Utah head coach Lynne Roberts speaks during NCAA college basketball Pac-12 women's media day in San Francisco, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SALT LAKE CITY — Life is a series of competitions for Utah women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts.

“I want to compete,” she said during the season-opening press conference Monday. “I want to win. I want to beat you in whatever we’re doing. I’m going to eat faster than you, drink my water faster than you. I’m going to beat you, which is a sick and twisted way to live, but I can’t help it.”

That is the reason she looks for ways to make sure her intensely competitive personality isn’t sucking the joy her players should experience as collegiate basketball players.

“I also want to have fun and enjoy life,” she said. “So in this profession, this level of playing, you have got to enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. I think we try to find that balance where we hold them accountable, being hard on them, but also being goofy.”

The bottom line, Roberts said, is that while her seniors discovered they are a bit too nice during preseason activities, she doesn’t suffer from that same affliction.

“I do think that they know we love them,” she said. “That’s not up for debate. But we’re pretty hard on them. We demand quite a bit from them.”

Entering her fourth season at the helm of the Ute women’s basketball program, Roberts exuded confidence and optimism as she and two of her seniors met with local media members to discuss the upcoming season.

“It’s hard for me to believe we’re back in here,” Roberts said. “This is my fourth season here, which is fun. I feel like it’s starting to definitely settle in. I feel like our culture is in a great place, and our team is on the climb. That’s really the fun part of building a program where you can start to feel like things are sticking. And that’s how I feel right now.” The team lost sophomore center Maurane “Mo” Corbin to a torn ACL, and then freshman forward Lola Pendande had some issues getting admitted to school as she is coming from Spain. She may be available in January if they can resolve those admission issues.

The Utes will be led by four seniors: Forward Megan Huff, point guard Erika Bean, wing Daneesha Provo, and guard Sarah Porter. Porter is a graduate transfer from San Diego who spent the last two seasons at UC Santa Barbara.

Utah has six other new players, and Roberts said they won’t get the benefit of a gradual adjustment.

3 comments on this story

“We’ve got some freshman that are very talented, great size,” she said. “But they’re still freshmen. And you know, ideally you’d give them time to develop and learn what they’re going to be doing, but they’re going to be learning from being thrown in the deep end.”

The Utes, who finished 18-14 last season, were picked to finish 8th in the conference. And while Roberts said that ranking isn’t unexpected, she doesn’t put a lot of weight on it.

“What happened last year has no effect on what happened this year,” she said. “Now we’re just in the business of trying to leapfrog someone, maybe a couple of people. If you finish in the top half of this league, you make the NCAA Tournament. So that’s the goal.”