USC and UCLA Media Day Quotes

Oct. 31, 2007

UCLA played host to the first Pac-10 Regional Media Day, featuring coaches and players from the USC and UCLA women's basketball teams. USC head coach Mark Trakh was joined by junior Camille LeNoir and seniors Allison Jaskowiak Kennedy and Simone Jelks for a press conference and interview opportunities on Wednesday at UCLA's Morgan Center.
Below is a transcription of the Media Day press conference.

UCLA-USC Women's Basketball Media Day Quotes
October 31, 2007

USC Head Coach Mark Trakh
opening remarks
'This is a great format for two great schools, and obviously, a great rivalry. We are very excited about this year. We think we're going to be very competitive. We want to get to the top of the conference, of course. We not only want to get into the NCAA Tournament, but we want to make a drive in the tournament. We are deep like we were a couple of years ago. We've got 10 players that are going to be interchangeable. We are going to sub a lot. Like two years ago, it doesn't really matter who shoots the basketball. This year, we have the best shooting team since I have been here. We are going to distribute, and we looked pretty good in a scrimmage yesterday.'

on Camille LeNoir
'She is one of the top point guards in the Pac-10, if not in the country. Before she got hurt, she was playing for the 20-and-under team. She was playing very well before her hip went out. She's looking very good right now. She's our floor general and she's our leader. She's got great vision and she's trying very hard on defense - she's doing a good job. I expect a lot of good things from her.

on Simone Jelks and Allison Jaskowiak Kennedy
'Simone is one of our leaders, as a senior. She has worked hard to improve her game and her outside shot. She and Allison are great defenders. The young lady in the middle (Jaskowiak Kennedy) is somebody who the NCAA rightfully awarded a fifth year. She played about 30 seconds after our seventh game her freshman year, and we asked the NCAA to award her a fifth year. It was pretty much unanimous. It could not happen to a better kid. She's a great student. She is invaluable, and the great thing about her is her leadership. We weren't expecting to have her back for that fifth year.'

on USC's schedule
'We've got a competitive schedule, playing at Michigan and Nebraska. We play Georgia in the Bahamas, and then we play some of the local schools that are pretty good. We are very excited about this year and moving forward and building upon what we have done in the past.'

on the team's identity
'We want our identity to be an equal opportunity offense. Our philosophy is that we won't give a scholarship to a kid who can't hit an open 15-footer. We want all our kids to have confidence and step up and hit a shot at any given time. We're going to be a little deeper and a little sharper this season...we are going to play 10-12 people and constantly sub and try and pressure people for 40 minutes.'

on Nadia Parker
'She's worked really hard. The difference in Nadia right now is her experience. She played about one year in high school after having played just club ball in Germany, and when we talked basketball it was like a foreign language to her. She is great, and she has really kicked it up a notch on the floor. She says that she's having more fun than she's ever had, and she doesn't just worry about every little thing. She's so much more experienced.'

On Camille LeNoir returning from a hip injury
'I think that her playing 20 minutes is better than playing no minutes. By the middle of the year she should get up to 25-30 minutes, as far as minutes played.'

Camille LeNoir
on recovering from her hip injury
'Right now I feel about 75 percent. After practice, my hip hurts a little bit. But after I ice it a little bit and stretch it and rehab it, my hip feels better the next day. It's about time management and seeing how far I can go.'

Allison Jaskowiak Kennedy
on Jackie Gemelos
'Jackie has really handled herself with a lot of composure. She's handled it so well. She's the first one on the sidelines cheering everyone on. We don't have her this year, so it's not an option to be down. There are a lot of parallels. A lot of young players and just enough experience and composure from the young players, I'm excited to see how we finish.'

on the team's goals
'Our goal is to contend to win the Pac-10. We would like to at least get to the Sweet 16, if not the Elite 8. We want to first get past that barrier to the Sweet 16.'

Simone Jelks
'I've learned that the best support is who is on the sideline - a lot of time, you have to look over and see your teammates constantly supporting you. If you don't have that, then there is not a lot of chemistry you can rely on when you're coming down the stretch - especially when it is a close game, which there are a lot of when you're coming down the stretch.'

opening remarks
'We have had good practices over the last couple of weeks now. We have been very competitive, and we haven't had that in some time. In the past we've known who the starters would be, and this year it's kind of up in the air right now. Lindsey is here for her fourth year, and she constantly reminds me that she's the only senior. But she's doing a very good job, she's been so composed, and she's working extremely hard. In the summer, she works on her game and working out with Noelle [Quinn] and some of her buddies that have graduated and are playing in the WNBA or overseas. She has really improved her game a lot and stepped it up. She's taking this year as a challenge, and she has enjoyed it so far. The freshmen have a lot to do with that because they're so coachable. They are excited to be at UCLA, and they are extremely competitive. There are six of them, so they kind of run as a pack. They're going to compete every day at practice. I think it's an open floor, to see who is starting, to see who is competing, to see who is going to be on the floor. The returners have done a great job as well. Erica [Tukiainen] has worked very hard in the offseason, and all of our returners have. Everyone looks stronger. I think it's a good one-two punch as far as returners and freshmen. We're young, but we're talented.'

