Niya's Notes

Sept. 8, 2009

Arizona women's basketball coach Niya Butts recently checked in with her thoughts on the first few weeks of the 2009-10 school year as well as giving her thoughts on some movies that she saw this summer and motorcycles.

How have things gone through the first week of workouts?

“I have been pleasantly surprised, and I probably shouldn’t use the word surprised because I thought coming into it that we had a good group of girls, a good group of personalities and that everybody was committed to win and work. They have certainly showed that in the short time that we have been here together and we’ve been able to put our hands on things as coaches and get a good feel for where we are. Obviously we have a long way to go, but we are certainly on track to do some good things.”

What do off-court activities such as the football tailgate do for the overall team unity?

“We also had recruits on campus this past weekend, so not only does that help with recruiting, but it helps with our team chemistry. We need to have team chemistry both on and off of the floor in order to be successful. I strongly believe that. Our girls showed a good cohesiveness this weekend. We had a scavenger hunt this weekend and that allowed the girls to work as a team and get to know each other a little bit better. They were able to get out and meet some football fans that maybe we can turn into basketball fans. I think things like that always help build team chemistry.”

How much further along do you feel now that your staff and system has been in place for a season and half of the team already understands your expectations?

“I think it helps tremendously because the returners know what to expect, they know what the style is and they know what my expectations are and those are very simple. You have to play hard, you have to give 100 percent and you have to have a good attitude. I think they understand that now and with the younger group, the newcomers, with them coming in and being so talented and so willing to work, it has made it a lot easier to transition as we start the beginning of the year.”

What does this recruiting class bring to the table that might have been lacking last season?

“I think a lot of what they bring is going to relate to attitude and will to win. Many of them have competed at a high level and held to a very high standard, whether that be at a junior college or coming from a high school such as St. Mary’s, being at a championship level for so many years. I think from a talent standpoint we have a good mix. We have kids that can get to the basket, kids that can really shoot the ball, kids that are physical and stronger and possess that “kick-butt” attitude. I think we were missing some of those things last year.”

What is something you expect the new players to learn about you that maybe they didn’t know when they signed their letters of intent to become Wildcats?

“We try to make sure that the kids know everything and that they know what they’re going to get. What you see is what you get is always the way I’ve recruited. You may like talking to Coach Butts on the phone and I may be able to joke around and laugh with you and so does the rest of the staff, but at the same time there is a fine line between having fun and getting the job done. I think we have conveyed that and I certainly hope that we did but there is nothing like experience. Once they really sense that it is not a joking time and it’s time to get down to business, they have been really receptive to that and we have been having a lot of fun at workouts because of it.

What are the three best movies you saw this summer, old or new?

“I’ve seen some good movies. I thought Wolverine was pretty good. I thought the effects were really good. I had to reach back and I saw a classic the other day…The Usual Suspects. You can watch that a million times and it’s still good. I saw The Last House On The Left. Interesting movie. I didn’t think I would really like it. I was kind of baited into watching it, but it wasn’t bad. I really want to see My Sister’s Keeper, but I just haven’t got to it yet.”

What television shows are you looking forward to watching now that the Fall lineup is ready to be released?

“I’m a big fan of House, Law & Order: SVU and First 48. I’m a big fan of the cop shows. I like Cold Case a lot as well. I’m a big fan of American Chopper, which most people probably didn’t know. I love that show. I really want a chopper so bad, I can hardly stand it.”

Looking at this year’s schedule, how does that represent how you like to set your schedule each season?

“I think you have to have some tough games in there. I think our schedule overall is pretty good. You have to get some tough road games in there. All games can go either way and that’s why you play them. You go to such schools as Georgia Tech who has been a tournament team the past several years and we haven’t been. When you get that in a major conference like the ACC, which is a powerful conference in women’s basketball, when you have an opponent like that on the road you not only get that experience of finding out where your team is, but if you can steal that win, it can do so much in terms of confidence and in terms of what we do for the rest of the year. But, it also gives us an opportunity to visit a place like Georgia. We’re all the way over in Arizona and for some of our kids, they have never been to Georgia. They get an opportunity to maybe go to the Aquarium, to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, to get some culture. The one thing we always want to do is schedule people when we can go and get an experience outside of basketball. That’s something that is very important to me. As far as the California schools, those are some good schools and some good tests. San Diego State is a very good program and they have done well over the last several years and that is going to be a good test for us on the road. For our bunch, that’s a mix between newcomers and returners, at the same time that’s going to be a good challenge for us. I think having an SEC opponent come here and play us on our home court is always good. It’s good for the fans and we certainly want to encourage people to come out and watch us play. But it’s also good for us as well to have a SEC opponent on our schedule.”

What’s the one thing you want to do when the team goes to New York City prior to the Iona Tournament in November?

“I really want to take the team down to Times Square. I think it’s a good experience. I would love to take them to see a Broadway play. Unfortunately, I think the time we are going is when most of the shows are off during that time. We may be able to find one. If not, there is enough to see in New York City to keep the kids happy and get them that experience that will be new for many of them.”

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