Boehly: Elliott’s team second to none…in history

By By James Boehly and By James Boehly

By James Boehly

At the beginning of the season, nobody gave the U women’s basketball team a chance.

Most “analysts” predicted that the team would finish somewhere in the middle of the final MWC standings. Many saw the Utes’ season as nothing more or less than ordinary. I guess they were wrong.

With a win over TCU on Wednesday night, the Utes stretched their winning streak to a school-record 19 games. The streak speaks for itself — a slap in the face to all of those naysayers.

The win last night snapped a consecutive-win streak that marked back to 1977, so it’s pretty safe to say the Utes have gone far beyond expectations this season.

The Utes’ last loss dates back to Dec. 3 against USC. The team was 5-3 and had not yet faced a Mountain West Conference opponent. Now, 19 victories later, the Utes are a perfect 13-0 in conference play, nationally ranked at No. 16 and are going to be a serious threat in the NCAA tournament.

The Utes haven’t simply beaten opponents — they’ve destroyed them. A 40-point victory against Colorado State and consecutive blowouts against BYU are just a few examples of the level of excellence the Utes have risen to this year.

Perhaps what makes this run even more incredible is the fact that the Utes have had only nine healthy players all season. Of the nine, only five have averaged more than 15.5 minutes per game — but I guess that’s okay when you have players such as Morgan Warburton, Kalee Whipple and Leilani Mitchell leading the team,

The three all average more than 14.9 points per game and can hurt teams in more than one way.

As it has done almost all season long, the trio led the team in scoring against TCU last night. Warburton and Whipple both scored 19 points while Mitchell finished with 14 points.

A selfless bunch, the three wouldn’t take an ounce of credit without giving props to Utah head coach Elaine Elliott. In her 25th year as head coach, this season could turn out to be her best yet.

With the record out of the way and the MWC regular-season title all but in the bag, Elliott and the Utes can breathe a sigh of relief and finally focus on the MWC tournament.

This year’s squad is often compared to the 2005-2006 U women’s team that boasted talented players such as Shona Thorburn and Kim Smith. That team was one of the most successful in school history and went all the way to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. Those inevitable comparisons are gratifying for the Utes, but the ever-hungry Elliott and Co. want more.

In order to accomplish that, the team needs to forget about that record. Of course, I’m preaching to the choir on that one. If you talk to the team, it’s fairly easy to tell that Elliott and her team couldn’t care less about the record.

The 1976-1977 team will always be remembered for the level of excellence it accomplished, and nothing can ever take that away from them. But for now, it’s time to shine the spotlight on a team that defied all the predictions and might break all the records.

Not that they would care if they did. They want something more.

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