Women's Basketball Media Day Quotes

Oct. 26, 2006

Washington women's basketball held its annual media day, Thursday, to talk about the upcoming season. The Huskies have a bright outlook, returning all five starters from last year's team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Head Coach June Daugherty Media Day Quotes

Opening Statement

'First of all, it is good to see all of you. I am meeting some new people as well, and it is good to have you here. Welcome to the new basketball season. We are excited. We have been practicing for quite a while, because of the Italian trip that we were able to take in August. We have been full on for about 10 days, and we have been very impressed on what we have been seeing as a coaching staff, from our six seniors who have been playing--make that our seven with Angie Jones being a student assistant this year, and not playing. They are very talented, and obviously very experienced. They are working very hard--they worked very hard in the off season, and then a combination of that and a talented group of underclassmen has us as a coaching staff very fired up.

'As far as the playing style, you are going to see a little bit of a difference in the fact that our defensive intensity has built on since last year. We have made tremendous strides last year, but we have gone on a different level defensively. Part of it is the athleticism, and part of it is the experience in the program, and we are really fired up about creating an offense off our defense. I think we did a pretty good of that last year, but the idea this year is to make sure we are scoring at least 80 points a game, and it starts with how committed we are going to be defensively and how well we are going to rebound the basketball and run. We feel we have a lot of talent in this program, and we feel like we can rotate a lot of players at several position, and that is exciting when you want to be a pressing and running team.

'I think offensively, one of our biggest areas of improvement is a much more consistent inside game than what you say last year. I think you say at about half way between the season we started to get closer and closer to that. Our frontline players, who are our returnees and our newcomers, have really given us a much more consistent look on both end of the floor, especially offensively. We want to run of course. We are still playing our four outs on offense and one inside post game. When we get it inside, we want to make sure we are converting, and we have seen great improvement in that both in our Italian trip, and in our first few weeks of full practice. I think you are going to see a much higher octane, fast break, pressing team than what you have seen in the past. When we get into our half court scheme, being able to count on our inside game a little more than the past. And when our inside game doesn't have a good look, or maybe a double team being able to spread the floor and let our guards go. Our guards can shoot the three pretty well, make the slash, and get underneath the rim, we expect them to do that as well, and make some three point plays as well.

'Health wise we do have a couple of injuries unfortunately to report. Dominique Banks is still out. She had surgery on both legs, to have titanium rods inserted in both legs. She has done a very good job with her recovery and her rehab. We hope to get her back around Christmas time. It will be a great Christmas present for all of us. So hopefully we can get her back by December. A couple of kids are out with slight stress reactions. It is more of a precaution right now, just to rest them with Heidi McNeill, and Sara Mosiman. So they have missed a couple of weeks of practice--three weeks to be exact and I think I will have them back by next week. So again there is no major concern with Heidi and Sara, but it is something that has held them out of practice, but we should have them back shortly. It is a bone issue, and both of them are in their feet in different metatarsal areas. Unfortunately we seem to see them about as often as we see sprained ankles. It seems like that in the last 9 years. But we have a great medical staff here, with Dr. Harmon, and our trainer Jenn Ratcliff. Our players are very comfortable about going to our medical staff when they feel something is not right, which is very important early detection of something like that to rest them. They wear those black boots to take off a lot of stress off their bones and their feet. And they are smart kids, and our doctors are able to recognize that, and as I said we are hoping to get them back next week--both of them in practice.'

Are Banks' injuries something you have seen before?
JD: 'With Dom, talking with the medical staff, they said it was a hard injury to evaluate like why does this happen and when does this happen? They felt that towards the end of last season, and even in the NCAA run she probably was starting to have this situation of a stress fracture in both legs that were not healing. They gave her a long period of time and some test to see if her body was healing at a high speed to get her back and it wasn't, so the decision was made to go head, and insert two titanium rods and it is a very difficult, and painful surgery and she came through it unbelievable well She has been working very hard in rehab. She is in a wheelchair right now because of both of her legs being done. But she has been in the swimming pool, and on the bike, so she has been doing therapy in that way. The doctor feels like she is ahead of schedule, and she is doing a great job with her recovery.

