This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Paige Crozon has been searching a little bit lately, as a graduating senior will toward the end.
She's looked at her performances from last year, when she hit career highs in scoring (13.2 ppg), rebounding (8.2) and helped Utah to an 8-10 Pac-12 season. She compares it to this season, as the Utes struggle during conference play to 4-11 record, and her scoring, rebounding and shooting are down.
There's some differences: Utah (15-11, 4-11) is deeper on the wings this year, and the team is a little less dependent on her offensively. But recently she realized that she needed to recapture something she had: an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
"All last year, I was just grateful to put on the sneakers again," Crozon said. "I kind of lost that. I kind of forgot what it's like to be grateful to play, and play like you're not going to get those opportunities again."
Crozon's career has been one of resurrection. Injuries left scars, took the hearing from one of her ears and very nearly ended her career after she dealt with http://bit.ly/1QIyK4O">concussion-like symptoms from a neck injury.
But she perservered, returned and ultimately has been a key part in establishing the Lynne Roberts era of Utah basketball. As the Utes' only senior this year, she holds a special place of honor with the team.
"Paige brings a consistency," Roberts said. "I always know what I am going to get with Paige whether it is a Tuesday morning practice or a Saturday night game she is the same. She is consistent in who she is, how she plays and how she conducts herself. As a coach that is about as valuable as it gets."
A native of Saskatchewan in Canada, Crozon said she's feeling healthy as she's ever been something she was never able to take for granted in the past.
But moreso than her own development, she's taken pleasure in watching the growth of teammates: From her close friend Emily Potter's development over the past four seasons, to the freshmen this season, Crozon said she enjoys seeing the struggle play out for other players and watching them overcome it.
"You watch some players come in and go through the pains of being a freshman," she said. "I really enjoy that, because you look at what someone like Emily went through, and now she's a whole different beast."
Crozon's buy-in helped smooth the transition from Anthony Levrets to Roberts, who was hired in the spring of 2015. While Levrets and the previous coaching staff "did tremendous things for me," Crozon said, she quickly found herself appreciating Roberts' approach. Her monster junior season helped pave the path to the WNIT for Utah, which finished in the round of 16.
The Utes would like to see the postseason again, but it will take some surprises down the stretch. Utah won't have an easy time with No. 11 Oregon State on Sunday afternoon, and will have to close out on the road including a trip to No. 9 Washington.
But Crozon undoubtedly will take a moment to reflect as she laces up her sneakers, grateful to take the Huntsman Center court one more time. And Roberts wants that send-off to be special, too.
"It is kind of cool that we can use this weekend to really just focus on her," Roberts said. "We don't have our attention divided with several seniors. I think the mindset for me as a coach is I wanted to have a great year for Paige. I have coached for a really long time but this is her senior year. For me, that motivates me."