What Utah coach Lynne Roberts said about Colorado upsetting defending champion LSU
‘We’ve been preaching it,’ the Utes’ coach said about the strength of the Pac-12 Conference
Count Lynne Roberts and her Utah women’s basketball program among those who loved watching No. 20 Colorado knock off defending national champion and No. 1 LSU on Monday night.
The Utes’ head coach shared her joy in seeing the Pac-12 pick up a pair of resume-building wins during the season’s opening day — in addition to the Buffaloes’ upset win, No. 21 USC beat No. 7 Ohio State, 83-74.
Both games were played as part of the Hall of Fame Series in Las Vegas.
“We were all just watching it in the offices after our game cheering on Colorado, and USC upset Ohio State. Our league is so good, we’ve been preaching it,” Roberts said Wednesday, explaining how her team had more than its own victory Monday against Mississippi Valley State to celebrate that night.
Stanford’s Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer also had a message for all the other Pac-12 coaches after an opening day where five of the six ranked league teams won on Monday — No. 4 UCLA cruised past Purdue, while No. 24 Washington State beat Cal Poly.
The Cardinal, who are ranked No. 15, open their season Wednesday against Hawaii.
“It’s bittersweet. This is the last year of it but yesterday afternoon Tara VanDerveer texted all the head coaches like, ‘Good job. Keep it up. Let’s end this conference the right way,’” Roberts said. “There’s such camaraderie amongst the coaches, which is really cool.”
Utah is one of 10 Pac-12 teams that will leave the league following this season for another power conference — the Utes are headed to the Big 12 along with fellow Pac-12 schools Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State.
There’s understandably some satisfaction for the Utes in seeing LSU get beaten by another Pac-12 team; the Tigers knocked Utah out of the NCAA Tournament last season in the Sweet 16 when the Utes were a No. 2 seed.
That heartbreaking loss for Utah came down to the final seconds before the eventual national champions prevailed, and ended a season where the Utes had gone 27-5 and won a share of the Pac-12 regular-season championship.
“I was fired up for Colorado. Colorado is good. LSU can talk about how they weren’t surprised Colorado is good, but I’m sure they were. But I’m not,” Roberts said.
LSU coach Kim Mulkey credited Colorado’s preparedness while questioning her team’s toughness from the opening-day result.
“I was fired up for Colorado. Colorado is good. LSU can talk about how they weren’t surprised Colorado is good, but I’m sure they were. But I’m not.” — Utah coach Lynne Roberts on Buffaloes victory over No. 1 LSU
“I thought (Colorado) shot the ball good from 3,” Mulkey said about the Buffaloes, per the school. “I thought they just were poised, polished. I thought they were hungry.”
Utah and Colorado, two of nine Pac-12 teams projected to make this year’s NCAA Tournament field in ESPN’s latest bracketology, had a spirited rivalry themselves last season. The schools split a pair of regular-season matchups, with each team winning at home.
Colorado’s head coach, JR Payne, also has a healthy respect for what Roberts, the reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year, is doing in Salt Lake City.
“I’ve been really excited and just happy for how she’s doing and how well they’re going to do this year,” Payne told the Deseret News last month at Pac-12 basketball media days, about the Utes’ program.
Utah is favored to win the Pac-12 this season in both the league’s coaches and media preseason polls.