SALT LAKE CITY — With her final regular season as a member of the University of Utah women’s basketball team behind her, senior center Emily Potter has etched her name in the annals of the program’s history as an all-time great.
After a 24-point, nine-rebound outing in the regular-season finale, a close 78-71 loss to No. 10 UCLA, she stands as the only player in Utah history to amass more than 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds and 200 blocked shots.
Potter feels “blessed to have done it all at Utah.”
The 6-foot-6 center from Winnipeg, Manitoba, is the latest in the program’s long line of great Canadian-born Utes. The history isn’t lost on her either.
“I know the program has a really storied tradition and there’s been a lot of really successful Canadians, so I think that definitely inspired me to come to Utah and try to be great like Kim Smith and Michelle Plouffe and all those Canadians who have gone on to have successful pro careers even after university.”
Though she wasn’t recruited by head coach Lynne Roberts, Potter is “thankful” to Roberts for coming in and giving her the tools to thrive. Potter said it was a challenge to switch to a new coaching staff when Roberts took the reins following her freshman season, but finding common ground with the new coach helped ease the transition.
“Coach Rob and I, we have very similar personalities, we’re both really competitive," Potter said. "She tried really hard to learn what our strengths were and play to that. She didn’t try to stick me in the wing or anything like that. She works hard to learn what every player’s strengths are and put us in a position to succeed.”
During a press conference earlier this season, Roberts praised Potter for her “presence” on the floor, saying “It doesn't matter if she scored 25 or five, she is going to impact the game from the other team's standpoint because she has presence. She is 6-6, she knows how to block shots and there is a factor there that you have to game plan for as an opponent. We will miss that.”
Potter, the Utes’ second-leading scorer, is especially grateful that Roberts allowed her to be a focal point of the Utes’ offense.
“I’m thankful that she gave me an opportunity to have the ball in my hands and work that way and be a big part of the offense," said Potter, who was named to the 2017-18 Pac-12 Honorable Mention team and All-Defensive team. "I mean, she’s the coach, she can do whatever she wants with the offense. So I’m thankful that she took all the players that were already here and worked with us and our skills and made good things come out of it,”
Naturally, Potter hopes to continue her senior campaign as long as possible. That task begins Thursday against Colorado in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle. After splitting the season series with the Buffaloes, Potter knows that it’ll be “a hard game” but is confident in the Utes’ chances.
“Our mindset is to take care of business with Colorado … I think they’re playing at their best right now and so are we. We’re peaking at the right time.”
Colorado, which ranks second in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounding, presents a challenge for the Utes, who rank second in the conference in defensive rebounding. According to Potter, controlling the paint will be a key to moving on in the tournament.Comment on this story
“I think that’s a big part of what we do. It’s not just me, we have other guards and other forwards," Potter said. "I think that’s something we take pride in. We want that to be our identity.
“I think if we stay focused with our game plan and are locked in for 40 minutes, no matter who we’re playing, I think we can go toe-to-toe with anybody in the country. I know our coaching staff believes that and I know that all our team believes that.”
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Utah women on the air
Utah (17-12, 8-10)
vs. Colorado (14-15, 5-13)
Thursday, 12:30 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: ESPN 700