The worst part about losing is waiting until the next time you play. —Utah head coach Lynne Roberts
SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn't the final scores of back-to-back losses that bother the Utah women’s basketball team the most.
It’s the way those scores came to be that have made the last five nights and six days a rollercoaster ride of embarrassment, frustration and, eventually, resolve.
“The worst part about losing is waiting until the next time you play,” said Utah head coach Lynne Roberts. “It’s not that we lost. No one in the conference is going to go undefeated. It’s that we didn’t play to our potential, and that’s what irritates me. It’s not the loss; it’s how we lost.” Roberts said the players were angry at practice Tuesday, which coaches hope to transform into determination to improve in everything from defensive commitment to more thoughtful shot selection.
The players are looking forward to their next opportunity to compete, which comes Friday night against one of the country’s best teams — No. 12 Stanford. The game starts at 6 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.
“I’m excited for the team to put the uniforms back on for us to get back out there, compete and do better,” Roberts said. “Let the score take care of itself. It’s going to be a tough weekend, they all are. I’m excited to get back out there and I think the players are too. They’re better than what we showed last weekend; they’re competitive and they want to redeem themselves, regardless of the outcome.”
Roberts said what she wants isn’t an unblemished record for Utah.
“Win or lose, I want the other team to walk off exhausted and saying that Utah is really tough,” Roberts said. “I want our culture to be that no one person is bigger than the team, and everybody has value.”
She said if the team wants to upset a team like Stanford, it begins with all the parts of the game that are easy to overlook – defense, rebounding and physical play. “We really do need to score more,” she said. “We’ve got to shoot well and take great shots. The thing with Stanford, if you take a bad shot, they’re going to come down and take a great one. You’re playing with fire.”
For fans, Friday's game offers the program’s biggest promotion of the season. There is a Disneyland vacation giveaway. Utah's staff will choose four families from the crowd to participate in a game. One of those families will win a Disneyland vacation that includes round-trip airline tickets, three nights at a Disney resort, two-day park passes and ground transportation.
There will also be Disney characters in the concourse before the game mingling with fans.
“It’s going to be a competitive game, and it’s a fun promotion,” Roberts said. “We’re hoping to have a lot of fans there.”