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October 20, 2016

Lynne Roberts

Paige Crozon

Emily Potter

San Francisco, California

COACH ROBERTS: We're excited to be here. You know, this is my second season at Utah just about to start, so kind of the saying, oh, what a difference a year makes. It's been a good 15, 16 months at Utah, and I'm really proud of our program, where we're headed. We've still got a long ways to go, but I couldn't be more proud of our team and the direction that we're headed. I'm really pleased with how hard our players are working. I think they know there's no -- you can't really warp to the penthouse, you've got to take the stairs and work your way up, and that's what we're doing.

Any questions?

Q. Coach, what leap do you need your team to make from last season, which was successful for sure, to this season?
COACH ROBERTS: Well, you know, we lost Danielle Rodriguez, our point guard. I think she started for four years. Certainly you don't really just replace a starting four-year point guard. You've got to kind of do it by committee. So I think our point guard play, we've got to try to fill in the gap that Danni has left. But I do think that the one thing that we kind of needed last year that we have this year is more depth. I think we've got at every position, we've got legitimate depth, and so what that does in practice is it makes practices much more competitive. It's not clear-cut as to the starting five, and last year it really kind of was.

When there's practices that are more competitive, the rising tide rises all ships, I think everybody gets better that way. We're legitimately more deep, and I would say a little more athletic, and we've got some height.

So I think those things are all going to help us take the next step forward.

Q. For both coach and the players, I'll start with Paige and Emily, but there's been kind of obviously a lot of good Canadian basketball players, but there kind of seems to be a defined pipeline from Canada to Utah. How did those players that came before you kind of influence your decision to go to Utah, and then, Coach, I know you're relatively new in Salt Lake City with respect to women's basketball, but your thoughts on the Canadian pipeline and the effects it's had?
EMILY POTTER: So I actually played with Michelle Plouffe prior to committing to the University of Utah, so it was nice to have familiar faces when I was on my official visit, and then Taryn and I became friends quite quickly on my official, and were two players I looked up to through my entire career. Had a chance to play two years with Michelle and three years with Taryn. It was great to look up to them because they brought tremendous abilities to the University of Utah and achieved a lot while they were there. They were kind of an inspiration for me growing up, and even then when I got there, so it was great to learn from such incredible players.

PAIGE CROZON: I think looking at the players that have come before us, even going back to Shona and Kim, I think it's really a blessing to be a part of that Canadian tradition and pipeline and to try to build on the legacy that they have left.

COACH ROBERTS: And from a recruiting and coaching perspective, obviously we will and have been continuing to recruit in Canada. I think what it does, we kind of have instant credibility with the Canadian players because they can look at the Canadian Olympic team had three former Utes playing this summer, and if you're good enough to play in the PAC-12 you've got ambition to play on the Canadian National Team, the senior team, so you can look at a Kim Smith or Shona -- and they can say, hey, if you go to Utah you have a good shot at doing that. So it has helped in recruiting in terms of just validating the experience you get at Utah. We know how to take care of them, obviously, and that I think is comfort level for them making their final choice.

Q. Have you increased the amount of red in your wardrobe?
COACH ROBERTS: I have. I have.

Q. What has changed most about you from year one to year two?
COACH ROBERTS: What a great question.

Q. What have you learned about yourself?
COACH ROBERTS: About myself? That's a great question. I think the first year in the PAC-12, I've said this before, but I have coached my whole career in the West, so I was very familiar with the PAC-12. I knew it was very good. I don't think I realized how good it was.

I think it was a very kind of eye-opening just how great the players are, how great the coaches are, night in, night out, and I think as a coach you do, you learn a lot about yourself from messing up and making mistakes.

You know, I don't know. I think I've just learned that to succeed in this league, you've got to be really, really good. Whether you're a player or a coach, you've got to be really good and continue to have the attitude that you've got to learn and get better and work your tail off.

Q. Are you guys instituting maybe a little higher tempo? I know that's sort of your background, Coach. Do you feel like you guys are going to play faster this year?
COACH ROBERTS: I hope so. I think we've got the horses this year. Like I said, we're a little more athletic. We're a lot deeper. So I think we have the potential to do that.

We've just got to stay healthy, but yes, the system is going to be the same. I think we'll be a little bit more experienced in it, better at it. The players will be more comfortable in it. So I think we should be able to be a little bit better at it, as well.

I will say, too, the players have done a great job of working really hard this off-season in their strength and conditioning. We were in pretty solid shape last year, and I think they've added to that. So to play the style I really want to play, you've got to be -- every player says they want to run, they want to be up tempo, but to do that, you have to do two things. You've got to be in great shape and you've got to play great defense. That's going to create opportunities to run. So those are the two things that we really focus on and the product that people come and see, oh, you get guys up-and-down.

But I think they've put the work in in the weight room and on their own to be physically fit to be able to do it for six months.

PAIGE CROZON: Well, as a fifth-year senior I'm kind of old bones now and it has been harder for me to keep up this year, so I think we are --

COACH ROBERTS: Old bones, 22. (Laughter).

PAIGE CROZON: Well, compared to my teammates, yes. They're fast and spry. So yeah. We're a little bit up tempo this year.

EMILY POTTER: Yeah, I thought we were very fast last year, so I don't know how much faster we can get. But I think as long as -- I want to be as fast as we can while still taking care of the ball, and the points per possession is something Coach has talked about, so I want to make sure we're going to take really good care of the ball if we're going to go up-and-down the court really fast.

