The University of Utah Utes cheer on the sidlines at the Brigham Young University game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturaday, Dec. 8, 2018 (Photo by Cassandra Palor | Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

While all of the University of Utah’s students were back at home with their families and enjoying their winter break, the Utah women’s basketball team took the winter break as an opportunity to improve their team without any distractions.

Dominating right from the get-go, the Utes are currently 13-1 overall. Pac-12 games started recently as well, and the girls are currently 2-1 in conference play. Let’s take a look at how the Utes have been doing so far.

The University of Utah Lady Utes take on Brigham Young University at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturaday, Dec. 8, 2018 (Photo by Cassandra Palor | Daily Utah Chronicle)

Preseason Start

The Utah women’s basketball team had a great preseason start, going undefeated during all of their preseason games.

“I think we are playing pretty well,” said head coach Lynne Roberts. “We didn’t go into the season thinking, ‘Let’s go undefeated.’ It really hasn’t been outcome driven. We can [attribute] it to a few things. Our seniors have been incredibly consistent and reliable without having to do too much. They have been productive. It isn’t like they are not producing, but they have just been really consistent. And then we have some freshmen that are really contributing. They are putting up big numbers and I think the Pac-12 awards show that. I think the biggest thing that has been fun, so far, is the group’s desire to just keep getting better. I haven’t sensed an ego from this group at all. They want to be coached and they want to improve and learn. I think you add those three things up and that adds up, to me, why we have had a good start.”

Pac-12 Play

The Utes opened up Pac-12 play in Boulder, Colorado against the Buffalos on Sunday, Dec. 30. The game against Colorado was not an easy defeat. The Buffalos gave a good fight of their own, responding to the Utes throughout the game.

“I was really proud of our team because this is a really tough place to play,” Roberts said. “I think defensively we were really good. We contained them. They are a good team and they are going to score, but I thought we were locked in. We have a lot of respect for them. They are a good team, so this is a good win for us.”

DRE’UNA EDWARDS (44) takes the ball to the hoop as The University of Utah Lady Utes take on Brigham Young University at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturaday, Dec. 8, 2018 (Photo by Cassandra Palor | Daily Utah Chronicle)

The Utes had a great shooting game against Colorado and were proud to take their first Pac-12 game, 76-61. The Utes returned to the Jon M. Huntsman Center in January for games against Arizona State on Jan. 4 and Arizona on Jan. 6.

Friday, Jan. 4 was the Utes’ first loss of the season. The heartbreaking loss came down to a buzzer beater by then-No. 22 Arizona State, who would escape Salt Lake City with a 65-63 win.

“We will be alright,” Roberts said. “This one stings because we had it in our hands. But we will be alright. You just have to move on. This is how this league is going to be. Everyone is going to beat each other up and there is no ‘oh they should win’ in any game in this conference because anyone could win at any time and any location. So, we are going to lose tough ones and we are going to win great ones, you just have to keep going.”

Utah looked forward after their first loss of the season and responded with a win against Arizona on Sunday, Jan. 6.

The Utes have started off strong in the first three games that they have played during their official season, and are hoping to continue to dominate in the games to come.

Looking Forward

Sadly, the Utes have also had some obstacles at the start of this new year. On Jan. 7, it was announced that senior wing Daneesha Provo would miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL that occurred during the bout with Arizona State.

“This is obviously a very difficult blow for Daneesha, who is one of the top players in the Pac-12, and on our team,” Roberts said. “I know with Daneesha’s will and determination, she will get through this and be back as a top-level player. It is very tough for our team to lose Daneesha’s ability and leadership, but we still have our goals ahead of us and we will continue to work to accomplish those.”

Even though the Utes have been doing great so far, they are continuing to put in the work that is needed to do well out on the court. They are losing a valuable player on their team this season, yet are looking forward to executing the goals that they have set for themselves.

“I think we have done a lot of good things,” Roberts said. “But it is like climbing a mountain every week in this league. It just gets a little bit steeper and steeper and it doesn’t matter who you are playing. You have to continue to get better. The coaching is so good, the game prep is so good … opposing coaches know your team well, so you have to be on point with your ability to execute week-in and week-out. It is a coaching cliché, but you have to just keep chopping wood. Just keep getting better at little details each week. If you don’t, this league will eat you up and chew you alive.”

l.gastelum@dailyutahchronicle.com

@LeilaniGastelum

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