on differences between this year's team from last season
'Right now, we're talking more about our defense than we have talked about in the past. We were more offensive-minded last year. We're going to play up-tempo defense and mix it up a little. This is exciting for LA. Against USC, we've had some great battles the last couple of years. It has literally come down to free throws at the end. It's similar to USC, being up-tempo defensively and playing 11-12 players who can compete. We're going to work very hard to stay on the floor. Offensively, I think that [Pluimer] has proven that she can get it done since her freshman year. She has accepted the fact that whoever is open is going to shoot the ball and shoot the ball well with confidence.'

on Lindsey Pluimer
'Well, it's interesting because we scrimmaged the other day and she played a little bit everywhere. She's very open to `where do you need me, where do you want me'. She's not concerned about `I have to play the three' or `I have to play the four'. She has such a good, confident demeanor, and she seems so prepared for this year. Wherever she plays this year, she is going to excel.'

on UCLA's schedule
'It's not just about Tennessee and Maryland, it's about stepping it up for whoever we play. We really want to set the tone for how we play this year. We want to have a philosophy for how we play this year, whether it's against Maryland or Northridge or Pepperdine. Let's bring that intensity and style to whoever we play. When you have as much depth as we have, you're able to do that as a coach. With this team, what I really enjoy is having the depth. If it isn't your day, then it's going to be somebody else's day. Hopefully, we can have that kind of chemistry where you just get it done.'

on expectations
'Our freshmen are going to have to step up and battle from day one. You come to UCLA for a reason - to compete against anyone in the Pac-10, and they're very excited about that. Last year we had one WNBA draft pick who went number four in the draft. I truly believe that Lindsey had a lot to do with Noelle Quinn's success, and Noelle would be the first to tell you that.

'We have a lot of good size, and we're going to be helped with that depth. We have a number of players who can play on the inside. You can get after it more defensively and give up a couple more fouls. Two years ago, we opened up at Baylor, and we got in foul trouble right away. As soon as we got in foul trouble, the game changed. This year, if we get in foul trouble, things will be OK. To be honest, our bigs can get up and down the floor. We're hoping not to play them a long period of time. We want to play them in spurts so that they can stay fresh. Regina [Rogers] has worked very hard at conditioning, and she feels good about herself. Rey-Rey [Ibekwe] is a junior now and is in better shape. Moniquee [Alexander] has lost a lot of weight and has worked a lot. A year under Moniquee Alexander's belt is going to make her much better.'

on the team's goals
'At UCLA, your goals are always to get to the NCAA Tournament. If you're not talking like that, then you should not be at UCLA. This year, our goal is to finish in the top of the Pac-10. The Pac-10 has three teams ranked in the top 15. We want to finish in the top three in the Pac-10 with this young team and let's get in the NCAA Tournament. When you're at UCLA, you have to have high goals. That's what it about here.'

on the six freshmen
'I have been impressed with all of them. The one that a lot of people don't talk about because she is from the East Coast - she's from Virginia - is Doreena Campbell. She is very fundamentally sound. She's very quiet. You'll go through practice and say Doreena, wow, she can get it done. She's very quiet and has somewhat of the personality of Noelle Quinn, because she is quiet and she's very good with her teammates. She's very mature and academic-minded. It just seems like she has already adjusted. Regina [Rogers] is a post player with a point guard mentality, which is nice to have. She uses the floor well.'

on feeling any pressure this season
'There's some pressure about being a leader, but I really have enjoyed playing with these girls. The freshmen have come in and really stepped it up on a whole different level. The chemistry is great, and I don't know if we've had that the past couple of years. I really enjoy being the captain with Erica [Tukiainen]. She really complements me in a lot of aspects, and I'm really looking forward to it. And our youth is really going to help us this season.'

on the team's chemistry
'I think this year our team chemistry is completely different, both on and off the court. In the summer we really started clicking when we played pick up. When you put our chemistry and our talent together, we're going to have a very competitive year.

on adjusting to college basketball'I think the biggest adjustment for me is being one of the youngest players on the team. In high school, I was always one of the leaders and captains on the team since my freshman year. Here, I really have to adjust to being in that different role.'

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