Women's Hoops Holds Media Day

Oct. 30, 2007

2007-08 Washington Women's Basketball Media Day
Head Coach Tia Jackson Press Conference Quotes

Opening Statement:
First of all, thank you to everyone that is here. It's definitely an exciting time of the year with the kickoff of our first exhibition game coming up on Saturday. It's been a very enjoyable process, building up to this point and looking forward to one game at a time and to one practice at a time. The young ladies have really approached this season with a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. I know a lot of it has been generated by the staff that comes in with a lot of energy themselves to get them fired up and ready to take on the challenges that are awaiting us.

For our seniors, I'm very excited that we have them in the leadership role they are in. They are definitely leading by example, and a couple by voice; and we are very appreciative of that. With that said, I let the players during the preseason time elect who their captains would be. As they were assessing them in practice, watching them off the court, making sure that the representation we're looking for is being met, and those captains this year will be junior Michelle Augustavo, senior Emily Florence and senior Andrea Plouffe.

Another point that I want to make is from the beginning, from the first press conference that I had here until now, Seattle has been a very welcoming community. Everyone has just been awesome. So I feel very comfortable here almost like I was born and raised here. This is kind of in my blood, and it really feels good for the players to embrace everything that we are doing right now. I know they are tired of practice and just ready to get into games, so, I'm real excited about that and just about the comfort level I feel from you all and definitely from the community.

To talk a little about our preseason schedule, we've got a real challenge in front of us. We start on the road with five games, but a challenge nonetheless that leads into some great opportunities for us. With our nine freshmen and sophomores, we are very excited for the opportunities that await us. Starting on the road at Kansas State, they will have anywhere from 8-10,000 people in the stands, but they will all be wearing purple, so it will be like a little homecoming for us, so we're excited about that.

To be going into Gonzaga on the road, going to Hawaii, which will be another time for us to bond as a team and just grow collectively. And also, with bringing in two Big Ten powerhouses with Ohio State and Purdue, I think that's something that is going to be a nice challenge for us and a great opportunity to see where we are. The preseason more than anything else, is preparation for the Pac-10, obviously a challenge in itself, but yet wonderful opportunities for us. So we're excited really for our preseason, I think we have a great schedule and we are ready to take it on starting with our exhibitions this weekend.

Obviously you have a game-by-game approach, but when you schedule Ohio State and Purdue, you obviously have to be looking down the road a little bit.
Coach Jackson: 'Of course, now mind you, in taking on this appointment here at Washington, most of the schedule was already in place. Ohio State and Purdue is a return--we went to their place, and now they are returning the favor for us.'

How important do you think that is--there have been so many times here where Washington has been on the bubble Tournament time, how big is that (that you are playing these two teams)?
Coach Jackson: 'It's bigger than big, like I said, I think it is an opportunity to assess where we are. It comes at a great time, right before we go into the Christmas Break. It gives us time as a staff to get together and configure where we are based on what we have done in the preseason and to have them going into our Christmas Break is awesome. It will be the capping off our preseason and really a way to step into our Pac-10.'

How is the health of the team? Are you guys practicing with about nine players right now?
Coach Jackson: 'About on average, but really not...I tell you about every program is dealing with this right now, we're on average at about nine, on a good day we will have around 10. A couple of the injuries are injuries that they have come in with, some of our freshmen. We are really in good hands, I think that our medical staff is doing a great job looking after our players, and the good thing is, is that they are progressing; we're not up and down, we are progressing.'

Where will you be in a couple of weeks (health wise)?
Coach Jackson: 'That's something that I wanted to announce earlier was about Dominique Banks who is one that is experiencing injuries coming into this season that she took on last year. She is a young lady that I have opted to red-shirt this year because she has never quite been at a 100%. Obviously she is a young lady that is in a leadership role for us, but she is going to be doing a lot of her leading from the sidelines this year.'

Is this the same leg problem that she had a year ago?
Coach Jackson: 'Yes.'

How has that impacted her?
Coach Jackson: 'Like I've said, she really hasn't come full circle with it, she's probably at best 80%, but has never been consistently 80% or better.'

Do you expect the rest of the injuries to come full circle by the next two weeks?
Coach Jackson: 'That is the plan, that is a very, very hopeful thought right there.'

What about our starting lineup Tia, what's that looking like right now?
Coach Jackson: 'I think that right now I can say with certainty that I believe Emily (Florence) has earned her starting role and I believe that Jess McCormack has earned hers. With the injuries that have gone back and forth, I believe that now the other three spots are kind of up in the air.'

On the quality of the incoming freshman class:
Coach Jackson: 'They are a great quality, like I said we have good leadership, and those players, those incoming freshman have really stepped up to those challenges to the injuries that we have had early on. I think it was an opportunity for them to step into different positions and really shine and show what there versatility is, and they have really taken on those challenges and those new opportunities very well.'

What challenges have you come across that you didn't expect since becoming the head coach at Washington?
Coach Jackson: 'I think that I have said this before in a previous interview, but I think that one of the unexpected challenges was having to recruit my players all over again, and it was important to do so, but I'm glad to see them all here, I think it's a great situation for all parties involved.'

What have you been emphasizing for the recruits this season on the court?
Coach Jackson: 'Defense, conditioning and defense.'

