Oct. 27, 2009
"It's hard to believe that we're two weeks away from getting started. We've got a couple of scrimmages coming up and that's going to tell us a lot about this team. We've very excited about this group. We're returning the bulk of our scoring, our rebounding, and we're returning a lot of players with a lot of minutes for us. As a coach, at this time of year, you're excited about potential, but a lot of these players are proven and they've done a lot of things on the court. I think the challenge for us is to integrate the new players with our returning players. I think we've got some exciting new players coming in and they will contribute."
On her senior class
"I want to take a minute to talk about our seniors - and I'm going to include Brittany Lindsey in this, although she's a junior. Brittany and Chassity (Brown) were two players that committed and signed with us when we were in Lubbock (Texas). Brittany Lindsey actually did an official visit to Lubbock so it's kind of a unique class for us. Those two young ladies in particular really trusted Tulane and trusted our program at a time where there was a lot of uncertainty and they will always have a special place in my heart because of that. These are two players who have contributed tremendously to our program. Then, you add Indira (Kaljo) last year, who came on and was Newcomer of the Year. She had a fantastic year and proved to be one of the best shooters in the country. Returning those caliber players is going to be very exciting."
On which freshman she expects to have the biggest impact on the 2009-10 season
"One local player that people have asked the most about is Olivia Grayson from Chapelle. She is a player who got a lot of publicity here when she was a high school player. She was the 5A MVP and her team won the state championship last year. I think she will certainly play an important role for us."
On the point guard position
"At point guard, we return Roshaunda Barnes who got a lot of quality minutes last year with Ashley Langford. Olivia Grayson will come in and play significantly at that role too. That is a freshman that we need to step up and step up big. The other one is Janique Kautsky, who is an Austrailian player who we really didn't see except on film until she came in. She's done a great job in practice of filling different roles, playing the 4 and playing the 3. I think those newcomers in particular will come and really help us a lot."
On the 2009-10 schedule
"We're excited. We think the schedule is pretty balanced. Last year, we started the preseason NIT, which was very, very challenging starting off. This year, we have some challenging games early but we also have a little balance in that. Last year, going to Arizona State in the second game of the year really was a step up in the second game of the year to really be able to match up with a great opponent like that. Games here that we're excited about - obviously any time you have LSU here, that's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, that's going to be exciting. I love that we have a double-header with the men to kick off the season. To me, that's Tulane basketball. That's Tulane's men's and women's basketball programs that we can highlight on the first day of the year, and we're looking forward to that. Another game on the schedule that has personal meaning is we do have Texas Tech here. We go back to all the things they did for us (in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005), and they're coming back here and I think we've got a pretty good group to play in our Doubletree Tournament. It's going to be nice to have them here."
On getting the season started
"We're going to be excited to kick it off. We're not ready yet, but we hope to be ready in the next few weeks."
On any weaknesses or concerns she has with her team right now
"Probably depth at our post right now. When we signed people last fall, we had two of our signees tear their knee - ACL - in their senior year of high school. One of them is Chantel McDonald. She is a player we thought could really give us some good minutes there. The other is Tyria Snow, who we thought was a true point guard who would give us significant minutes there. Right now, we're not sure of their status for the season. They're back and they're in practice. But as far as leaving high school, going through an ACL recovery and starting college, that's a big jump. I think not having those two is an uncertainty. That will affect our depth at those two positions - at post and at point guard. I think we have some experience and we can manipulate things enough. Janique can go over into the post and move people enough so that it won't be a problem for us."
On replacing Ashley Langford at the point guard position
"One thing I've learned as a coach over the years, teams can be different. You lose players. We lost Grace Daly and we lost Janelle Burse. What does that mean? Each team is different. Roshaunda Barnes got some tremendous experience with Ashley Langford. She's a different kind of player - probably a little more of a scorer and probably more of a defensive presence than Ashley. I think the thing we really need to address is that in game situations we won't have that experience in there (that Langford provided). We really need to educate our team as far as how to handle things. We'll also need to replace her leadership, and leadership emerges. I will depend on the upperclassmen to emerge and be more vocal. We'll be a different team. This may be the fastest team that we've ever put on the floor that I've ever coached at Tulane. That's going to change our presence a little bit defensively. I think we'll be different, but I think different players at different times will emerge and take on different roles."
On if Grayson is Tulane's biggest local signee since Janelle Burse
"Janelle Burse turned out to be a great local girl for us, but initially, she was not as highly ranked. But yes, I think that (Grayson) was a great catch for us. You've got a player who is very competitive. She really turned the program around at Chapelle when she went there. She is a Tulane kid. She's one that really wanted the academics and but also really wanted to play at a high level. I think she will really help us get there."
On signing local players
"We have a lot over the years. Again, I guess my span is a lot longer than some. Over the years when you think about some of the players that have been really good for us, a Lacey Vicknair, you talked about Barbara Farris, Rodnelle Hadley. Different ones have contributed. The big thing for us is we have to have the balance of someone who can really contribute to our program, and academically that Tulane is a draw for them. I think we are fortunate when you have a player of Olivia's quality to come in and stay at home. Another one - maybe she's not from New Orleans, but from Slidell - is Tiffany Aidoo. She's a very good player and she chose to stay home too. Having the best players like that stay here will only help the program."
On if it feels like 16 years that she's been at Tulane
"It really doesn't. I think during the Katrina year, it felt like a really long time. Every year is so different and every team is a new challenge. It really doesn't feel like 16 at all."
On if she feels her team has a chance to win the C-USA title
"In our conference, there's not a dominant team in it. I think it's anybody's conference every year. You've got a team like Central Florida, who because they won the tournament last year is probably the team to beat. I think one of the exciting things about this league is we don't have a Connecticut in it. We don't have a team that is the team to beat. I think we can make a run for the championship. We've been very close. When you look at last year, we were one or two games away from being right there at the top. This is a team that if we can develop some consistency, we can be there. One thing about last year, we really challenged ourselves in non-conference play and in conference play we had a couple of let downs. We can't let that happen again."
On the current state of Conference USA
"This league is a little different from what we had in the past. Conference USA before, we may get three or four bids to the NCAAs out of that league. This league, the most we've had is that one at-large. This league is still developing and I hope we can get back to that point. Right now, there is a lot of pressure to get to the (NCAA) tournament, because right now you've got to win the (conference) tournament. For us, our focus has got to be positioning ourselves to be in a good position in the Conference USA Tournament and doing well there. I think this team has knocked on the door. Two years ago, we won the championship but didn't win the tournament. A lot of those players who were on that team are returning and remember what that was like. We really want to make a run for that."