Q & A With Jill Bell

Nov. 3, 2006

Forward/center Jill Bell is one of six seniors on the Husky women's basketball team, ready lead the squad back to the postseason after last year's trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. One of the veterans on the squad in her fifth-year in the program, Bell definitely has a sense of urgency with this being her final season in purple and gold. She spent some time with GoHuskies.com recently to talk about the upcoming year and what she hopes to get out of her last season playing collegiate hoops.

GoHuskies.com: How do you think the off-season went?
Jill Bell: 'I think that being able to play in Italy gave us an opportunity to get ahead and start a little bit earlier than most teams. That helped us a little bit with team chemistry and getting us physically ready for this season. A lot of people got stronger, faster and worked on different aspects of their game that were missing. I think that we are fortunate for that kind of experience early on. We got to bring a lot of players back from last season and it gave us a chance to get back on track.'

GH: How big of an advantage is it to get all of those players back?JB: 'It is always great to have six seniors on your team leading you who have been to the post-season and have all of this experience that they have gained over the years. We have had a few injuries unfortunately, but we have always seemed to be able to overcome them and move on to work as a team and get better. I think it helps us to have those six seniors to lead our three freshmen coming in.'

GH: Do you feel like that Italy trip was a good opportunity to scrape some of that off-season rust of this year's team?
JB: 'In a way. The style of play over there is a lot different than it is over here anyway. It is not as fast and athletic as it is here. It was fun to get a chance to play over there and it gave a lot of our seniors who are thinking about playing overseas a chance to get a feel for what it's like. In terms of getting the rust off, I don't know if that's what it did for us. The practices are what is really helping us get prepared for the regular season. They changed the rule for when we can start practicing to September 15th, so we are excited to get out there a little bit earlier this year.'

GH: Are you excited to get back out onto the court for some regular season games?
JB: 'This is my fifth year, so I am just excited to get a chance to play one more season at UW. I just want to show people that we are better than a second round team, even though that was an amazing run for us to get to the post-season. As a unit we believe that we can play with the nation's best and I think that we proved that against LSU last season even when we were up against the National Player of the Year.'

GH: Seeing in how it is your final year, you have seen the hype around Husky basketball grow tremendously over the past few years. What kind of experience is it to have so much support from the fans for Husky basketball? Especially with an event like Husky Hoopla taking place to show that support.
JB: 'It was great to experience that event. I have friends from other teams in the country who have told me about how they have had an event like that every year before the season starts and I have always been jealous. I have always wanted to have an experience like that before my time here is done and it was amazing to be a part of something like that. I am just excited to have my last year with hopefully a higher attendance than the years prior.'

GH: How are those new players on the team fitting in so far?
JB: 'They are doing a great job. I red-shirted my freshman year and I didn't know the plays or anything. They are just coming in here and doing an amazing job of getting our system down early. We are really fortunate to have a really good, knowledgeable freshman class.'

GH: Have you taken anyone under your wing at all and helped them out a lot?
JB: 'As a post player, I have taken Laura (McLellan) under my wing and helped her out a lot to help her better understand the position. She is doing a great job in practices and with her learning everything.'

GH: Is it enjoyable to you to be able to pass along all the knowledge that you have gained here in your time as a Husky?
JB: 'Yes. It is kind of crazy because I felt like I had always been the underclassman for so long and that there were always players that were older and more experienced than I was. Now with me being a fifth year senior I get to pass on what I have learned to all of these younger players. It is empowering, but it's also cool to realize that it makes you mature a little bit more and see that there are players looking up to you.'

GH: Do you think it's fair where this team is ranked in both the pre-season Pac-10 rankings and the national polls?
JB: 'We don't pay attention to rankings or box scores. I think that it's cool to be recognized nationally and in the Pac-10, but last year they picked us to finish near the bottom of the conference and we finished near the middle of the pack. It doesn't matter what the rankings are. We just want to continue winning and staying together as a team so that we can go on and make the post-season.'

GH: Is that the goal that you have set for yourselves, making the post-season?
JB: 'Our goal is to win a national championship. Anything less is not a disappointment, but we know that we can make it to the tournament and we know that we can play with any team. We showed it when we played LSU last year and had we've been able to put two halves together we could have made it to the Sweet-16. We've seen the light at the end of the tunnel and I think that now everybody wants to reach it.'

GH: Did ending the season against a powerhouse team like LSU and sticking right with them the whole time leave a bitter taste in your mouth?
JB: 'It's not a bitter taste. You have to take it as a positive thing and realize that you were playing with the National Player of the Year and she basically was the team. Looking back we realize that we can really play with any team in the country. It gives us an uplift and a boost in our swagger to realize that we can compete with any team.'

GH: Being your last year, what do you look to accomplish personally before your time is over?
JB: 'I want to leave here with no regrets. I want to show myself, most importantly, what I can do. I have been told a lot over the years that I have all kinds of potential and I just want to show myself and everybody else that I can reach that potential and actually play to my utmost abilities.'

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