St. Mary’s Athletics photo
The Gaels have won seven of eight games, are a strong second in the West Coast Conference standings and face a defining weekend with Thursday night’s 6 p.m. game against Gonzaga and a Saturday game against Portland.
Q: How are things going at this point in the season?
A: We’ve got a couple of games coming up. This is an excellent opportunity for our team.
Q: Are these games against Gonzaga and Portland measuring stick games for your team?
A: We are going to find out where we are in late-January. We got to San Diego (last weekend) and we held them to 22 percent shooting and we did a little above average job of rebounding. But Gonzaga is a bit of a different team than San Diego.
Q: You’ve won seven of eight. Are you a much better team than you were just a few weeks ago?
A: Yes and no. I think we are better at some things.
Q: What kinds of things?
A: I thought we were doing a very good job with our team defense going into league play. And then we open up and do a terrible job against Loyola (Marymount) and we got beat. And then we won our next four, and we were doing a better job with team defense.
Q: What still concerns you?
A: I’m not 100 percent comfortable with where we are at with rebounding. We are way too inconsistent. I’m pretty pleased with where we are offensively and our ability to get good shots. We play four minutes a a time. Like any team, if we do not turn the ball over, and we can rebound, we’ve got a chance against anybody on our schedule. We’ve played a great schedule, but if we are getting our butts kicked on the boards or we are giving the ball away, we are giving people opportunities. When we can control that, we’re pretty darned good.
Q: What about that schedule?
A: Our team knows exactly where they stand. We talked about the schedule last year, I let them in on what I was going to do. It’s funny because we are two games off the pace of where we were last year. Last year, we played five BCS schools, if you want to call them that. This year we played seven and we are two games off the pace. We should have, not could have, but should have beaten Nebraska. We had them beat. And we had opportunities against UCLA. It didn’t end up a close game, but it was a two-possession game with six minutes to go.
Q: How is the health of your team?
A: Having Ashlee Smith out (with a season-ending ankle injury) is a killer for us. She just did so many things. Her and Lou(ella) Tomlinson had a tremendous amount of chemistry. She had an ability to run the floor and make teams run the floor with her and she would offensive rebound.
Q: How has the team adjusted?
A: It has hurt us, but Danielle and Courtney and Suzy Davis give us some different looks. Regardless, we think we’ve got some very good depth.
Q: What is the key to the game against Gonzaga?
A: It’s very simple. We cannot let them score in transition. We can’t give them a bunch of baskets in transition. We cannot allow them to get second and third opportunities with offensive rebounds. We have to contain them. If we can hold them to single-digit offensive rebounds we’ll have a chance.
Q: You don’t have to convey to your players the stakes in this game, I assume?
A: No. But if Courtney Vandersloot is in open space, we are up a creek without a paddle. If she’s in open space we are losing. If we don’t get block outs and we don’t keep them from running, we’re in trouble.