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2015 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Day: UCLA looking to 'do the work' in 2015-16

Oct 14, 2015
Douglas Taylor Photography

SAN FRANCISCO — UCLA came into the 2014-15 season with high expectations. No. 1 recruiting class in tow, the Bruins were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12, which in theory would all but ensure the Bruins an NCAA tournament berth. What wasn’t expected was an 0-4 start to the season and sub-.500 record after the Pac-12 Tournament.

But the Bruins found another gear and ripped off six straight wins to conclude the season with a WNIT championship and winning record (19-18). So with those heralded freshmen turning into sophomores (save for Recee’ Caldwell, who transferred to Texas Tech) and two of the top-22 recruits in the nation – Ashley Hearn and Kennedy Burke – coming to Westwood, guess what – expectations are high again for the Bruins. UCLA is picked to finish fourth (along with Cal), which, knowing this conference, means the Bruins are expected to play in the NCAA tournament.

[Related: 2015-16 UCLA women's basketball schedule]

If you ask head coach Cori Close, however, getting caught up in those outside expectations can derail a team. In fact, she’d tell you that it hurt the Bruins last year.

“I really think it’s important that we don’t define success by the end game, because I really think it slows down growth,” Close said at 2015 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day. “If you get distracted by those expectations it’ll slow you down… I think those expectations last year were a distraction.”

So, as any coach would tell you, Close and the Bruins are focused on the process.

“Our theme is ‘do the work,’” Close said. “We’ll talk about those dreams and goals once, and then we’ll talk about the habits you need to have [to achieve those goals].”  By creating those habits of excellence, Close believes her team will be able to meet those outside expectations.

The Bruins will “do the work” for keeps beginning Nov. 13 against St. John’s.