Q. Emily and Paige, even though I might want to slap you across the face for your old bones, I'll just plod through. For each of you, what excites you most about Utah basketball this season?
PAIGE CROZON: I'm really excited for the people that are redshirting last year, to play with them, Wendy and Daneesha. We're all really close as a team, so I'm excited every year to step out on the court with all my teammates, and it feels like three years go by between every single season in the off-season, so I know they're all really itching to be back on the court and just show people the things that we can do and what we've been working all summer on.

EMILY POTTER: And it's similar to me. What I'm most excited for is the competitiveness of our team, and like we have so much passion and we want to be great, and it's just awesome to like be out there with players who genuinely love the game and want to win, and we all have the same goal and the same drive day in and day out.

Q. We were talking about point guard by committee. I know Erika Bean was one that had some time in her first year but it's a tough position to jump into. Who else will go into that position with her? Who are some of those that will handle the ball for you?
COACH ROBERTS: Erika Bean is coming back. She'll be a sophomore, and she's working hard to step into that role. We're going to need her to. And we have two freshmen, Kiana Moore from Vanden High School out of California, highly recruited player. She is explosive, athletic. We just have to coach her up. It's a lot to go from high school to the PAC-12, especially at the point guard spot. So she's learning a ton, and so we've just got to coach her up and develop her along the way.

And then we have another freshman Megan Jacobs from Bishop Gorman in Vegas, 6'1", kind of a different type of point guard, with more height and size.

So those three right now are competing in practice and going at it, and that's what I mean by kind of committee. We'll just kind of figure it out as we go. But all three are very capable.

Q. What's going to separate -- what kind of play is going to separate the teams that finish in the top half of this conference and the teams that finish in the bottom half, and how narrow a margin do you think it's going to be?
COACH ROBERTS: I think it's going to be a really very narrow margin. How many losses did the first place team have last year, two? I think it's going to be hard to finish with just two losses in this league is my point. Like whoever that is that ends up in first place, I think the parity -- everybody is getting better. You know, Arizona and Colorado, new coaches, a lot of energy. They're going to be just better because of that.

I think everybody is getting better. The recruiting is getting better, and we are all very aware of all the recruiting classes. They're ranked coming into this conference.

I don't know how it's all going to shake out, obviously. If I did, I'd probably be in Vegas. But I don't know -- I think it's going to come down to who stays healthy, and I think there's just -- there's some teams at the top that have so much talent. If they stay healthy, they're going to be tough to beat. But also in the same breath I'm going to say that I think all of us are capable of competing every single night.

Q. What is the toughest place to play in the PAC-12, and what do you think you guys can do to make the Huntsman Center more inhospitable to opponents?
COACH ROBERTS: Well, the thing that is already in place in Salt Lake is the elevation. We don't need to do anything to fix that; it's there. And so that's one of the reasons, too, why I think it could be just a tremendously -- just a great advantage to play at home there. I want people to actually -- players as they're actually flying to Salt Lake City to be worried about the elevation before they even get off the plane, and our style of play can play into that.

I remember as a player going to play in elevation, and that's all you're thinking about. I want to play a style that feeds into that and kind of creates that.

Now, we need to have an atmosphere that goes along with it. We're building that. Our attendance last year went up 38 percent, which I'm very pleased with. But as I've said, I'm greedy and I want 38 more percent this year, and I just want to keep growing it.

Salt Lake City is a sports town, it really is, and there's no reason that in women's basketball we can't get an atmosphere going, and we will, and we're working hard, and I'm proud of our product. We've got great kids -- they're not kids, but they're old bones, but we have great players that are really good ambassadors for what we're trying to do, and I'm really proud of them, so I want to get them out there in the community so people can see that.

I think a lot of times with women's basketball, people just don't know, and then they come and see, oh, this is really fun, it's really exciting, so that's our job to get people to create that atmosphere that I know we will get at the Huntsman.

In answer to your first question, what's the hardest place to play? I don't know, I'm a rookie. They've played more PAC-12 games than I have. What do you guys think?

EMILY POTTER: I mean, there are no easy games or easy places to play. Like Coach already touched on, the parity of the league every night is a dogfight. Obviously Stanford is like a storied place to play, and a really hard place to win at. But we're going to do everything we can to be a really tough place to play each year and get a little bit more out of that every year.

Q. Paige and Emily, talk a little bit about just conditioning. There have been a few injuries in the past with the program; talk about summer conditioning, some of the areas of focus, things you did in the off-season to work on your physical play coming in. And then also, were there any team-building events or anything you've done as a group to really just connect and have a positive start to the year?
PAIGE CROZON: To touch on your last question, we actually just went on a team retreat to a canyon in Utah and we spent a couple days in a house where we did some team-building activities and did some competitive games where we'd compete against each other on the team, and there's still some hurt feelings between Emily and I.

EMILY POTTER: My team won the dance-off.

PAIGE CROZON: And ultimately won the competition, so yeah. The competitiveness we talked about before was definitely evident.

But this off-season we did a lot of conditioning with our strength and conditioning coach, and it was very mentally, physically, emotionally draining, but it was definitely one of my toughest off-seasons so far. But it seems to be very rewarding now that we're into practices. It seems to have helped, and hopefully we'll use that as an advantage this season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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