– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
For so long, the elite women’s basketball teams that flourished in the different iterations of what is now the Pac-12 Conference (e.g. Pac-8, Pac-10) were all located along the route of Interstate 5, though that should not come as a surprise because, simply, almost each member of the league is located within an earshot of the famous and expansive highway. However, one must now look a little further east, toward the Rocky Mountains, to behold another team in the league that is making noise nationally, let alone along the West Coast.
The 14th-ranked University of Utah Utes have continued a steady climb in the pecking order of the best conference in women’s college basketball over the past few years and, under fourth-year head coach Lynne Roberts, have taken the next step this season in residing towards the top of the league as the Utes have won 18 of their first 19 games to begin this season. Win No. 18 came this past Sunday in Salt Lake City against then No. 6 Stanford, marking the first time the school had ever beaten the traditional national power, as well as tie for the highest-ranked win in school history, matching a defeat of Long Beach State back in 1984.
In our latest edition of Coachspeak, A Lot of Sports Talk’s Adesina O. Koiki went one-on-one with Roberts, the native of Redding, Calif. who previously coached at Golden State schools Chico State and the University of the Pacific before landing the head job in Salt Lake City in 2015. During the interview, Roberts talked about, among other topics, the vision she had for the program when she took over four years ago, the interesting story of how the team’s best player, 2018 First Team All-Pac-12 center and University of Hawai’i transfer Megan Huff, came to Salt Lake City, and how the team has regrouped from losing one of their senior leaders, forward Daneesha Provo, to an injury a few weeks back. Also, Roberts shared with us what makes the Pac-12 such a tough league and how the schedule is the best deterrent from any team developing any sort of overconfidence. (The Utes, 18-1 overall and 7-1 in conference play, will be playing in the Beaver State this weekend, taking on AP No. 4 Oregon on Friday before heading to Corvallis and a showdown at AP No. 9 Oregon State on Sunday.)
There will be more one-on-one interviews with some of the best college basketball minds throughout the season, and make sure you continue to follow A Lot of Sports Talk‘s NCAA page to stay in touch with all of our college basketball coverage throughout the season.