Jan. 29, 2002
Following is selected comments from the Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer from Tuesday's media teleconference with Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer.
On Playing Stanford Twice in the Same Week
Ideally, you don't like to play the same opponent in the same week. Based off of the conference tournament and scheduling preseason games, we needed to go back to back. I have had some experience with that when I was in the West Coast Conference. It's not the ideal situation, but you make the best of it. Stanford is an incredibly great team. They've really shown that they are one of the best teams in the nation. They play very well at home. They are a very solid team. I can probably give you a better idea of how it is to play them twice after the fact. I think with the young team that we have at least it's the same preparation within the same week. Maybe, in some ways, it makes it a little easier for you.
On Cal's Record
As coaches, you'd like to have a few more wins. As players, you'd like to have a few more wins. Maybe, we didn't realize that the inexperience would catch up to us as much as it did within the Pac-10. However, we have been very encouraged over the last week and a half to two weeks. I felt we had plateaued and took a little bit of a nose dive. We're starting to come out of that swing just in terms of turning the ball over less, making things happen on defense, making a few more perimeter shots...those types of things. Those are things we've worked on quite a bit over the last two to three weeks. I can say this. Our team has stayed in it mentally. They've practiced extremely hard. They're a great group to coach. They go out, and they play hard every single game. That's really important. I think we played well this past weekend (against ASU and Arizona), maybe the best we've played in a long time despite not getting the "W." Now, we're trying to get over that hump of getting that "W."
On the Possibility of Beating Stanford
We're in a situation where we need to go and worry about ourselves. Stanford is a great team. They shoot the ball extremely well. Sometimes people overlook the fact that they pass the ball extremely well. If you let them dictate to you what they want to do, they are exceptional. We have to go in and worry about ourselves and kind of do our own thing. This is a new team. This is not an easy question to answer. We're trying to take each game the same, but knowing the caliber that Stanford is, we've got to go out and play with the effort and maybe try to take them out of some of the things they want to do.
On Playing in Front of a Big Crowd
We haven't played in front of a lot of hostile environments if that's what you want to call Maples. This week, we brought out a stereo system and played the crowd (noise) and did some of those types of things to make it fun, but at the same time have our players understand about playing in front of a larger crowd and what that can mean. Stanford is a very emotional team. You have to limit their threes and limit some of the other things they do extremely well because they pick up on that emotion, and the crowd picks up on that emotion. We have to emphasize to our players maintaining their composure and their poise.
On This Being the First Year of the Pac-10 Tournament
I think it means a lot. If you're the top four teams in the conference, you don't like a conference tournament. If you're the bottom half of the conference, you love a conference tournament. I've been in the situation of being involved in a conference tournament when the roles were reversed. I didn't like a conference tournament. We're very excited about the conference tournament as long as you don't open or play Oregon (the host) to begin with. If you do, you still like the conference tournament. That gives you another chance to make the best out of your season and to upset some people.
On the Possibility of Pressing Stanford
We've seen a number of teams but not a lot of teams press them a lot. I think you'd like to think so because of their size, but I do think that with Nicole Powell and how well she handles the ball and the experience she has at the point, that makes it difficult. Kelley (Suminski) makes that difficult, as well. But at the same time, you haven't seen a lot of teams press them, so it's hard to answer that question. I think with their size you do want to take them out of rhythm. They've done a good job not showing any of their weaknesses. They're very well balanced. They're a very good team. I can't say that our press is quite where it was at this time last year. We have not pressed a lot in terms of all of the learning we've had (with seven freshmen and four sophomores). We've had to really get good at what we do.
On Ami Forney
I have been so impressed with what Ami has been able to do this year. I really feel she is an incredible post player that can play past college. I say that because she has really upped her scoring input. She's extremely athletic and quick. She's always been known as a rebounder, but I think a lot of people questioned her ability to score outside of maybe one or two feet off of o-boards. She has been able to show that she can hit the seven or eight footer. She has been working on her three-point shot although she hasn't taken any in a game. Defensively, she has played a lot better. She has needed to do that. She is a captain this year. She has taken that leadership role and done well with it.