real important keys for us are to establish the culture of the program that Coach K wanted to establish immediately and then recruit very diligently and bring in the talent necessary and the kind of student athlete that our feeds out philosophy. The next two recruiting classes are important for us. We signed so many new guys in this transition. I feel like getting this job so late, we really don't know what we have because we haven't seen them enough. So the next two recruiting classes are very important and our goal is to put ourselves in a position to add the right pieces. I don' t think any of us are looking down the road and thinking we need to get this thing rolling in the next three or four years. I do think we are realisitc that we have a lot of work ahead of us."

Ute Zone Top Stories