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University Beat: Even with BYU loss, Utes on upward track

Published December 11, 2012 2:57 pm

Women's basketball • Levrets expects positive reaction after season's first defeat.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

No one can accuse Utah women's basketball coach Anthony Levrets of not having a sense of fun or reality.

Those traits came into play earlier this month when the Utes (7-1) undertook what is typically a difficult road trip to Hawaii. Not that Hawaii is a world beater. It isn't. The travel and time play havoc with the best of teams.

Instead, the Utes surfed and enjoyed a luau.

"It's a long season and you don't get to do too many fun things," said Levrets, preparing his Utes for Houston Baptist on Saturday in the Huntsman Center. "It was the most fun I've ever had with the kids. And we managed to win the game."

Levrets' sense of reality kicked in after Utah's one-point escape at Hawaii, followed by a five-point loss to BYU. He knew the Utes won games this season despite making mistakes, which the Cougars took advantage of during their victory in the Huntsman Center.

"It was a little hiccup on Saturday, but those things happen," Levrets said. "You never want to lose and never to them.

"It came at a good time."

The Utes did shoot an uncharacteristic 25 percent from the field, but Levrets was more concerned with his team's reaction to BYU's style of defense.

With the loss, Levrets now has something tangible to show his players, who are off to one of the program's best starts. The Utes are looking to reach the 20-win mark for the first time in three seasons.

They also seek a finish among the top third of the Pac-12, which would lead to an NCAA Tournament bid.

"Having juniors and seniors has been a huge difference," Levrets said. "And we've been able to keep healthy. We've had so many injuries the last couple of years. It's been one thing or another."

Led by their big three of juniors Michelle Plouffe, Taryn Wicijowski and senior Iwalani Rodrigues — they combine to average more than 45 points — the Utes are outscoring teams by more than 13 points per game. This includes the 19-point blowout of Michigan.

Also, a positive byproduct of Utah's past health woes is depth. Levrets can go nine deep.

Levrets also believes that one season's worth of experience in the Pac-12 will go a long way this year.

Absolutely," he said. "We've been through just about everything. It's one thing to see a team on film and prepare. Everything was brand new last year. Now we have that experience.

"We feel like we have a talented team."

martyr@sltrib.com

Twitter:@tribmarty