Blue Raiders turn focus to Conference USA schedule

Assistant Coach Kim Brewton and senior Ebony Rowe spoke to media on Monday

January 6, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee Athletics held a basketball press conference on Monday to highlight the Blue Raiders first season in Conference USA. MT Women's Basketball Assistant Coach Kim Brewton spoke to the media on behalf of Head Coach Rick Insell, who was unable to attend due to illness. Also, MT senior forward Ebony Rowe spoke to the media about the upcoming conference slate.

Assistant Coach Kim Brewton

Opening Statement

We're definitely excited to start conference play Wednesday. I know our team is looking forward to this challenge and this opportunity. We feel like we really challenged ourselves with our non-conference schedule because we wanted to prepare ourselves for Conference USA.

We know we have a target on our back, being the preseason pick to win the conference. We're up for that challenge. We're excited to start Conference USA play on Wednesday with North Texas. It's a familiar face and a good opponent. They're definitely better than their record shows.

On the seniors leadership toward the freshmen:

The start of conference play is a time for our senior leadership to step up, which they've been doing so far. We're extremely happy with the contributions of our freshman class. This is a challenge for them. It's not like high school anymore. You get into conference play, and every game is a big game. Everybody's coming to give you their best shot. Our senior class is doing a great job of continuing to bring that leadership.

On preparing for conference play:

Playing the tough non-conference schedule we played helped us, as did playing three games in three days in Florida. Preparing for three opponents in three days is something that will help us going into conference play.

We get to travel to some colleges that traditionally have had success with women's basketball. We get to play at LA Tech this weekend. We play Old Dominion. We get to see some venues we haven't seen before, and have the opportunity to step our game up and win big games on the road.

On the increase in competition in C-USA:

We knew coming in that we were going to play some better teams. We also knew that with playing one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country, we feel like we prepared ourselves to face those challenges.

On the freshmen:

Our practices are tough. We make them tough so that when our freshmen get into a game, they're ready for whatever adversity they may face. We're going to continue to do that during conference play.

On Ebony Rowe:

She's already stepped up her game this year, being challenged early on in facing the post players of Tennessee and Kentucky. We know she's going to continue to do that, not only because of us motivating her, but because she self-motivates herself.

Senior Forward Ebony Rowe

On making a first impression in C-USA:

I think a lot of people in Conference USA were surprised when we were picked to win the conference, and they should be. We're the new team in the conference. You could say we're the new kids on the block. Everybody wants to prove us wrong, and we're fine with that. They're going to give us their best shot, and we're going to do the same.

On the perennial powers in C-USA:

There's a lot of talented teams and a lot of rich history in Conference USA. When you go to places like that, teams like that are not used to losing at home. They win at home, and it makes it a tough environment to play in. As a team, we're excited about it. My senior year, I'm excited that I get to experience this, and go against new faces and better talent. I think we'll rise to the occasion like we always do.

On how this team compares to past years:

We've had some great teams here, but I'm really excited about this team. I've said it all year. We have so many threats on this team. We have so many people that can score, and so many people that can make a play when we need it. That's what makes us dangerous.

On approaching the all-time scoring mark:

Having [Alysha Clark] here this year has been a great help. She's someone who played in my position under Coach Insell, and she knows exactly what he expects. She's my biggest cheerleader. Whenever I pass a milestone, I don't know about it until she tweets it. That's how I found out something happened.

More importantly, the whole community has been so supportive. They're following along with the newspapers and I didn't even know. I want to do this for the fans. They have been beside me for four years. I just want to give something to this school because they've given me so much.

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