Preseason media day transcript: Coach G
Oct. 14, 2008
· Video: Press conference
Opening statement: I'm really excited to begin the second year here at Texas. I think last year my head was spinning a little bit. It was a crazy time for me because it had been such a whirlwind, accepting the job and then traveling with USAB. It's still been a whirlwind and I'm still travelling with USAB, but had a fantastic summer and I feel like this year we're so far ahead already. Our expectations, I think, have really changed from one year to the next. I know that they understand much more what's expected of them and what's needed from them to be successful. I'm very excited to get the season underway.
On being picked second in the Big 12: I was actually surprised. Based on the finish last year, tied for seventh, and the players coming back for all the teams, I think it shows great respect for the players and really the way we finished the season and also for our incoming freshmen. Our goals are to finish first. I learned a long time ago it doesn't matter where you're picked preseason, it's all about postseason.
On the importance of experiencing postseason play: That was huge. That was the most important thing, for us to make sure we were in the postseason because only E-Bay (Erneshia Bailey), our one senior, had any type of postseason experience. It was imperative for us to get to the postseason so now they all understand what it feels like and what it takes to get there.
On the health the team: We have no knee braces, no arm sleeves, and it feels so good for me as a coach. Last year it felt like so many people had knee braces on or sleeves around their arms, about half of them couldn't do any of the sprint work. They all had to ride the bikes because of their knee problems.
On how Erika Arriaran's shooting will help the entire offense: It's going to help us so much. We really didn't have, other than Kat (Kathleen Nash) who was a freshman for us, a 3-point shooter. Erika's the best shooter that I've ever coached and I've coached numerous shooters, Abbey Waner in particular. Erika's just a phenomenal shooter.
On how far behind Erika Arriaran is coming off injury: I don't think Erika's behind at all offensively. She has a great understanding of the game, probably the best on the team. She understands the game, where the ball needs to be, who's hot. Everybody knows she's a great shooter but she's a tremendous passer as well, so offensively she's not behind at all. I think it's on the defensive end because we have so many defensive schemes and we love to run and press, and that's the area she's still trying to catch up with.
On the team's chemistry: It's excellent and the players have said already in these meetings it's the best it's ever been. We have 11 players. I like to keep small teams, they tend to be tighter and more cohesive and I think that's going to be the instance with this team as well.
On the impact of three incoming freshmen: It's imperative that our freshmen are ready to go, and they all are. They're winners, and they all played for great teams that were highly successful and tremendous coaches. They came in, they're in great shape, they work hard, they know what it takes to win.
On freshman forward Ashley Gayle: She's doing a great job for us. She's still trying to get in shape a little bit, she has asthma, which for somebody from Vegas where it's really dry there, it's been a struggle for her just to breathe. Our conditioning is one of the toughest, I have to believe, in the country because we want to run and press so we're really working hard to get everybody in shape. She's come a long way, we're really proud of her.
On the difference between year one and year two: I feel like I can breathe. Last year everything was brand new for me. I was still trying to get to know my team and how to motivate them. Trying to find out what was important to them and what their strengths and weaknesses were both on and off the court. This year I already feel ahead of the game. I was not only trying to get to know my team, I was trying to get to know the entire Big 12, which is no easy task. Now I understand what the Big 12 is all about, I know what we have to prepare for. I feel like I'm so far ahead of where I was last year.
On Brittainey Raven: Brittainey should be one of the best players in the country. I've already said to her that she should be the best defensive player in the country. She has to make a commitment to be the best. I coached two players at Duke that were the defensive players of the year in the nation, and I know what it looks like, I know what it takes. Brittainey has all the skills and all the tools, so I have very high expectations of her.
On what she related to the team about her Olympic experience: When I came back I talked to them as a team about my experience because I was gone for a month and I missed my team here. It was kind of just to get to know them again.
On how being a coach's daughter helps Yvonne Anderson: Yvonne Anderson, she's going to be a great player for us. She has a tremendous understanding of the game and I think that comes from being a coach's daughter and her brothers and her cousins and everybody in her family plays basketball, so she's grown up with it her entire life.
On the non-conference schedule: We've got a great non-conference schedule. We open up early on with those three games at home, Old Dominion in particular I know every year they're in the NCAA Tournament. And then Purdue, they were missing their best player last year who's back from a knee injury as well so they're going to be a dominant team in the Big Ten. Ole Miss is another SEC team from a power conference and Tennessee coming in, just to name a few. I think they're going to be great benchmarks for us to see where we are and where we need to be to begin our Big 12 play.
On who she thinks will step up as the teams' leaders: I think Brittainey Raven is definitely a vocal leader for us but everybody else is better now than they were a year ago, both physically and in that leadership role. I don't think we have one specific leader, we've got several leaders.
On the progress of Carla Cortillo: I think she's going to pick up where she left off. She understood the point position, for me, is really the toughest position because they have to mimic me on the floor, they have to be my voice on the floor. Carla was just learning last year what was important to me, so by the end of the season she got it.
On how she thinks her players know her better after a year: They definitely know what to expect. Last year it was all about getting to know one another, and some of the things I said and did probably surprised them as much as they surprised me. They definitely know that I'm going to get on them hard but I still love them, where as last year they were still trying to figure out when they got yelled at in practice, what did that mean.
On if she thought the trust between the coaches and players progressed over the season: I really do. It took time. They welcomed me with open arms and that felt good, but at the same time it takes time to build that trust and for them to understand what I wanted, what I needed, and to trust that what I was saying to fully believe in it and buy into it.
On her bond with Erika Arriaran: Erika, she's such a tough kid. She's a tough player, she doesn't show her emotions very often at all. She and I have bonded. I have great respect for Erika and all that she went through sitting out. She feels like she's been given a second chance, to come back and be healthy and she really wants to make the most of it.
On winning championships: We're fighting for championships this year and every year. From here on out those will be our goals. I've always had high expectations for my teams. I expect the very best so I don't see why if we work together and do the things we need to, I don't see why we can't win championships.
On replacing Earnesia Bailey's role on the defensive end: I've already talked to Yvonne Anderson about the fact that she's the same type of player in that she's a strong, physical guard, and she understands defense very well. She's got quick hands and she takes charges already. I feel like she's going to be one that will definitely step into that role that E-Bay had for us, making those hustle plays, taking the charges, doing those little things.
On the team adjusting to more intense practices: They got used to it. I'm old enough now I'm not going to change a whole lot. They adjusted and I think they're helping the freshmen through right now. When I get after the freshmen, I see the stunned look on their face but at the same time now there are some people in place that have already been through it, and they can turn to them and no it's for a reason.
On her new clothing line: George Mitchell, owner of the Co-op, he's one of our lifelong fans and friends and he sits straight across from me for all of our home games, so it was really his vision. He said he liked the clothes that I wore, the style I had and would I be interested in starting a clothing line.
On her new respect for clothing designers after designing her own clothing line: Much more so. Seeing the work that goes into it was really remarkable for me and I just really feel blessed to be a part of it.