Women's Basketball Media Day Quotes
Oct. 21, 2003
General comments: 'It is a fun day. We have had the opportunity to have three full practices Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We had to get out there and see where we're at as a program. We do have some new faces on board as a staff (trainer) Jennifer Ratcliffe, (student assistant coaches) Kayla Burt and Sarah Keeler and (assistant coach) Kellie Lewis-Jay'
'Half the team is veterans we have a lot of leadership and half the team is pretty new. We had three red-shirts last year in Angie (Jones), Jill (Bell) and Kirsten Brockman also to add to that, three new freshmen. It has been imperative that we have great leadership from the upper classmen in our summer workouts as well as our fall workouts, getting on the floor on Saturday. I think our upper classmen have been committed to that. They have done a great job and we are excited to see that. I think our new players are obviously talented. I think they are working very hard to learn the system. It is a pretty difficult system to learn both offensively and defensively, but for the most part I would think that for our first three days they have approached it very well, the focus has been great. Again, I want to commend the leadership of our upper classmen for bringing the young people along. I think offensively as you guys know, we led the Pac-10 in scoring the last couple of years at almost 80 points per game. We shot the three very, very well. We want to make sure this year that obviously we continue that offensive type of success, but also to improve our defense. Personality is the biggest thing we are focusing on right now and hopefully we will see some really positive changes with that. Our team is more athletic, more talented and on the defensive end of things so we are able to step up the defense and put a lot more pressure on the basketball both in our zone and our player to player. The players are embracing it they are doing a great job and we are looking forward to creating havoc on the defensive end of things. It is the 30th year of women's basketball at Washington. I feel privileged to be in our eighth year as a coaching staff. I am very, very excited about our schedule, both our preseason and in conference play
On the preseason: 'I think it is a really nice thing to look down there and see that we have an in state opponent in Gonzaga. It is program that is up and coming, it has done a great job that last few years. We have great competition, very strong competition, to help us prepare for the Pac-10. You look and you see Texas Tech, which has one of the best point guards in the country in (Erin) Grant, we have and opportunity to see her up close and personal. She was a freshman last year, we played against her, and she is truly one of the better players at that position. We also have the opportunity to play at Colorado, in the Big 12, which is a very good team. It is a program that has had a lot of success for several years. It will be very exciting for us to have Notre Dame come to the arena and I think that a lot of people circled that date on the calendar to see the Fighting Irish here in Seattle. We look forward to all the preseason, but those four games in particular.'
On the Pac-10: As far as the Pac-10 goes, I think looking at in on paper, you don't know what is going on in other people's practices. I really believe that it will be the strongest it has been in the last five years. I think that there has been some great recruiting in the conference, obviously the coaching is exceptional and we are looking forward to that challenge. We have got a long way to go before we get into the preseason and into the Pac-10. I am excited about the regional. The ticket sales are high for that and I think it just speaks volumes about the type of support that we continue to receive in Seattle for women's basketball. We are very appreciative of that.'
On which newcomers may break into the rotation: 'The kind of approach that we take as a coaching staff is, every position is open. Everything is up for grabs, and people right now have to take the opportunity to learn the system. From there things will get more competitive about who is earning that playing time. I think that is something that right now it is a little bit early. One of the things that we have really been trying to do is to put them in an environment where they are learning right now and hopefully take some of that pressure off about competing for that playing time until they have a chance to really learn the system on both ends of the floor. Time will tell.'
On the injuries: 'The injury bug jumped up big time this weekend. Erica Schelly just had a great summer. As you guys saw she played big minutes for us at the end of last season and really contributing. I thought she gained some really valuable experience. She went home in the off-season and really worked hard. She came back like most of our players and was here for a majority of the summer, working out and getting stronger. You never like to see an injury, but it is especially difficult for coaches when you see a kid that has worked so hard in the off-season go down in the first 10 minutes of practice. She broke a bone back-pedaling during a shooting drill without any contact. We are very disappointed for Erica, the good news is she is ready to go in and have her surgery tomorrow and the sooner the doctors can get in there and repair it the sooner we can get her back.'
On how long she will be out: 'It is one of those things that until they can get in there and do the surgery they just never know. If it was up to Erica she would be out there in two days. But, that foot has got to heal and most importantly she has got to be healthy and strong and able to go the distance once we get her back.'
On the biggest difference this year from last: 'I would think that the biggest difference is our defensive presence. I think the kids have really come in and embraced that defensive system that we started to put in a little bit in the spring. Then we had the opportunity for about two weeks in the fall. They are starting to understand it both in our player to player and in our zone. Everyday I think we are taking big steps in understanding the pressure we want on the ball and the type of support and the help that we want in there to disrupt teams.'
On Giuliana Mendiola: 'One of the things in the four years that I have had the opportunity to work with Giuli is that this kid love the game, everything about it. The training, the hard work, knock on wood the injuries, but she has been through some, you've seen the bruises. Everything about it she is just so passionate and to me it just grows every year. Now she knows that she is a captain once again and there is a lot of pressure on her, being the returning MVP of the Pac-10, she loves it. The more pressure you put on her, the more she just thrives on it. As far as an encore it is going to be fun to sit back and watch and see where she takes this team.'