How are you getting your players conditioned?
Coach Jackson:
'We do a lot of drills full court, and they have to earn their water breaks by shooting free throws, which I think is a challenge for them because when they are standing on the line there is a lot of pressure. And so with that pressure knowing that you have your entire team having to run if you don't make this free throw for them, and they have to make two of them (or 1/1), and it's all timed, sometimes we'll end up running quite a few and other times we won't end up having to run at all. They surprise me sometimes but I'm excited that they actually took the time aside to work on an important part of the game.'

Why do you think conditioning is so important?
Coach Jackson: 'I think the game moves so fast now that in order to keep up, and do the things that we are trying to do defensively, we have to have very good conditioning foundation.'

When you went back to re-recruit those players, what were you selling them on: the school, or you, the staff?
Coach Jackson: 'It wasn't really selling them on anything, I think it was more of a getting-to-know-you situation. I wanted to understand them as individuals, and I wanted them to understand me as an individual as a new leader in their life. The biggest thing is that, and I tell this to them all the time, we were born into this world as women, and I wanted to tap into that first, and then explain to them what I'm really looking for, what kind of style of play that I have cause they would have to feel comfortable knowing that this is the style of play that their game can compliment. So it was important to really just introduce myself 'Hi, I'm Coach Jackson, I'm the new head coach at the University of Washington,' and have them reciprocate that. So really it was more of just a get to know; they know about the school, they knew players, so it was more about making sure they knew who I was.'

Can you characterize the style of play you anticipate having this season?
Coach Jackson: 'With conditioning we want to run. A lot of that running is going to be dictated by what we do on the defensive end. For teaching purposes, I was teaching the extreme of the defense - getting in passing lanes, being very aggressive. We're going to play smart. But I wanted to over-teach the defense so they would know, `this is the level,' and we'll pull back when we need to. I think we're going to be a fast-paced team, we really want to run and we really have a lot of firepower. I say this all the time, but I think with any of these young ladies, any given night, anyone can go for 10-15 (points). And it just depends on who we're playing because there is a lot of arsenal from one through 14 on our roster.

You mentioned 'smart' defense, can you define what smart defense is?
Coach Jackson: 'For example, if we're going against a team who has four shooters and an inside player, we're going to look to make them put the ball on the floor a little more. If we're going against a team who caters to the penetration a lot, we're going to play off of them and make them prove their outside shots.'

Who will you look to for outside shooting?
Coach Jackson: 'Michelle (Augustavo) has really proven that any where inside the gym, she can knock it down. She's probably our most consistent player from behind the arc. Sami (Whitcomb), Katelan (Redmon) as well. Candice (Nichols) this week has really shown to me that she can put it on the floor but that she can shoot it as well. I think we have quite a few from the perimeter who can knock it down. With Emily (Florence) penetrating as well as she has in the past, to now add that outside shot to her game has really shown a lot with her growth.'

How do you expect to make good use of your size?
Coach Jackson: 'We definitely, with our 6-5's and our 6-2's, have a very good inside presence. Inside meaning on the block, being able to put some points up.'

What has been the biggest challenge for you getting acquainted with 14 new personalities?
Coach Jackson: 'With getting to know them, that's easy. That's my strength. I like just tapping into them. They come up all the time to talk, I have a few who just like knocking on the door at my house, coming over. They know who they are. But I love it, they feel comfortable and I think more than anything, with that comfort level they're having fun. And that's more important than anything. Just watching them grow. As much as it's about wins and losses, it's about watching them grow individually as women and as players.'

How strong is the Pac-10 this year?
Coach Jackson: 'Very strong. I'm pretty sure you saw the preseason polls, you have anywhere from Stanford, Cal, Arizona State, USC - even unhealthy they're very good - and UCLA is pretty talented. And I'd like to think that we're very competitive and talented, so I think one-through-10 - they're going to be some pretty impressive games to watch.'

What expectations should the public have about this team?
Coach Jackson: 'That we're going to be exciting, that we're going to stimulate them as much as we expect them to come and generate a lot of energy for us. We're going to be a fast-paced team. But I think the expectation is to come and watch some fun, energizing basketball.'

You've been to the postseason two years in a row now. Can you sustain that?
Coach Jackson: 'That's the plan.'

What kind of goals do you have for your team?
Coach Jackson: 'I haven't given them yet, we're meeting on Thursday to go over those but I think more than anything we want to score a lot of points, we want our defense to dictate a lot so in order to do that we're going to hopefully force some tough shots for our opponents. And make sure that we're controlling the rebounds. With that said, we want to control the rebounding on the offensive end as well. We're going to look to do that a little more from a percentage standpoint. We're going to look to acquire the ball and take off running.'

You have three new assistant coaches, can you give their hierarchy?
Coach Jackson: 'They're all second in command if you want to look at it that way. They're all very capable of doing what I do, and I think they're a great compliment to what I'm looking to do. I wouldn't have brought them in otherwise. I think with Katie Abrahamson-Henderson she's doing a phenomenal job with our post players, coming off a head coaching stint she is quite capable of running her own program. I have Fred Applin who has also been a head coach as well. He helps to develop our perimeter players. All of my staff is very good with the x's and o's. Coach Payne obviously has more of a player mentality which is good, because sometimes we're thinking just as coaches and she gives us a different element and I love it. I think we're a great compliment to each other, but as far as a chain of command, I guess I am the head coach by title but we're all very complimentary to one another.'

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