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Here's a ray of sunshine: The Utah women's basketball team is mostly healthy.
After last year, they can't take that for granted. Emily Potter and Katie Kuklok didn't play, Malia Nawahine only played in three, and the Utes spent a majority of the season with about 10 healthy contributors or fewer.
With a new coach, a new system and the graduation of one of Utah's most productive players, the women's basketball program knows there are going to be some growing pains. The Utes are going to need all hands on deck for Year One of the Lynne Roberts era.
"My injury feels like it happened a lifetime ago," said Potter, who tore her ACL last fall. "I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm ready to put it in the past."
The difference between the previous system and Roberts' was made clear from the first practice: The Utes ran and ran and ran some more. This year's team is going to aim for more uptempo play, more possessions, and winning in transition.
While Utah's last campaign, a 9-21 season, featured more set plays and mechanical decision-making, players say the new coaching staff has brought a more organic flow to the game that should be more entertaining to watch and more fun to play.
"I feel like the style is more fit to how I play," said Nawahine, healthy after recovering from a back injury. "We're going to run a lot of fast breaks, get the point guards looking up the court."
Gone is Taryn Wicijowski, who was Utah's sixth all-time scorer and third all-time rebounder. In Robert's system, the post figures to be less of a focal point than years past.
Which isn't to say it will be abandoned: Potter may be one of the strongest returners on the team as a 6-foot-6 center. She scored 29 points and notched 12 rebounds in Utah's exhibition against Fort Lewis.
"We want to adjust our style as the years go on," Roberts said. "But we're going to play to our advantages."
Utah also has some talent at guard, health permitting. Danielle Rodrigues is the most experienced of three seniors. She's on the verge of being one of Utah's all-time assist leaders, and Roberts will count on her to lead the attack.
At wing, the Utes are deep: Nawahine was a potent scorer before her injury, Tanaeya Boclair showed promise as a freshman, and Paige Crozon and Katie Kuklok are dangerous shooters.
While outside expectations are low the Utes have been picked to finish 11th by both the media and coaches in the Pac-12 they're working on building something.
"I'm proud of the players," said Roberts. "They're giving me everything they have. We're still learning what we're capable of, what we're good at. I think we'll be a work in progress."
Utes at a glance
Key additions • G Erika Bean (Fr., 5-8), C Emily Potter (R-Fr., 6-6), G Katie Kuklok (R-Sr., 5-10)
Key losses • C Taryn Wicijowski, G Cheyenne Wilson
Projected starters • F Paige Crozon (R-Jr., 6-1), F Tanaeya Boclair (So., 6-0), C Emily Potter (R-Fr., 6-6), G Malia Nawahine (R-So., 5-10), G Danielle Rodriguez (Sr., 5-10)
Bottom line • With a new brand of basketball, expect some difficult games for Utah. Lynne Roberts is implementing a new system, but will have to make adjustments for Utah's existing personnel. With preseason games against Oklahoma and BYU, Utah will have a few early tests by fire. And the Pac-12 isn't any easier.