Nov. 18, 2003
BERKELEY, Calif. - Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer and junior forwards Leigh Gregory and Alisa Lewis gathered with the Bay Area media at Blakes Restaurant near campus to discuss the Golden Bears' season opener against South Carolina State on Sunday, Nov. 24.
Following are a selection of comments from Horstmeyer.
On the two exhibition games
We were able to play everyone in both exhibition games. We need to be prepared because we have five games in one week coming up. We wanted to have everything in that we want to do in our exhibition games. Team Concept is not a bad team. They have six WNBA players. They have only lost to Connecticut and Boston College, two Top 25 teams. Do I think we could have beat them? Absolutely, no question. But, we didn't, so we have to grow and learn from that.
On the opening game against South Carolina State
Our team is excited because it's a new year and a new season. What we can expect from South Carolina State is a full-court press, double teams, and they'll try to make us make mistakes. The strength of their team is their full-court press and their ability to get the game up-tempo. We're trying to push our team to play up-tempo and being able to play in that game where we're able to take care of the basketball and take advantage of the things that they do. They're a very quick, athletic team. We're going to do what we do. It doesn't matter what the opponents do. We'll be prepared for what the opponents do, but we're still going to do our things.
On what's new this year
You'll see a new offense that highlights the strength of every player at every position. Instead of highlighting two or three players, we're trying to highlight the strengths of every player. If a player's strength is penetration, we'll highlight that. If a player's strength is shooting the three, other players will penetrate and kick it to her for a three. If a player's strength is playing with her back to the basket, then if they're only 5-10, we want to post them against smaller players. If we have a player that can go inside-outside and is versatile, then we want them to do both. Every year, we say we want to run, but I don't think we've necessarily run particularly well. So, you'll hopefully see a team that runs a little better. The last exhibition game we didn't convert very well, and we shot poorly. We lost by nine points to six WNBA players, and we shoot 25 percent. Maybe, we shoot 35 percent, and we win the game. That's been something that's haunted us to a certain extent. We have to hit shots in the paint. We went 14 of 45 in the paint (against Team Concept). We're getting good looks. We also must take shots that the offense gives us.
From a defensive perspective, you'll see us playing aggressive man-to-man pressure half-court defense. We'll extend that to the full-court. And, you'll see us play some zone - extended two-three out to the half-court area.
On Leigh Gregory
Leigh is a local player from Carondelet High School who has made great strides each year. Where I've seen the most improvement is consistency with her three-point shooting and her confidence. Her versatility is going to help us score more. Her speed, quickness and strength have really improved. I've always felt that if your body feels good, you feel good on the court and more confident. Leigh is an undersized post player but does a great job with her back to the basket. What will open up her game a little bit is playing out on the perimeter where she can utilize her ability to shoot the ball. She's also filling lanes well. When we really need to score in the post, we have to have Leigh in the post.
On Alisa Lewis
Alisa is a local player from Fairfield and Spokane, WA. Alisa is a player who can run forever. She has done a great job from an athletic, conditioning, strength perspective. She has made great strides in her game. She's had to convert from being a post player (in high school) to being a perimeter player. That always takes a couple of years because perimeter skills are so different. Where Alisa has made great strides is in her passing. She's starting to feel more comfortable in where the ball should go. When you're a perimeter player, ballhandling and passing are your two biggest keys. You can find ways to score. She's a great offensive rebounder. She's great with her back to the basket and has a good pull-up jumper. Alisa is able to utilize those skills to her advantage. Our new offense will put Alisa in the best position to be successful.
On freshmen Emmelie Geraedts and Keanna Levy
We've been pleasantly surprised by Emmelie Geraedts. She learns a little bit quicker. We knew she was skilled, but she's been working to get used to the physicality of the Division 1 game. She never backs down from it. It's just sometimes a strength issue. We thought we'd only be able to play her at center. We're going to start working her in at the forward spot, as we've had a lot of injuries there. Alisa and Leigh are the only healthy players we've had at the forward spot. Emmelie is smart enough that in her freshman year, she can learn two positions. We've talked to her about it and will start working her in at the forward spot. She's going to be very good down the road.
Keanna is a little overwhelmed right now, which is not unusual for a freshman. Keanna is extremely athletic. She can score by going to the hole or on a pull-up jumper or by hitting the three. When we signed her, she didn't shoot the three very well. She has gone out and worked on her three-point shooting. If her feet are set, I feel confident with her shooting. She played zone her whole career in high school. We play mainly man. That's an adjustment, but her on-ball defense has gotten pretty good. She played man at the adidas All-Star Camp where they all play man. She never got taught the fundamentals of man. She's a worker. She'll ask someone to help her. She's going to help us.