Utah Women’s Basketball: A Team With No Fear


Utah Utes head coach Lynne Roberts argues with the ref after Utah Utes forward Emily Potter (12) fouls out in the second half as the University of Utah Lady Utes take on the UNLV Runin Rebels at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT on Thursday, March 15, 2018.(Photo by Adam Fondren | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer


In times of crisis, it is important to keep things in perspective. A week ago, the University of Utah Women’s Basketball team was a team in crisis after losing their first two games of the season because of a positive COVID-19 case. Players were devastated but head coach Lynne Roberts has been keeping things in perspective for her basketball team. We are, after all, in a global pandemic and the situation around college sports in America is fluid. As is the situation at the University of Utah.

“Everything is fluid,” Roberts said. “It’s the wild, wild west with all this COVID stuff. It’s a unique situation, and it is an important year to adapt.”

Flexibility and adaptation have been part of Robert’s messaging all year for the team. After having to quarantine for ten days after the positive test, things became difficult for the program.

“We came to a screeching halt and now we are getting back on the horse again,” Roberts said.

The team sent players into quarantine and divided up roommates over the Thanksgiving break to prevent an outbreak. This attempt appears to have been successful as Roberts believes she will have her entire roster available for Sunday’s season opener in Eugene, Oregon against the Ducks.

Though spending too much time worrying about the wrench, this has thrown in team activities would be a genuine waste of time according to Roberts. Flexibility is key in times like these.

“It’s not a perfect season this year, as coaches we like to control those things and have it mapped out. That is not the reality this year. The more time we spend being frustrated about that, the less time we spend coaching and developing. You’re getting warmed up then the rug gets pulled out from under you and then you get shut down for ten days and you just kind of have to roll with it and I’m preaching that,” Roberts said.

The team worked closely with men’s basketball and football in developing a strategy to deal with COVID-19 — which is something that Roberts is grateful for. Two minutes after she heard of her test case she was on the phone with Larry Krystowiak, the head men’s basketball coach, to discuss ways in which they could handle the pause for her program.

“Oh yeah, like 2 minutes later I was on the phone,” Roberts said. “That’s what I love about Utah, our football program is big time but they don’t act big time we are all in the same family, same with men’s basketball, we have a great relationship with them. Larry was one of the first people to text me.”

Roberts also commended her team at her Wednesday press conference. This is a group that had to spend Thanksgiving locked in their rooms, isolated and alone.

“Our players have done a heck of a job, they don’t complain or say woe is me. The perspective change is they are just so excited to play. They haven’t gotten to play since March and they just get excited to practice each day and that’s the side of the coin I have decided to look at,” Roberts said.

It is important to keep things in perspective for Roberts, though, who noted at the end of the day that things could be much worse.

“The virus has disrupted millions of lives in horrible ways and for us, we don’t get to practice basketball for a couple of days, it’s like come on, let’s have a little bit of perspective,” Roberts said.

There lie more problems for Utah down the road. For example, the fact they are going into a game against a tenth-ranked Oregon team who boasts one of the best lineups in the country.

“We are going in kind of blind to Oregon, not really knowing what we need to work on,” Roberts said.

But, Roberts said it is more important for the team to worry about what they can be doing better than what Oregon is doing well.

“We can’t make it about who we are playing. I want to worry about more what we are doing,” Roberts said.

However, Roberts is not worried. Far from it. She sounds confident and ready to go. She loves her team despite its youth and believes big things are in store for this year.

“As challenging as the situation is, I really like my team — this is the most talented team we have had here, and they are young but I like them and I’m excited to play Sunday at Oregon, and it’s a weird situation but dang, bring it on. I have no fear.”

No fear. A coach that’s supremely confident in her team. Ready to play basketball. The team, she said, is just ready to play basketball.

“These guys are basketball players and they want to play,” Roberts said.

The team, coming out of quarantine on Friday, is ready to play in one of the toughest places in the Pac-12, on a Sunday afternoon. The team is ready to go. Ready to play for the first time in eight months. It’s a team with no fear.


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