Q & A With Erica Schelly

Oct. 26, 2006

Senior co-captain Erica Schelly sat down with GoHuskies.com correspondent Jonathan Price at the team's annual media day, Thursday, to talk about the upcoming season.

GoHuskies.com: How do you think the off-season went?
Erica Schelly: 'I think that it went really well. We got a chance to go to Italy. It was a lot of fun and we got a chance to get a head start on the season. Everybody got a chance to get together early and kind of get some of that rust off. We have done really well and our practices have been really intense. All of our girls are really excited and ready to get this season underway.'

GH: Speaking of Italy, do you look at that opportunity as an advantage for this team to get those few extra games in early in the season?
ES: 'I think it is. There wasn't a lot of pressure because it wasn't a part of our main season. It gave us a chance to really focus on the things that we want to improve on. We worked on our plays and the little things that we just want to make better.'

GH: Do you feel like the team meshed right away or is it going to take a little while for everyone to get on the same page?
ES: 'We had been practicing before we left, but I think that as soon as we started playing some of us were a little rusty. After we got into the first game at about half-time we started to mesh together again and head towards the direction that we wanted to go. We had our ups and downs, but it was really good to get that chance to play a few games early.'

GH: How good of an experience the NCAA tournament was last year?
ES: 'It was awesome. It was a lot of fun to go to the tournament because there is a whole new level of excitement and enthusiasm. We want to go back and go further.'

GH: Last year the season ended with a loss to powerhouse LSU. You guys were leading them at the half and stuck with them the whole way, what did you take away from that experience?
ES: 'I think that going into the game we believed in ourselves. The atmosphere there was that LSU was going to win. We really proved to ourselves and everybody else that we could hang with them and play with a big time team.'

GH: Does that carry over to this year now?
ES: 'Definitely. Everyone that has been there has the confidence from last year. On any given night we know that any team can beat any team. Coming in as an underdog in a lot of ways worked for us as an advantage.'

GH: Almost everyone from last year's team is returning. How much of an advantage is that to bring back all that experience?
ES: 'It is a huge advantage to have seven seniors and all of our starters returning. It adds a lot of composure to the pressure situations going into a big game. We know that we have been there before in the games where everything is on the line. It just helps to know how to handle thing that you have dealt with before.'

GH: Do you see any specific areas that this team as improved on since last season?
ES: 'In practice our coaches are really getting on us to hit the boards. We were pretty good at rebounding last year, but I think that we are going to be even better this year with rebounding and playing pressure defense. We are really getting up on people and playing some good defense. If we can continue to be aggressive on defense I think that is going to help us a lot this year.'

GH: How are the new faces fitting in to this year's squad?
ES: 'They are great. They are fitting in very well and playing very well for freshmen. I feel like they are already fitting in as a part of the team both on the court and off.'

GH: Did getting those games early in Italy and then having to wait a little while for the regular season to start give you kind of an itch to get back into a game situation?
ES: 'Yeah. It was fun to be in Italy and have it kind of work as a little trip as well. It was nice to get back and into the heat of things with some real practices now that the season has officially started.'

GH: What can we expect to see from this year's team?
ES: 'I think that we are going to be running the floor a lot this year. We are going to play some pressure defense and try to push the ball up the court for our offense with the fast break. I think that we are going to surprise a lot of people with our fast-paced tempo.'

GH: How do you feel about where you guys were picked in the preseason in both the Pac-10 and nationally?
ES: 'Honestly, it doesn't really make a difference to me. All the matters is how we represent ourselves during the season. It's nice to have people give you respect, but whether they do or don't you tend to use it as motivation.'

GH: Would it be more motivation for you to be underrated?
ES: 'No, I don't think so. It all just depends on how you take it. Our team doesn't really care where we are ranked early, because we always feel that we have been underrated. Regardless of where we are in the standings, we just want to go out and prove to ourselves and everybody else that we can play at a high level.'

GH: Your teammates selected you as one of the two team captains. What does that mean to you?
ES: 'It is an incredible honor. To be able to represent this group of girls is a real privilege. I am very happy that my teammates look up to me as a captain and that they trust me as a friend in that regard.'

GH: Do you feel up to the challenge?
ES: 'Yes, I definitely am up for the challenge. My teammates believe in me and that's about all you need.'

GH: Is there a game on the schedule this year that you just can't wait to play?
ES: 'I always love to play Stanford. Every team in the Pac-10 is sort of a rival because you are so used to playing them every year, but Stanford is a team that I really like to play.'

GH: Has this team set any goals this season? What does June expect out of this team this year?
ES: 'We have a level of play that we want to get at. Our goal is peaking at the end of the season and going deeper in the tournament than we did last year.'

GH: How about you personally? What goals have you set for yourself in your final year with the Huskies?
ES: 'Being that I was elected captain, that is a big responsibility. I just want to represent my teammates well and be there for them.'

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