AUSTIN, Texas -- The University of Texas women's basketball team held its annual Media Day/Luncheon on Wednesday, Oct. 27. Following lunch, Jody Conradt and her staff and players conducted a two-hour session with the media. The Media Day always is held in conjunction with UT's annual Orange-White Game, which will take place Wednesday evening at the Erwin Center (8 p.m. Central).
Below are some quotes from Coach Conradt and several players as they turn toward the start of what appears to be a promising 2004-05 campaign.
Head Coach Jody Conradt
Her opening comments at Media Day ...
"We are real excited because this is always the best time of the year. There is anticipation of a new season and they players are excited and anxious to get out on the floor. This is the most significant reason for having the Orange and White Game tonight.
"This is a team that is surrounded by high expectations, which is rightfully so. When you lose only one player, everyone assumes you will take the next step and improve upon whatever happened the previous year. I haven't found a way to start where you left off. Every year we start over and it is each team's responsibility to establish its own identity and to make their own states about what kind of team they are going to be. They are so anxious to play, they can hardly wait. Part of that is the return of Annissa Hastings. She is one of our most vocal, enthusiastic and energetic players. She has been inactive for over a year and her enthusiasm is contagious to our team."
On the senior class:
"You look at this senior class and it is huge. I don't think there have been too many senior classes that have had a more successful career than this class, led by Heather Schreiber and Kala Bowers, who will be four-year starters this season. It is with their addition to our team that we started to move in a positive direction. You add Mercedes Williams and Jody Bell, who have contributed in their own way, and Jamie Carey, who gained an additional year and now in her final year of eligibility. Finally, Annissa [Hastings], after redshirting, is in the senior class. This is one of the biggest classes that I can remember and one of the classes that has had most impact on our program. It is their team and their task and they are practicing with an urgency that tells me that they want to leave here with the same success if not more than they have had over the years."
Player Quotes from Basketball Media Day
Jamie Carey (5-6 Sr. G; Preseason National Player of the Year candidate (for Wooden Award, State Farm Tip-Off Classic; Preseason All-Big 12 Team)
Her general thoughts on this year's team...
"On this year's team there are six seniors who bring a lot of experience to the lineup. I think there is a sense of urgency with this group that is different than years before. We fell short last year of our goals in the NCAA Tournament, and don't want that to happen again. Our style of play is also different this year with the new offense. We're a very quick team and that should also help toward our defensive efforts. As you go through the year, there is always a learning curve but I think we have great talent on this team that will help us be successful."
On this year's goals...
"This team is really appreciative of the recognition we have received, but we do not pay attention to all the hype. We just have to continue to work hard and get the job done. Our goals are the same as before - win the Big 12 and win a national championship. Our schedule is extremely challenging and that will help us in the end. Why not just throw us out there and see what we need to learn in November, rather than having us learn it in April?"
Tiffany Jackson (6-3 So. F; Preseason National Player of the Year candidate (for Wooden Award, State Farm Tip-Off Classic; Preseason All-Big 12 Team)
On what she worked on over the summer ....
"This summer and during individual workouts, I put a lot of emphasis on hitting the 15-foot jumper and taking the one dribble and pulling up for my shot. These were the things that a lot of teams scouted me on last year, so I'm trying to improve my overall game."
On what the exhibition tour to Canada over Labor Day meant to the team...
"I think we are still working our team cohesiveness, but during the Canadian tour we did become a lot closer as a team. The trip was good for us because it gave us an opportunity to get our newcomers into the mix and work on our new offense."
Annissa Hastings (6-2 Sr. F)
On coming back for a fifth-year of play after missing last year with an Achilles injury and surgery...
"My legs feel great. There are times when they hurt after a workout, but the training staff has done a great job in helping me rehab since my injury last year. When I step on the court, I don't second-guess my injury - I'm just ready to play. In terms of can I do what I did before my injury, like jumping and rebounding? I guess so. You'll have to ask my teammates!"
Nina Norman (5-8 Jr. G)
The difference on this year's team from last year's team....
"I think this is going to be a very different team from last year. We're going to do a lot more running and we have great versatility out on the court. It is going to be a good year and I think we will be contenders for a national championship. We just need to go out and play our hardest every night and get our team chemistry to where it needs to be."
Heather Schreiber (6-2 Sr. F; Preseason National Player of the Year candidate (for Wooden Award, State Farm Tip-Off Classic; Preseason All-Big 12 Team)
Talking about the Labor Day trip to British Columbia and what it meant to the team...
"The Canadian trip was tiring because we played two games both days, but at the same time I think it was great for us because it got us conditioned and gave us experience playing when you're tired. Both the teams we played were really good - both of them among the best college teams in Canada - so it was a good challenge for us. Off the court, we had a chance to do a lot of things on our own and spend time with each other. We had time to go out and shop, and go get dinner in small groups. It was a great experience for our team."
Speaking about this year's schedule and what the team is working on ...
"We have a lot tough games at the beginning of our season which are out-of-conference-games, and that will really help us see where we are, as compared to last year at the same time. We start off with a tough team in Penn State, and then in the next few weeks we play at Georgia and UCLA and New Mexico and have Tennesse at home. We are going to have to come out of the gates playing really well to be able to have a good record."
"There are always a lot of things that this team can improve. Every day in practice, we work hard and try to improve on all aspects of our games. We definitely have the potential to win a national championship, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done."