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Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Utah women's basketball coach Lynne Roberts runs practice in the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019.

A week ago I was in the Ute basketball center talking with women’s coach Lynne Roberts. Her team was just outside the top-25 rankings, but she said if they beat Colorado, she felt good about her chances.

Done and done.

Utah crushed the Buffaloes, 78-59, and the Utes debuted this week in the rankings at No. 21.

Bigger things are ahead, as Utah has yet to play Oregon, Stanford and Oregon State — all ranked above the Utes. Meanwhile, the only blemish on Utah’s 16-1 record is a buzzer-beater against Arizona State — another ranked team.

Utah and ASU meet again Feb. 17 in Tempe.

Regardless, Roberts has something that’s not a given among coaches: genuine enthusiasm and happiness at what she’s doing.

“I’ve coached a long time,” she said. “Some years, for whatever reason, it’s just really enjoyable. You get the right ingredients mixed the right way and it’s really fun. I’m just trying to be in the moment with it.”

In her fourth year, Roberts has steadily improved the Utes, but they haven’t made the NCAA tourney.

“If they have the mentality, which they have, they’ll just continue to get better and we’ll end up in the tournament we deserve to be in,” Roberts said. “We don’t know what that is yet.”

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Roberts is a perfect blend of enthusiasm and caution. That’s not an easy combination. She flat-out says she loves it in Salt Lake and coaching at Utah, and hopes to be here “a long time.” At the same time, she says making the NIT isn’t enough.

Despite being 16-1, she’s wary.

“What makes coaches bizarre is there is always this sense in the profession — it’s the only one I’ve ever done — but there’s always this sense that you have to prepare for the other shoe to drop. You’re kind of living on the edge. It’s really unhealthy, but I can’t help it. So I try to consciously try to enjoy it (success), but always prepare for what might come.”

For now she can feel good about her preparation for what has already happened.