How much of an impact will Bank's early absence have? Who will you replace her with in the starting lineup?
JD: 'We have to remember that Dom was the California Player of the Year. She is a very talented young lady who is used to winning at a high level. California has some good basketball. I think that the thing with Dom right now is that, she is great on the sidelines, and we miss her scoring, and we miss her rebounding. She is a guard who can get up, and also excitement that she plays with and we really miss her enthusiasm that she has out there. She is really a leader when it comes to enthusiasm in this program. Even though she can't do it right now on the floor, she is just as vocal on the sideline as she is playing. And that is a great attribute that she has provided this program. As far as people that can provide those types of numbers, and her type of play, obviously if you look at our guards our two and our three positions are pretty much interchangeable, and I think it could be any of guards right now. At our guard breakdown, I am down in the guard area a little bit more this year, more than in the past, and it is competitive. Everyday they are getting better, and they are very talented. You can just pick off the list, and say who can go in there and do it. I really that excited about our depth in the two and three position. But we need her back.'

Have you set a starting lineup yet?
JD: 'There is no starting line up. We have looked at several different combinations everyday. I think there was one day when we repeated the same lineup, but what we are trying to do, is to give them the opportunity to get to know each other. Getting to know the personnel is a big deal out there. We have mixed up the lineup everyday, and I think I has been going good for us, and as a coaching staff it has allowed us to see who are the better combinations together. Those are the little things we are keeping track of until the start of the games, which is pretty much around the corner. But no, I couldn't tell you the starting lineup.

'I think with where we are trying to get with our pressure defense, and our tenacious rebounding and the fact that we want to average over 80 points a game, I think you are going to see us go a lot deeper because of our experience. In the past you have seen us go 8-9-10 at game night, and maybe deeper depending on the outcome of the game, but for sure that and a little bit deeper just because of how talented and experienced we are.'

Where have you seen improvements from last season?
JD: 'I think the strides that we are seeing defensively again, I thought that the second half, more of that Pac-10 portion of the season we had some great success defensively. We won a lot of games because of our rebounding and our defensive play. And I think that our players understand that you are going to create all kinds of offense off your defense. I think they have embraced that. They are in better shape. They are stronger. And another year of experience makes up for a lot because it is a system defensively that I think takes a full year as a player to understand that at every position. Because we play all of our players at all five of our defensive positions. So to be able to know all five, and to understand the system and to be able to play at that level we have to play, at a championship level, it takes a full year. And to tell you that I have six seniors playing who have been in that system now for four years that should tell you a lot right there. Athleticism certainly helps. I think our younger players are athletic and talented. They came out some good AAU and high school programs. They have been well coached. I think all three of them and our transfer Michelle (Augustavo) are all basketball savvy. They understand the game, and they are picking it up very, very quickly.'

Will the Pac-10 be any easier this year?
JD: 'No. What we have looked at as a conference is the fact that so many of the talented first-team all Pac-10 players like Cameo, and Candice Wiggins--they are all back. And we didn't loose a lot as a conference talent wise, and I think it shows in the pre-season polls, with the Pac-10 being so highly recognized across the country in several polls, with five teams--some polls have six teams from the Pac-10 conference. A lot of the top players are still with us, so no it does not get any easier, and at the same time it is exciting. That is why you come to Washington. One of the reasons is to play in the Pac-1o.

Is it an advantage to have such a veteran team?
JD: 'I think time will tell. I would hope it is. It is really pretty neat for us as coaches to go into practice and know that your veterans understand the majority of what you are tying to get in at this point of the season. They are being good leaders. The underclassman have good leaders in front of them at every position, so they are able to hear what the coaches are saying but see the upperclassmen do the program--to do it right. That is very rewarding as a coaching staff. I think the other thing we feel like because of that experience, the talent that we have in the underclassmen, and the trip we had to Italy, we feel like we are ahead of wherever we have been at this point, and so we want to be able to keep putting things in and build our system a little bit quicker than we have in the past.'

What will you expect from Cameo Hicks this year?
JD: 'First of all Cameo and Erica Schelly were named captains. They were elected by their teammates a couple of days ago. Obviously starting out is leadership. She is the most experienced player, if not she should be the most experienced player out there on the basketball floor. She brings the intensity everyday. Her leadership, her intensity, her focus on the discipline it takes to play both offensively and defensively at the level that we are going to play this year, I think it has really stood out. Her numbers were really solid last year. I think she has gotten better since last year. I think the biggest improvement that she has had, besides her overall, is that I think her perimeter--she is getting more distance on her outside shot, and getting more consistent with it. Also, I think she is getting quicker than last year. I saw a spin move yesterday, that even if you rewind it, it is one of the fastest spin moves I have ever seen. We expect a lot from her. She knows that. She wants to get better everyday. I truly believe she leads not only by example, but she is not afraid to communicate to teammates or coaches when she thinks things should be at a higher level, and that is something as a coach, and the entire coaching staff appreciate about her.'

Is Hicks getting attention from the WNBA?
JD: 'Mostly definitely. She is getting a lot of attention from that league. She has gotten a lot of attention from that league in the past couple of years, and she will continue to showcase her abilities I believe at that level.'

