Women's basketball media day quotes from head coach Jeff Mittie
Nov. 9, 2005
(Opening remarks): "We're having media day a little later than normal, so I know a little more about the team. Practice has gone okay. Coming in, we knew it would be an adjustment period. The difference for us and across the country is the rules now allow you to work with the team earlier. I'm not quite sure we took advantage of that the way I had hoped. I hoped we would come in and scrimmage more and feed off of each other. We tried to scrimmage more and give them the opportunity to play together and read each other and learn each others' strengths and weaknesses.
"The first exhibition was a success because we won. Shooting 38 percent, we weren't successful, but we got some good answers from that game. I've come out of exhibitions a lot of times and didn't know anything. Beating someone by 60 doesn't do you any good."
(On Sandora Irvin being gone): "Everybody else gets caught up in that more than I do. I'm finding what's different is that we don't have any easy plays. Sandora gave us that ability. Defensively, I'm noticing that a lot of guards can get in there now, and she would eliminate those shots. We have to find a way to score easier without a dominant center. We've made strides the last two days."
(On whether or not senior forward Vanessa Clementino can replace Sandora Irvin): "Vanessa will take more of the scoring load. I don't think she has the capability to score easily and go up over people like Sandora could. I want her to shoot the three more. Our scoring will come from four or five people this season."
(On TCU's difficult non-conference schedule): "I hope it doesn't destroy us. A schedule like this can destroy your confidence if you don't get any Ws. We always play tough schedules here. This is a difficult schedule for anyone. We're not just playing top 25 teams, we're playing top 10 and top five teams. There's a big difference between teams around the 20s and those in the top 10 in women's basketball.
"We can get better by playing against the best competition. I hope we become a stronger team and in March that we'll be back where we want to be. It's one of the reasons we have a history of ending the season strong. When we get to the conference tournament, there's nothing we haven't faced. If you play a schedule that isn't challenging you won't have the answers you need."
(On the experience of this year's team): "It has experience, but I'm taking into account the fact that people have moved into new roles, so there is some uncharted territory. Nobody is the go-to player. There are players who had roles last year that didn't require them to score as much and now they are being asked to score more. The go-to player may depend on the situation of the game in terms of where a mismatch is. I hope people emerge regardless of who the team is we're playing."
(On what he knows about the teams in the Mountain West Conferece): "I know the top teams like Utah, New Mexico and BYU because I pay attention to them nationally. I don't know the teams that have been in the middle or at the bottom as well. We'll have plenty of video.
"I'm not concerned about the style of play. In Conference USA, I thought the power forward spot was the biggest change. In the WAC, they were six-foot shooters and in Conference USA they were 6-2 and 6-3, physical and could run. It was moving to a different league with different types of players."
(On TCU's perimeter defense with Sandora Irvin being gone): "We could gamble on the perimeter before and Sandora could erase our mistakes. They could get post entry and we could get away with it. I can remember telling the team last year we want them to throw it into the post. There were five to seven games that went that way. That's pretty easy to coach.
"We have some good perimeter defenders on this team. Moneka Knight was as good as anybody last year. Adrianne Ross is getting better, Natasha Lacy is playing as good of defense as she ever has. Ashley Davis has improved. It'll be critical to get pressure out there. This team will play more types of defense than last year's and it will turn into a strength for us."
(On what TCU's style of play will be this year): "You'll see a four-guard lineup at times. There will probably be a minimum of three. That isn't much of a style change for us. The difference will be the emphasis. With Irvin, we ran the motion offense and told her to stay out. If she came out to shoot we'd go inside. I'm trying to get Davis in there, Lacy will post up, Vanessa Clementino will be in there. The positive in the exhibition was we outscored them in the paint 48-12 and they were a good-sized team. We were able to get in there with mismatches."
(On whether or not he likes the move to the Mountain West Conference): "It's a good league. Do I enjoy the unknown? No, that's for vacations. With basketball, uncertainty adds work and stress. It's easier when you know the other coaches and the talent of the players. We have to redo everything. In time, we're going to enjoy being in the Mountain West Conference, but the first year is always difficult."
