Inside the Huddle: MT women's basketball camp report
Q&A with Fuller; three players featuredOctober 17, 2011 · Athletic Communications
Each Monday leading up to the start of the season, GoBlueRaiders.com will have exclusive inside access to the Middle Tennessee women’s basketball program. Each week a short Q&A will be included with a member of the coaching staff, along a few questions with selected players.
Week Two Spotlight: Assistant Coach Alex Fuller
Alex Fuller was the first person Head Coach Rick Insell hired when he rebuilt his staff after the 2010 season. Fuller starred as a player for Insell at Shelbyville Central and was part of three state championship teams. In her senior season, Fuller was named Miss Basketball on the 3A level. She was recruited by Pat Summit at Tennessee and spent five years in the Lady Vol program (Fuller was injured in her first season at UT and took a redshirt year). After averaging 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds as a senior, Fuller then went to Kansas as a graduate student manager under Bonnie Henrickson before joining the Blue Raiders.
The following is an interview with Fuller:
Q. On playing for Rick Insell in High School and for Pat Summit in college.
I definitely got the experience and exposure under those two as far as being a student of both of them. I probably got the best that you could ever have as far as your career path being a coach. Obviously, there is always something else you can learn, you can’t learn everything, but I definitely got the best as far as teachers.
Q. When did you decide you wanted to be a basketball coach?
My last year at Tennessee, I was the only senior, and I looked upon myself as kind of the leader of the team and that was when I realized that I wanted to be a coach.
Q. Your coaching area is the post players. Talk about them, starting with freshman All-American Ebony Rowe.
One thing I always preach to Ebony is wanting the ball and looking to score first. I think sometimes she is looking to pass first. Well she was a freshman All-American and most of the time All-Americans look to score. I try to drill that in her head, as well as her taking on a leadership role on our team. She’s just a sophomore, but she is the type of person that can lead this team. In practice, I’ve seen her start to speak up a lot and kind of coach and direct the other players around her, particularly the post players. I don’t think Ebony knew what she was stepping into when she first got here, as far as her role on the basketball team. She is starting to realize that she is the go-to post player and someone that we look to score and to lead this team.
Icelyn Elie is a little different type of post player. She is a ‘tweener”; she can play the 3 position, the 4 and even play the 5. The reason she can play the 5 is that her rebounding is out of this world. Ice can get up over everybody and just yank down a rebound. It is uncanny how she grabs rebounds. She is long and athletic and she placed in the pentathlon in the state meet in high school. She is both athletic and versatile and that is the kind of post players we have in our system.
KeKe Stewart is a very strong and smart post player. She knows how to play against bigger and taller post players. She uses her basketball IQ very well, better than any post player that we have. And she can step out and shoot the three consistently, which is a plus. Stephanie Myers redshirted last year and I think she realized that she had to put in a lot more work than maybe Ebony or Ice or KeKe, as far as her basketball game goes. This year, she has gotten a lot better. You can see it on the court. I think she is a little more sold-out on what she has to do to help this team. She is strong, she’s 6-5, she’s starting to use her body a lot better, she is starting to slow down and read a little bit better, so I think this year could be her “coming out” year if she continues on the path she is on now.
Q. Obviously, rebounding is a critical part of the game. How has the team improved in that area?
They have sold-out to being in the weight room with Coach Riley and getting stronger, and being physically and mentally tougher. But with our length and athleticism, I don’t think we’ll have that much of a problem with rebounding. All of our girls can jump out of the gym and they’re all athletic.
Q. Talk about your recruiting and scouting duties.
When I was at Kansas, I was in the recruiting meetings and things like that. I had to learn that part of coaching fast and I think I do pretty well. And, just like coaching, in recruiting there is always something new you can learn. I try to lean on Coach (Kim) Brewton because she’s been in this for a long time. I ask her for advice, and what we should do in certain things.
