New Utah women's basketball coach Lynne Roberts speaks with the media for the first time since being hired last week during a news conference Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer
April 29, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Newly hired coach Lynne Roberts wants the Utah women's basketball program to mimic the men's team.

Four years into coach Larry Krystkowiak's tenure as coach, the Utah men this year advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

Roberts didn't hesitate to set a lofty goal during her introductory news conference Wednesday: Turn the Utes into a program that is competitive on a national level.

''I want to be nationally relevant,'' Roberts said. ''That's why I'm here.''

Roberts was a two-time conference coach of the year during her nine years at Pacific, where she finished with a 135-144 record. She went 86-31 during four seasons at Division II Chico State before being hired at Pacific. However, she has never coached or played in a Power 5 conference.

''This is a great conference. There's nothing new in me saying that,'' Roberts said. ''We've played Pac-12 schools. I have a real understanding of the type of players you need, the type of styles. It's an athletic league, there's good size in this conference.

''It's going to take time. It's going to take work for us to get to that upper echelon. I also think it's such a well-respected conference nationally that if you do your part and finish in the top half, you're probably going to make it to the NCAA Tournament.''

Utah won a combined 21 games the last two seasons under Anthony Levrets, hasn't had a winning conference record in four seasons in the Pac-12 and hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since the 2010-11 season.

Athletic director Chris Hill doesn't have significant concerns about Roberts' lack of experience at the highest level. He said her personality dispelled any of those worries.

''She just has those qualities,'' Hill said. ''She's really smart. She's going to fit in the department. ... She's the type of person that's strong with no ego and the department's going to grow from within.''

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