High expectations despite key injury for Utah

Dhon Santos/Santos Photography

There has been an adjustment period for the Utes in making the switch over from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12. Gone are the days where they can run the league without breaking too much of a sweat. As such, their record in the first two years weren’t quite up to par with teams of the past. Sure, Utah secured .500 seasons or better in their first two years, but this is a program that is used to making the NCAA tournament, something it has achieved 17 times in its history.

So, after making a run to the WNIT finals last season and finishing 2012-13 with 23 wins, Anthony Levrets and his troops set the goal of making the Big Dance for the first time in three years. And, with their two leading scorers and rebounders returning from the year before, why not?

Unfortunately, one of those players – Taryn Wicijowski – tore her ACL earlier in the fall, thus leaving the Utes without a player who averaged 14 points and seven rebounds from a year ago.

Despite the loss in talent, Levrets still expects nothing less than a ticket to the field of 64 from his group in the upcoming season.

“This program has qualified for the postseason for 19 straight years," Levrets said. "So the expectation is to be in the NCAA tournament.” 

At least part of the reason why the expectations aren’t changing is because of Michelle Plouffe, the senior forward who is on pace to become the third player in Utah history to amass 2,000 career points and 1,000 career boards.

“We have a special player,” Levrets said, pointing to Plouffe (who was also at Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day. “Rarely do you have a player with her talent level.”

It’s onward and upward for the Utes, Wicijowski or not.