Home away from home: Austin native Both Gach is excelling with the Utah Utes

Published 8:21 pm Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Both Gach is living far from his hometown of Austin in Salt Lake City, Utah, but he feels right at home when he takes the court for the Utah Utes men’s basketball team.

Two years after he moved to play his senior season of high school basketball for Arizona Compass Prep School, Gach is now a staple in the starting lineup for the Utah men’s basketball team, where he has established himself as one of the team’s top play-makers and leaders.

Gach, a sophomore shooting guard at Utah, is second in scoring for a team that hopes of making it to the Big Dance this winter.

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“We have a young team and I’m one of the veterans from last year. I’ve been a leader and tried to get guys motivated. I’ve taken a bigger role on the court,” Gach said. “One of our biggest goals is to try to make the NCAA tournament. It’s all about trying to win each game, one at a time.”

Gach recently squared up against a familiar face when he helped lead Utah to a 73-69 win over Minnesota on Nov. 15.

Gach had 19 points and four rebounds in the win for the Utes and DeLaSalle grad Gabe Kalscheur, who’s Islanders beat Gach’s Packers in the state title game in 2017, had 13 points for the Gophers. Gach also knows Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu, who played for Cretin-Derham Hall.

“It felt pretty good (to win that one). They beat us last year. It was all about getting revenge. Us having that game at home was big and getting the win was even bigger. I was glad I didn’t have to go 0-2 against Minnesota,” Gach said. “Seeing them (Kalscheur and Oturu) there is a great accomplishment for them.”

Playing big minutes as a youngster is nothing new for Gach as he began playing varsity basketball as a freshman for the Packers. While he is far away from his former teammates, Gach is still supportive of all of the Packers he played with in high school — including his twin brother Duoth, who plays at North Dakota State College of Science.

Both Gach made his decision to play for Utah next to Austin head coach Kris Fadness and his brother Duoth in Packer Gym in June of 2018. Herald File Photo

“I usually try to stay in touch and I’ll tune in and watch those guys when I can. I try to help them out with advice and they try to help me out,” Gach said. “We all share love for each other.”

Gach received strong guidance from Austin head coach Kris Fadness while he was with the Packers and he also has a strong leader with the Utes as head coach Larry Krystowiak played nine years in the NBA and he has coached Utah since 2011. The Utes went to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2016.

“(Krystowiak) stresses for us to be tough physically, and mentally,” Gach said. “I’ve learned a lot about the game. Our whole coaching staff has made me be a better player.”

Utah has big game looming against Kentucky in Las Vegas, Nevada on Dec. 18. Utah is currently off to a 5-2 overall start and the team will begin PAC-12 play when it hosts Oregon State on Jan. 2.

The Utes made headlines when they beat Mississippi Valley State 143-49 in early November, but the team is still trying learning a little bit on the fly.

“We’re trying to push the ball as much as we can,” Gach said. “For us being a young team, we like to run. But you’ve also got to know when to slow it down.”

While Gach is learning a lot of things on the court while playing at the Division I level, he’s also learned how to balance his team. The Utes recently took a six-day road trip to Mrytle Beach and the team played all across the West Coast for much of the regular season.

“For us, it’s a lot of time management,” Gach said.

Gach has started all six games for the Utes and he is averaging 12.9 points, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 45 percent from the field, 27 percent on threes and 84 percent from the free throw line.