Catchin' up with Chris: Sept. 21
Sept. 21, 2009
How do you feel about opening Big 12 play against former UT assistant and now Oklahoma head coach Nicole Nelson? She’s done a good job there. They’re a much improved team. They’ve got a couple of dangerous players. I’m sure they’ll be excited to play, and I’m sure it’ll be a good game.
What is the biggest difference between nonconference and conference play? The thing about conference play is you’re familiar with the teams you’re playing. You know the players and their styles. You have a lot better idea about who you’re playing.
How have you been keeping the players motivated despite some of the adversity they’ve faced this season? I think we continue to look at everything as one game. We talk to them a lot about not looking back but looking forward, and just think about winning the next game. The good thing about conference play is that everybody starts off with the same record. We have an opportunity in conference to do some good things, and take advantage of those opportunities.
Talk about the play of freshman Becka Rivera and the spark she has provided off the bench: She’s gotten better. She’s more fit now than she was in August. The injuries have allowed people like Becka to get more time and become better players, which will allow them to get more time in the future. So what is unfortunate for one player becomes fortunate for another. And some of them have been able to take advantage of those opportunities.
What are the three main things you are going to focus on in practice this week? I think the first thing for us right now is rest. We’ve had two hard games in a week, so I think rest and recovery is most important to us. We have to do a better job marking when we’re defending. We want to continue working on passing the ball. Last game was better. We connected some passes and made some plays, and I think we’ll continue to do that.
How have the underclassmen responded to the amount of playing time they’re getting? We spent most of the game yesterday with freshmen players. It’s great experience for them. We’re going to get better. I don’t think it’ll be too long before they start finishing some of the chances they missed. I’m a believer in sometimes you’ve got to fail before you succeed. They learned a good lesson yesterday about the importance of those chances.
Five of the freshmen played together in Dallas before coming to UT, how has that helped them on the field this year? It certainly has helped them with chemistry. You can see, for example, that Kristin (Cummins) knows the kind of ball that Becka (Rivera) likes. Becka likes to run after balls, and Kristin knows that, so she moves the ball to play to her, so you kind of get that connection.
Last thoughts heading into Big 12 play? We look at it as a new year. We get to start all over. And it’s an opportunity.