LAS VEGAS — The Weeble Wobble.
According to Utah women’s basketball head coach Lynne Roberts, no toy — created in the 1970’s or otherwise — better approximates Utah’s 2018-19 season.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Weeble, or Weeble Wobble as it is more popularly known, is that small egg-shaped creation, weighted at its bottom-center. Any attempt to knock it on its side is unsuccessful, as the Weeble will "wobble" its way back into an upright position.
The toy spawned the popular catch phrase "Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down," and has had many a rebirth such its initial launch in the early '70s.
It is easy to see why the toy resonated with Roberts.
The Utes have had many the opportunity to lie down after being dealt a blow this season.
There were season-ending injuries to players like Daneesha Provo and Dre’Una Edwards — Edwards did enough before going down to become the first Ute in the Pac-12 era to claim Freshman of the Year honors.
There were difficult losses, the most notable of which were two last-second defeats to Arizona State, defeats Roberts described as “the most devastating” of her career.
Then there was that end-of-year losing streak — Utah lost eight of its final 10 conference games — that would have done in many a team.
Through it all, Utah found a way to bounce back each and every time, or at least often enough to earn themselves the sixth seed in the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament, which kicks off Thursday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“I have so enjoyed this group,” Roberts said. “They have been one of my favorites, just because of their ability to roll with things, to roll with punches. We have had just absolutely painful losses this year down the stretch in the Pac-12. Truly unbelievable losses, like 'did that truly just happen?' defeats, and these guys just keep coming back. They are like Weeble Wobble, you can’t knock them over; they just keep bouncing back up.”
Among those most responsible for the near constant bounce backs was senior Megan Huff. Her efforts were enough to earn her first-team All-Pac-12 honors for the second consecutive season.
“She has been phenomenal,” Roberts said. “The sign of a great player is the ability to be consistent when everybody in the arena, every scouting report and every players’ No. 1 objective is to take away what you are good at. When you are still able to average 20 points, shoot a high percentage and average a double-double, that speaks not just to talent but mentality.
“I am so proud of her. She has worked so hard. She is an incredible player and will be a pro for a long time.”
When the Utes face off against the Washington Huskies Thursday night, however, the team will look to leave everything from this season’s campaign behind; the good and the bad.
After all, the postseason brings with it new life.
“Postseason and conference tournaments are always exciting because you get new life," Roberts said. "It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, whether you’ve finished first or last or anywhere in between. It is just kind of new life and I am looking forward to some new life and some new enthusiasm.”
The Utes will battle the Huskies, a team they defeated handily twice this season, in the first round.
A victory would earn Utah a quarterfinals matchup with the No. 3 seeded Oregon State Beavers.
Those teams met just once this year — in Corvallis — and it was the Beavers who walked away victorious. That loss was just the beginning of the Utes end-of-the-season slide.
Other first-round action to take place Thursday includes No. 7 California vs. No. 10 Washington State, No. 5 Arizona State vs. No. 12 Colorado, and No. 8 Arizona vs. No. 9 USC.1 comment on this story
The top four seeds in the tourney are No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Oregon State and No. 4 UCLA, each of whom get a first round bye — Stanford and Oregon State are on Utah's side of the bracket.
The tournament finale will take place on Sunday, at 5 p.m., bringing an end to four days of Pac-12 postseason basketball.
“It is an exciting time of year,” said Roberts. “The excitement of 'let’s see what can happen.'”
Utes on the air
No. 6 Utah (20-9) vs. No. 11 Washington (9-20)
- Thursday, 9:30 p.m. MST
- MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV
- TV: Pac-12 Networks
- Radio: 101.5 FM/105.5 FM
- Online: pac-12.com/live