Women's Basketball Media Day Quotes From Jeff Mittie
Oct. 19, 2004
FORT WORTH, Texas
(Opening remarks): "This is an important day for us. In the past, we could have done this around a small table. I appreciate everybody being here. TCU is in a heavy market for sports, and our program has grown the last five years, particularly in the caliber of teams we've played. We'll see how this year goes. I expect us to be talented. There are a lot of question marks, but this is an exciting team."
(On continuing TCU's streak of NCAA appearances): "I Don't get too concerned with streaks of NCAA bids. Every year is different and past success doesn't guarantee future success. We're a little younger this year than we have been. In 13 years as a coach, I've had old, young and experienced teams. The key is to have good players and go from there."
(On his junior college transfers): "Stephanie Thiel and Vanessa Clementino are our two junior college players. We had a definite need at the power forward position. Vanessa can get up and down the court. We lost a lot of great shooters from last year and felt like we needed to sign a shooter late. Stephanie fills that need.
"Clementino has shown me that she can contribute right away, and she's had great leadership skills in practice. Thiel started playing at Texas and has played at a high level. Clementino is comfortable as a power forward. She's the hardest worker on the team. In 13 years, I've only had a handful of players that work as hard as her. She wants it every day. Vanessa is the kind of player who wants more after we've finished a three-hour practice."
(On international players in the women's game): "I think you're seeing more international players coming in now than you did 10 years ago. These kids want to get the education. The emergence of the WNBA has helped open the door as well."
(On leaders): "Sandora has the credibility because of her ability and what she does on the floor. She's an emotional leader. Clementino has really earned the respect of her teammates, and on the floor, she's always talking. Lacy has become a better leader as a basketball player. She understands her responsibility on floor and makes us better on the floor. I don't know where the leadership is going to come from. Last year, it was an easy choice with (Ebony) Shaw and (Tracy) Wynn, and that's not the case this year."
(On who TCU's defensive stopper is this year): "One of the question marks we have in the preseason is who our defensive stopper is. We're looking for someone like Shaw and (Tiffany) Evans. Clementinio is a great defender. I feel good about her. I think Adrianne Ross made tremendous strides last year. She played a great game against DePaul and Louisville. JimAnne Baker is a great athlete; one of the best athletes I've ever had on the floor. She can guard a lot of positions from the one to potentially the four. Natasha Lacy has the physical tools to guard the point to the three, but mentally she takes some plays off defensively. We're trying to get her to compete more."
(On who the backup point guard will be): "I want Moneka Knight to be that person. I'd like to leave Ross at the two because she's a slasher and a scorer. It benefits her to only work at one spot. It depends on how quickly Moneka progresses. She had a rough day two days ago and bounced back yesterday."
(On who he likes at the three spot): "I like our versatility and options. Ashley Davis is playing well. Nike Newton will have a chance at the three or four. Baker could be at the three or four as well."
(On whether or not TCU is a smaller team): "I don't know if we're a smaller team. I think we have good quickness and can get up and down the floor. I don't know if we could play any quicker than we did last year. We need to play more efficient than last year."
(On TCU getting more credibility in the DFW market): "We have a very competitive market place in DFW. We've worked hard to create a niche in women's basketball. We've tried to appeal to families and kids. Our staff is always working hard at that. We set an attendance record last year by averaging 3,470 per game. Our season ticket sales are greater this year than last. It doesn't happen overnight, and it continues to grow. We want our season ticket base to be at 2,500. We have more people in the media covering us, and we know it's a tough market."
(On the team's goals): "You don't go backwards with those. We always want conference championships and to be in the NCAA Tournament. People say, 'well you have nine newcomers,' but I'm excited about it. I don't put limitations on them. Every year, I go in trying to get each team to improve a little everyday. They can end up being a special team at the end. Every player we recruit, we've already told them what our goals are, so they know going in. This year is no exception. This team is capable of being a good basketball team. We have a few more question marks than last year, but this team might have a greater upside than last year. We may show more growth from November to March than a year ago."
(On turnovers this year): "We were a young team at the point last year. One of my things early was we needed to play at a high rate of speed because I knew we'd have a lot of turnovers anyway. It's like in football, if you throw a long pass once in awhile you're going to get a 65-yard touchdown. It's the same thing in basketball. I felt like Ross and Lacy were better in the open floor early in the year than in the half court. That's why we did that and we turned it over too much. I want to see us make the big play and simple half court plays this year."
(On the respect TCU gets during NCAA Tournament selection): "It helps when you're a familiar name to the selection committee. The tradition helps, but I still think they'll seed you based on what happened that year. When it really comes into play is when it's between you and another team that's never been there. When we first got to the tournament, we lost to UTEP during the regular season and we might not have made it if we didn't win the WAC Tournament. It would have killed us back then. Now, something like that probably wouldn't be held against us as much."
(On Conference USA): "It'll be another good year. A lot of the top teams have questions to answer. Looking at DePaul, they lost two good shooters. Houston lost the best player in the league in Chandi Jones and one of their top inside players. Louisville is a little underrated, but they did lose Sara Nord at the point, so they have some questions to answer. South Florida returns all five starters and they were 14-15 and went to the WNIT. It could be a very good year for Conference USA."
(On TCU's overall schedule): "It looks harder every time I look at it. It's tough when you have a schedule with early season tournaments. The tournament in Miami was to take Irvin back to Florida. We didn't know at the time we'd have to play UCLA in the first round. Hawaii turned out difficult for us as well. The schedule is challenging and we have great home games with Oklahoma and USC. We go back to Tennessee and we're at Utah, and we saw how good Utah was two years ago. It's the kind of schedule we like to play. We want tough opponents, and it's critical for us to have success early on. Playing teams from all over the country helps you during the NCAA selection process."
(On playing Arkansas State, a team he used to coach): "We needed a game during the summer and Brian Boyer [Arkansas State head coach] needed one as well. I wouldn't have done it if he didn't ask me. I was out recruiting and he called me one day and said he needed a favor. Brian was a loyal assistant to me for many years. If it hadn't fit for us we wouldn't have done it. To be honest, I don't like it a whole lot, but none of my old players are still there. Brian and I usually talk about our teams every week but we're not doing that right now. I told him I'd show him some things we're doing on December 5."
(On who the backup center will be): "The backup center spot is one where we'll need help. Jenna Lohse had her knee scoped recently, but she'll be fine and could be in that position. Clementino and Marissa Rivera will get a look there. It's critical to find that person because the reality is she's going to play some minutes if Irvin's in foul trouble or needs a break."
(On who will see a lot of playing time this season): "Players determine playing time because you're either ready to play or you're not. In looking at our schedule, you better be ready. It might be different if our non-conference schedule was not so difficult. I don't know how deep our rotation will be. Last year, I would have said nine. You'll see lots of different rotations during the exhibitions."
(On Sandora Irvin): "Her strength is better than a year ago. I thought she had a very good off-season. I felt like she had the best one since she's been here. She is emotional on the court, and she learned to channel that better last year. I expect her to start the year where she left off from last year. Remember, though, we've never been one person's team. She can't do it herself."