Crozon Sights Set on NCAA Appearance

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Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chornicle

Utah Utes Wing Paige Crozon tries to drive past Colorado Buffaloes Forward Zoe Beard-Fails during the University of Utah vs. University of Colorado NCAA Women’s basketball game at the Hunstman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, Feb. 4th, 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

The Utah women’s basketball team is primed to make some noise this season, and for fifth-year senior Paige Crozon, the challenge is one she can’t wait for.

“I can’t wait for the season,” Crozon said. “We were projected to finish eighth in the Pac-12 this year. We finished seventh last season, so I’m not sure why we fell. I think so many of these teams are going to underestimate us and what we can do this year.”

The veteran wing player has some high goals for this year. Crozon, like many of the other players on this team, hope to play well enough to qualify for the NCAA tournament in the spring — something she and the Utes have accomplished in quite some time.

“I think that is one of our big goals,” Crozon said. “We haven’t been to the tournament. We went to the WNIT [Women’s National Invitation Tournament] last year, and it was a great experience, but we definitely want to make it [further]. I think every team out there wants to make it.”

Assistant head coach Gavin Petersen had a glowing review for Crozon.

“She’s one of those players who is just so versatile,” Petersen said. “Every coach wants a player like her on the team. She can shoot, she can attack the rim, she can defend. We don’t often ask her to post up, but if we did, she would do it in a heartbeat. She’s one of those great players who plays both ends of the floor and does everything that you need her to.”

Versatile seems like a good word to describe Crozon. In the 2015-16 season, she was second in the Pac-12 (and 23rd in the entire NCAA) in free throw percentage, hitting nearly 86 percent from the charity stripe. Crozon also has reliable three-point shooting ability, sinking 36 percent of her threes. Add this to 13 points, eight rebounds, one assist and one steal per game, most everyone can see why she is such an important player for this team.

cea_0110-chris-ayersPetersen spoke of how Crozon has improved each year in the Utah basketball program.

“I think she is much more confident,” Petersen said. “Each year in the program she has become more vocal. I think she is one of the great leaders on our team because everyone likes her outside of the program. She has good chemistry with all of the players, and that is really something that she has developed over her time here. She has great credibility with the rest of the girls on the team, where if she tells them to make an adjustment or do something, they do it. They trust her.”

Crozon says she has a unique playing style, and she compared herself to one of the most controversial professional players around.

“I think I take parts from a lot of people’s games, but overall, I think my game resembles Draymond Green,” Crozon said with a laugh. “I’m pretty scrappy like that.”

It may surprise some to know that Crozon has only been playing basketball since 2008. She says what originally drew her to the sport was the competitive aspect and atmosphere of the game. She also credits the atmosphere of the team and the campus that ultimately brought her to the U.

“I really enjoy working with the team,” Crozon said. “I love seeing the improvement that we’ve made the last couple of years and I’m really excited to see how far we can go this year.”

In a recent exhibition game, the Utes beat the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology 96-42. If that is an indication of things to come, the Utah women’s basketball program thinks this year’s team, and more specifically Crozon, are a few things to keep an eye on during the winter.

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