Big 12 Media Day Women's Basketball Quotes

Oct. 19, 2005


Big 12 Media Day Quotes <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

COACH Bonnie Henrickson: We’re excited about the growth and progress with our returning players and certainly in our recruiting efforts. We’re anxious to begin as we have started practice and put those pieces together. We have 6 returning players, 6 new players, 5 scholarship and one walk on. And right now we’re excited about the chemistry that’s evolved, that’s taken place since we started class, and putting some pieces together that are new and exciting. We’ll depend greatly on these two for their leadership and consistency throughout the year, to improve in what we believe is arguable the most difficult and best conference in America for women’s basketball.

Q. Last year you guys — there weren’t a lot of rotations or substitutions because there weren’t too many kids. You didn’t have the opportunity to do all the things that your coaching staff probably could have implemented if you had more bodies. Talk about from the guard position and from the post position how different will Kansas be this year in terms of having those extra bodies and how does that help each of you two individually?

Crystal Kemp: I think it’s definitely a plus for us. We have 5 post players, three — well, two new ones and three returners. It’s definitely added help for us who have been in there to provide experience for those who are going to come off the bench.

It’s definitely good for me in particular because I know that I can come off and get a quick rest and knowing that the players that coach have come in keep it consistent to what we’re trying to do with the game plan.

Erica Hallman: I feel like having extra bodies is always a good thing. Me and Crystal, we don’t have to go out and play 35, 40 minutes a game and the people that’s going to come off the bench are not going to — we’re still going to have a good team out there when they are on the floor too.

Q. What you worked on in your game for your senior year, what you worked on?

Crystal Kemp: Being more aggressive, more facing the basket things, of course going to the right, conditioning, everything, pretty much to make a more well-rounded player.

Q. Coach, how much different is it having one full year under your belt going into your second season?

COACH Bonnie Henrickson: A big difference. As a team, we have talked as a staff, we have talked about where we were a year ago, still at the point a year ago trying to get to know each other, understand what they need from us and for them to understand what we expected and understand just how much hard work there was in front of us to accomplish what we felt like we needed to accomplish. And take great pride and baby steps we feel like we have been able to do that.

Very proud but certainly very hungry to be wetter. There’s a lot of excitement, enthusiasm for the growth we have had, but there isn’t any complacency certainly by any means that we certainly have not arrived. And we have made progress, but there’s a lot of room for us to improve, and there was a year ago and there still is right now. We want to manage the excitement and enthusiasm for our growth and progress but also as silly as it sounds, to still remain hungry and determination to be better than what people think we’re right now.

This time of year, that’s when you get so much feedback about what everyone else things but ultimately when we huddle up it’s most important what the people in that huddle understand and expect. We feel like we have raised the expectation of the players individually for ourselves and I think as a team and as a program. That’s what we wanted to do in a year to change the culture in the program and change the culture around the program. In a year we have done that. You don’t do that without kids that are committed, and these two at the table have made a commitment to the team and our program.

They have got to be solid all year. Pressure for them, they have got to be better than they were last year. I think both could be better in fewer minutes. I think Crystal is a better 28-minute kid than a 35-minute kid. That’s not a knock on her; that’s understanding the flow of the game and how we want to play in this league night in, night out, playing a ranged team and playing in different arenas as far as crowd sport; that we need to give those kids a little bit of a blow. And for Erica not only to get off the floor a little bit to play her most natural position, which is on the wing and either the two or the three. We have got some young kids that are going to play well for her.

But their work ethic hasn’t changed. They work right now like they are having to play 35 minutes a game. I think that’s important for us.

Q. When you guys came in as freshmen, you probably had no idea what was in front of you. It was an O-and-16 Big 12 season. (Inaudible) talk about I guess the journey and some of the tough times you have been through, obviously changing coaching staff but also what kind of leaders that makes you guys as seniors which you didn’t have when you were freshmen?

Crystal Kemp: It’s definitely been tough, especially since our freshmen year. But I think since then we have definitely had good leaders and those even between the team who wants to go out there and be hungry. Our freshman team was to come back in and get back. I think this is definitely the year to push us a little bit further. As far as us finishing 6, that’s just how we finished.

Erica Hallman: Coming in as freshmen the program was down a lot. I think we have helped to kind of bring it back up but last year we were freshmen again and it was a growing experience. But I think after a year under our belt with her we have gained some confidence and some experience and we hope to open up the door for the teams after us.

Q. How do you think Shaquina can help your team?

COACH Bonnie Henrickson: Shaquina, she brings tremendous athleticism for those of you — she was the National Junior College Player of the Year having won a National Championship. She brings that type of winning, that type of attitude to our program. She brings tremendous athleticism. She is a young lady who understands the game having played for — I think it was arguably one of the best junior college coaches in the country, Lynn Larson at Central Arizona.

