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October 10, 2018

Lynne Roberts

Daneesha Provo

Megan Huff

San Francisco, California

LYNNE ROBERTS: This is starting to feel comfortable and this is the third program I've taken over, and it always kind of -- I told our team this the other day at our team retreat that it kind of takes three full seasons getting into your fourth to where you really feel like the culture is sticking, and that's kind of where I feel our program is at.

We've got great returners. We've returned three starters from last year, have some really talented newcomers, and so we're still pushing the boulder up a hill, and this league is unbelievable in terms of just the talent, the coaching year after year, and so we're still climbing, but I'm really excited about where we're at and really looking forward to the year.

Q. Can you talk about what that culture is at this point? How would you define your program culture?
LYNNE ROBERTS: That's a good question. You know, my philosophy is I'm incredibly competitive, but I also really enjoy life and having fun. So I want our players to be as competitive as possible and if we're walking to the water fountain, "I'm going to beat you there" kind of mentality. But I also want you to have fun.

If you look back at your life, you can do some amazing things -- career, have a family, both, either. But you should look back at playing college basketball especially at the level in the Pac-12 as one of the highlights in your life.

So I try to create our culture around those two things. Let's be as competitive and tough as possible. Every time we line up with somebody, I don't care if they're supposed to beat us or we're supposed to beat them, I want us to have a competitive edge to how we play, how we carry ourselves, how we practice, but at the end of the day I want to enjoy the people I'm around, I want to enjoy life. So we try to have as much fun as possible along the way.

Q. You've done a lot of good things since taking over the program. Utah overall has been very competitive since joining the Pac-12. One of the things that hasn't been accomplished is going to the NCAA Tournament. You guys have been knocking on the door a few years. How much do you guys talk about that and how close do you feel like you are to taking that next step, because you're right around 500 seems like most years in conference play?
LYNNE ROBERTS: Yeah, it is something we talk about. It's not something we hammer on. I don't really want to be just a transactional coach, like did we win, did we not, did we make it, did we not. I think in sports so much of what we talk about, especially in media and that kind of thing, is what we haven't done yet. And you can get trapped in that and you can get lost in that.

As a coach you feel that pressure. As a player you feel that. But I think we need to really focus on what we have done, to your point. We've made the postseason my three years here, and it's a process. And you have to kind of take a step back and look at what we have done versus what we haven't. However, I say that with the utmost sincerity that I want to make the NCAA Tournament. Like I want to make it. Like let's not be shy about saying that, but I don't want that to be our focus.

And did we make it, yes, great year. Did we make it, no, bad year. I think it's a process and we're doing it. I can sense that our program is definitely heading in the right direction and like last year, we lost five really, really, really close Pac-12 games, a couple in overtime. We lost on a buzzer-beater at USC in the last weekend of the season, and we lost in overtime at UCLA. We win one of those, we're in the NCAA Tournament. There's a couple other -- but the reality is we didn't win them.

We gotta win them. We gotta win two or three of those. It's on us. It's not woe is us. We gotta get it done. So I want to make sure we keep our perspective on it's not just outcome based, but yeah, I want to make the tournament, badly.

Q. Megan and Daneesha, really like your games a lot. Obviously you're going to miss Emily Potter in the middle. How are you guys adjusting, and what's going to be different about -- because you're seniors? So tell me how your game has developed and what's going to change this year with both of you.
DANEESHA PROVO: Emily Potter and Tae (phonetic) both last year was a really big help for us the last three years. So I feel like this year going into the senior year we have to be more of leaders on this team and just sticking together. We have a young team. They're super experienced. They came this summer. We got to work a lot on our game, and honestly just trusting the process and just focus on the game that's about to happen, not focusing on the long term right now.

But for the most part, like just being leaders for the team, being competitive and just going into every game with a fight.

MEGAN HUFF: I agree with that, and also I think our program is like beginning to develop a lot and have a lot of players coming in that really work hard and like get the extra work in, and I think that's a big thing with last experience and developing players. And for us, like Daneesha was saying, I think the leadership role, like -- I mean, there's three starters and two leading scorers that are coming back.

So like, yeah, we're going to miss people from last year, but I think we have -- like we're still climbing and it's not going to hurt us that much.

Q. Lynne, just a follow-up. What's the one thing -- like when coaching or watching a team, there's something that each team is known for. What's the one thing you want Utah to be known for?
LYNNE ROBERTS: This season?

Q. Yes.
LYNNE ROBERTS: Boy, I don't know yet. We're only a few practices in.

Q. What do you want to be known for?
LYNNE ROBERTS: That's a great question. Again, I think I would fall back on what I want our program to be known for. I want us to be really, really, really hard to beat. And I think that's kind of what Utah athletics has been, is you may beat them, but it's going to take your very best. And I want that to be what we're known for.

I think we're going to need to shoot the ball well from the outside. I don't necessarily want to hang our hat on that or that to be known for, but I think if you talk about what it's going to take for us to be successful -- you mentioned losing Potter, losing some legitimate size in that. But we're also going to be able to do some things differently because maybe we don't have that traditional center. So I think we're going to spread the floor, need to knock down shots.

Q. Improve your game this summer? What was critical when you hit the break and go, all right, I want to be better at X? What is X?
MEGAN HUFF: For myself personally, I knew I needed to be better at the little things, like sleeping more, eating right, making sure I'm in the gym and recovering. Because my redshirt year last year I tried to get in the gym a lot more and do all the Xs and Os, working out and stuff, but I wasn't really focusing on the little things outside of basketball.

