Thank you SO MUCH for spending time writing to me and for reading "Coach Gail email!" This will be the final summer installment of my mailbag, and we'll resume it again a later date. Keep checking back to TexasSports.com for lots of new basketball video, photo galleries and stories to come!
Since the summer officially comes to a close this week with our annual UT Student-Athlete Orientation, this will be my final email “mailbag” of the summer.
We won’t be taking any more questions for now. At some point -- don’t worry -- I will resume my “Coach Gail email!”
I really have enjoyed reading your questions and responding to you. You’ve reinforced how very special and supportive our Longhorns fan base is, and I appreciate how many hundreds of you have taken the time to write to me over the summer. I really do feel the excitement surrounding our program!
Beginning this weekend, the student-athletes report back to campus, with fall semester classes beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 30. We’ve got a lot of work to do in preparation for the season, and to keep you informed of our progress, keep checking TexasSports.com for more photo galleries, new expanded video, and more stories on our players and coaches.
Thanks again for the warm welcomes you sent our way. I hope to see every one of you at our games. November is just around the corner!
Patrick from Austin
Coach G, what do you think of the facilities here at Texas, and what, if any, improvements or modifications would you like to see?
Great question, Patrick, since it gives me a chance to talk about our wonderful, wonderful facilities, like the Erwin Center and Cooley Pavilion, our amazing practice facility. They are fantastic and state-of-the-art -- and some of the best in the nation! The only thing we are going to do is to put our personal stamp on the facilities with some cosmetic changes. For instance, we are putting up new photos and new photo murals and displays, some with quotes which are meaningful to the players, coaches, and the rich tradition of UT Athletics. I think everyone will enjoy them!
Mike from Sudan, Texas
Coach G, welcome to UT, and I look forward to the great year we are going to have. I am a season ticket holder who travels 450 miles one way to watch the UT women. I am so excited for the year to begin! My question is this: What kind of program will the girls be doing from the time school starts to the time you and your staff actually get to start working with the team?
Oh my goodness, Mike -- 450 miles? Your hometown listing (Sudan) prompted me to go to the Internet, and sure enough -- Sudan is northwest of Lubbock (south of Muleshoe) and close to the New Mexico border! Wow, I am impressed! Be careful of those state troopers and posted speed limits on your way down to Austin!
Now, to your question. The coaching staff can begin to work with the players as soon as school starts -- with limitations. Under NCAA rules, we are allowed eight hours per week of basketball practice from the first day of classes up until Oct. 12 -- the first official day of practice. However, coaches and players are only allowed to work with a basketball for two of those eight hours; and, we can work with the players in small groups, with a maximum of four players per group. So, we will work on lots of fundamentals and drills during those two hours per week that we are permitted to use a basketball. The other six hours are devoted to conditioning, weight lifting, etc. So, as you can tell, there will be a lot of teaching and instructing going on in those two hours per week!
Dawn from Austin
Coach G, welcome to Austin! We are all getting so excited for the upcoming season. My question: Will you bring back "Midnight Madness" to mark the first day of practice? Many fans loved it. Also, I think fans should receive a Longhorns fan towel and watch the Erwin Center go crazy. Thanks and Hook 'em!
Dawn, your question fits well with the one that Mike (above) asked. As I mentioned, the first official day of basketball practice will be Friday, Oct. 12. It used to be that you could begin practice at 12:01 a.m. on the first sanctioned day of practice, but -- the NCAA has moved the official start time to 7 p.m. from midnight. That’s excluded the need to hold a “midnight madness” kickoff any more. We won’t have one, since we are now able to our first true practice at a “normal” time -- 7 p.m. on Oct. 12.
In terms of the Erwin Center atmosphere, thanks for your suggestion. We are hard at work with our marketing staff on ideas and in-game promotions. I know we’ll have some new things to unveil for our fans this year, so stay tuned! First and foremost, the energy and enthusiasm from the fans is the most important element in creating a great atmosphere, so we hope to see you out there, supporting us!
Emsy from Dallas
Coach Gail, good to hear you love Austin! Hope you have a long a successful stay. Will Erika Arriaran be ready for the upcoming season?
Emsy, we’re all impressed with the progress that Erika is making. She has worked extremely hard ever since her knee injury (last January) and is ahead of schedule in her rehabilitation and training. Because of that, we expect Erika to be on the court with us at the start of the season. I’m counting on her talents! Thanks for emailing!
