Feb. 3, 2010
With the Wildcats midway through the Pac-10 Conference schedule, head coach Niya Butts recently gave her thoughts on the progress of the team as well as her expectations for the remainder of the 2009-10 regular season.
What are your overall thoughts about the team through the first half of Pac-10 play?
"Obviously we wish the win and loss column looked a little differently, but when we go back and we go through the games and go through all of the stats, we clearly were in all nine of those games. When you look at it from that perspective going into the second half, we feel like the first half has certainly given us a good guideline on what we need to do and what we need to improve on to move forward into the second half. All in all, again we with the win and loss column looked a little differently, but I did see a lot of good things from our team.
How important is perspective, especially as a competitive person, when you're trying to build a program?
"I think perspective is huge because the one thing that we can't do is allow our team to get down. You start to look at the record and you start to look at some of the scores and as a player and as a competitor, and especially us coaches as well, you can easily get discouraged by that. Looking back and trying to compare where you were to where you are now is important. Last season at this time we only had one conference win. In comparison to that, we're miles and miles ahead of where we were. I think perspective is a key to being successful because if you get too far ahead of yourself and don't allow yourself to have perspective, I think everybody loses in that situation.
How difficult is it in regards to matchups with the team down to just 8 available players?
"I think sometimes it is difficult. I think the times where you really see it start to affect us is toward the end of the basketball game. We've come out early in games and really controlled most of the game, but you start to see the wear and tear as we go down the stretch. However, we certainly are not going to use that as any excuse. There are players across the country that are playing 35 or 40 minutes per game. We understand that's our situation and we have to be able to make it work. Our kids go out every game, every night and try to make that happen. We're really pleased with the effort they are putting in even though we're somewhat short."
How do you address mental toughness when it is so different than physical corrections that can be made?
"I think that's a really tough, difficult question. I think if I knew the answer, I'd be rich right now because a lot of coaches across the country have the same dilemma. I'd say probably 90 percent of what we do and how we perform comes between the ears and that's one of the things as a coach you really can't put your finger on. Sometimes you think you have it, but then the next time you don't. It's about experiences I think. The more experiences kids get, the better off you're going to be, the more they are prepared for different situations and they know they can get through it. I think time and experience is how each player gets mentally tough."
How important will protecting your home floor be in the second half of the season?
"I think it will be huge. It's important for us when we have the crowd on our side and we have the advantage of being at home, I think we have to take care of those games. Winning on the road, no matter who you are in this conference, is a difficult task. I think if we can do a good job of taking care of home court, that's going to help us even more on the road."
What are you looking for this weekend against the Washington schools?
"I'm looking for us to come out really hungry and ready to win and have a lot more energy on the offensive rebounding end and the defensive rebounding end. I think our kids really understand what's expected of them and what their output needs to be for 40 minutes. I certainly expect to continue to give us that every night."