Oct. 21, 2010
Watch this video of Senior Soana Lucet at media day.
TUCSON - The University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball team held media day on Thursday to discuss the upcoming season with local print and television media.
In her third season at the helm of the Wildcat program, head coach Niya Butts addressed the crowd to start off the event. Below is a brief transcript.
On the first few weeks of practice:
"Practice has been going, I think, really good. Obviously I'm comparing from year one, now to year three and the effort is much better. The understanding is better. I think the coaching is getting to where we want to be. Our kids are really, really putting in the effort and you can really tell that on a daily basis. And that's on and off the court. I think they're doing the things it's going to take for us to win, and that's the overall thing. We want to win. This year is not necessarily going to be about the effort every game, about how many points we can score, how many points we can give up. We want to win. That's our ultimate goal."
On last year's depth compared to this year's:
"The natural progression for us is to get more players. I think a lot last year was our depth. It wasn't necessarily our effort, or lack thereof. We know we ran out of gas a lot, and so I think with the new additions to our team, our returners are going to feel like they can go out there and really, really give everything they have and not worry about the end of the game situation because we are going to be able to rotate players in and out of there, and they're going to bring something, quality, to the basketball game, and I think that's always good."
On competition during practice:
"The competition level this year is off the charts. Because we have people competing at every position, that brings something different, but also brings that fire, that energy, and they're challenging each other. It's so refreshing as a coach not to have to do that every single second."
On this year's quickness:
"We're more athletic for sure. Definitely more athletic at each position I think. I think the point guard position is much more athletic, especially when you think about Candice Warthen who is a newcomer, a young kid with certainly a lot to learn. But what she can do athletically, we just can't teach it. You either have that or you don't, and right now we feel pretty good, and pretty comfortable at each spot on the floor in terms of our speed, our quickness. We're picking up things a lot faster too, and I think that has a lot to do with it. She'll definitely be playing the point. Shanita Arnold, who sat out last year, you guys had an opportunity to see her a little bit today, but she is probably, right now, poised to take control of that position for us. But at the same time, Candice Warthen is a huge threat at that position, and at any position on the floor, on the perimeter for that matter."
On having young, capable players:
"I go back to, I'm certainly not saying that there's only one Davellyn Whyte, but she was a young player too, and the things she was able to do coming into this league. Erica Barnes, who was a post payer, she's going to help us. She's going to do some good things for us. She just has to, the more she learns, each and every day, in terms of the pace of the game, the speed, because talent wise, it's certainly all there. It's now about learning where and when she needs to do things."
On the progress from the first practice:
"Simply put, good players make good coaches, so I'll say that it's been such a relief. After practices the last couple years, the coaches have been so drained. Not having to put them through every single drill, literally, it's so refreshing. They're starting to police themselves. If they don't do certain things, they're talking to each other on the sidelines, where before, we had to point out every single thing. They're starting to recognize when they don't do things the right way, so it's just an awesome feeling."
On any standouts:
"All the returners have improved tremendously, and I think there is no substitute for experience and time, and I think having that year together and growing in this program has certainly helped that. I'll tell you what; Ify Ibekwe is really coming on as a leader for us. And she was always a phenomenal player, but her leadership now on the floor, her vocal-ness has picked up, and I think that's going to help us."
On Taylor Dalrymple:
"She's going to bring an element that's much needed. I don't think we were physical enough last year, and she brings that attitude, that demeanor, and she's a skilled basketball player. She's an excellent passer, great passer. I actually got on her today for passing too much and needing to look to score a little bit. That element we have definitely been missing and I think she's going to bring that."
On playing against bigger teams:
"I think we may have to do that, but I'll tell you that Ify can slide out, Soana can slide out. They have to ability to do that. Erica Barnes has the ability to do that, but she's not ready to be a perimeter threat offensively, so to speak, but defensively she can guard anybody I believe, on the floor. So if we have to go to a big lineup, I think we can do that. We can make that adjustment. We'll look for Ify to take more outside shots this year. She can mount shots from the three point line, and if she has an open three and she doesn't take it, we're going to have a talk about that. I think you're going to see some things from our team that transitioning to this year are going to be a little bit different from what you've seen in the past."
On transitions for the newcomers:
"There's naturally going to be a learning curve. The more talent you have, the better, the more quick you are, and you can make that adjustment. Again, there is no substitution for experience. It's going to be one of those things where each and every day we are going to see improvement. We also know that they're young and that they're going to make some mistakes. We are seeing those things, but the things we are able to do athletically, help a little bit."
On the offensive difference with Shanita Arnold at point:
"I think from a poise, patient perspective, she certainly brings that. She controls the floor. She can talk to and communicate with her team, and I think from a leadership standpoint it's going to be a much better feeling, especially for the coaches, and especially for the players when you have somebody on the floor that you feel is in control of the situation. She brings that level of calmness to our group."
On the team's overall health:
"We feel like we will have everybody ready to go by the time we tip it off. Obviously you're going to have some bumps and bruises along the way, but in terms of anything serious, we haven't faced that at this time."
The Wildcats open the season Nov. 2 at the McKale Center with an exhibition against Grand Canyon. The regular season will begin with a contest at Wichita State on Nov. 11. For tickets to the Arizona Wildcat women's basketball games, call 800-452-2287.