March 18, 2002
BERKELEY - California women's basketball head coach Caren Horstmeyer sat down with the Cal Media Relations Office to review the 2001-02 season. The Golden Bears finished the year with a 7-21 record (2-16 Pac-10) but have high hopes for next season, as they return four starters, four of their top five scorers and almost everyone which helped the Bears to the Pac-10's third-best defense (63.2 ppg).
MR: Could you have predicted that losing seven seniors from 2000-01 would have such an impact on this year's team?
Horstmeyer: I always thought that other players would step up, and we would move forward. We did that for awhile until we started to get scouted. When you really look at losing seven seniors, it could be a factor. However, as a coach, I thought we would find a way to get them through (the tough times). What I didn't realize was that we didn't have older kids who could teach the younger kids when seven kids graduated.
It was still another learning year for Ami (Forney), and Janet (Franey) was injured in the beginning of the year. For LaTasha (O'Keith) and Amber (White), they hadn't seen a lot of time the year before. Now, all of the sudden, they're being relied on as starters. That's a tough position to be in. Ultimately, we only had one senior, one junior and one sophomore who had a lot of playing experience. For any team to compete in the Pac-10 unless they're high school All-Americans, that's a low number of upper-classmen.
MR: In what areas did your team improve the most throughout the course of the season?
Horstmeyer: Playing as a team, moving the ball, knowing the expectations of what we want and utilizing the inside game are some areas we improved in. Believe it or not although we only scored 42 points our last game, for the most part, we did improve from an offensive perspective in terms of the team game. Our defense was very good the last game.
MR: Did the team live up to your defensive expectations in 2001-02?
Horstmeyer: Overall, we played well defensively. The fact that we struggled to score, I would have liked to have seen us give up a few less points to help the scoring area. I would say for the most part, I was pleased defensively, and I want to build on that.
MR: What will it take for the team's offense to catch up to its defense?
Horstmeyer: It will take a number of things. The experience will make a difference. We need to bring in some perimeter scorers who are natural scorers. We have some players who can surround that, but having some perimeter three-point shooting and perimeter scoring will make all of the difference in the world for our offense.
MR: What indications did you have during the season that success for the program is around the corner?
Horstmeyer: The players were always able to maintain a good attitude and play hard. Those were some of the most important things. We set a foundation with a number of players who were playing. We feel we had a good recruiting class this year. Now, we need to build on that. We had a lot of people tell us that it was amazing we stayed as close as we did in so many games. That's always somewhat encouraging. As a coach, you want to feel you can take a team over that hump and get the wins.
MR: What type of instructions have you given the team for the off-season?
Horstmeyer: Play, play, play. What I mean by that, whether it's one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, four-on-four, five-on-five, that's the most important area. They need to know each other. They need to play with each other. They need to set screens for each other. They need to pass and cut. The only way to do that is to play. The second area is strength. We feel to be successful in the Pac-10, we need to improve in the areas of strength and endurance. We want to be the stronger team in the last five minutes of the game physically and mentally.
Horstmeyer:Ami worked hard in practice. She was always positive. She has a great demeanor about herself, and she's a great person. The other thing with Ami would be how much improvement she made from the year before. Janet, you can never forget her want and ability to shoot the three. Also, I'll remember her work ethic when she's been injured on the sideline. We've joked about Janet doing a video we could give to our injured players so that they would have an idea about what they should be doing on the sideline.
MR:Who was the most improved player for Cal this year?
Horstmeyer: Leigh Gregory would be one. She improved tremendously from a confidence perspective. She looked to score a little more, her stability and her rebounding improved tremendously. Leigh has the competitiveness and the want and will to do what it takes to get over the hump. She was one of our most improved players.
MR: Talk about the development of Kristin Iwanaga (K.I.) as a point guard.
Horstmeyer: I would have liked to have seen her step up a little more offensively in some games. Her confidence improved tremendously playing at this level. She knows she can play with the Pac-10 players. Her three-point shooting and free throw shooting were great. She made great strides in looking to be more of a scorer. I have always had scoring point guards. The high school she came from the point guard wasn't always a scorer. Eighth grade and under, she was used to scoring. I want her to continue to develop a scoring mentality. There were times we had to remind her that it was okay to shoot. I want her shooting any open shot she gets. I want her creating so that she can either penetrate or score.
Horstmeyer: LaTasha making honorable mention all-conference was very exciting. She stepped up from a scoring perspective in many games. She has a great ability to get to the basket, and she plays with passion. It was a bit of an adjustment for Amber to play a major role instead of a supporting one this year. She hasn't had to be in that role in high school or college. She did some incredible things for us in terms of getting to the basket and playing very good defense. What was most important for Tasha and Amber was the experience they got this year. Amber pretty much played the four spot for us as a sophomore and played very little three. This season, she was expected to be counted on at the three. This was a good year for her to build on in terms of being able to get time at the three. That is going to be her primary position.