I have done some scouting before. When I was at Tennessee, the players did some of the scouting one time. That was because we were in trouble for not following the scouting reports that the coaches had prepared, so they told us “Okay, you can do your own scouting reports.” Actually, I enjoyed doing it. You get a better feel for your opponents, as well as offenses and defenses. In college coaching, it’s different. You have to pay attention to more things, like play calls, signals for them to do certain things. It’s a little bit different, but it’s one of the things about coaching that I really enjoy.
Q. What is one area you see as growth among the post players?
I’d say definitely finishing with contact. We practice with pads, hitting them as they are going up for a shot or a rebound. Finishing with contact is something that we struggled with last year, and we are making a focus of it this year.
Q. What is your career goal or goals?
I have a lot of them and they probably change from day to day, month to month. I’d like to be a head coach and possibly as a back-up plan, get in professional basketball, the WNBA or even overseas. The SWA is in my sights for the future. But I’m young, but I feel like I’ve had time to figure those things out. Right now, I am happy to be a coach at Middle Tennessee.
Q. Do you miss playing the game?
Sometimes. I try to play for exercise. I try now to go to the Rec Center once a week and play with whoever goes up there, mainly students.
What is the craziest thing you ever did in high school?
I guess it was when I walked out on practice. I paid for it, bad. I wish I hadn’t done it.
How would your best friends describe you?
Goofy, happy all the time, energetic.
What two games on the schedule this year do you look forward to the most, and why?
Kentucky because I feel like we owe them one for the game last year, and the Tennessee game, because it is always a big game on our schedule.
MT only lost four players from last year’s team. Is it reasonable to expect that the team will win more games this year? Why or why not?
I think we have the potential to win more games. We have younger players, but we have a lot of energy. As long as everyone is coachable and willing to learn, I think we can win more games than we did last year.
What do you do before a game to get focused or fired up?
I work on my scouting report and listen to music, mostly to rap music to get myself pumped up and hyped.
What do you do before a game to get focused or fired up?
I lay down, I know what time it is, I come and get dressed, and go out and shoot. I am aware of the music that we play while we are shooting, but I don’t really listen to it. When I first started, I was tight before a game, but I’m not now.
What one thing, off the court, can you do better than most?
I stay in study hall all the time, I’m also a mom, so I do more of the mother-type thing.
If you could have a famous person follow you on Twitter, who would it be?
I really like Maya Moore. I’m not really into celebrities anymore. I like her game. I’d like for her to talk to me.
How would you describe yourself during an interview for a job?
I’m outgoing. I love nursing. I love people. I am a good communicator, I love to talk and I love to meet new people. I try to be happy all the time. I always have a smile on my face at work.
The fans have really embraced the women’s program in the last few years. How does it feel to have big crowds at the home games and a good following on the road?
I love the crowds here. They are always excited for us. Every time they see us, they speak. They interact with us all the time and we interact with them. I love the fans here. I’ve never seen anything like it, ever. I like the community work that we do.
Why did you choose MT to continue your basketball career and education?
From the beginning, I really liked the coaching staff here. Just seeing how far they had gone that year and knowing that they were going to go even farther the next.
How would you describe yourself during a job interview?
I’m smart. I like to be organized. Being on time is a first priority. And I am a hard worker.
What is your favorite food and where do you get it?
I love the garlic parmesan wings from Wing Stop.
What two games on the schedule do you look forward to the most, and why?
It would be the games with Tennessee and Xavier. They are tough road games against ranked teams. It’s a big challenge.
When family members come to see you play, do you play better?
I really don’t think about playing for anyone. I zone in on the game and play to the best of my abilities.
Friend of the Blue Raiders? Like us on Facebook and become part of the True Blue army today.
More Women's Basketball NewsDec 11, 2013: Raiders host Kennesaw State for Education Day game
Dec 10, 2013: Rowe once again earns TSWA Player of the Week accolades
Dec 5, 2013: MT Athletics announces adjustments for Education Day game
Dec 4, 2013: Rowe and Cason carry MT to 69-43 win at Austin Peay
Dec 3, 2013: Blue Raiders visit in-state foe Austin Peay Wednesday
Dec 3, 2013: Johnson named Allstate WBCA Good Works Team Nominee