Q: Tell me a little bit about what is happening currently with the team. What is the team working on right now?
A: We finished our season on March 8 and we took off until April 3. We have eight hours a week to practice in the off-season, and usually we spend about 15 or 16 so it is much more relaxed. We’re going to go play beach volleyball today instead of being on the court and we played tennis last week too. You’ve got to keep yourself fresh. They have to get used to working with each other. And it’s a good way to get out and just be together.
Q: So far, you have signed seven new players. The last day to sign is on Wednesday. Are you hoping to sign any more players until then?
A: I think it would be a long shot for us to get a new player signed by next Wednesday but I don’t think it will be out of the question to get another player by next fall.
Q: Among the new players, who really stands out to you? Who are you looking to as leaders for the team?
A: That’s a great question. They all have gifts and they’re all in positions to help us right away. It’s a neat situation. I think Emily Neal has a tremendous opportunity to cooperate. Joyce (Cousseins) and Jaunise (Cornell) both have tremendous opportunities to contribute so we are excited to have a variety of leadership and talent coming in.
Q: Let’s talk about Nya Mason who recently signed with the Rams. Her statistics coming up to this point are outstanding. She recorded a game with 35 points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks. How do you plan on using her under the basket?
A: I think she’s going to have a little bit of development, she needs to build up. She is valuable for us because we’ve (played against) centers with size and strength that we can’t neutralize. She’s going to do a terrific job for us. Right now, Marilyn (Moulton) will be coming back as a senior and a center who will do a terrific job, so when Marilyn graduates, it will be Nya’s job to step up and contribute right away. This is a young woman with incredible potential. She has great hands, and can do great things under the basket. I feel fortunate to have her on the team.
Q: There has been some criticism about the decisions that have been made as far as the players who won’t be returning next year. What is your plan for the direction the women’s basketball program will take for the 2006-07 season?
A: I think the first step is to develop the core of the returning players. We really need to develop learning, leadership and trust for the freshmen. The standard of competition and teamwork must be entrusted by the new freshmen and that has to be set by the players who are returning.
Q: Casie Shepard, who has decided not to come back next season, recently made some remarks criticizing your particular coaching style. What would you say in response to those?
A: In my heart, and on behalf of the whole staff, I absolutely wish all of our players that are moving in other directions the best success. I have appreciation for the contribution of all the girls who have been on the team. I wish success to Liz, to Casie, and to the other girls who won’t be back next season in whatever direction they are going.
Q: And so as you watch this new team come together, how are you feeling about the season coming up?
A: I have this instinctive excitement that I think all coaches have about their teams. This is going to be a process. We are responsible to develop one day at a time. We will create a program here. Everything we accomplish will have to be one day at a time and that’s something we will really work for.
Q: What will be your biggest challenge with this ‘new team’ you’ve created as far as building up a strong program?
A: If there’s one thing, or one goal for this new team, it’s that they play with confidence. Coaching has a lot to do with setting players free to play and that is something we really want for this season. That’s something that is controllable with this team. I think it is absolutely necessary to build up the confidence not only the players, but the team as a whole.
Q: Changing direction a little bit, what are your thoughts on the new athletic director, Paul Kowalczyk?
A: I really look forward to working with Paul. I’ve been very impressed with the process of the search committee and hiring. It was first-class from beginning to end. We’re all excited to sit down with him in a couple weeks and sculpt the future of CSU athletics.
Q: What about the financial situation in the athletic department at CSU? How will this help or hurt the program?
A: Financially, well, it’s always important to compete financially. It gives you opportunity to take care of your athletes. It’s a challenge for CSU, but you’ll always have a challenge somewhere. It’s a challenge that is to be respected and acknowledged, and it can only make things better if we keep working on it.