She has athleticism to play the style we want as far as pushing it from baseline to baseline. She’s a pointguard who can get numbers and when the pointguard runs, wings run. Right now you can see that in practice already. That our pace has improved even off of a score. But I think definitely she has an opportunity to be awfully good defender, whether that’s on the ball or in the passing lane because she’s — if we understand football, has got good closing speed. She can get a pass down that might be a little bit too long or one that you might not think it is too long, she should e able to get into the passing lane.

I like her respect for the senior class, but also I like the fact that she has confidence to come in and communicate very clearly, I am here to help us win, I am not here to live up to any expectation, any title, any tag somebody put behind my name, we don’t refer to her that anymore really when we introduce her. We don’t say that that’s what her title — or that she won that award last year because I don’t need for her to do that. I need for her to lead this team. She understands that she has got quality players around her that will make her a better player.

Q. Do you consider her the most important piece of the puzzle for being successful this year?

COACH Bonnie Henrickson: I think Shaq will play a part in it. I think Ivana Catic, the pointguard position, Serbian freshmen, is a very dynamic player, tremendous leadership. You can play those two at the same time. If they are in together, Ivana would play the point and Shaq would go to the two. That’s not a knock on Shaq; that’s how much of a presence Ivana as a freshman pointguard has. I think those are two pretty big pieces.

But we got another Serbian post player with skill. We have got 5 scholarship kids, and where we are right now the three seniors have got to be better than they were last year. And of those five, two of those — two kids every night that are solid. Doesn’t have to be the same two; they can take turns at it, which most freshmen do. If we can get three or four to play well on a night, then we have got a chance to be awfully good. Right now we’re going to need at least two of those kids to perform well for us to be successful in this league.

Q. You talked about Shaq’s winning attitude. When you take over a program that’s been down a little bit, how do you — what steps do you take to instill that attitude back into the program and when did you start to see that with this team?

COACH Bonnie Henrickson: We actually, believe it or not, we had met early last year, we had a team meeting, talked about goals, and it was very clear from the group that was returning that they expected to be successful, if you listened to their expectations for the year.

So as a staff we walked away and thought, Do they really have an understanding? We were taken back, quite honestly, about some of their goals. Some of weren’t realistic and some pretty realistic, the two at the table were pretty realistic, but certainly very optimistic. So in starting the year it was clear that they expected to win. Our biggest challenge was, okay, do you understand how to win? What does it take to be successful, the competitiveness, the discipline, competitiveness, the everyday grind to be successful? But knowing that going in, that’s why we go to Minnesota and we’re up 19 to 4 because they expect to be successful. They never went in and played not to lose. They played to win every single night.

So Shaq’s mentality and her confidence really blends pretty well with this group even though she’s achieved at the level she played last year the highest honors as far as winning a National Championship, that just adds to the self-confidence and the team confidence right now that we really try to carry over from last year.

So believe it or not she is not the only one in that group that believes that we can be successful and that we can be better and a whole lot better. Right now I think she has joined in with this group of seniors that believe they have a chance to be difference makers in the program and they should believe that. She believes the same thing they do.

Q. For several seasons Kansas was really hurt by its lack of ability to shoot the three-pointer on the same level that most of the top Big 12 competitors did. Is having your two — Erica was your top 3-point shooter. Is she going to be even more free to be your 3-point weapon with additional help at guard?

COACH Bonnie Henrickson: I think for us having Erica just being a second-year player into the program, sophomore as you heard her say earlier, but really a senior, last year a very big portion of the season was teaching her how to be a pointguard. And then once she learned how to be a pointguard and run the team, then it was how can we get her some shots. She will get more 3s and more shots earlier because of those two things. She is now second year in the program. Understands the system, and now we can run — we actually put a lot of things in towards the second half of the year to get her some shots at the point. We changed who initiated the offense at times. We got things in place and we will add to create some more scoring opportunities for her. What is nice about Erica is she can create a shot for someone else too. She has got that uncanny ability to get into the — make a play and get into the paint and make a play, and then she’s got some 3-point shooters on the wing with her, Kaylee Brown in the senior class that she can kick it to. Some of these young kids shoot it pretty well.

Q. Can you talk about your nonconference schedule, talk about why your home games are —

COACH Bonnie Henrickson: We play 21 games at home. We would have played 19 but New Orleans tournament obviously for reasons that we all know we won’t be going to New Orleans, so we’re going to host that tournament. Larry Keating, in the back of the room, is an administrator that everyone in this league should want to hire because he does the scheduling for us. With the commitment from Lou Perkins to give us the chance to play at home, play in Allen Fieldhouse. I think right now — we’ll grow and we’ll play on the road a little bit more, and we have already talked about that as our recruiting classes improve, our schedule, strength of schedule, those things will improve. It’s important for us right now to learn how to win, be successful, gain some momentum in the program and we certainly think believing, having the opportunity to play in Allen Fieldhouse as much as we can will enhance our chances. That’s a commitment by our administration. I think we’re the envy of most programs right now. I get a lot of phone calls and emails, harassing emails from my colleagues in this business how on earth did that happen. That’s commitment and goes back to the reason that myself and our staff chose to come to Kansas, the commitment by our administration. Kills our frequent flier miles though.