Nov. 5, 2010
California Golden Bears head coach Joanne Boyle, along with sophomores Layshia Clarendon and DeNesha Stallworth, met with the press to talk about the upcoming season. Here are some highlights from 2010-11 Media Day.
Joanne Boyle: Just excited for another year. A lot of young kids. Obviously trying to work out flow of rotation. Some days have been slower than others. Other days we have made progress. It was good to get an exhibition game in last night. We'll have another scrimmage on Sunday that will kind of get us rolling.
Rama was in the starting lineup last night?
Joanne Boyle: Yes. She really hasn't played in two years, so it was getting the kinks out and the rust off. She did well. She had a double double. Her knee felt good. She got a little stiff in the second half, but then she came back and was really good. I think we are going to have to monitor her more in practice than in games, in terms of limiting her reps and things like that. Who knows? With the wear and tear of the season, we are just going to have to see. If we are up and we're winning and we're good, I don't necessarily have to have her out there.
What was it like for you to have Rama back out there?
DeNesha Stallworth: It was great! I think Rama and I connect well, on the flash and the high-low where she wants the ball. Talia is more of a defensive post whereas Rama is more offensive minded. Last year, we were down to two posts and we just had to fight through it. Now we have three posts, and hopefully Gen will be back and then we'll four posts. It is a lot different. You feel like you can work harder, because you know you will be able to get that sub.
What are you looking at ideally in terms of rotation?
Joanne Boyle: Our starting lineup from last night, I could have gone with either Talia or Rama. Rama gives us a little more height, but Talia has been doing an unbelievable job on the boards. Sherbert of the freshmen in that lineup, but we are just trying to fiddle with the guard rotation a little bit. We don't have that much luxury with the post rotation.
What is Gennifer Brandon's time table?
Joanne Boyle: We don't know. They started to bring her back in, but she started hurting again, so they shut her back down. They are trying to do a lot of different things with her. Strengthening. AlterG. It's a little bit of a mystery right now.
How is this year going to be different?
Layshia Clarendon: It is going to be totally different. We're a brand new team. We lost Lexi, Tasha, and LG. We're just trying to find our identity and see what we look like this year.
What was the value of the WNIT experience?
DeNesha Stallworth: I think figuring out who we were as a team and how we work together. I thought last year was a more growing year for us for this year.
Is the basketball easier because you know what is coming academically and socially?
Layshia Clarendon: You definitely know what is coming. It gives you an upper hand, but I don't think it is any easier. I feel like this year has definitely been tough. You are taking hard classes. You are definitely a little smarter and you know how to manage your time a little better.
What do you expect from yourselves this year?
DeNesha Stallworth: Last year, I think our expectations were kind of high, and I think that hurt us in a way, so I think we should just take it one day at a time and see how things turn out.
Joanne Boyle: I think we can all have these lofty goals out there, but when you are young and you are really trying to find your identity... Last year, I think the kids were `let's win a Pac-10 Championship' and they were just saying the things you are supposed to say. You don't understand what it takes to get there. I think they are a little more reserved this year in saying we want certain things, but we have to figure out our identity and our rotation with a bunch of sophomores and freshmen to then be able to say midseason `ok, we are capable of doing this, this, or this.' If we had a lot of seniors, it would be different. But we are not there. We're a little tentative to through the whole bucket out there.
Does the fact that you are playing Rutgers early sort of light you up and tell you that you have to be on top of your game pretty fast?
Layshia Clarendon: Definitely. Coach Boyle has been on us a lot this year because we don't have Princeton and all those games to warm up. Rutgers is our first game, our opener. It's a challenge, but it's here. Why waste time. Go after it. We can set the bar early, really set the tone of our team early.
Can you do a synopsis of the roles of the three freshmen and what they do best?
Joanne Boyle: Sherb is in the starting lineup. She is a six-foot guard. Very versatile. She can play multiple positions. The fact that we are a little down in the post, although we have a great post rotation now, I can play her a little bit at the four and do some four-out, one in. She's a post-up guard. She can shoot it pretty well. She was tentative last night, but throughout the entire year she has been shooting the ball really well for us. Gives us some length on the wing. Versatile.
Afure is an athletic slasher. Gets to the basket. Quick first step. Great mid-range game. Can shoot it, though there is a little inconsistency in her shot. She is more of that athlete, get to the rim , good rebounding guard.
And then Mikayla, her specialty is shooting. She can just light it up. Very much that shooters mentality. `I missed a three, but I'm still taking them.' Deep, she can shoot them deep. Works hard. She is a specialty kid, but she brings a lot more than that to the table.
What is most different about this year?
Joanne Boyle: I think in the last couple of years, we have been dominated by one or two people with points. Ash and Dev. And then it was Lexi. I think we have much more balance this year, but I still expect a few of them, DeNesha and Layshia in particular, to take up more of a scoring role for us. I think you are going to get that with Sherbert and I think you are going to pick up some of that with Afure and Mikayla and some others. I think we'll have more balance, but people who have been playing in the system for a year have to do more.
Layshia, we've talked about this, has to be our point guard. We didn't expect Avigiel to be in this situation, but between Layshia and Eliza, that is going to be a shared role. It's probably going to fall more early on on Layshia and she has to be willing to accept that. That means leadership and running her team and stuff like that. DeNesha needs to be the one to coordinate the post. She has to get her post group and demand it. I think they all bring great things to the table, but she needs to lead them. Others need to step up in their roles, like Eliza defensively.
We have more shooters on our team and more people willing to shoot the ball. Last night, I think we took 25 or 27 threes. I don't know that a team of mine has ever shot that many threes in a game. And willingly. And they were all good looks. There might have been one forced three. And everyone was taking them. Layshia, Eliza, DeNesha. Rama almost shot one; her feet were on the line. I think our posts will get a little more one-on-one play. It is pressure on our guards to knock down shots, but we have people willing to take them and are capable of making them. Sherb the other day in practice was 8-for-10. Layshia has had her moments. I wouldn't say that one person is dead on right now, but game experience will reveal that to me.
What is your hope for this year's team (in terms of growth goals)?
Joanne Boyle: Just our chemistry and our work ethic, just developing and taking on more. Big game situations, like a Rutgers. We worked hard to be there, now we're a year older and experienced to be able to take on teams like that and finish stronger. The goal of our team is to get to the NCAA Tournament. I don't think we are able to start determining where in that mix. These first ten games are going to tell a big story of where we are going to be in Pac-10's.
How big of an impact did the extra month of practice while you were in the WNIT make to your young team?
Joanne Boyle: You can't write a better script to finish your season. If we are in the NCAA Tournament, are we one and done? Everyone wants to be in the tournament, but to have that extra month and the games. We played road games in big atmospheres, like Illinois State with 8,000 people there. They said it themselves. If we are going to be in the WNIT, we had better win it. They changed their mindset, which helps us for this year. They were upset that is where they started, but the end piece of that gave us a lot of gratification and hope and confidence coming into this year.