Utah Men’s, Women’s Basketball Preparing For Big Seasons

Sep 28, 2023, 2:56 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Basketball season is just around the corner and the Utah men and women are gearing up for big seasons for both programs in their own, respective ways.

For Craig Smith and the Runnin’ Utes 2023-24 is all about taking another significant step forward as the team continues to build back into the once proud program it was.

Lynne Roberts and the Utah women on the other hand, are looking to kick things up one more notch or two from a historically great season the year before.

Craig Smith Talks Continued Progress In Year Three

Smith is in year three of his rebuild of the Runnin’ Utes program and the hope is the team takes another positive step forward.

While a far cry from what die-hard fans ultimately expect to see out of the program, Smith and crew did show positive improvement between year one and year two with increased wins and at one point being a fringe team for the NCAA Tournament before injuries made for a rough finish.

In 2023-24, the Utes don’t want to simply be discussed as a possible NCAA Tournament team if everything bounces in their favor. They want to be an NCAA Tournament team.

According to Smith, a lot of work has been put into the team during the off-season to make that a possibility. Utah was more aggressive on the recruiting trail bring in more talent, athleticism and shooting that should help improve the depth and overall product.

The Utes also enjoyed an opportunity to travel abroad to Spain over the summer to practice, play some exhibition games and build team chemistry.

“We’ve had a good preseason,” Smith said. “We are super excited to get rolling with this team. We have six weeks to go, but it seems to be a group that really has an attitude that craves improvement. We look a lot different. I think you’ll see we look a lot different this year in every way, shape and form than we did the last two years. I think that’s a real positive.”

Lynne Roberts, Utah Women’s Basketball Looking For Higher Heights

Utah women’s basketball is in a much different spot than the Runnin’ Utes at the moment having checked off a regular-season conference title and deep run in the NCAA Tournament just a year ago, but they want more.

Lynne Roberts set to work in the offseason recruiting a little more height and even more firepower to compliment her core returning group that was already a problem for the Pac-12.

The women look to be just as dangerous as ever with more experience on their side. Their hunger to hit higher heights in the 2023-23 season is illustrated by the banner in their practice facility with a circle around a blank space the Utes are hoping will be at least filled by a Final Four appearance.

“I think it’s the same mantra of- we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we definitely want to go further than we did,” Roberts said. “You see the circle up on the banner. I know that is step one of the goal and then we go from there, but it’s a long season. They’ve heard it- that we have to bite off a day at a time. I know this is all coaching cliche stuff, but it exists for a reason. That’s our goal. Make it further in the tournament- Elite Eight or further. We know it will be really hard and challenging, but that is what this group is focused on.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Men’s, Women’s Basketball Preparing For Big Seasons