On front line players: 'We'll start with Andrea Lalum, senior, 6'4'. You had a chance to see Andrea when she walked in today. She's got a big black eye, she got that the first day of practice. She looks tough in there. Everybody knows Andrea is very confident from the perimeter. She is an unbelievable threat outside at 6'4' whether she's shooting the 3 or finding the open teammate. She's really got great vision on the court for a post player. But one of the things Andrea has talked about is she wants to continue to have success outside but she wants to show people that she can mix it up with any type of defense out there and score both inside and out on a very consistent level. And what goes along with that is rebounding so obviously we're expecting a big year from Andrea, we're excited about it and I think she is too.
On Kristen Brockman: 'We're in a situation where last year we had two forwards redshirt. 6'4' Kristen Brockman had foot surgery. What we need from her is she is so physical, she's so athletic, if you guys have seen her in practice and you've seen her a little bit her freshman year so we really need her to come in there and really mix it up and be a physical presence on the boards, defensively. She's what you nicely refer to as a 'garbage player'. She's the one that's going to take the glass and get it back up there, get 3-point plays out of it and not let the opponent get a second shot.
On Jill Bell: 'Jill Bell, 6'2' from Bellevue, she also redshirted last year and I will tell you that if she's not the most athletic kid we've ever had here in eight years, she's pretty close. She's very gifted as an athlete. She hasn't even played basketball that long. I think this is her fifth year playing organized basketball. Everyday she's just getting better and better but she's just an athletic phenom, she really is. We're just trying to teach her the different skills she needs to have inside on a consistent scoring pattern and a counter move, how to defend, she'll take care of the glass, she'll really help us in the running game because she can get up and down the floor unlike any big girl you've seen in a long time.'
On Freshman Post Depth: 'Freshman-wise, we were able to sign Breanne Watson out of Canada, she just served on the Junior National Team as a 17 year-old and played the forward position and had a great experience with that in Korea. Just a stand-out player. Breanne's one of those gals who, because she's played international rules, does a great job of spreading the floor. She has outside game, she has inside game, she's able to mix it up pretty well so she's somebody obviously we're excited at helping us at both the 4 and 5 position. Maggie O'Hara out of Boise. She's 6'3' but she plays bigger than 6'3'. Aggressive, could bang, definitely very bright about the game, she picks it up very quickly. Those kids kind of by committee are the ones who are going to get it done.
On Inside Player's Versatility: 'I think most of them are 5's but the way we play four out, one in they can play both inside and out. We generally have recruited for eight years now in this program and we really look for versatility. Either kids that can play different positions or can learn to play different positions and all those kids can do that.'
On Preseason Polls: 'In the preseason Pac-10 coaches poll? Am I supposed to give one of those canned coaches answers? We expect to win it. If the other coaches feel we're third, that's fine. What I want to see is where we're at at the end. Preseason polls are good to write about I guess.'
On Replacing Loree Payne's Scoring: 'I think that with the seven kids that we did lose in the program, all of them were just great people and contributed a lot on and off the court, they're great students and great in the community. I think it's a new beginning for the new kids in our program, I think we have veterans who are ready to step up and play an even bigger roles than what they've been in the past. I don't really look to one player in the program to be the one to that 'Oh, she stepped up and covered for Loree's scoring.' It's going to be a team effort and we embrace that. We're not caught up in having just two kids scoring 20 points a game. If somebody gets 20 points that's great, another night somebody else that's fine. But we're going to play as a team and I think with our motion offense and what we're trying to do defensively, we're going to get a lot of scoring from a lot of positions.
On Andrea Lalum's Mother: 'I can't imagine what it's been like for Andrea. Her mother was diagnosed about 3-and-a-half years from the time that she passed away last year after our season. I know she's been incredibly supportive as a daughter. I think a lot of you now realize if we didn't make it clear last year that there were so many games that we'd play on a Saturday afternoon and she'd basically run out of here, get to the airport and get that last flight to Kalispell and spend time with her mother and her family. Lots of times she'd come back on Tuesday and try to jump back into the scouting reports because by then you're in the Pac-10 and do the best you can. I think that Andrea is a remarkable young lady to go through what she's gone through. I think she's been a great example for all of us about dealing with adversity at the highest level and at the same time to come back and play at the level that she played at. Just an enormous amount of pride in what she's done. As far as this year she's been out there three days with us and I commented on her black eye which makes her look a lot tougher and I like that about her since she's supposed to be playing inside. I think she's ready for a huge senior year.'
On Dealing With Last Year's Adversity: 'I guess that's one of the clichï¿½s that adversity builds character. This whole program had a whole dose of that. An unbelievable dosage of it. The thing is we learned a lot about our kids. We go out and we obviously evaluate talent and at this level you have a choice of a lot of players. One of the things that we think is very important is when we're recruiting young players we're really looking at character. Seeing what they went through in particular last year as a program and how they just rallied with their backs against the wall and here comes another hit, and they just kept finding a way to put it back together and step up together. The courage they had was a great thing to see and I think we all learned a lot about their character and are really proud of them. It's something that all of us can reflect on whether now or down the road 20 years of what we went through and how everybody in this program kind of locked arms and said 'Hey we're going to find a way to get through this together.' And sometimes life throws you some curveballs and we had a lot thrown at us but the way these kids stepped up was remarkable. I hope it carries through to this year, we learned a lot about ourselves last year.'
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