So I think that's a big thing for me this year. And also stepping my game up leadership-wise and really pushing myself to be a leader. And yeah, still getting in the gym and working out as much as I can.

Q. Daneesha, for you, what do you want to be when you grow up, and how is basketball helping you do that?
DANEESHA PROVO: As in like a career what I want to be? I want to be a child specialist, just working in children's hospital with sick kids, and a lot of my summer classes is doing like internship, working like in the hospital, day care, like just being able to observe and talk with families and helping with coping skills, depending on if their child has a disease. That's helping me in the sense that we have a lot of fans connecting with little kids. We have a youth line before games. And the good thing I like about Utah is after games we get to communicate and talk to our fans after, get to know them a little more after either a tough game or a good win or whatever. But just being around kids as much as possible. I mean, I love being around kids and working with them, but I really want to be a child specialist after I play pro for like a few years.

Q. Coach, help us understand, how about the young pups coming in? Not only in some veterans, some of the young pups help you right away and need to help you right away, who might that be? What do they look like?
LYNNE ROBERTS: I think we have a really good group of new guys coming in, but they are new. And looking at this season, I do think we have a nice balance of solid seniors, upperclassmen, but some young ones that are going to need to play.

And it depends on the day. You know, some days they look like, oh, wow, they're going to be ready by November, and some days it's like, okay, this is January we're going to hit our stride. And if they were sitting here, I'd say the same thing.

But they're talented. We have a lot of international kids. We have some two new Canadian freshmen that are in the Canadian national system. We have five Canadians on our team. It's kind of the takeover, kind of have to watch our back (laughs).

But it's kind of nice. So they come with a lot of international game experience, Niyah Becker, Andrea Torres, they're going to play. We need those guys. We've hit some adversity a little bit with our team. We've had a couple of injuries already, and then one of our freshmen -- international students sometimes there's a few more hurdles to jump and so one didn't get in. We're going to try to get her in in December, just in terms of all the stuff that you gotta do as an international kid. So she's either going to come in December, Lord willing, or she'll come in the summer and be a freshman next year.

So we've hit a little bit of adversity there, and so some of the kids that I thought would be here this fall or be -- we had a knee injury, so it's just one of those things. That's coaching. That's sports. It's part of it. I'd rather know now than in January. So we're adapting, adjusting.

But to your point, some of these freshmen that I thought we would have some depth to give them time, the time is now. So, yeah, let's go, ladies. Let's go. So I'm excited. You know, the fun part about coaching freshmen is that everything is new and they want to get -- they're eager, and we don't need to go into the downsides, but -- so I'm looking forward to it. I think they're going to help us, and we're going to need them.

Q. Lynne, without Emily Potter, a great shot blocker, and I'm not saying you don't have good shot blockers this year, but you maybe might not have that average per game. So how else can you be (indiscernible) without that shot blocker on the inside?
LYNNE ROBERTS: That's a great question. Emily was all-time leading shot blocker in school history. Pac-12, I don't know where she fell, but she's up there. And for every shot she didn't block she altered one, which is a better stat in my opinion.

So yes, we will miss that. But I do think we have across the board, one through five, more length. So instead of a 6-6, we've got 6-3, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, that kind of thing. So you can do some different things defensively. We may not be blocking shots into the fourth row. I think we gotta be a little bit better defensively, rebounding, finish the play. A lot of times we just relied on Potter, like oh, she'll get it. Great defense, she'll get it. And she did.

So I think collectively we're going to have to everybody take a part in the rebounding aspect because if we don't rebound well, we're going to be terrible defensively. That's a big thing we talk about a lot. But I do think we have more length, maybe not the one great shot blocker.

Q. With the conference tournament moving to Las Vegas, obviously that's much closer to your program. How excited are you about that to maybe get more fans coming to see you and support you, especially early on?
LYNNE ROBERTS: Yeah. It's like a five-hour drive from Salt Lake City, so we're looking forward to that. Seattle was great. It's the only Pac-12 Tournament experience that I know. And I think the partnerships we had in Seattle they were fantastic. The attendance was great. The fan buy-in was great.

So it'll be interesting to see how Las Vegas kind of embraces our tournament. I'm hopeful that they do. But I think for our fans the fact that our men's tournament is shortly thereafter, and I know a lot of Utah fans make that trek down, or have in the past for the men's. And so we're going to really push that so they can come for our tournament as well. But we're looking forward to it. Who doesn't enjoy Vegas in the winter? Right?

Q. I saw on social media you tweeted about your retreat. What was your biggest takeaway from the Utah retreat?
LYNNE ROBERTS: Yeah, that's something we do every year. I've done it ever since I was a head coach. It's a fun tradition. This is just a really good group, and like I said, it's our fourth year here, and so just the cycle of recruiting, and I was blessed to inherit some really good kids when I took over the program.

But it's a little bit different when you've been in everyone's living room and you've recruited everybody, so it's just a good group. And the buy-in is really, really strong. As I said, it takes time. It's a process, and it's kind of fun to see the payoff on that.

Q. And finally with the Canadian influence that you mentioned, have you tried poutine, and what did you think?
LYNNE ROBERTS: I have. I have. For those of you who don't know what poutine is, it's french fries with gravy and cheese curds. I don't care for it. We're still recruiting you. But I don't really love poutine.

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