Oct. 29, 2001
UCLA women's basketball head coach Kathy Olivier met with local media members Oct. 25 to discuss the prospects for the upcoming 2001-02 season. Below are quotes from the interview session.
(On whether the 2000-01 season was her toughest year): "I think going into it was the toughest year, but once we got going it was very rewarding because we had a team that came in every day and worked hard, were very coachable. They had a lot of enthusiasm, and they got better along the way. We ended up doing very well at the end of the season, finishing out at home, beating Washington. They felt better about themselves. We played well at home but struggled on the road. We have to do a better job at that."
(On the biggest thing she wants to correct on the road): "Confidence. At home we look like a different team. We are much more confident. We like playing in front of a good crowd. If you look at our schedule, we scheduled a couple of games early on the road to see if we can get a little better than last year."
(On what else has to improve this year): "Rebounding. We talked about this early, it was something we didn't do a great job of until the end. We focused on that since the first day of practice. Hopefully we'll be better at that. We got some size - maybe that could help."
"(Michelle) Greco feels more comfortable with her team. Last year early she felt she had to do everything because we lacked so much experience. But as we went along, she felt more confidence in her teammates, and I think that helped her game. We were playing 5 on 5 against the guys (scout team) yesterday, and she looked really good. She's more confident than in the past. When she looks to pass a little more she has a better shot selection, and a lot of the time will have more points because they guard her differently."
"Greco is a senior with high goals for herself. She is in great shape and is focusing on staying healthy. Last year she got hit a couple of times and had to be taken out. So she had to sit for three or four days and then she would come back in. She wasn't really in the flow. She's been focusing on her outside shot. She was as a freshman 0 for 1 from 3-point range, and last year she set a record for 3-point shots made. She shot a lot, which is a good thing."
"Everyone is returning and is so much more confident. They know what they are doing. The whole team stayed during the summer and was in summer school. They were conditioning. They were excited the first day of practice. The adrenaline was flowing, they were pumped up."
"The Pac-10 is going to be a lot stronger. We're hoping to out-work people. We're focusing on our work ethic."
"For them (the team) we need to win early. The Michigan State Tournament will be a good opener and indicator for us. It's on the road, it's early. There are definitely some tests: Ohio State, for example."
(On who could have a breakout year): (Natalie) Nakase has done a great job. She came in last year and surprised a lot of people. She is a smart player and will use her smarts. Jalina Bradley has worked extremely hard."
"Malika (Leatham) looks good. She's very focused and has been working out hard." Jamila (Veasley) has improved also. She stayed around during the summer. In the beginning (of last year), she didn't play at all. As the season went on she did better and better. She worked hard in the off-season."
"Brianna (Winn) has good shot range. We didn't have a good outside shooter early last year, that killed Greco. Brianna has good range. She is going to have to help us on the perimeter. We didn't have a lot of outside threats last year."