SALT LAKE CITY — Lynne Roberts knows what most people envision when she talks about ‘defensive focused’ basketball, and it’s not exciting.
That, she promises, will not be the Utah women’s basketball team this season.
“People think in basketball that when someone says the words ‘defensive focused’ it means that it is slow, and we are going to win 52-50,” the Utah head coach said during her weekly press conference Wednesday. “I want to win 85 to whatever; I want to average a lot of points created by our defense.”
The Utes have been focused on defense that leads to scoring opportunities as they’ve played in Italy over the summer and during practices this fall. But Thursday morning, the team will get an opportunity to test what they’ve learned against an actual opponent when Carroll College visits the Huntsman Center at 11 a.m. for the official start of the 2017-18 season.
The key to a team that uses defense to both shut down opponents and create offense for itself is conditioning, mindset and effort.
“We have put an emphasis on it,” she said. “I thought last year we died a little bit down the stretch defensively. We just kind of lost that toughness, the edge, that mindset, so I just wanted to get their attention this fall. And it worked, and I think defensively, we are way ahead of our offense right now.” Scrimmages, she said, have been won by the defense.
“So far we have just been playing against ourselves and our defense has been kicking our offense’s tail, so it will be nice to play against somebody else. But I am also looking forward to seeing our defense against someone else, too.”
The team will look to its four seniors for leadership – two of which are returning starters in Emily Potter and Tanaeya BoClair. Wendy Anae tore her ACL and will not be playing, but she will still offer leadership from the sideline and behind the scenes. Tilar Clark transferred to Utah from Salt Lake Community College where she was an NJCAA first-team All-American in 2016.