Women's Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 19, 2004

USC Women's Basketball Press Conference QuotesOct. 19, 2004

Head Coach Mark Trakh

Opening Remarks
'It is like a dream come true. To be the head coach at the University of Southern California is the pinnacle of a coaches' career, especially have started as a high school basketball coach. Being here at a school with such a tradition in women's basketball, with national championships to its name and multiple trips to the tournament, it is just a real honor. This is a privilege to be coaching here. I have a great coaching staff and we are going to try and do our best to bring back that tradition.

'We have a saying on our team this season and it is `Bring It Back.' What we want to bring back is the old tradition of the Women of Troy, starting with Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson and all of the other great players that have passed through our program. We want to be a perennial participant in the NCAA Tournament again. It will be a lot of hard work. It will not be easy but we are off to a great start with a bunch of players that are giving us 100 percent in the classroom and on the basketball court. I could not have asked to inherit a better group of players than those we have right now.

'We are very excited about the attitude of our players. We are getting good leadership from them so far and I think they are very hungry for the season to start. I can tell you this, after my first three days of practice I have never had a team in my 23 years of coaching that has worked this hard on the basketball floor. We are very excited about the upcoming year and the future of the Women of Troy basketball program.'

Re: Coaching Transition
'(The previous coaching staff) helped us by leaving us some pretty good players in the freshmen and sophomore classes. There are no Lisa Leslie's and Tina Thompson's, but what we do have are solid players. I think in that respect, the former staff helped us a lot. When we came in we made sure to talk to each player individually. We told them about our goals and expectations. Up to now, they have really bought into our system and our vision of the program.'

Re: Who Is The Top Player?
'We have 13 solid players. On the basketball court I'd like to see leadership from our two senior players - Rachel Woodward and Kim Gipson. I think that both of them are capable of having a very good year. I am really impressed by the leadership capabilities of junior Meghan Gnekow and sophomore Jamie Hagiya. I feel that these four players (Woodward, Gipson, Gnekow and Hagiya) really bring a lot to the table. They lead in the classroom and on the basketball court. We have only had three practices but I'll see what happens when we get in a close game and someone has to step up.'

Re: 7th Place Predicted Pac-10 Finish
'We are a young team that is going to have to go out and compete every night. I really don't pay attention to whether we are picked first or picked 10th, I just concentrate on the fact that we have to go out there and play, and play to our full potential. If we play to our full potential and play hard, we may surprise some people and finish higher in the conference. Of course that is our goal because no one's goal is to finish seventh in the Pac-10.'

Re: Difference Between WCC and Pac-10
'The common thread between both conferences is that we both have outstanding coaches. I have friends in both conferences and they all do an outstanding job. Talent-wise, the Pac-10 may be a bit more athletic. I look at the team that I have had for three practices here and they are as good as any of the teams I coached at Pepperdine. If you look at the entire conference, there is a bigger talent base at each school in the Pac-10. Every team has a potential All-American candidate so every night is extremely competitive.'

Re: Changes in Recruiting
'At Pepperdine I thought we did a very good job recruiting some players that we felt were Pac-10 players. But here you have to step it up even more. If you want to make it into the top 10, you have to get the players that UConn and Tennessee also want. We have to try and keep some of those players home, and when we do that then maybe that will open the door for some more players. Minnesota grabbed a couple of those players and went to the Final Four last year. Now, more players are looking at Minnesota.'

Re: Growth of Women's Basketball
'The athleticism continues to improve because the players are involved in year-round weight training and conditioning. The fundamentals are constantly improving. These players are in the gym all of the time and they take it very seriously. I started coaching women in 1980 and I have seen it come a long way in those 24 years. Not only has there been continuous improvement in athleticism and fundamentals, but the passion for the game has grown. These women love playing basketball. If I can just show you the passion they have exhibited in the first three days of practice, I could prove this to you. Look at the Final Four and the 30,000 fans there watching two very well coached teams. If I were just a basketball fan I would pay to watch them. It has become a real fun game to watch.'

Re: Differences Between Pepperdine and USC
'Well I never had a press conference at Pepperdine. There are some big differences between Pepperdine and USC. The exposure is different and there is a lot more pressure. A lot more people are going to know if you win or lose games. You definitely walk into a situation like this with your eyes open. You know that you have to be successful and I have not problem with that at all. That's why I made the move to USC because I wanted this kind of challenge. There is a definite difference in resources. I had fantastic resources at Pepperdine, but it is nice to know that I can recruit wherever and whenever I want here at USC. That is a big advantage.'

Re: The Galen Events Center (new arena coming in 2006)
'It's really big. Right now we are recruiting on our tradition and the strong and powerful alumni base we have at USC. You add a new facility to that and we have the complete package. If we can bring a prospective student-athlete here and show them the new locker rooms, new team meetings rooms, coaches offices and video rooms it will bump us up a level. The Galen Center is the missing piece to our puzzle. Once we have that, then we have everything we need with which to recruit. We are really looking forward to it.'

Re: Talent Left Behind At Pepperdine
'The team I left at Pepperdine had the potential of being one of my best teams ever. The cupboard was definitely not bare. It is a solid team with some great upperclassmen so it was really hard to leave them, but they are going to be just fine for years to come. They have great talent in that program and they'll do really well in the conference.'

Re: Forgetting About Past USC Seasons
'I do not know what has happened in the past here so when I came in I was only looking towards the future. The only thing you can do is to come in and say this is what we want to do and here is how we expect things to be done. I never look to the past or bring up the things that have happened. I don't know what happened. I also have not detected any of that from the players. The athletes are really hungry to compete and they have been very respectful of the former staff and our staff. They just want to move forward and I could not ask for more.'

Re: Student-Athletes That Were Also Recruited At Pepperdine
'Pepperdine was a finalist on four of these athletes, but in the end they chose to come to USC. The fact that they were also considering Pepperdine is a testament to my assistant coach Jody Wynn because she is an excellent recruiter. But we are all at USC now so everyone won.'

Re: UCLA's Potential Success This Season
'UCLA has been playing really well and they deserve the attention they have been getting. Their players look like they've been having fun on the basketball court and that is what I want from our team. I want our players to have fun and I can't wait until we get to play UCLA. They have a great team with players like Nikki Blue and Noelle Quinn. Those two guards could play anywhere in the country. Hopefully we will continue the great rivalry and compete hard this season.'

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