SALT LAKE CITY — If leading a young, injury-depleted squad to historic wins and national rankings wasn’t a tough enough task, Utah forward Megan Huff hasn’t felt healthy for nearly two months.
The senior forward isn’t even sure what’s made her feel sick nearly every day since Utah defeated BYU in early December, but she is relieved that she’s finally starting to feel better.
“The doctor thinks maybe a sinus infection,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of mucus in my head, headaches, and I just don’t feel 100 percent.”
Heaven help the Pac-12 if Huff gets healthy.
While under the weather, the 6-foot-3 biology major has led Utah to its best start in school history (18-1), a first-ever upset of Stanford, and a No. 14 national ranking. This week, she earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for averaging 20.5 points and 11 rebounds in two key conference wins.
“She is so good,” said Utah head coach Lynne Roberts. “She is tough.”
Roberts said that some may have doubted the legitimacy of her team-leading stats, including 19.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, earlier in the season. But while being guarded by Cal’s Kristine Anigwe she scored 24 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, and against Stanford’s Alanna Smith she scored 17 points and earned 13 rebounds.
“They’re both going to be pros for a long time,” Roberts said. “And I think Megan Huff is too. She’s a tough player.” Huff’s had a reputation for being a hard-working, gritty player since she transferred to Utah from the University of Hawaii in 2016.
After redshirting in 2016-17, she earned Pac-12 All-Conference first team honors from the media and coaches as junior. But her senior season has been even more impressive as she’s had to lead Utah while being the focal point of every team’s defense.
Huff has repeatedly said she knows and expects extra defensive effort, and credits her teammates for keeping teams honest. She said that when her confidence in herself wavers, she borrows the faith her teammates have in her until the shots start to fall and the defensive hustle pays off.
When asked how being sick has impacted her athletic abilities, she is, as usual, completely unaware of how impressive her effort is.
“I don’t think it affects me,” she said. “I’m going to play how I’m going to play.” She said she’s enjoyed relatively good health most of her life and career.
“I’ve had some sore throats, but they’ve gone away quickly,” she said. “This is the longest I’ve been sick. I can’t wait to start feeling 100 percent.”
Through it all, she hasn’t missed a single game, and she’s only sat out a few practices.
“It’s whatever,” she said with a slight laugh. “I’m dealing with it. It’s not something that’s hurting me. It sucks because I’m not feeling well, but I’m trying to play well.”
Huff said she’s tried everything from beet juice to antibiotics and an inhaler. A recent round of medication has allowed the most profound improvement, she said.
“The last two games, I am feeling better,” she said.
Her tone brightens significantly when asked about preparing to play No. 4 Oregon and No. 9 Oregon State this weekend.Comment on this story
“It’s exciting,” she said of their recent wins. “It’s fun, but we can’t really relax. We have to keep our foot on the pedal, keep up the intensity and keep playing our game. We have to keep being gritty, keep being tough.”
In other words, keep following Huff’s example.
When asked about the forward, Roberts says it isn’t even Huff’s toughness that she values most.
“She doesn’t want the attention on her,” Roberts said. “When your best player is about her teammates and winning, then I think you have a chance to be pretty special.”