Q&A With Cal Women's Basketball Head Coach Caren Horstmeyer

Dec. 10, 2001

BERKELEY - Following is a Q&A California women's basketball head coach Caren Horstmeyer did with the Cal Athletic Media Relations Office following her team's first seven games of the season. The Golden Bears are 4-3 and don't play against until Dec. 21 when they travel to Arizona for the Pac-10 opener.

Media Relations: What is your general assessment of the team's performance through seven games?

Horstmeyer: I think we got off to a good start. We played well against Georgia. That was a good test for us. Obviously, we're disappointed with the outcome of the next couple of games. Having five games within a week and a half didn't end up being the greatest thing for this team in terms of being able to bounce back and have some practice time. But, I still feel they're improving every single game in various areas. At this point in time, we really have to address our offensive issues and our shooting from the perimeter and find some ways and give some of our shooters some confidence.

Media Relations: Is there one ingredient that would have helped Cal earn wins over the last three games instead of having three-straight close losses?

Horstmeyer: I think the one area has been our free throw shooting. That's been a huge issue. If I was to take that a little bit further, early, I would have told you that if we're close with anyone, we'll win in the last five minutes of the game. When you look at Saint Mary's, USF and Georgia, we didn't do that, and we didn't step up our play in the last five minutes of the games. Right now, that's probably the area we need to work on most. Who are going to be those players to step up? A lot of times, it's going to by K.I. (Kristin Iwanaga). Who else is willing to do that? We need to find out who else those people are and get comfortable in the last five minutes of games, so that our players know that this is what we're doing and that we're going to win when it comes down to the last five minutes.

Media Relations: What will you work on in practice over the next 13-days with final exams going on?

Horstmeyer: We're going to shorten our practices because it's finals. They tend not to retain things. It's an important time to work on our conditioning. We need to be in better condition than we are. We're in good condition, but I don't think we're in great condition. We've had so many games over the last week and a half that certain kids have gotten their conditioning in and others haven't. We want to be physically in good condition to beat people in the last five minutes of games. The second thing is that we're going to work on shooting where we're going to have our players confident by the time we start our next game to be able to hit shots from the perimeter.

Media Relations: With only two players 6-2 or taller on the team, how has rebounding become one of the team's strong points?

Horstmeyer: We know we're naturally good offensive rebounders. I think for whatever reason right from the beginning of the season we blocked out and made contact extremely well. I think we're good defensive rebounders. I think that hurt us in the Saint Mary's game. That's the first game we didn't out-rebound our opponent. I think that shows heart and that we were out-hustled and outplayed. For the most part, we've been doing that to our opponents. Then, Saint Mary's came in and out-rebounded us on our home court. Good rebounding is about heart and positioning.

Media Relations: How would you evaluate Ami Forney's contributions to the team so far this season?

Horstmeyer: Ami has stepped up and shown herself very capable as a leader on the floor. Ami is very happy with the players around her. She fits in very well with the players on and off the court. I've always felt that when players are happy, they play well. I think Ami has improved her skills and has really worked on what we've asked her to do, which is to go to the basket, rather than fade away on a lot of her shots and look for the physical contact. She's done that. She can hit perimeter shots now. She worked on that herself.

Media Relations: Which of your nine newcomers have impressed you the most?

Horstmeyer: Kristin Iwanaga from a winning mentality, her ability to bring the ball up the court, her ability to get us into offense and have our players do what we want them to do. She's a good liaison between the coaches and team. Leigh Gregory has been very steady. She can score. She can go inside and outside. She's smart. She's a leader, and she's vocal. We need somebody on the court that's vocal. I would say that Leigh has ownership in that. I believe that these kids will not let us lose. The surprise has been Nicol Berry. I think she's given us some really good minutes off the bench. That's helping us because our depth in the perimeter isn't great.

Two people we need to take more of a look at our Janet Franey. When we're not shooting well and a team is in a zone, Janet can come in and hit against the zone. Second would be Audrey Watler. We need to find a way to get Audrey minutes. Audrey is the heart and soul of the team. Right now, our post players have been playing well. She hasn't been able to get the minutes at the post. I really want her to get some minutes at the three. I feel with her at the three she's going to give us some heart and soul on the floor.

Media Relations: What have been your early impressions of the Pac-10 so far this season?

Horstmeyer: Very up and down. I really feel the Pac-10 is very strong right now. They're still trying to find their niche with a couple of losses that you'd hope the Pac-10 would normally win. With Stanford, you're possibly looking at a Final Four team. Right now, they're leading the Pac-10. Your other teams are Arizona State is doing very well. Washington might not be doing as well as they were expected to do. Once the Pac-10 starts, you're going to have people start beating each other up. You have teams that are going to separate themselves from others. It's going to be an interesting Pac-10 battle. It's a great advantage for us having so many young kids to have the Pac-10 Tournament. I think our team realizes that anything is possible. I don't think they know any different. That's really important. We haven't had a lot of road games. Right now, I think the question mark is how will we do on the road. I'm big on the fact that you have to win your home games, and we haven't done that the last couple of games. I know that they have bought into that. They realize we need to win at home and that we need to win as many games as we can on the road.

For us right now going into the Pac-10s with still a couple of non-conference games, we just have to worry about ourselves, and we need to improve, and we need to grow as a team. Those are the most important things.

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