Here at BlockU, we get the best coverage of everything Utah Men’s basketball and Football. Seriously, there is no better site out there for Ute coverage. But if you are like me, you like all of the Utah sports. Today, I start a series where I preview/review the "other sports". I start with women’s hoops.
If you want an exciting team to watch at the Huntsman Center this year, check out the Women’s basketball team. They are going to be pretty good this year.
This team caught fire at the end of last year and made it into the NCAA tournament. They return four starters, and almost all of their top scorers. Their only significant loss was Michelle Harrison, who averaged 4.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
The starting lineup is one of the most complete and versatile lineups in the conference. The team has size, outside shooting, experience, and toughness.
Across the front lines, the utes go 6’4", 6’4" and 6’3". To get an idea of how big that is as compared to the men’s game, a rule of thumb that I use is to add six inches to the woman’s height and you will get their equivalent "man height". I know that sounds weird, but it’s the equivalent of going 6’10", 6’10", 6’9" in the men’s game.
Diana Rolniak is the center. She is a defensive anchor with a decent offensive game. She gets a lot of rebounds and blocks. Kind of like David Foster; not as imposing but with a better offensive game. Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski are the forwards. Both are absolute rebounding machines and can score from anywhere. Wicijowski is coming off an ACL tear. Do not be surprised if both of these forwards are in contention for all-conference accolades.
As good as the frontcourt is, the backcourt is really Utah’s strength. Janita Badon is one of the best all-around point guards in the country. She can do it all. She even grabbed 6.5 rebounds a game last year. Coming into her senior year, expect great things. Her backcourt mate is Iwalani Rodriguez, the leading scorer last year. She can catch fire quickly and is the deep threat that Utah’s post players need to space the floor. She shot 45% from downtown last season.
Off the bench, Rachel Messer will be able to give Rodriguez and Badon a break. The junior is ready to play big minutes this year and her all-around game will continue to develop. Chelsea Bridgewater will can come in and play forward. Rachel Morris will get time at center. Fortunately, any of the Utes starters in the frontcourt can play all the post positions, so a lack of a quality big off the bench won’t hurt the team. This will allow the 6’4" Morris to develop this year with little stress.
` The new Pac-12 schedule will be the most difficult that Utah has ever faced. Nevertheless, if all goes well, this team can win 20 games.
They were picked sixth in the preseason Pac-12 poll, which I think they will do better than that. Head Coach Anthony Levrets is in his first season after taking over for legendary coach Elaine Elliott. Should be a fun year!