Women's Basketball Media Day
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas head coach Jody Conradt and her players and coaching staff met with members of the media on Wednesday as Texas held its annual Basketball Media Day/Luncheon at Cooley Pavilion on the UT campus.
Below are the thoughts of Coach Conradt on the upcoming season. Conradt, the second-winningest coach in collegiate women's basketball history, enters the 2005-06 campaign with an overall record of 752-216.
The Longhorns are ranked in the preseason publications from eighth to 12th nationally. This includes a No. 8 ranking by ESPN.com, and a No. 11 ranking by Street & Smith Magazine. The Associated Press Preseason Top 25 Poll and the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Top 25 Poll will be released in the next few weeks.
Texas will hold an informal intrasquad scrimmage - open free to the public - on Saturday, October. 29, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Frank Erwin Center. Note: unlike in past years, there will be no Orange-White Game held prior to the exhibition contests. Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage will take the place of the traditional Orange-White (intrasquad) game.
The Longhorns open the season with two exhibition games on back-to-back Thursday evenings at the Erwin Center. On November 3rd, the Longhorns face Everyones Internet at 7 p.m., followed by a November 10th exhibition against the Houston Jaguars, also at 7 p.m. UT's season opener is on Friday, November 18 (7 p.m.) against New Mexico in Austin.
Texas Head Coach Jody Conradt Press Conference Quotes
I'm very excited about this group of freshmen. They're talented, for sure. They are certainly in the state of having their "heads spinning" at this point in time. They are not sure what's expected and how to handle the demands that we've placed on them. The advantage was that all of them had an opportunity, with the exception of Erika Arriaran, to be here part of the summer. They did have some time to transition into the academic piece in the summer school sessions, and now it is basketball and academics, which is really making their head spin and making them wonder what they've signed on for.
The (freshmen) are tired, they're leg-weary, and looking around asking, 'what else are we going to be expected to do during this practice time?'. It will be a slow process to bring them all along; there's no question about that. If you like roller coaster rides, you will enjoy this preseason!
The good thing about having seven of them is that at least two of them will play well every day ... but I can't guarantee any more than that. We see something good one day, and then the next day it's not there with any kind of consistency. But, again, this is a talented group. A really nice group as well. We're really pleased with them. They're conscientious and diligent, but it is a shock for each of them to step on a campus with 50,000 students and know you have to be competitive in that classroom. Then, you've got these four lunatics - the coaches - who are screaming at you every day to do more and more each time you get on the basketball court!"
Speaking about the leadership on the team ...
JC: "Our leadership is coming in the form of (senior guard) Nina Norman, who has really stepped up as the most overt leader. She is the person who has the most experience, the person who is willing to take on that role. I think we also look to Tiffany (Jackson) to do that, and she has shown that she has that ability and the will to lead as well. Although, due to her practice injury a week ago (a mild concussion suffered on an on-court collision), she has been out of practice for little more than a week now. That's a good and a bad thing. The bad thing is our team is not nearly as good with Tiffany on the sideline. On the other hand, I think it has forced some of our other players to step up and not have Tiffany in the role of rescuing them.
This summer, I started to meet with three of our four seniors on a weekly basis- Nina (Norman), Tamra (Cobbins) and Coco (Reed). Our fourth senior, Daria (Mieloszynska) went back to Poland for the entire summer. That was an unusual circumstance, but as with international students, they have to have a round trip ticket before they can come into this country to go to school, and Daria had purchased a ticket that was going to expire right before summer school started. Then it was going to be necessary for her to buy another round trip back to come to summer school; with that, there also was the circumstance of her only brother getting married. She felt a great deal of pressure to go home and not put undue financial strain on her family. I made an exception for her and she went home for the summer. Daria is the kind of individual who will work extremely hard, and I knew she would come back in good shape, which she did.
So, this summer, I talked to the three seniors each week about what their responsibilities were and they brought to the table any issues we might need to deal with as a team. I was very impressed with their diligence and their willingness to take that on. Nina in particular, as the most experienced player in that group, has taken that leadership role and has done a really good job with it. You never know what your leadership will be like until you get into the fray. This team took the responsibility of knowing we had seven new people that had no concept of what is expected or how they were going to cope with it. I'm pleased with our four seniors so far. Leadership will be an ongoing process. It will be something that will have to continue to evolve for us to be successful."
Talking about her philosophy and approach to training/conditioning and practice during the months of September and October, leading up to the official start of practice (Oct. 14) ...
JC: "As I said, we're making progress every day. We have the potential to be good. But, it's required a great deal of restraint on the part of the coaching staff. For one thing, we didn't just jump into full scale team basketball practice in September, even though the NCAA rules changed this year and that would have allowed us to do that with the beginning of school. The fact that the season is extremely long and demanding, and the fact that we have several players who came to us with knee injuries, turned our focus to strength training and conditioning to start off the fall semester.
I felt like we had to monitor our workload and we had to build a base of conditioning. (Basketball strength coach) Todd Wright has done for the women's team much as he has done for the past few years for Rick's (Barnes' men's basketball) team. We'll see at the end of the season whether our emphasis on preseason conditioning and training will pay off for us or not.
We went slow on basketball in September and early October; we could work out eight hours per week, and six of those were given to Todd because I thought that was what he needed. You're talking about a group that had never really lifted weights, a group that had never really trained for competition at this level. Todd took the team for six hours and that left the coaching staff two hours per week for on-court work. I think that the staff would have liked to have gone a lot faster. There's a lack of patience on the part of anyone who coaches, I think.
We tried to work with the players individually in small groups. As we got within two weeks of the start of official practice, we started to get all of them on the court. They're in a tremendous learning curve with everything we were asking them to do here and in the classroom, and it was a challenge. The biggest challenge was trying to keep them all moving in the same direction."
On why the team is not holding a formal evening Orange-White Game (intrasquad scrimmage) prior to the exhibition games this year ...
JC: "We are not having an Orange-White Game, as such, for a number of reasons. One, it's hard to find 10 players in our group who can go head-to-head, because of all the rehab issues and injury issues we've had, and put them on a court and go hard for any extended period of time. Instead, we are having a scrimmage this Saturday (Oct. 29) at 11 a.m. in the Erwin Center, and it will be game-like with officials. It is open to the public. But, we will not have an evening Orange and White scrimmage, as such. We are looking forward to those exhibition games for our first true in-game experiences. To get ready any quicker than that would have been very hard."
Looking ahead to what the fans should expect to see when UT opens exhibition play next Thursday (Nov. 3) against Everyones Internet ...
JC: "I am not anticipating we will be a well-oiled machine in these two exhibition games. Our focus is to try to get ourselves ready to play by the opener against New Mexico (Nov. 18), a very worthy opponent and a team that is experienced and will come in here well-coached. I think you'll enjoy the development and the growth of the freshman class and how they integrate themselves into this team. We have a very demanding schedule. We are playing Duke and UConn here, and we travel to Tennessee and Rutgers. We're probably over-scheduled again, and that's the fault of (assistant coach) Kathy Harston! But, I think it will allow us to measure ourselves against where we want to be. One of the advantages of that is finding out where you are and what you need to work on. I'm excited about the challenge and apprehensive about what lays ahead."