What do you think about being to pick fourth in the Pac-10?
JD: 'We have higher ambitions. It is nice to have pre-season recognition. The national polls have us popping up here and there. It is all good, but I don't know if it means anything. Sometimes it serves as a motivator, and sometimes it serves as a 'whatever' to some people. And we know we have a long way to go to get to that fourth or third or second or first, but I like the direction we are going at this early start. But I believe that if we can stay healthy and keep improving everyday--we can compete at the highest level in the country. This is a very exciting time for us as a coaching staff and a team.

Will the freshmen contribute to the team this year?
JD: 'I believe that our freshmen will definitely contribute this year. They are a very talented group. They are good students. This group has been in to watch film more than any group of freshmen we have had in a long time. I think they are good students of the game, and at the same time with their talent and their experience in high school, they are very hungry to find out how good they can be at this level. And they want to master the system right now. And coming in and watching film, and all that certainly gives them an advantage but you will definitely hear from the freshmen I believe this year, and they will definitely contribute.

How high are your expectations for this team?
JD: 'Every year you can't wait to get started. Every year, the goals remain the same for the program. And it is exciting, a maybe a little more exciting right now just because of the talent and how experienced we are. I think that the expectations are always there from me, but maybe I would like to see the improvement at a little higher rate than maybe what I saw last year for example. And so far, I have seen this team respond to that for the most part. So that is a good thing. '

As I said earlier, I am really proud to coach this team. I am very excited about them. I think we have a chance to really have a huge season. We have to stay healthy. We have to get better each day. We can't take any steps backwards, and we have to count on that leadership of our six veterans--really seven with Angie, who is doing a great job with coaching. If we do those things, we are all going to have big smiles on our face at the end of the season.'

How would you compare this team to a team like LSU?
JD: 'They definitely played at a very high level. They have the player of the year, Seimone Augustus, for four years, and her being twice player of the year is phenomenal. I just remember the scouting report--I think we had nine or ten different tapes on them, and trying to get your team ready, but you can't help as a coach to notice how special she really was. There were things they did really well as a team, and there were things they didn't do very well as a team, but the one thing that was constant for them was how good Augustus played. So they are pretty fortunate to have someone like that. I think with us, we want to be consistent and talented at all five positions, and have all five players doing it. What we want to see is all five players contributing at a high level. That there is great balance in what we are doing on both ends of the floor. That when we sub, there will be no drop off, and that there is a pick up because of our experience and our talent level. So our play is more team oriented, and not focused on one player and putting the super man thing on their back, and carrying the team like she did.

Would you use a platoon situation with your rotation?
JD: 'What I like to do is to get in a situation where earlier on, as the players develop their roles in the program, and to start rotating them in games so that they are used to when they are going to rotate on, and when they are going to rotate off according to what they are doing in practice each day. So they can settle and get comfortable and know when it is about time to go in there. As far as platooning five at a time, that is not really a style I embrace. I just don't think it is real comfortable. As a player, I had a coach who tried to do that once. I didn't like it. But I like the way we get into it, with the rotation off the roles that we see in practice, and to stay steady, and work that rotation hopefully through the preseason as the players continue to improve and the players settle in and get comfortable with what their roles are at any time of the game.

How many games into the season until you're able to see where the team really is?
JD: 'We have a great pre-season schedule once again, and we like that. We have always felt like, we have to play the best to be the best. And the Pac-10 is a darn good conference as everyone knows, and you see that in the pre-season rankings. I think a pre-season like this is going to give us a chance to go out and find out what are strengths are what some of our weaknesses are. That way we can work on both those areas, and improve as much as we can, so we can be ready when we get into the Pac-10. And there are no surprises in what we are about as a team. When you look at that schedule, and the coaches, and the student athletes we are going to play against, they are all very good, and they are all different styles of play much like what we see in the Pac-10. So we want to use that as a spring board to see how we measure up, and how hard we can play, and how effective we are going to be in our system, and where we have to improve on. '

Keys to the team playing up to its potential?
JD: 'Just keeping them healthy. The flu bug. You worry about everything, especially as the head coach. I really like this group, and I think that as a coach--we have talked about this, but we really like these kids a lot, and they have worked really hard, And we have already had a mini season if you will, with the Italy trip, and we really like how hard they worked and how they represented themselves, and the University of Washington there. I just want to build on that. These are great kids, and I want to see them have as much success as possible.

'We want to go out and play as hard as we can play and make sure everyday we are getting better, and not taking steps backwards. If we do that and play up to our potential we all are going to be smiling in April.'

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