Quotes from Today's Basketball Press Conference

November 4, 2002 · MT Media Relations
Coach Stephany Smith on 2002-2003 Lady Raiders: "We are pretty excited about the season here. We have grown up since our seven freshmen a year ago. We have a little bit more experience under our belt. We have gone through a lot of adversity in the preseason; we have had a few people miss preseason conditioning and training due to various injuries. Fortunately, all those are minor injuries. However, even once practice started we have had two surgeries and have a third surgery scheduled for tomorrow. However, all of these surgeries are minor surgeries. We should get everybody back by the time the season starts. We have some other aches and pains that were coming up through. I feel really good about the season and the athleticism of the team. We are very heavy as far as underclassman are concerned. We have two great seniors and great leadership, Mia Parviainen and Paula Penttila, have been very instrumental. They set the tone in practice and the preseason. They are very positive and our team chemistry is great. Keisha McClinic and Jennifer Justice are our only two juniors, who have also helped in that capacity as well. We have our five sophomores and two freshmen, all of which have been working really hard. Of our sophomore class only two players, Patrice Holmes who was the Sun Belt Conference Freshman Player of the Year and Tiffany Fisher, are coming back and have had any impact on us what so ever. We had a Blue and White scrimmage on Thursday and that went really well for us. We saw a lot of things we needed to improve upon. I gave the girls a couple of days off this weekend. Hopefully they will be full of energy this afternoon when we go back. I feel good about the season, I feel good about the conference, and how competitive we will be. I have been most impressed with the three and Cartia to that to. Cartia Bailey redshirted last year so she counts eligibility-wise as a freshman. This is her second season. I feel really good about how our team is done in the first couple of weeks of practice. Eboni Kirby is doing really well, this is her second season. Jessica Schlueter is improving by leaps and bounds. The thing she needs to work on most was her toughness, her endurance, and her mental approach to the game. She is somebody we need on our side. She is 6' 3" and has a really strong build. Jennifer Justice has continued to improve. Tia Stovall is one of the freshmen we expect to step up even though she is one that is having surgery. Melissa Weiland who is here from Riverdale High School has had surgery as well. All surgeries are meniscus and minor surgeries. We are looking forward to a great season and getting the crowd back in the Murphy Center like it has been in the past."

Coach Smith about the strength of the team: "Our athleticism and our speed are our greatest strengths and we have really good talent."

Coach Kermit Davis about the 2002-2003 Blue Raider Basketball Team: "I think in any time you take over a program, you try to put a base into your team. The biggest challenge is trying to get your team to think like your staff does on a day-to-day basis. In April, when we got hired, that is what we tried to do. I think our guys get worn out with it, but we try to instill a level of toughness in our team from a strength standpoint, which we addressed earlier this summer. I think we are getting better. What we are trying to do right now is getting a consistency on how you practice day-to-day. Sometimes that is a struggle. Our guys can do it for two or three days, and then we can't do it. For the most part, we are starting to buy in and do a better job. Like Stephany [Smith], I think [injuries are] going through all of college athletics, whether it is Andy [McCollum]'s team playing his tailback at quarterback this past weekend. We are going through some injury factors. Our biggest guy, Napoleon Rhodes, our best physical presence because of his strength around the goal, has not practiced yet. He practiced a little in the half court yesterday. He is starting to get better. We have had some bumps and bruises, but for the most part we are okay. Marcus Robinson, if he is healthy tomorrow night, we start at the two position. He had a muscle pull in practice yesterday, so he may not play. I am pleased with where our guys are. The strength of our team right now is the collection of wing guys, as far as the numbers. We had a 36 minute scrimmage and made 15 threes. We were 15 of 32 in threes. I don't know if that is bad defending our good shooting, only time will tell. I am proud of where we are. We are starting to think as a team. We are playing together, and emphasizing defending and rebounding. You are going to see a work in progress, starting at tomorrow night's game against Global Sports, who is a really good team. Global, in the past two years, has beaten Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas A & M and Creighton. They will come in with a lot of former All-SEC players and couple of guys from Cincinnati that was All-Conference USA players. It is going to be a good challenge for us. It is time for us to play and see where we are."

On the injuries: "I am really proud of the progress that Demario Watson has made and the progress that Steve Jackson has made. William Pippen is going to play more of a forward this year, not because of basic need, but because of how we do things. We have always played with some athletic forwards that can shoot the ball and are skilled. He presents problems with match-ups. Kyle Young has a broken foot. We are probably not going to redshirt him. He is going to be out for two months. Bryant Mitchell, who had surgery last year, has had some reoccurring injuries, so he is day-to-day. Napolean Rhodes has been out. So, our numbers are down."

On the inconsistencies: "A new program has inconsistencies, but you must be able to practice on a day to day basis. You find out about your team when you go through adversity. Our team is getting to be a better practice team. I think if we can get our whole team together, we can see a dramatic increase in improvement.

On the toughness of the team: "It is a practice that the staff has to come in with everyday. You need to get out demanding and well thought out practices. We try to make our guys feel very uncomfortable every day at practice. Everything is a competitive win or loss situation."

On the transition of coaching staff: " I don't think there is a toughness, I think it is fun. I think we have a nice group returning. There are some things we have to continue addressing and improving on as a team. They have made it fun for us, they worked hard and some went trough summer school. It is fun to redo the offices, redo the locker rooms, and order new uniforms to keep the academic side of it up. To me that is the fun part. We are just taking it from the ground level and building it up our way."

On replacing Lee Nosse and other players: " He had a lot of character did a lot of nice thing while he was here. When you take him out of the mix it is kind of hard. Demario Watson has worked really hard; he has lost some weight and got himself in better condition. Steve Jackson has improved. You have to deal with the loss of graduation and injuries. You just have to go on. It is a big void."

On the potential of MT: " I think over all there is some great potential. I am excited for us. When you walk in and you see where your guys go to school and the unbelievable leadership we have. This place is as fine as any other place in the country. There are a lot of things here to sell to people as from a recruiting standpoint. So far we have five commitments and we are waiting on one more."

John Humphrey on this year's team: "Everything we do we will have to do well. There are people all over the place looking at what we are going to do. The system we run is great and all we do is spread out. You can use your individual skills as well as your teammates. The system works very well in helping us out."

Demario Watson on this year's team: "Coach Davis is one of the best in the league and he came out telling me to be the best I could be. We have to be quicker and more aggressive towards the rim."

Watson of the change in coaching: "I do not dwell on the past, Coach [Randy] Wiel came in and he did his job. Coach Davis came in and he applied toughness and he gets us mentally prepared for the game."

Watson on the on-the-floor presence: " We do have a different attitude on the court. When everybody is throwing elbows at you it makes you tougher. It is just part of the game it makes the game and your teammates better. Especially the rebounding drill, somebody is going to get knocked down. In the end it all works out for the good."

Lady Raider Cartia Baily on the injuries to her team: "Everybody is taking it pretty well. Everybody is stepping up and doing what they are doing. We are all working hard whether it is first or second string. We have been doing pretty well considering the injuries and everything. It is about who is going to step up and do there roll. I feel like we are going to shock a lot of people. We have a great coaching staff behind us helping us every day. Regardless if we are young or not we are doing what we can and putting our heart into it."

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