Head coach Beth Burns (above) and the three Aztec seniors addressed the media today at Viejas Arena.
Oct. 14, 2010
SDSU Basketball Media Day Quotes
SDSU Head Coach Beth Burns
On replacing graduated guards Quenese Davis and Jene' Morris:
"You do not replace Q and Jene', that's what makes sports great. Anybody downstairs (on the court) now who aspires to do that, like our young guard Courtney Clements, who has big dreams, is very talented and has some big shoes to fill. I told Courtney that when Jene' was a sophomore, Jene' was a sophomore. She was not Jene' the senior. It takes time, it's a process."
On this year's senior class:
"What people don't know, even our fans, is that Paris (Johnson), Coco (Davis) and later JB (Jessika Bradley) have deferred something that they can do (as individuals) to make our team better. That's what teams do. Basketball teams function by who does what and how you do it together. Paris stepped aside last year to let Jessika Bradley run inside and changed every part of her game, sacrificing shot blocks and assignments and did all kinds of things, because that made our team better. Coco has been the best passer on our team since she was a freshman and I'm saying that knowing that Q shattered the all-time assists record here at San Diego State. (Coco's) that good, but she just just facilitated and deferred to the strengths of Q and Jene' as I asked her to do. The exciting thing is that each of them now has an opportunity to do their thing. All summer and fall to date, if I could have written a blueprint for how I would have hoped it could go for them, it has been. They've been great leaders. They have been our hardest workers. JB has lost 15 pounds; she ran a 6:40 mile - last year she broke eight minutes with somebody cheating. She wants to be a speed forward and go to the league [WNBA]. Paris is going the other way - I hope she looked bigger and stronger with what she has done. Coco is healthy and physically is doing well. We have really great senior leadership and it's going to take time, because right now we're all over the map with lots of talented parts, but our inexperience is really evident."
On if they are going to have to change their style of play with the loss of Quenese Davis and Jene' Morris:
"There is no question that this is the fine line that as a coaching staff we're treading. You're coming off such success, the last thing you want to do is change a lot. You're comfortable and confident in what you've been able to accomplish. By the same token, our strengths without question will be different. We're doing a lot of similar things right now and we will evolve it somewhat, because I felt it was really important to empower the older kids to do things the way we want to do things. You don't want to start with something new, where they are all new at it. You want to empower the ones that are good at it. We're bigger, we're stronger, we're longer, but we're not as near as fast on the perimeter. San Diego State for the last three seasons has been in the top 15 in forcing turnovers. (This year) we need to be in the top 15 in getting defensive rebounds and pushing the ball. Jene' and Q had a 170 steals combined. There is no one downstairs that is going to replace that, so we're going to have to use our strength and our length to more one-and-out people and run from a defensive board and not be able to depend on the run outs that we did in the past."
On the importance of the front court this season:
"Offensively, I talked about how great a passer Coco is, but JB and Paris have to finish. A year ago, if our bigs played well, we were great. If our bigs were inconsistent, we'd still win the game but it was a struggle. This year, if our bigs don't play well, we don't win the game. They have and will be the strength and the experience of our team."
On rebuilding the program and losing so many conference games a year ago:
"Last season was not atypical of the stage of (building a program). When you first build, everybody plays immediately. Whether they are starters or not, (because) five people have to play and they're going to start. I used to tease Q that she was the best player for both teams when she first came here. You get to a part in your building evolution, especially with the way we finished the year prior, hosting the tournament, the excitement of the community, beating DePaul, losing to Stanford, who went on to the Final Four. Where our team struggled last year (was that) they wanted to go from October 15 to March. They didn't want to do November and December. We kept taking our eye off the prize, which was the psychological thing. The physical thing was that we had two ACL (injuries) that dramatically affected us. It hurts us more this year, but last year it hurt us because if we had more competitive depth we would won more road games in the Mountain West Conference and those things wouldn't have happened."
On what the senior class learned from last season:
"The lessons learned are that this senior group has something to prove. It's time for them to step front and center on the stage and do their thing. They've earned the right to do that, because they've worked very hard to do that. They know how to teach role players how to do roles, because they've done that. They know how much they need the other people for us to be good and I'm really pleased at how well they are trying to help us as coaches teach them that."
SDSU Senior Center Paris Johnson
On going to the Sweet Sixteen last season:
"It was a great experience. I've been here since I was a freshman when we started out winning more and more games and improving. Then we got to the Sweet Sixteen and it feels amazing that as a team, we could accomplish something so big. I'm ready to get this season started and go further than we did last year."
On having the spotlight on the team:
"We just have to remember where we started from. We started from the bottom and then went to the top. We have to keep our minds focused within our team and don't let the spotlight get us off track. We know that there will be teams that will come after us, but we need to keep our momentum from where we ended last year and use that to (motivate) the incoming freshmen and the transfers. Everyone has to be on the same page again."
On if playing in the MWC helped them be successful in the postseason:
"For me personally being a post player, our conference is tremendous. We have post players who can shoot three's, we have post players who can take it to the basket and we have post players who are big bodied. For me to work all season with those post players, it helped me for the NCAA tournament when we went against Texas and Duke."
Senior guard Coco Davis
On if they got more attention from people on campus since going to the Sweet Sixteen:
"We definitely got a lot more attention from everyone on campus and around San Diego in general. A lot more people started to recognize us. At first (people would ask) mainly, `oh, how is your men's team doing?' and things like that. Now that we went to where we went, a lot more people are noticing us and saying that they are looking forward to our season and congratulating us on what we did."
On the pressure of taking over the point guard spot that was vacated by her sister, Quenese:
"It adds pressure to me, but my teammates aren't letting me slack off and my coach is not letting me slack off. As people are putting pressure on me, I'm putting pressure on myself to improve and make sure that our offense is running smoothly and we're not giving up turnovers. It's just going to take time to get the (team) chemistry that we need."
Senior center Jessika Bradley
On the team being in the spotlight because of its success:
"It's a blessing to be in the spotlight. I personally like to be in under the radar, but it's a blessing to come from where we had been. As a whole, our team has always worried about each other, just having each other's backs, no matter if the community is supporting us or not. To have that (now) is a plus and a bonus and it only gives us more energy and more push and drive to want to succeed and work hard like we did in the offseason and in this preseason."
On if playing in the MWC helped them be successful in the postseason:
"I think it helped a lot. Our conference is very competitive and we have teams that can win on any given night. I don't think you can count anyone out. Everything that you do is in preparation for who you are going to play (next). You can't just say our whole conference just shoots or our whole conference drives, everyone is so different. That definitely helped us in the (NCAA) tournament, when you don't know who you're going to face."
On changes she has made:
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a leader this year. I tried to change my body, I tried to change my mentality and being a positive role model for our posts who are coming back, but are still younger. Working with someone like Paris, gives me great drive and push. I know we both want to go out with a bang in our senior year."