John from Fort Worth, Texas
Hello, Coach G! I am a 43-year-old guy who has been following the basketball program faithfully since the days of Jackie Swaim, Nell Fortner, Terry Mackey, Sheryl Hauglum, Leta Whaley and other Texas greats. I don't really have specific questions of you. I've followed you and studied your coaching style while you built Duke into a national power, and I remember how excited I was when Coach Conradt was building the team in the 80's. I feel that excitement all over again. I promise to do my best to fill my seat behind the Texas bench as often as possible this year. I'll be the sixth player (calling out picks, etc.). LOL! Welcome to Texas, Coach G!
John, I feel your energy and enthusiasm, although the part about you calling out plays and strategy...hmmmm! I remember those Texas Exes who you referred to -- all great players indeed. Because of fans like you and with the energy surrounding our Texas program, we head into this season with lots of momentum. Make sure you bring your friends to our games, and I’ll look forward to meeting you!
Mari Beth from Austin
Coach G, welcome! I’ve followed your career and am thrilled to have you as our head coach! My question is this: What advice would you give to young coaches who want to move up in the profession and be as successful as you are?
Thanks for the kind words, Mari Beth! I would say to all the young coaches out there, first and foremost, have a vision and a plan and be wiling to adapt and adjust and trust yourself. Stay positive and make sure you have fun. Be able to laugh at yourself, since there is so much stress involved in our profession! There are no shortcuts, so always maintain your integrity.
As important, keep learning. One of my favorite mottos is 'When you think you are through learning, you're through.’ Continue to watch tapes, go to clinics and read books to improve yourself.
Jimmy from Charleston, W.V.
Coach G, I have been a UT fan for some time. Do you feel that this year’s team will respond well to your style of play? Best of luck to you and the team.
Our team is very excited about the running and pressing style we will incorporate, Jimmy. I think they will adapt very well to the new system. It’s great to have fans in West Virginia!
TygJules from Hartsville, S.C.
Hey Coach, so glad you're the one at UT! I followed the Texas Women’s Basketball team when I lived in Austin during their fantastic '80s. Being a former center, how are you helping your big players go up and in instead of putting the ball on the floor?
We don’t have many big players and haven’t been able to work with them at all this summer due to NCAA rules, so I am anxious to begin work with them soon. When we do get on the court for individual workouts, a main area of focus for the posts will be running the floor, finishing with contact and keeping the ball off the floor. Thanks for writing in!
Robin from Oak Ridge, N.C.
Coach G, being an N.C. State grad, I was never a big Duke fan (!) but I am a Gail Goestenkors fan and am looking forward to seeing your new team play. Do you think Texas will eventually play some of the ACC teams such as Carolina, Maryland or even State? You left a big fan base in the triad/Triangle area and we would love to see you in the area in the near future. By the way, a lot of us are looking forward to seeing you in November in Knoxville when you play Tennessee!
Thanks for writing from ACC country! I’ve received a lot of questions from fans about renewing old Texas rivalries, about traveling to the East Coast, and about creating new home-and-home series with Top 25 opponents. We just finished the 2007-08 schedule a month or so ago, and will begin the process of building upcoming schedules for the next few years soon. It’s important for Texas to have great non-conference opponent scheduling, such as we have with our annual game against Tennessee. I certainly would like to get back to the ACC region at some point, so that’s a league we will be focusing on as we build our future schedules.
Lyndsey from Austin
Dear Coach Gail: What is your favorite sport besides basketball? I think you will help Texas be great this year! You guys will rock them!
Thanks, Lyndsey! My favorite sport besides basketball? It’s football, now! Go Longhorns!
Carlos of Round Rock, Texas
Coach, I hope you never grow tired of hearing how excited we are to have you. I think you have assembled one heck of a coaching staff! Coaching and basketball aside, what has surprised you the most about Austin? Are you loving the city yet?
I think we have an outstanding coaching staff as well, Carlos, and we all are so glad to be here at UT! I’ve thought about your question, and really, nothing has surprised me about Austin. I love this city. I think that the surprise is how much I’ve surprised myself in quickly adapting to living in a small city!! I’ve never lived in a city before, but it’s been wonderful -- from the start -- to be here in Austin and live in such a beautiful, creative and energized environment!