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As a sophomore at Seattle Pacific, Lynne Roberts was sidelined for spring workouts by a sprained ankle.

Or so thought head coach Gordy Presnell.

In truth, "sidelined" wasn't the right word, not after Presnell learned Roberts had played on her bum ankle during an intramural soccer game. Fuming, he called her into his office.

"Well, I only played goalie," she told him.

So Presnell — now the head coach at Boise State — marched down to the intramural office. She'd lied, they said. She'd scored three goals.

"She did a lot of that kind of stuff," he said, laughing. "She was always in trouble."

Nicknamed "Orbit" by an elementary school teacher because she never stopped circling the classroom, Utah's new women's basketball coach has wasted no time getting started on the hill.

It's stopping — downtime — that she said she struggles with.

Her love of basketball stems from a hoop in the driveway at her family's Redding, Calif., home, where her two older brothers taught her to become a dead shot from long range "because if I tried to do anything else, it was swatted into the pasture," she said.

She earned a scholarship to Seattle Pacific, where she still holds the school record for most 3-pointers made in a season (82) and once attempted 18 in a single game.

Against Montana-Billings, Presnell drew up a first play that would test their opponents' strategy for defending a variety of screens and cuts. Just 8 seconds in, "she jacks up a shot," he said.

Incredulous, he called a timeout and benched her. Eight seconds into the game.

"She's held that against me for 20 years," he said.

But jokes aside, Presnell thought enough of Roberts that when she struggled to find direction in college and changed her major five times, he suggested she join his staff as a graduate assistant.

She did, between working at a grocery store in the morning and taking graduate classes at night. And she found what she was meant to do, she said.

Later, in the last of four successful seasons at the helm of Chico State, Roberts led them to the Division II Final Four.

Pacific was a rockier road. The team had won 11 games combined in the previous two seasons, and though Roberts led them to 14 wins in each of the next two, the Tigers then took a step backward.

Roberts said "off-the-court things" caused Pacific to finish with six wins in her third season and nine in her fourth.

She's not at liberty to speak about them, she said, but in 2009, a Pacific player sued the school for the administration's response to an alleged sexual assault by three men's basketball players, and the case was featured on "60 Minutes."

Pacific was patient with Roberts, and Roberts learned to be more patient, too.

"I made some mistakes in [recruiting], trying to make a quick fix or a quick turn," she said. The lesson: "Don't build your house on sand."

Roberts went 84-45 over the next four years and became tied to various Power 5 coaching searches after she was named Big West Coach of the Year in 2013-14.

Pacific athletic director Ted Leland told her to be "picky" about her next step, but when Utah expressed interest, he told her to go for it.

It's been a whirlwind since.

Roberts was offered the job the Friday before last, accepted it Saturday, met with Pacific staff Sunday, met with Pacifc players Monday morning, traveled to Salt Lake City on Monday afternoon and met with Utah's players last Tuesday morning.

A technicality offered a brief respite when she learned she wouldn't be able to hold an official practice Tuesday afternoon, lacking the required Under Armour gear. Instead, they played whiffleball. Roberts served as all-time pitcher in her nonapproved blouse.

Junior Paige Crozon remembers worrying how she'd play for her new coach, on pins and needles ahead of Tuesday's meeting, and said whiffleball "was a great way to break the ice."

After a team workout Wednesday, Roberts hit the road to scout high school players Thursday through Sunday. She hired former Pacific assistant Gavin Petersen earlier this week and is seeking two more assistants.

"I really feel like life is sideways right now, but it's all good stuff, and this is temporary," she said.

Roberts met the media Wednesday and displayed her commitment to detail — she hopes men's head coach Larry Krystkowiak will burn some of his famed sweetgrass in the women's offices, she said — and her sense of humor.

"She's really hard not to like," Crozon said. "But she always says, 'Don't mistake that for weakness, because I'm going to be intense when it comes to game time.'"

Roberts said she credits Anthony Levrets and his staff for finding "good kids" who are, likewise, easy to like. She expects to play at a faster tempo than Levrets did, but she also wants to play to Utah's strengths — whatever they may be. Now, the top priority is to return a half-dozen injured players to full health.

The coaching change — and seven weeks without a coach — may cost Utah during this recruiting cycle, Roberts said, but fans can take comfort in the knowledge that Petersen has ties in Canada (where Utah has found many of its best players in recent years) and that Roberts has a tight bond with incoming Sacramento point guard Erika Bean.

She knows Utah may not be as patient as Pacific was. But it's a marathon, not a sprint, she said.

And stopping's not her thing.

Twitter: @matthew_piper —

Lynne Roberts

Hometown • Redding, Calif.

Playing career • Was named second-team all-conference as a junior at Seattle Pacific and co-captain as a senior in 1996-97, when she helped lead the Falcons to a 26-3 record.

Coaching career • Went 86-31 in four seasons at Division II Chico State, advancing to the D-II Final Four in 2005-06. Was 135-144 in nine seasons at Pacific, going 84-45 over the past four seasons and earning Big West Coach of the Year honors in 2013.