SALT LAKE CITY — What are your thoughts on this senior group?
Many a media member has asked that question of a coach prior to the final game of the season, or in the case of Utah women’s basketball, the final homestand.
Coaches hear it every year — tell us the impact of the departing seniors on your program. How will you remember them? What will they leave behind?
For as much familiarity as there is with the idea, with as often as coaches are asked the "senior" question, it never disappoints.
“I wasn’t prepared for that question,” Utah head coach Lynne Roberts said. “It is a hard question.”
The difficulty is never in having an answer. It certainly wasn’t for Roberts.
Instead, it is all about having too many.
Seniors almost always leave an indelible mark on a program and Utah’s departing foursome are no different.
Megan Huff, Erika Bean, Daneesha Provo and Sarah Porter each will be long remembered for their impact on the Utes and that is what makes the senior question so difficult.
In narrowing down her thoughts, Roberts did come up with one overarching answer, however.
“They are all about the program. They have been all about elevating the program,” she said. “They are talented, each of them, and they could have been more focused on their futures, what is next for them. Instead, they have always been focused on the team and leading this program.”
What make that answer all the more interesting is how each and every senior came to join the Utes.
Only one, Bean, came to Utah as a freshman, and she was recruited by the coaching staff that preceded Roberts.
Huff transferred from Hawaii, and Provo from Clemson. Porter was a graduate transfer this season, and Utah was her third collegiate team.
Still, each of them will leave a lasting impact.
“Every year we have gotten better and it is because every year they have gotten better,” said Roberts. “They are all playing like seniors now. It is a bummer that Daneesha is out — Provo tore her ACL earlier in the year and had corrective surgery Tuesday — she needs to be mentioned, but they have all done a nice job and we will miss them.”
Utah basketball has left a lasting impact on each of the four as well.
Take Bean. The senior point guard has had a trying journey over her four years at Utah — ”I have coached her harder than anybody,” Roberts noted — but as far as she is concerned it has all been worth it.
“There has been a lot of adversity for the team and myself, with teammates coming and going, success or not throughout the season, but I’ve been able to learn and grow,” Bean said. “It has been amazing to be here and be a part of the regrowth of this team. I am finishing my career on good terms, and I know the program is in the right place.”
Then there is Provo, whose season-ending injury has done nothing to dampen her enthusiasm for Utah basketball.
“It has meant a lot to me,” she said. “I got the opportunity to play the sport I love at the highest level in one of the top women’s basketball conferences in the country and I also got to get a great education that will allow me to succeed in life.”
For Porter, Utah basketball gave her the chance to play high-level college ball while also earning a master's degree, a combination she wouldn’t trade.
“It has been exciting,” she said. “It has been different than anything I previously experienced. I played against Pac-12 schools before (Porter previously attended UC Santa Barbara, before that Ole Miss), but coming from a mid-major, everyone here cares about winning and the work ethic is better. Everyone wants to win. You can see the difference. That has made it fun.”
And then there is Huff.1 comment on this story
“It is unreal, thinking that these are my last two games in the Huntsman Center,” she said. “That is a crazy thing. My time here has flown by and it is a sad experience because I know I will never play with a group of girls like this again. It is also exciting, just knowing what is to come for us.”
The Utes hope that will be a NCAA tournament bid, which would be the team’s first since 2010.
“It is bittersweet to finish up, but we want more games to play,” said Bean.
Wins this weekend against Washington and Washington State would go a long way to making that dream a reality.
“We just have to play basketball,” said Huff. “Play it like we know how.”