Jan. 28, 2003
Berkeley, Calif. - Below are selected quotes from head coach Caren Horstmeyer from her weekly press conference. The Bears travel to Stanford Wednesday at 7 p.m. and then host the Cardinal Saturday at 2 p.m.
Do you think the win on Sunday vs. UCLA could be a turning point for your program?
We hope so. I think we played with a lot of intensity and played fairly well. We would like to build off of that. We played fairly well against Arizona State as well and then it kind of died after the loss to Georgia.
Will Renee Wright earn more playing time?
We have wanted Renee to get more minutes, but she had kind of a tough time around final exams. Once she came back from Christmas, she was really rejuvenated. She has really been playing with a lot of confidence lately. We feel that Renee is one of the best freshmen in the conference and you will definitely see a lot more time for her.
What do the close games tell you about Stanford?
First, there is always a team that is due, and we had felt Stanford was due. We were hoping to play them after they had beat USC. Stanford tends to respond fairly aggressively and very well after a loss. We need to anticipate that ... Tara always has her kids ready to play. They have so many weapons and are extremely talented at many positions. Then you throw Nicole Powell into the mix. What I have seen this year is that they are very good at winning close games.
What did you see at California that made you want to leave Santa Clara?
The first year I saw some extremely athletic and talented players with tremendous potential. The school itself is a great place to be and to recruit to. It is the number one public academic institution in the nation, a great location and ranked in the Top 10 in college atmosphere ... Cal is a great place to be. There is a nice family atmosphere with good people, and I think those things are really important and enable a school like Cal to be successful.
When you recruited Nihan Anaz and Timea Ivanyi did you hope that one of them might develop into a star and what have they done for you?
We thought both of them could and potentially go to the WNBA draft as well. Both players we had felt would come in and make an immediate impact. It's taken them an adjustment period, but Nihan and Timea are starting to play very very well together. That's really a key. Timea gives us a presence. Nihan gives us another ball handler that can pass the ball and score as well. You kind of have an all-around player in Nihan. They are definitely two kids that we felt would be able to come in and make an impact right away.
Are international players impacting the world of women's basketball?
Absolutely. There are teams that have really struggled in the past, and then brought in some foreign players and all of the sudden they're in the Top 25. South Carolina comes to mind right off the bat. In Nihan's first year there, they had nine new foreign kids. You see it in the men and women's game, but the NCAA is going to make it a lot more difficult as of August 2003. There are real strict rules for European players to come over to the United States. One of the biggest rules is if you play on a professional team, then you need to miss a game for every game you played in. That makes a severe impact. Now the rule is that you miss 20 percent of those games. I don't necessarily agree with the rule changes ... I think they are a bit severe. The concept is (1) to limit the number of professional players that can enter college and play and (2) limit the number of foreign players coming into the country and playing. Give it two or three years, and the rule might change. It's just some political issues that are going on right now in the NCAA.
On the Pac-10 level of competition:
We have seen the Pac-10 improve every year. Every team is getting better, but we feel we are better as well. We don't have the upperclass leadership at this point. That is something that we will hopefully have next year. It's tough when we're better, but everybody else is a lot better.
Can you talk about the UCLA victory and its impact on the program?
It was the type of win that we needed this year. On the road, it couldn't come at a better time in terms of level of confidence and finishing the first round of conference. UCLA is a very good team. This and the ASU win were very significant and we didn't have any of those wins last year. We are capable of beating better teams this year as opposed to last year.
On winning at Stanford:
Two years ago at Maples, we defeated Stanford. That win might have been one of the biggest wins, because there were a number of seniors that year and they hadn't experienced beating Stanford at all. For them to do it at Maples, was significant. For them to feel that and be able to build from that was huge. Maples Pavilion is a very tough place to play. They understand what homecourt pride means. You go in there and its difficult to play. We try to treat every game the same, whether it's a road game or a home game. We'll do that again this year and hope that good comes from that.
What are the keys to beating Stanford?
That's a great question. You have to play well. You have to take them out of some things that they do very well. Their three-point shooting is great. They shoot the three extremely well and they have a weapon at every position. The two key areas are the transition game and rebounding. Take away their threes and figure out a way to slow Nicole Powell down.
Offensively, we need to execute and be patient. We need to use the clock, run the ball and transition. If we don't have an advantage in transition, then we need to work the clock, work the ball and play our tempo. We have to take care of the basketball. If we turn it over, they are very good at capitalizing on mistakes and they make you pay for it. On the defensive side of the floor, our ball pressure is important. Denying certain people the ball and having good rotations. Ultimately if we don't block out after playing a good possession on defense, they really thrive on their offensive rebounds and being able to finish.
Is there any advantage or disadvantage of playing the same team three days apart?
The advantages are that you are preparing for the same team in the same week. Technically that should make it easier. You understand them and you don't forget about them. Playing in the same week, we'll be playing basically the same people. Sometimes when you play a team at two distinct times, there could be a lot of changes on both sides that could've been made in that period of time. You have injuries and chemistry issues to take into account. My preference would be not to play back-to-back, but we really don't have a choice.
How are you going to handle Nicole Powell?
We will rotate players on her. We want to keep them fresh. She is difficult to defend ... she can go inside, she can go outside, she is a great passer and she has size. You can't play just one player, it has to be a team defense. Stanford has so many weapons and Nicole delivers the ball so well. That makes her even more difficult to defend. We will run different players at Nicole and try to tire her out that way.