After playing against each other in practice and then in its exhibition game this past week, the University of Utah women’s basketball team is ready to let that preparation show on the court in its 2017-18 season opener. Head coach Lynne Roberts said her team is ready for games to start counting.
“It’s that enthusiastic kind of feeling — it’s time,” Roberts said. “I think October’s a really hard time. It’s exciting because you’re starting practice, but by the end of this time everybody’s ready for games to start. So you’re sick of practicing against each other, you’re sick of talking about games and you’re sick of talking about the season.”
Freshmen class eager to contribute
An influx of young talent is what could help put the Utes over the top and help them compete week in and week out. With the average height of the newcomers being just over 6-feet tall, that length gives the team a versatile range of players who have a chance to step on the court sometime throughout Utah’s season.
“The two that are playing a lot, Tori Williams and [Maurane] Corbin, are going to have great years for us,” Roberts said. “They’re doing a lot.”
The Utes were able to attract these big name recruits with the promise of walking into a winning culture and the possibility of seeing playing time quickly.
“They were all highly recruited right, and we beat out some good programs,” Roberts said. “What we sold on them is that not only are you coming to a Power Five school and we’re going to win, but you’re going to have a good chance to play and we’re going to need you to play.”
Starting five not set in stone
The starting five that will take the court in the team’s home opener might be a different lineup than the one that was set when Utah played Carroll College this past weekend, and it could be different when it hits the road for its first time this season.
“Traditionally, I mean this is my 15th year as a head coach which is crazy, I’ve always kind of had a starting five and kind of stuck with it and it may end up being that,” Roberts said. “I think there’s something to be said for, you know, the continuity of things and just not wondering and players can really sink their teeth into their roles.”
This year’s team has a level of roster parity unlike any of the previous teams that Robert’s has coached. That is something that allows experimentation in the early going and that will be important with Dru Gylten and Wendy Anae already out for the season with injuries.
“This year it’s unique because I don’t think there’s much of a drop off,” Roberts said. “So I think ideally I would like it to be pretty set, but I don’t know that that’s realistic with this group.”