Sept. 26, 2005
BERKELEY, Calif. - Renee Wright is the only senior and one of three captains on the 2005-06 Cal women's basketball team. Wright averaged 7.5 ppg and 4.1 rpg for the Bears last season. CalBears.com recently sat down with the 5-11 forward from Antelope, Calif., to discuss the upcoming season.
What is the mood of the team right now?
Wright: "Very focused. Desire. I've never seen this much desire on the team in my three previous years being here. The team wants it, and everyone is starting to learn what it takes to be in the top five, top three or even No. 1 in the Pac-10. It all stems from coach (Joanne) Boyle and her assistant coaches. They have the right attitude and are breaking it down and are teaching us how to carry ourselves as a championship team."
What are the new basketball coaches like?
Wright: "On the court, they're all very intense, but they're also understanding at the same time. Off the court, they seem like one of my teammates. Their personalities are exactly like us - carefree, funny, joking. They're a lot of fun. I'm enjoying them so much. It's amazing."
What are some of the new coaching staff's strengths?
Wright: "Player-coach communication. If a player has a question, a coach is able to answer it and does a good job explaining why. Then, you just do it. If you don't get it right, the players and coaches are able to communicate back and forth. There's a discussion, instead of this is what you're told to do, do it regardless if you understand it. I love how they make a point to have an off the court relationship, as well. One thing that all of the coaches stress is that it's easier to tell a player on the court that they're doing something wrong or explain a drill to them if you have an off the court relationship. Then, a player doesn't think that coach is just getting on me again today. They've built that friendship off the court, so that when we get on the court, the trust is there."
What did you do over the summer?
Wright: "I lived in the gym. It was really fun. I got to know all of the freshmen - Jene, Ashley, Devanei, Shantrell and Lexi. I even got to learn more about the upper-classmen. Playing Pro-Am with them this summer was a lot of fun. It helped me work on my leadership skills. That's going to be very important to the team this year. I really had fun playing basketball this summer. I had fun doing what I do. I wouldn't have asked for a different summer at all."
Wright: "I feel that this year is very important that I am a leader, that I set an example. With a team of younger players, there tends to be ups and downs with everyone else. If I can try to be stable and set a great example, I feel that it will trickle down to the rest of the team. I'm concentrating on being a stable factor and being someone that my teammates can talk to and relate to."
What did you focus on in the off-season in terms of your game?
Wright: "I focused on my moves off the dribble and getting that player instinct back. Reading the defense, going with the flow of the game, not trying to force anything."
How are the freshmen fitting in?
Wright: "I'm really excited. The freshmen fit in so well with this team. Coach (Boyle) talks a lot about fit. If you fit where you are, you're going to be happy, and you'll be willing to work hard. As soon as the freshmen got here, they fit in really well. Our chemistry is amazing. I couldn't ask for any other team. For having five new freshmen and a whole new coaching staff, we're probably a lot further than some teams that have been together for years."
Being a senior, do you think a lot about life after Cal yet?
Wright: "I'm a social welfare major, with an emphasis on child psychology. I just want to enjoy the year, but I know that I need to start looking at my future. Right now, I'm pulling out applications for nursing school. Even the military has crossed my mind because of the stability, and I love to travel. I grew up in the military. My dad was in the Air Force. That's the branch I would probably go into. My mom was also in the reserves. They both worked in hospitals while in the military. But, right now I'm really into figuring out what nursing school I want to go to and enjoying my last year to be a "kid." I'm excited to get into my adult life."