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For the Utah women’s basketball team, the season came to a bitter end in the Sweet 16.

But perhaps the Utes can take some solace in that LSU, the team that eliminated them from the NCAA Tournament, was the eventual champion.

As disappointing as that loss to the Tigers was, the future is bright for Utah, led by coach Lynne Roberts.

Not long after LSU’s victory over Iowa, ESPN’s Charlie Creme released a way-too-early top-25 rankings for next season.

Creme listed Utah No. 2 on his top 25.

“The defending Pac-12 co-champs should be the only team in this early ranking that returns every starter,” he wrote. “Reigning Pac-12 player of the year Alissa Pili should start 2023-24 as a preseason first-team All-American. 

“Gianna Kneepkens and Jenna Johnson are rising juniors who combined to average over 27 points per game and have become the backbone of the program’s resurgence under coach Lynne Roberts. Kneepkens and Kennady McQueen are the big 3-point threats, and Australian point guard Issy Palmer, back for her senior season, ties it all together.”

UConn is ranked No. 1 on Creme’s list.

Expectations are already high for the Utah women’s basketball team. And for good reason.

In case you missed it

Utah football is right in the middle of its spring practices.

This season, coach Kyle Whittingham will welcome a former Utes offensive lineman to his staff.

Isaac Asiata announced on ESPN 700’s “The Bill Riley Show” that he will be an offensive line graduate assistant coach in 2023.

“I’ve been trying to get back into football since I retired and I was hoping to eventually end up back at the U. and to learn from great coaches, especially guys like coach (Jim) Harding. I’m extremely blessed that an opportunity came in the past month,” Asiata said.

Asiata won the Pac-12’s Morris Award in 2016, given to the conference’s most outstanding offensive lineman. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft, playing one regular-season game each in 2017 and 2018 before retiring.

From the archives

Related
Has Utah ever beaten UCLA four times in one season? The Red Rocks will need to to have a shot at a national title
Who is expected to make the biggest impact on the Utes’ defensive line?
Another Utah football player will be entering the transfer portal

Extra points

  • How Utah’s Morgan Scalley is trying to get the most out of his defense this spring (Deseret News)
  • Utah beat UCLA (again), won the Los Angeles Regional final and advanced to nationals for the 47th time. Talk about a good day (Deseret News)
  • What Stanford transfer Levani Damuni brings to Utah’s defense this season (Deseret News)
  • What’s the outlook for Utah’s running backs? (Deseret News)
  • How many Utah ties could get selected in the 2023 NFL draft? (Deseret News)
  • Does backup QB Brandon Rose have the ‘it’ factor? (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

This is a great and deserving early accolade! No. 2? Well, OK, we love it! And sure, the Lady Utes will be really good, but that may be a bit too high. How good is this team? In the post season they lost two games ... in the Pac-12 tournament they lost to eventual champ Washington State with a reduced bench, and eventually they dropped a true heart-breaker to LSU, and the Tigers won it all. Roberts’ returning lineup is solid and will gain some depth with off-season recruits. Things do look good for Utah. Go Lady Utes!!!

— stathis

ESPN has projected the Utes’ women’s basketball team as ranked No. 2 in the entire nation for next year, even ahead of both Iowa and LSU, the teams who just played for the National Championship. This is unbelievable respect for Coach Roberts and her women’s team. In fact, there are 7 Pac-12 women’s basketball teams in the projected Top 25 for the 2023-24 season. This is huge for the Pac-12 and its fans.

This has really been a banner year for the University of Utah athletics. The football team won its 2nd Pac-12 Championship, and played in the Rose Bowl again. The women’s basketball team made it to the Sweet 16, and barely lost to the eventual NCAA champion by 3 points. The ski team won an NCAA championship, and the Red Rocks are in a position to compete for a gymnastics NCAA championship. Currently the Utah softball team is in the country’s Top 20.

It is a great time to be a Ute! Go Utes!!

— GoRed

Up next

April 6 | 7 p.m. | Baseball | vs. UCLA | @Los Angeles | UCLA Live Stream-3
April 7 | 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. | Softball | vs. Arizona State | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Networks
April 7 | 6 p.m. | Baseball | vs. UCLA | @Los Angeles | UCLA Live Stream-3
April 8 | Noon | Softball | vs. Arizona State | @Salt Lake City | Utah Live Stream-2
April 8 | 1 p.m. | Baseball | vs. UCLA | @Los Angeles | UCLA Live Stream-3
April 13 | TBD | Gymnastics | NCAA championship semifinal | @Fort Worth, Texas | ESPN2

Utah offensive lineman Isaac Asiata (54) and defensive end Hunter Dimick hold the trophy after the Utes defeat the Indiana Hoosiers in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, California on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. The Utes announced this week that Asiata will be joining Kyle Whittingham’s staff. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News