eading into her sophomore season as a University of Utah women’s basketball guard, Kiana Moore is looking to make a name for herself. Moore wants to make sure her name is remembered for the way she plays the game and not in comparisons to other athletes.
“I just want to be my own person,” Moore said. “I just want to do my own thing.”
In today’s 3-point obsessed basketball world, Moore largely impacts the game on the less glamorous side of the ball, carving out a niche as a defensive player.
“If my offense isn’t there, I want to hang my hat on defense,” Moore said. “Defense is my favorite part of basketball.”
The Utes gave up an average of 64.5 points per game this past season against opponents. Utah will need Moore’s defensive intensity again this year, as well as from the team as a whole, as it looks to improve on its 16-15 overall record from the 2016-17 season.
One reason why Moore believes she can help Utah improve its record this season is the amount of traveling she has done. It has prepared her to face opponents on the road. Moore was born in Hawaii, but she grew up in California and spent time in Alaska, too. She can also add the Utes’ 10-day trip to Italy over the summer to her list of visits. Having those types of experiences, in which Moore has had to adapt to new surroundings and environments, is something that will benefit her when Utah is on the road playing somewhere other than the Huntsman Center.
At home and away games, Moore wants to strengthen her aggressive play this season. Utah will rely on her to do so to help the team make noise in the conference in order to reach the NCAA Tournament. For head coach Lynne Roberts, there is no better league than the Pac-12 for her athletes to compete in.
“It’s the best conference in the country,” Roberts said. “This will be the third year in a row that it has been.”
With conference foes Washington and Oregon State making it to the Final Four this past season, Moore understands the competition level she is on and she embraces it as a Ute. After playing in all 31 games in her first year on the team, she has found where she is needed and where she fits best on the court. It’s not only the defense that Moore thrives off of — how things are run on the offensive side of the ball played a role in getting her to come to Salt Lake City in the first place.
Roberts’s up-tempo style of offense fits Moore’s athletic style of play. That was a key selling point when the Utes recruited her to join the program.
“I really liked her coaching style and [assistant] coach Gavin [Petersen’s] defensive coaching style as well,” Moore said. “I just thought that playing for them would be more like how I played in high school, which was to stay aggressive.”