Women's Basketball Big Ten Media Day
Oct. 31, 2013
Chicago, Ill. -
Lady Lion head coach Coquese Washington and members of the team spoke with the media at the Big Ten women's basketball media day in Chicago, Ill. on Thursday, Oct. 31.
Q. It seems like you had Alex Bentley forever and the relationship with her was fun to watch, but how difficult is it to replace a four-year starter at point guard and who might be doing that for you this year?
Coquese Washington: It's certainly difficult to replace a player of Alex's talent and caliber and she meant so much to our program. Dara got a chance to play with her up close and personal and what our expectations are for point guard and she'll slide over into that ball handling role and I don't think it will be as big of an adjustment because the team is used to Dara. I'm used to Dara and she is used to being on the floor and being a leader so I don't think it will be as big of an adjustment as it could be.
Q. Coach, with so many young players on your roster, seven freshmen, I believe, talk about how that has made your practices so different from last year and what has Maggie Lucas' role been now that she is a senior?
Coquese Washington: Our practices are interesting, you never know what you're going to get day in and day out. Some days they look fantastic and other days they don't. So practice is an adventure every day for our coaching staff.
Maggie has done a fantastic job of being a leader, growing into a leadership role. Every year she has added new things to her game and this year I think one of the biggest is growth and leadership and being patient and having poise. She was always the younger of the core players on our team, so she didn't necessarily have to have that responsibility. She could just kind of play and let the upperclassmen take care of the leadership and those things. She has been really patient but at the same time demanding and she et cetera sets such a high standard in practice for work ethic and intensity and focus. That's been a real benefit for our younger players to see how you have to carry yourself and conduct yourself on a daily basis if you want to have a great career and if our program wants to get where we want to be at the end of the season.
Q. Just with all the younger players, the freshmen class, anybody separating themselves from others?
Coquese Washington: Well, I've been impressed with Kaliyah Mitchell, she was a playing with her back to the basket in high school and she is playing more face-up and she has made the adjustment quickly to the college game.
I have been impressed with her ability to make plays, Peyton Whitted is doing a great job, stretching the defense, and Alex Harris is going to be an athletic post player for us and she is doing a lot of good things, rebounding the ball, getting out in transition.
I'm optimistic that all of our freshmen will have impact on game day for us and since we have some, chances are one of them is going to play good on game day. One of them should show up every day. That's my hope.
Q. Coach, considering what you lost, graduating your senior class, it looks like Talia and Candice are going to have to step up and play bigger roles. Talk about those two players in particular and what you expect from them?
Coquese Washington: Starting with Talia, she is one of our strongest players and a tremendous defensive player and rebounder. She has played well for us in the postseason in the last two years, put up big numbers in rebounding and defending. We're counting on her to play with that confidence she played with in the postseason and bringing that to the start of the season. Candice is a tremendous player, McDonald's All-American, didn't get a lot of playing time last year, but she looked good in practice, got in great shape over the summer, got her body composition intact and I think she is going to have an impact on both ends for us with her size. She is a 6-6 player and she has a great touch around the basket.
Q. The new 10-second rule, is that something you like coming in and do you have to continually remind your kids that you can't take 11 seconds to get it down the court?
Coquese Washington: We don't ever have a problem taking 10 second to get the ball up the floor. We like to play fast and get up and down the floor. That won't necessarily be an issue for us. There probably will be more pressing, teams taking trying to take advantage of the rule. So it will be a matter of us making sure that we understand how to attack presses and how to press more this year than we have in the past few years.
Q. Last year you had Dara and Bentley; they were like a two-headed snake. They were able to dominate the backcourt with their defense. How do you see that playing out this season? Do you have an immediate answer for defensively how you makeup for that lost speed without Alex?
Coquese Washington: Definitely Ariel is a great defender and what she gives up in speed she makes up with her size and length. It will look different but I think the pressure and the intensity and the ability to create turnovers, the ability to make her man play a little differently than they want to play should be a plus for us. Then again with our bench and our freshmen we have more size on the perimeter than we have had in years past and hopefully that will allow us to contest shots and maybe not give up as many baskets so we are playing in transition off of rebounds as opposed to live turnovers.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.