New Conference Provides New Challenges for the Lady Ute’s

Story by Rachel Thomas

After winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament last year, the University of Utah’s women’s basketball team faces new challenges and obstacles upon entering the Pac-12.
Utah finished their last season with an 18-17 record, but came back from the losses to win the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. After finishing last season with such a large win, the Pac-12 coaches picked the women’s basketball team to finish sixth out of 12 teams, according to the Deseret News.
Utah’s depth chart is growing because of new recruits wanting to be a part of the PAC-12. Four of the team’s starters have scored over 30 points in a single game during their careers, according to the Deseret News.  One of those starters is Janita Badon. Badon enters the 2011 season as a fourth-year starter at point guard, and was chosen as last year’s Mountain West Conference Tournament’s MVP.
The team has yet to play any in-conference home games, but Badon said, “Going off of playing the PAC-12 teams last year, they’re really strong and tall! I think the way they defend will be very different from the Mountain West Conference. The Pac-12 teams play zone defense rather than man.”
According to Badon, the workouts have also changed. The team has begun focusing more on strengthening their legs and becoming stronger, both physically and mentally.
Badon said, “I most enjoy being a part of the Pac-12 because we’re now a part of a well-known conference, not just athletically, but academically as well. One major conflict is the fact we are the “newbies,” but at the same time it can also be a positive, because we have the opportunity to do something really special in the Pac-12.”
Not only have the teams changed, but the marketing aspects of the games have changed as well. New promotions have been created to build hype for the team.
Courtney Gramse, who is the Spirit Coordinator and works directly with the marketing directors said, “To build excitement the marketing team have started a Facebook and Twitter pages that have a lot of updates on them so that the fans know things first hand. They do a lot more promotions involving giveaways which gives people more incentive to come.”
The public is welcome to all of the games. To get more families and children to attend the games, the marketing department has created a “kid zone,” which according to Gramse is full of interactive activities and games.
The crowds at the University of Utah’s women’s games aren’t as large as other sports, but the band provides entertainment and music for all other attendees.
Ryan Kelleher, a student at the University of Utah that has attended every home game over the past 3 years, said, “It’s still too early to tell any major differences yet because we haven’t had any Pac-12 home games, but the coaches have gotten a little more intense and have started pushing the girls a little harder to prepare them for the new teams. I think the crowd will grow being in a power house conference rather than being in a moderate conference. Crowds will grow not only in women’s basketball, but in all sports at Utah.”
For further information on the University of Utah’s women’s basketball team visit,