SALT LAKE CITY — Just days removed from her biggest win in her young tenure as the Utah women's basketball head coach, Lynne Roberts was still excited over Utah's exciting 84-79 win over then-No. 21 Cal at her weekly press conference Tuesday.
It was her first win over a ranked program in a season full of firsts, but Roberts and company are looking forward to the next challenge that is presented to them this season.
"We're 3-1 in this league and we feel like we still have a lot of work to do and a lot of improving to do," Roberts said.
With the win over the Golden Bears, the Utes are off to an 11-4 start to the season, including an undefeated mark at home. They have already surpassed last season's win total with at least 14 games remaining on the schedule, and while the players are the ones making the plays out on the hardwood, it's Roberts' influence that has this team rolling.
In 2014-15, Utah finished with a 9-21 record. The year before that, the Utes had just a dozen wins. It's no mistake that this team reeled off 11 wins in its first 15 games when Roberts came to town, but as any humble coach would, she attributes the hot start to her players.
"I believe in these guys, I really do," Roberts said. "As far as expectations, I didn't have a number on it … It's just going one game at a time. I do believe in these players, though, I really do. They're starting to believe in themselves, which is fun."
For a team that is not used to finding success in recent memory, it would be easy to get lost in the spotlight. The Utes are now in the national media radar after taking down a ranked Cal team, but it's important that the continue to push forward, just like they did against the Golden Bears.
Facing a 19-point deficit in the third quarter, Utah's back was against the wall in Berkeley, California. The Utes turned the ball over 16 times, and while it's true they ended up with the big win, there's work left to be done, especially with Arizona and Arizona State looming over the weekend.
"We talk about that all of the time. We were down 19 (at Cal), how did we get there? We did not play a perfect game," Roberts said. "There are a lot of things we have to get better at … There are always things we can do better. That's my big thing. I've said this from the beginning, I just want the team to get better every week. I want to improve. Can we improve from last weekend's road trip? Absolutely, and they're going to hear that."
The Utes are riding high after a successful road trip, but the word complacency does not exist in their vocabulary. Utah is on a mission, with Roberts at the helm, to not just get back on the national map, but stay there.
"People don't respect us, necessarily," Roberts said. "It's not disrespect. They're just not talking about us. They're not thinking about Utah. We want to be better than that. We are better than that, but you have to earn it. You can't just talk about it. You have to earn it and these guys are doing it."