UCLA Women's Basketball Media Day Quotes

Oct. 28, 2003

Quotes from UCLA Head Coach Kathy Olivier

On how to fill the scoring shoes of Michelle Greco:
'The hardest thing about not having Michelle on the floor is that we knew what you would get with her. It was rare when Michelle was not going to have double figures in points. As a coach, it's comforting to know that you're going to get points somewhere. But this year it's a little bit different because we have options. How will we replace her? With a few different players. I don't want to put the onus just on one because I think a lot of people think one of the freshmen (Noelle Quinn) is going to come in and do all of it, and she's very capable of doing it. But she likes to share the ball and get all of her teammates involved. Then there's Nikki (Blue). As good of a freshman year as she had last year, I think she's going to have an even better year as a sophomore.'

On how Blue improved her game over the summer:
'Nikki improved her game by maturing. She was someone who had a great freshman year and scored a lot of points for us. I think this year it's going to be different because teams are going to know what her strengths are. But you can't defend her explosiveness. She's so explosive, so it's hard to counter. She worked on her outside shot, and she played with her teammates a lot this summer. She's very team-oriented, always constantly thinking about her teammates, thinking about others. It's not about Nikki Blue. She came to UCLA because she wants to win. That's what makes Nikki special.'

On Blue replacing Natalie Nakase as the floor leader:
'I think of Nikki in that sense because she's going to be that leader, whereas Greco led by example. Nat kind of set the tempo. Nikki is doing a good job with the tempo, and that's something that Nikki had to learn. Last year, she didn't have that. Now she has to be more consistent, and she's looked good at being consistent and just working hard.'

On the style of the team:
'It will be a completely different look this year. We're up-tempo. We've always been up-tempo, but in a different way. We're up-tempo with a lot of people touching the ball, a lot of people getting into the flow, and that's where it's different. A lot of times last year it was Greco, Greco, Greco and Nikki getting into the mix. Now it's a lot of different people getting in the mix. It's just fun for all of them.'

On the freshmen having to carry a big load:
'In some cases, you look at that and go 'Oh no'. But this is a group that wanted that and knew they were going to be in this position. And they love that. They want to be in the mix, want to be in the starting lineup, want to be the ones we're counting on down the stretch. It's a good thing.'

On Noelle Quinn:
'Noelle Quinn is amazing in so many ways. When you ask about the scoring, the rebounding, Noelle Quinn does all of it and then some. She doesn't have a lot of weaknesses. I'm still trying to figure out what those are. This kid has an unbelievable work ethic. She's won four state championships and has six championship rings. This is a kid that does it all, and she gets her teammates very involved, she's very well liked. She's just a dream child.'

On Amanda Livingston:
'She's a worker, just never says die, is constantly going after the ball, can't get the ball enough; that's what she did in high school. She was their go-to. She won a state championship at Troy High School and was a big reason for that. She's a worker on the boards and wants to shoot the ball.'

On Consuelo Lezcano and Shaina Zaidi:
'Consuelo and Shaina are going to be very good. They want to be in the mix. They're in with this great freshman class, and they want to be a part of it and are very coachable. Shaina is in a good position because she's played with Noelle and knows how to play with her. She is from a high school with a good coach, and she's been to my camp. So she already knows the little things, so now we can teach her the big things. Consuelo has also been to my camp. She doesn't have as much basketball background, but she has the sheer talent. She's a legit 6'4', she can run the floor, she keeps the ball high. Now we just have to teach her basketball, and she'll be very good for us.'

On the depth of the team:
'We're very versatile and very deep. We have a lot of options, and they work hard. A lot of people are doing well.'

On the seniors:
'They are part of UCLA. However it works, let's make it work. I cannot ask for a better upperclass. Jamila Veasley has been in our program four years, and she'll do whatever we need her to do. She knows that maybe one game her role is going to be bigger than in another game, and she's very okay with that. Gennifer Arranaga is someone who has played very well for us. She has done an amazing job. She's up-tempo; she's the one person who has the never-say-die attitude, and when everyone else is dying, she can still all of a sudden burst out. She's someone we need to teach them that extra. I can't wait for Whitney Jones to get back because Whitney does a great job for us every year. She knows exactly what to do and is always playing at an even level.'

On Lisa Willis:
'She's amazing. She can shoot the ball, she's a great three-point shooter. She's worked on her penetration, worked on her ball-handling. She's a great defender; she has long arms and is quick. She's done a very good job. Lisa Willis has worked on her game, and it's very important for her to be successful this year.'

On Julia Pitts:
'Last week she had a great week. The first week she was doing some drills and then sitting out some; she didn't want to do too much, and last week she did all the drills and stayed in everything. Her knee was a little sore, but she iced it up, and she feels really good. She's someone who does so many things on the floor. Defensively she's so active and can cover so much ground. She recovers, she talks - she helps us so much defensively. When you add on how she runs the floor and, bingo, you have yourself a player. Pitts can play.'

On Pitts' recovery from knee surgery:
'Because of her body type and because she's so upbeat, she never went through a phase in rehab where she was depressed and it was just hard for her. She's an upbeat kid, and she's lively. She has worked her tail off, and she's back. She's been scrimmaging, and she's been going full-speed.'

On who will step up in the rebounding department:
'Livingston for sure and Pitts. When we started getting beat so bad on the boards, it was when Pitts went down. She was our number one rebounder. I also think that with the quickness and height on the perimeter, they're going to help us too - Lisa Willis is in great shape this year, she's a big body that can get after it underneath, and Noelle Quinn with her size - she's 6 foot. Noelle and Lisa are more the explosive, get-after-it type. Our team has gotten so much better at blocking out and going in there and getting the rebound. Last year we had to constantly remind them to block out and go get the ball. This year, we've said it once, and they were monsters blocking out. We've been really focusing on that and been really good about it.'

On how to sell the Bruin team to the fans:
'We have some quality people on our team who are from all walks of life. There's Ortal (Oren), who speaks Hebrew; Conseulo (Lezcano), who speaks fluent Spanish. There's someone you can relate to in that area. You have someone who's tall, someone who's short. One of my favorite things about this team is that we're all very different. For a young girl, there are a lot of choices for role models on our team, and they're quality women. This is a special, very unique group. They have a lot of charisma, a lot of personality, and they back it up. They take care of their business off the court. They're good students, and they're just fun to be around.'

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