Bay Area Women's Basketball Media Day
Oct. 25, 2007
STANFORD HEAD COACH TARA VANDERVEER
'I'm just amazed that we're already into basketball. It feels like just yesterday that we were playing. The end of our season ended with a bad taste in a lot of our mouths. We just really want to have a good season, take it game by game. We're playing, as my sister calls it, a no-joke schedule, as I know Cal is also. We want everyone to be healthy, and our team has learned from some of the successes and shortcomings from last year. I'm really excited about the leadership of Candace and Jill and the things that they do for our team. They really set a great example in terms of their toughness and their work ethic, and the experiences that both Candace and Jill have had will be very helpful for us. And, as you alluded to, our point guard dilemma, both ourselves and Cal had to deal with that, but I think that's looking really good, so we're very excited about that.'
'I think that change is hard, but change is good. We're excited for [former coaches Charmin Smith and Karen Middleton] that they've gone on to being in different situations. I know that they'll really make major contributions to the places that there at, and I appreciated all the hard work and all the things that they did for our program. But, I have to say, I'm really excited to work with both Kate Perry and Bobby Kelsey. If one assistant was good from Stanford, two is even better. They understand Stanford, they work really hard with our student athletes, they are extraordinary coaches, and I think that they're doing a great job for us. We've ratcheted it up a level in terms of our conditioning and our practices, so that's been good. I don't feel like that's been a big adjustment for our players at all.'
On Candace Wiggins:
'I think she is the best in the country. I think she is someone that you want on your team, because of how competitive she is. I like how she practices, I like how she competes. I like the fact that every day she comes out, she wants to get better. If she makes mistakes, she doesn't have excuses. My definition of a great player is someone that makes others around them better. She understands it's a team game. Candace doesn't try to do everything on her own. She understands that it's a team game of passing, screening, and doing the little things. I teased her as a freshman. She asked me if when she was a senior, she could have a single room, like sometimes we do when we have an odd number. I said, `No,' and she looked at me surprised. I said, `You're not allowed to be a senior.' I can't believe that she's a senior. She has been fabulous to coach. I've thought about playing the lottery, because I just don't know what it will be like coaching without her. So, I'm going to enjoy every day, I'm going to give her my peace of mind every day, and we're just going to enjoy her senior year and really work hard to make it a great year.'
On Jillian Harmon:
'To me, I think both Jillian and Candace are two of our toughest players. They're both upperclassmen; they've played in the NCAA Tournament; they've played in Pac-10 championship games. They know what it takes, and they need to lead our team. If there were things we didn't do last year, I think they've learned from that and so have we as coaches. Jillian is one of those garbage players. She's doing all the little things, she's a hustle player. She has elevated her game because she has discovered that three point line and she likes it. She rebounds, she defends, she passes well. She is someone you want to coach, and as player, you want to play with because she makes plays. She's scrappy, she gets in there and battles with people. She is my kind of player. I really enjoy coaching Jillian, and I really expect her to have a great year.'
On last season's NCAA Tournament:
'We did have a great year last year. The Tournament, and in some respects, where it's at. We like the fact that we have done so well in the NCAA Tournament. That is a little bit of how we are judged, and we accept that. We were very disappointed with our tournament experience last year and we hope that is something that is a stone stuck in your shoe.'
CALIFORNIA HEAD COACH JOANNE BOYLE
'We're just excited to be here at the start of our season. We get started next week and we're just excited. We're going into our third year and you can see a huge difference in our team in a lot of different ways from the time they walked on the floor as freshmen to where they are now. They have a different presence about themselves. They carry themselves in a much more mature manner. They understand where we fell short these past few years, even though we were young, I think they understand the growth that we've had and that we need to continue to have in order to have a great season.'
On staying at Cal:
'The reason I stayed was because of the kids. When we came here, [the players and I] jumped in this together. You're just at different points in your life and everybody has a different journey, but I asked them to go through this with me and just to trust that we would get it done. Two years into it, that group in general was sophomores and I just couldn't see myself walking away. We hadn't accomplished the things we wanted to accomplish.'
On Alexis Gray-Lawson and Natasha Vital:
'You can look back, what if and in some ways, you never want [Alexis Gray-Lawson] to go down the way she went down. What it did was to make [Natasha Vital's] growth out the window and off the charts. She probably wouldn't have gotten those kind of minutes last year, but the fact that she did, she's much more confident, she's a much better player. You bring Lexi back into the mix and she worked so hard this summer on rehab and put in the time she needed to and really worked on her game to the degree that she could. You watch practice and [Gray-Lawson] has not missed a beat. To put her and Tasha on the floor together gives us a back court, ball handlers we can run a lot of stuff for both of them. We can set Lexi up in ways that we have not been able to in the past. It just gives us a lot more flexibility in what we can do with both of them. When I look at our team right now, either one of them can play the one or the two, so it gives us a better transition team on just whoever gets the ball. The other one can get up the wing and both of them are comfortable doing that right now.'
On team maturity:
'First day of practice, we walk out there and typically they'd be looking at us, `OK, Coach, get us started.' I walked in and they were all out there. We had our strength coach out there and they were all lined up on the baseline and they were as loud as they could be. They were talking and they were going through all this stuff. They had their captains' meeting. It was like I was about to watch practice and not have to take them through it. They just understand what they need to do and they want to do it. It's not that they didn't want to do it as freshmen and sophomores, but they didn't know how to do it. They were just trying to find their way here and play 40 minutes a game.'
On this year's team:
'We get a little bit deeper this year. We need to stay healthy because we're not a team that can run them in and run them out. We get Lexi back, that's an addition. Rama [N'diaye] is playing at a different level. I think last year, having to come in, learn the language, live in America, the American system, the food and the travel was so overwhelming to her. Now, she is at a different level. One of our freshmen, she's about 6-2, Kelsey Adrian, who played on the international team. The youngest kid to play on the Canadian National team got major minutes overseas, played in the Pan Am games and all that. You watch her practice, you don't know she's a freshman. So we're pretty excited about her, as well. We have a little more depth, [Krista Foster] is a senior now, [Shantrell Sneed] is a junior. They're all a little bit better than what they were and where they were.'