Dec. 17, 2002
BERKELEY - The California media relations office sat down with Cal women's basketball head coach Caren Horstmeyer to discuss her team's progress through six games and to look ahead to the team's first road game at Saint Mary's this week. The Golden Bears are 3-3.
MR: What has the team been focusing on during this 12-day stretch without games?
Horstmeyer: A couple of things. We've been focusing on improving our defense. I haven't been satisfied with the shooting percentages we've been allowing our opponents. We've focused on improving defensively in the half court and adding some options in the full court.
MR: Has it been tough to keep the team fresh during the long stretch between games?
Horstmeyer: We've given them a number of days off. I've been very impressed with their intensity during finals at practice.
MR: What are some of the areas you've been happy with so far and what have you been disappointed in?
Horstmeyer: I've been disappointed in our ability to score at different times. Our shooting percentages have been better with the exception of one or two games. I've been pleased with our turnovers even though we're around 18 or 19. Last year, we were averaging a lot more turnovers at this point. We played a very good pressure-defense team in Colorado and only turned the ball over 18 times. I'm pleased with our ball control. Now what I'd like to see more of is getting the ball in the basket. We've been working on our execution and setting better screens. We've been missing some easy shots that I didn't think that we would miss. We need to continue to work to get better shots and to get the right people the ball. I'd like to see Timea up around 15 to 18 points per game. I think we're making the extra pass and taking good shots for the most part. I'd just like to see us making a higher percentage. We seem to be missing a lot of shots in the paint.
MR: How do you feel your strong strength of schedule will help you in the Pac-10 season?
Horstmeyer: When you play a team like Colorado, you're hoping that that type of team prepares you for your conference season. Additionally, we saw a lot of zone early. Based off of our films last year, I'm sure that teams felt that zone would be appropriate against us. We've seen zone, man, switching man and full court pressure. We've seen everything going into conference. That's a real positive for us.
MR: What will fans see from Nihan Anaz that they haven't seen during her brief playing time?
Horstmeyer: Her passing ability. She can make no-look passes. In transition, she'll make some very good plays, right and left, and be able to hit big shots.
MR: Who has been the biggest positive surprise?
Horstmeyer: Renee Wright. She's had to move from a post position to a guard position. The biggest surprise would be the way she's shooting the three. That's something we didn't realize she had in her game on a consistent basis.
MR: How do you think the team will respond to its first road game at Saint Mary's this week?
Horstmeyer: We lost a close game to Saint Mary's last year. We're excited to have the opportunity to play them again. Knowing that Saint Mary's plays well on its home court, we're excited that our first road game is a local game.
MR: How is Saint Mary's different from last year?
Horstmeyer: Actually, they're quite different. Corrie Mizusawa transferred to Oregon. They have a point guard I haven't seen a lot of in Ferris. She's very quick and does some good things. They lost the Dosty twins, but they have a player who is capable of going for 30 points per game in Triola Jackson, formerly Triola Alexander. They have another player from New Jersey, Carey Noakes, who didn't see a lot of time last year but is starting for them this year. Their other two guards are the same. We're very familiar with Saint Mary's, and over the years, I've been familiar with them from coaching in the WCC. They are the same team in that they like to penetrate, kick and shoot threes. They also like to get the ball to their posts. All of that is similar from last year's team.
MR: Will Cal's depth be one of its assets against Saint Mary's this weekend?
Horstmeyer: I feel that our depth is an asset. I know that Saint Mary's will be upset about its loss to Nevada and will come back with great intensity for a game against a Pac-10 school. It's a challenge as a coach to manage a big roster like ours. Ultimately, the players who produce are going to get the time. That's what we have to do. We've had six games where we've been able to see what different players can do by playing a lot of kids. The goal is probably to play about 11. Our team has been very unselfish and has gelled. The most important thing I talked about with the team is that there is production in a lot of different ways. It's not just scoring. It means charges. It's steals, assists, lower turnovers. There are ways you can produce. That's why I've said all along that we have healthy competition. That's going to push and motivate other people.