Adair era for Sun Devil WBB officially begins on Monday night vs. NAU
THE GAME: Sun Devil WBB (0-0) vs. Northern Arizona (0-0)
WHEN: Monday at 8 p.m. MST
WHERE: Desert Financial Arena • Tempe, Ariz.
WATCH: ASU Live Stream
RADIO: KDUS AM 1060
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The Natasha Adair era officially begins for Sun Devil Women's Basketball when the Sun Devils host Northern Arizona on Monday at 8 pm. Adair met with the media on Friday and touched on several topics heading into Monday's season opener.
"I'm so excited about this upcoming season. You think about the last seven months and just how hard the players have been working and now it is time to put it all together. I'm just proud of the players and how hard they've been working in this time, in this transition. Really excited to see us put it all together opening night."
On motto for this year:
"It's kind of our formula. Our formula is defend, rebound, run, and score. First of all, defense wins championships. And we are a team who will rebound. All of my teams that I have been a part of for these years are top in the country in rebounding. So, that sends a message when you do extra effort things, when you make extra effort plays and we want to be that team where we're going after those offensive rebounds to give us extra percentages. Percentages go up when you get second and third opportunities, but it shows our opponent how relentless we are. And then once we get that stop, we are going to run. We're going be really quick to transition to offense. A lot of teams struggle in transition defense. And then we're going take pride in the half court [offense]. We're not that team that is one dimensional, that is just going to play defense, or just rely on our defense. We are going to respect the game and execute on the offensive end."
On Meg Newman:
"She is our ball of energy. If I could bottle Meg up, and clone her, I would have a million of them. She has worked so hard to get back [from last year's injury]. I think the fans will be excited when they see her hit the court."
On how transfers and returners have come together:
"I think that's been the biggest thing we've focused on, especially in the off-season and summer when everyone got here. It's more about the culture of the team. You had six players that were here and then there was so much change. With the new players coming in, we still talked about why ASU? I think if you keep everyone focused on why ASU, their love for ASU, then it doesn't matter where the players came from. It's just where we are now. But we've spent so much time learning about one another, who we are, what makes us who we are, what's important, our heroes, our hardships and our highlights, and with young women, it's trust. I think everyday being consistent, showing up for one another, and just recognizing everyone's strength and every piece to the puzzle, then we talk about the masterpiece. Really excited about all the moving parts, and they're really working together nicely."
On how the team has adjusted to what is expected of them:
"I think every day, you see them understanding, you see the light bulb come on, those 'ah-ha moments.' I know that it is different in the pace at which we want to play. My teams score 70-80 points a night and that's different. A lot of it has been in the off-season, where there has been conditioning. I think it's more about the support staff around them: the trainers, strength coach, and just how we've worked together. A collaborative effort to make sure we're doing it the right way, day by day. But also, players want to play in an up-tempo system, fans want to watch an up tempo team, they want to get after it. I think what they've really liked is the freedom in which they're allowed to play."
On attributes she brings:
"First and foremost, I want my players to see me for who I am, I am a mom. I think that for me to be able to show them who I am off the court, it will allow them to understand my passion and my drive on the court. My goal, my sole purpose is to make sure our young women are coached holistically. Just build their strength, build their toughness, build that confidence that they can do anything and so I coach from a premise of love and of support. This program will always be player led and coach supported, meaning we will empower our young women to find their strength, to use their voice, and just to be rock stars in all that they do."
On new coaching staff:
"This is just a group who's been with me. This group of coaches, every last one of them came with me from my previous institution. Three of my coaches are also former players that I've coached along my journey. When we talk about playing for a coaching staff that's a family, we literally are. Two of my assistant coaches, we attracted this when they were 16, they're in their 30's now. They've really grown with me. Another member of my staff, a long-time coach, has been coaching for over 40+ years and we've been together every step of the way. When you look at how I've compiled the staff, it was my championship staff who was with me when we won [the Colonial Athletic Association championship at Delaware]. It was easy for me to extend this opportunity to them, so we didn't really have to change much when we got here."
On aspirations of the season:
"It never changes, it's always to win. I think what you have to do is start the culture, build the culture. Our culture has to be a championship culture, a competitive culture. Then there is the process. What does that mean this year? We want to win, it never changes. But we have to make sure coming in that we are healthy, we are at our best, and also we're playing together and playing the way that I want us to play. At the end of the season, I want people to be able to say, when they are saying "who is ASU women's basketball?" I want them to talk about our defense. I want them to talk about our culture, our chemistry and say we've got our hands full tonight because they're going to be relentless. I think first and foremost, it's establishing that identity of who we are as a team and what we are under the Adair Era and every day we are coaching to that."
On Pac-12 preseason poll:
"You never worry about where they pick you. We've been picked as first at other institutions. I think that at the end of the day, you want to play your best ball heading into March. It's a very long season, so if you get caught up in what the rankings are, whether they are at the top, whether they are at the bottom, then you're not focused on your team and what you are trying to do game after game after game. Right now, it's just building this team and making sure every night our identity is displayed on the court."
On avoiding turnovers and approach to that:
"You don't have to rush. Let it happen, sometimes you get going and everyone wants to make it a one-on-one game. You tell them: "okay, you have freedom." But it's not just a free for all. I think it is just trusting the system that they are in and the chemistry that we have with one another. Just letting it happen and valuing the possession. You will hear me say that all of the time. Making sure that we sometimes give up good for great. Meaning we give up a good shot for a great shot. But those are things that we watch on film, those are things that we scout, and our coaches do a phenomenal job on breaking down our opponents. We will let them know that this is where this look is going to come, or if their defensive strategy is to turn us over, hey you might have to come meet the pass. We will help them in the sense of what they need to do to value that possession. But, most of the time when it is a turnover, especially an unforced turnover, we are just rushing from the offensive end. So that is when we will just have to make sure that we take care of the ball, value the possession, and give up the good for the great."
On NAU and stopping their second and third attempts:
"A lot of it will come from their perimeter players because they take a lot of three-point shots. We say long shot, long rebound,so our guards, you will see, will have to get in the mix. That means running down those rebounds outside of their area. Just really pursuing the ball, especially if NAU gets those three-point shots off, then those are going to be long rebounds, so we have to make sure that we are the first ones to get those rebounds."
On lessons from long time head coaches:
"This is the third university where I have taken over for a tenured coach. The first time I did it, you listened. You listened to the community, the donors, the alums. Just the experience, but also the impact. But also, I have taken over other jobs, it's been almost the same thing in the sense of what did the previous coach do, not from a strategic standpoint, but what did they do in the community? How did they engage? I'm going to put my stamp on it, you never lose sight of the past, especially a storied past, a championship past, a winning past, a winning culture, you embrace it. And there are so many people, so many fans. We had a wonderful group from our Sun Devil Basketball Hoops Club that came to practice on Wednesday and just listened to their passion and their pride for ASU Women's Basketball, but also athletics, sports, the university, and the community. You hold that near and dear to you and it is our responsibility, to make sure they are really proud of the product that they see when we step onto the court and who we are in the community."
On biggest obstacle on Monday:
"I think one of our biggest obstacles will just be us. In the sense of the pressure. It is new, it's unfamiliar. This is opening night for a brand-new team. So just getting the players to take a deep breath and relax. They're going to have those pregame jitters, but we just told them to trust what you know. They have been working extremely hard. And just to let them know that they aren't going to be perfect on Monday night, but their effort, their energy, their extra effort plays, control what they can control. In reference to NAU, they have five new players so they are a different team as well. There are two teams probably trying to figure it out. Obviously, they are a little more established in what they are doing, but it is all about us."