Women's Hoops Holds Preseason Media Day
Oct. 25, 2005
Head Coach June Daugherty
Media Day Quotes
'We are very very excited about the upcoming basketball season. Our three captains, the seniors, Nicole Castro, Kristen O'Neill, and Kayla Burt, have done a great job not only getting themselves ready in the off season - first off this is the first off-season Kristen and Kayla have had in a long time due to injuries and other situations - but they have also been great leaders in this program to bring these young people around. The entire team with the exception of one, was on campus the entire summer. Going to summer school, running up stadium steps, lifting weights, and most importantly on the basketball side of things, playing a lot of basketball together.
The one exception was of course Breanne Watson. She had a phenomenal opportunity to represent the junior national team of Canada. She played some great basketball and I'm sure that you will want to talk to her later about that. It was the same basketball experience that Bobby Jones on our men's side had. We will redshirt Stefanie Clark this year, injury wise it's a short list, thank you I am smiling about that. Breanne Watson does have a bout with mononucleosis right now. She is looking better and better. She has had it for about two weeks. We hope that she will get over that soon, so that she can get back out there and start helping us at the forward position. Jill Bell has been in practice for just a couple days, she had a little bit of tenderness in her knee, we held her out. Again she is doing a great job but again tomorrow will only be her third day in actual practice with the team. Few ankles here and there, but unfortunately that comes expected with basketball. These are things that I think we will get through very quickly and have the full squad out there.
Style of play is pretty similar as in the past, but more aggressive defensively. I think that you will see how had these kids worked in the weight room to get stronger and quicker. It helps with our ability to pressure the basketball more so than what we able to do in the last couple of years. We are up on people, we feel that we can get up and really get active and get in people's face. And at the same time we have to cut them off once they start to put the basketball down. Inside wise you will see a power game, that I have said I have not seen in six years in this program. Our frontline has done a very good job of getting stronger and obviously Bell and Watson are going to have to get healthy, and they will contribute to that greatly. You are going to see us be a lot more physical inside and control that end of things especially more so than what we have been able to do recently, and that is great. W e feel like defensively if we can fly around and get up on people we can get a lot of steals and we can create some shots and we can get into our running game. That brings me to the next part of our game, and that is running. We are running more than we have ever run. I feel that we have the speed and that we have the talent, and the depth to run for 40 minutes. When we get down there we will be able to do some good things. We are extended out a little bit with our pressure and we have gotten some good results with that in practice. We want to force tempo from the defensive end, and get some easy scoring opportunities on the other end. I think with the conditioning that these kids have done all season and strides that we have made skill-wise are very very exciting. I think that we are going to be a surprise for a lot of people out there. I know that you are going to ask me so I will just go ahead and comment on the preseason Pac-10 coaches poll. I tell you what there is no hard love here to see them ranked as seventh. Because Dick Rockne and some of the other people in this room know that the last time that they did that we won the Pac-10 and went all the way to the Elite Eight. I think that is pretty interesting to rank us there and I am very much looking forward to having some fun this season and playing some inspiring team basketball.
On the team's conditioning:
'The starting line has spent a lot of time getting healthy and getting stronger. They have spent a lot of time in the gym understanding how to play down low, establishing themselves position wise and to stay on balance once they get the basketball and don't rush so they can make something good happen. Also we get a lot of three-point action, and we are seeing a lot of three-point scoring in the purple, the purple is the paint for us, that is a great sign. We have got to score and fill it up for three outside the arc. We have got to make tougher for some of our opponents inside and foul out some of their front line. Another thing I think that our team has done in the perimeter play is that the perimeter guards are doing a better job of seeing the open player and getting it to them when they want it so they have more of a scoring opportunity.'
On the difference between this year's team from last year's team:
'I think that we are going to be more talented, more experienced and I think that you are going to see a team that is going to really play hard for 40 minutes. Last year the group that we started out with was pretty young and we got better as the season went on. Early on they had to learn the system. We play a very tough schedule, like we always do, and we will always do that. We had to learn from that and we had to learn how to win with that, and we did that. The second half of the season we were on fire, we had a lot of great basketball. We played at a much higher level than we played in the first nine games of the Pac-10. I think that we have started out where we have left off last season, and that is exciting, and we are building upon it.'
On the preseason coaches polls:
'I don't know, coaches polls are coaches polls. The bottom line is what happens the first week of April, and that is what is going to matter and that is what is going to be interesting.'
On the team in practice:
'I think that already in practice, we are way ahead of where we have been. Not just with the talent, strength and the skill improvements, but we are able to get into drills a lot quicker and they understand the system. We have one freshman, Heidi McNeill, and she is doing a great job. It's hard to be the only freshman, she is the only one that when we get into some of these drills I'm just awestruck that she knows them. Just having that experience and the same system only improved has helped us a lot. It has allowed us to get a lot more of our offensive and our defensive structures in, and we are able to move forward and that is a great sign for this team.'
On the Pac-10:
'The fact is it's a great conference, the coaching and the players. I think the Pac-10, like Washington, has done a very good job as of late of keeping the best players of the West Coast in the Pac-10. That is what we want, the best coached against the best. I think that it was great the amount of teams that were able to go to the NCAAs and how well they did in the NCAAs last year. As a conference we have the opportunity to do even better, and I think that Washington should be right in that mix.'
On last year's season:
'When you look back last year, the injuries that you talked about and Erica Schelly the foot surgery, and the new freshmen. We actually had eight new players participate in Division 1 basketball that hadn't the year before, that is over half of the team. I think that was a big challenge for this group, and they handled it well, especially with the competitive preseason that we had. It was great to see them as they mastered the system and get to know it and get comfortable out there especially Kristen, Kayla, and Erica, who all had a whole year off. Get the rust off, not only to feel comfortable but also feel confident in your game. They were able to get there, but you know what it took a little bit of time, there is no doubt. It is great to have that and beyond. It was really awesome to see all the players have out there for the first time. If you want to be great, it's all year long, they were not always able to do that with their injuries and situations that they were in. When you look now you know why we are so excited, we have a full year to get an off season and take advantage of it.'
On the team's expectations:
'Our expectations are always very very high. I have a lot of confidence in our coaching staff, and the student athletes that we have the opportunity to work with. We just want to go out there every day and compete every minute that we are on the floor, and what any five that are out there we just want to get after it.'
On being picked seventh in the Pac-10:
'That is a great thing to be picked to finish seventh. Because the last time we were picked seventh, we won the Pac-10 and went to the Elite Eight.'