(On whether or not the Mountain West Conference is a step up for TCU): "I think the power rating will be along the same lines of Conference USA. A nine-team league is better than a 14-team league. Playing teams twice allows us to grow rivalries better and the fans will know the league sooner. Playing 16 league games doesn't allow us the same flexibility for scheduling non-conference games. All in all, it will be a good move for us."
(On the health of Adrianne Ross and Marissa Rivera): "Adrianne is coming along every day. She has the benefit of having played a year in the system. Marissa only got three weeks of practice last year before getting hurt. Adrianne had the full freshman year plus a few games last year. Everything Marissa is getting thrown at her is new. She doesn't look as quick some days and some of that I believe is mental. Both of them will contribute and it's certainly good to see them back. It's good for Adrianne to get back and be faced with some different things. There's no doubt she's a gamer."
(On whether or not there is an impact player among his newcomers): "I don't see any of them being an impact player. Our two post players are good-sized. They are slowly picking things up. Right now, we have to force feed them. There's a big gap between them and the returners. The last couple of days I've seen good things. If they can get in there and rebound they can get some minutes.
"Rebounding is my biggest concern because it sets up our transition game. We took that for granted the last four years. It was easy to have Sandora get the rebounds. We've been just okay so far with it."
(On whether or not the team has been doing more rebounding drills this year): "I'm probably one of the worst coaches in the country when it comes to rebounding drills. I tend to say go get it and it just takes effort. That's something where you just need to get it. Everybody gets into technique and I just say get the ball. You have to want the ball more than the other player. If you want it more than the other person you'll be successful.
"We probably will do more drills. I think the other coaches have convinced me we need to. On offense, I want the person shooting the ball thinking it's going in and the other four thinking it'll miss. Defensively, I want all five thinking the shot is going to miss."
(On the 2000-01 team): "I watched an hour of film on the 2000-01 team the other day. I don't do that very often. There are things we need to do like that team. We had Janice Thomas on that team and we taught her to reverse pivot, turn and go. I think Vanessa Clementino can be very good at that. She can be one of the best in the conference. That team was very successful offensively and they understood what they were good at it and bad it, and they eliminated the bad as much as they could. That will be critical for us."
(On who the projected starters are for the regular season): "We'll start five, but I don't know who they'll be."
(On junior guard Natasha Lacy): "She's improved mentally. Tasha is an emotional player and we've been able to harness some of it. She's super aggressive and has less bad emotion than ever before. You look at her stat line from the exhibition game and she had 10 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and six steals. The only thing she didn't do was shoot it well that day. Part of it was shot selection.
"She's a player within the offense who needs to touch it a couple times each possession. She can make others better. People have to account for her. Last year, people had to account for Sandora. I hope other teams worry about Lacy in all areas. Things aren't as simple as a year ago, but that's kind of fun as a coach."
(On this year's recruiting class): "We signed three and received their National Letters of Intent this morning. Shayla Moore from Denison High School is a terrific scorer. She led the area in that at 29.6 points per game. She's a fantastic scorer. Out of all the guards I saw, she can shoot it from 23, 24 or 25 feet. That's what we liked about her. She can play the two or the point. I saw her running the point this summer and still score 35 points.
"Danielle Nunn at Arlington Bowie High School was the MVP of the state tournament. She is a fantastic athlete and the most versatile in the group. She can get to the rim and is an open-court player. She can be one of the best defenders in the league. She'll be a great college player because she can create plays.
"Emily Carter from Airline High School in Bossier City, La., can play a variety of spots. We wanted guard depth and to get versatile players. She can really shoot the three -- she's a lefty. She can post or put it to the floor. I like her basketball IQ. I saw her this summer and she understood when she needed to score 30 and when the post needed to score 30. That's something we were looking for.
"We went into the signing period wanting guard depth and versatility and to add another inside player. We didn't get the inside player. We still have some work to do and we'd like to get another three- or four-type player. We accomplished quite a bit.
"I don't get into what other schools they were recruited by. I don't care who was recruiting them. We recruited them and we think they're pretty good. This is a group that wins. We look for recruits who fit into what we're trying to do here and winning is certainly an important part of that.
"We have some spots still open for the spring. You could see us sign one or two. The early period isn't over yet either, and you never know if we'll have more."