Husky Women's Hoops Holds Media Day
Oct. 30, 2008
Washington Women's Basketball Media Day Press Conference
Head Coach Tia Jackson
'First of all, thank you for attending media day, it's always fun. It really shows how close we are to the start of the season. We are very excited and I'm pretty sure if the young ladies behind you had the microphone they would be pretty eager and wish that they were playing tonight. They've worked really hard in this preseason and have done an exceptional job keeping their focus, playing very hard in practice, going against the scout team, going against each other and really battling out there on the floor. It's a really different attitude than just a year ago and it's extremely exciting to have these young ladies here and gelling. I think I said this to someone earlier that it looks like a piece of artwork is being created out there on the floor. You have seven returners together with eight new faces and we're just watching that artwork being created. I can't wait until the end of the year to see what kind of masterpiece we put together. We're extremely excited about the start of the season, and if there are any questions I'll open it up now.'
What is different about this year's team?
'I just think you can turn around and see the difference. We've just got a little more height, a little more athleticism, a little bit more experience. After putting the system in last year, now we have some veterans that can take that system by the horns and embrace it and feel comfortable about what they are going into. Last year we took a lot of baby steps throughout the season, understanding that we were all new and trying to get to know each other. Now the personalities are understood. We have eight players who are excited about joining this remaining veteran class. Like I said, it's just fun to watch them grow.'
What's different for you?
'It's a new year. The previous year is behind me. To go forward is probably the most exciting and refreshing thing about this year. When you add athleticism, mistakes don't show as much. When you've got veterans who understand what you implemented last year with your system, it's just really impressive to see them. I don't have to get out there and explain every single step, every single move, every thought. They're doing it. They're bringing everyone else up to speed. That's one of the most rewarding and biggest changes for this year.'
What did you learn in your first year that you can help in your second year?
'As much as I exercised patience last year, I think that I am going to continue that mindset. It's to continue to understand that everyone develops in their own time. We're not going to go and leave anyone behind, that we will continue to grow and go forward together. And no one gets left on shore so to speak, we're all getting on the boat and going together. These young ladies get it, they're hungry, their swagger is extremely impressive. It's because they have a little attitude about them. I don't know if that's an extension of me or the staff, but it's an extension of something and they're buying into it.'
You lost two important senior leaders last year. Who do you see filling that void?
'All 15 players will fill that void because we can't rely on just one. I think right now it's such a new team and it's too much pressure for one. I'll take the big brunt of that, but I think each person provides a lot of leadership in their own right.' Can you give us some ideas on starters and who is in contention?
'I just want to be patient with what I reveal right now. I don't want to put any added pressure on those who don't know that they could be potentially starting. While at the same time, we want to keep that mesh going with different lineups. We are going to scrimmage a little bit today so we are going to mix and match some of the lineups out there. The more we continue to view video the more we will get a better understanding of who those starters are going to be.'
Will you play around with your starting lineups during the exhibitions?
'Yes. I'm hoping by Tuesday that we will have a pretty good understanding of who is going to be starting.' Will we see any more of the line changes like the five for five changes?
'Doubtful. But I'm not good at predicting that kind of thing. Some people come ready to play. Sometimes it's just one person that's not really there. But when you've got a five who are just not providing the energy in one sitting, we've got to go with some new faces and some new talent out there and see if they can't get us energized and ready to go. That's the only reason I've done that in the past is that it didn't seem like that lineup had the push forward, the fuel and the energy that we needed right at that point. So we try with a new five out there.'
What are the goals for this year?
'I think a good goal is just that we are getting better and better every day. The fact that we've continued to go on an upward trend with our progression instead of a downward one, says a lot about where we are headed. I had a hard time predicting where the Pac-10 would finish in those lineups. I can't even tell you. If we're continuing to progress I think we will be pretty impressive to watch.'
You are picked to finish seventh in the Pac-10 this year. Are you motivated by that?
'You ask them that. They're motivated.'
Do you anticipate one person jumping into the point guard role or is it going to be more mix and match?
'I think I can honestly say that Sarah Morton has jumped into that role and really taken on leadership from that point guard spot. We've got other two point guards that are also equally impressive but I think Sarah having that one year under her belt gives her an advantage there.'
What did you need to see from Sarah to make that jump?
'I think I threw a lot at her before the summer started, and she embraced every single challenge. One of the challenges meaning getting stronger, developing that outside shot. And I felt like Sarah, everything I threw her way, she embraced it and ran full force with it. She came in ready to lead her troops and I'm very impressed with how she came in.'
Are you going to change anything style-wise? What kind of pace to you see?
'I think that we are going to be a running team. I think that is an easy assessment and an easy assumption there. These young ladies want to get up and down the floor. It's exciting to play. We are going to do that in some kind of system, and they know that it's not that run-and-gun style, it's more of a running under control, understanding where you see your options out there on the floor, recognizing who to get the ball to and those players understanding when to take the right shots out there. We obviously want lay-ups, it's the highest percentage shot in the women's game. We are going to look to get it inside quite a bit, and use that as our catalyst to get those open shots a lot of the time. We're also going to let our defense to dictate a lot of what we do offensively because we are so athletic now. We've got veteran players who understand the shifts in the defense that are helping the other ones to come along. I think it's just impressive to watch how they cover for one another. That's really going to generate a lot of our offense. I would say of 100 percent of the shots to take that's going to generate about 30-40 percent of our shot opportunities.'
What do the 4/20/64 t-shirts mean? Can you talk about those numbers and what they mean?
'We want to build on the tradition that is already established here. The culture that we are trying to build now falls into that 4/20/64. The four meaning we want to finish in the top four of the Pac-10 every time. Obviously we want to win the Pac-10. But you know in the conference the way it's developing now, half of the conference being new coaches, that there is a different style coming. There is a lot of parody amongst the teams. If you finish top four, you will definitely be headed to the field of 64, which is that last number. We want to make sure that not only are we getting to that field of 64, but that we are having some longevity there. And then obviously a 20-win season.'
Can you talk about the JC transfers coming in and what kind of impact you expect them to have?
'They bring tremendous experience, tremendous athleticism. They are a huge contribution to that swagger that I talked about earlier. They don't want to lose. They come in here ready to go to war. I couldn't tell you how excited I am to have them on this team because they bring two years of experience already in the college ranks. They played at the highest level at the JUCO ranks, and I'm feeling very fortunate to have them in our family.'
Given the losses last year, with those who departed, how important was getting some experience in here?
'It was very important. We ended up going to the Junior College Championship in Salina, Kan., and we had to really weed out who we thought would fit into this system and feel good about. We're really big on family here and we don't want anyone coming in that's going to mess up that family chemistry. We feel that like we did a pretty good job of bringing in two players from the junior college ranks that are going to be very strong contributors for us.'
There were a lot of injuries last year. Have you had any so far this year of any consequence? Have you taken steps to do something about preventing injuries?
'I think our new strength and conditioning coach, Matt Ludwig, has done a phenomenal job of building strength. Women have different areas that need to be emphasized around the joints that men don't particularly need to focus on. He's done a tremendous job of getting us stronger in the off-season and through the summer. Our kids, we don't get knocked around, we're not relying on other parts of our body to make up for the weakness that we had last year. Knock on wood, we're good.'
How much did the departure of the freshmen last year set the program back?
'I think keeping players that didn't want to be here would have set us back. That actually allowed us to move forward.'