Hurricanes Basketball Opens Official Team Practice Today
Oct. 12, 2007
The University of Miami women’s basketball team will hold its first official team practice of the 2007-08 season on Friday evening from 7-9 p.m. Hurricanesports.com sat down with third-year head Miami coach Katie Meier to discuss the upcoming season.
Q: One of the more obvious changes from last season to 2007-08 is simply the increase in the size of Miami’s women’s basketball squad. From finishing with eight healthy players to heading into this season with 14 – what are some of the changes you expect as a result of that?
A: “I’m really excited to have the depth and the athleticism that our style of play requires. We should be able to play that up-tempo style for 40 minutes without having to make concessions or adjustments because of a lack of depth. I’m excited for it — but the most fun thing is the players look around and they’re very excited. They’re excited because they know that now we can play some of these defenses that we could only play for two or three minutes last season for a full 40 minutes. We can really push the tempo like we’ve done and not be exhausted at the end of a game and have the poise. You know you lose your poise a little bit when you’re exhausted, and now I think that they can play fresh.”
Q: Clearly last year didn’t go as planned in terms of wins and losses. What do you think your staff and the returning players took away from last season? What did they learn that could be beneficial heading into this season?
A: “I’m very proud of last year’s team and I know that people are going to question me for saying that. But I thought that we had a very gritty team… players that never felt sorry for themselves. You didn’t hear or get a lot of excuses, and that’s a huge lesson. The core of that team returns and they have had the pain of losing. They didn’t just let it go – it’s still there. It drives them. But they also had the pride in the fact that they understand that no matter what – you compete to win every game and I felt like I saw that. To be in the nation’s top conference and to have built-in excuses but not take them, I’m very proud. I’m proud of that unit. I’m proud of that group. I’m proud of what was accomplished even though it doesn’t show up in the win column. I think a lot was accomplished for this program and for the future.”
Q: For anyone who has had the opportunity to spend any time with this team, it becomes apparent how close the staff and players are to each other – really encompassing a “U Family” atmosphere. Is this something you create or help foster?
A: “I think it’s very purposeful. It’s not fake, it’s just very purposeful. I think it’s important to us as a staff so that when we’re recruiting, one of the first things you’ll hear out of our mouths is that we’re really selective in the people that we invite to be part of our family. And I think that it starts there. There is a culture of winning, but the winning takes care of itself if you’ve taken care of the respect and the drive that we talk about. We work on the discipline, the respect, the intensity, the visionary, the enthusiasm… and then take the time to have team building — take the time to understand that cohesion is key to what we’re doing. I think that everyone on this team has a very open heart. I think we’ll accept each others’ weaknesses and we’ll cover for each other. We have a theme this year that `we are us’ and we take it very seriously. We feel very strong about who we are and we’re very proud of the group that we’ve assembled, and I think that goes a long way.”
Q: Renee Taylor was the ACC’s leading scorer in 2006-07 and someone that drew a lot of attention from opponents on the court. Who – or what group of players – do you envision filling that void?
A: “Well, we don’t have another Renee Taylor on this team. However, I think that our defensive rebounding will be good, and that will take a lot of the burden off of the offense. We were definitely lacking in that last year and we have made up for that with some of the people we have back and some that we recruited. Renee had a lot of pressure on her to score because we were giving up a lot of points. I don’t think that we will be in that situation as much this year. I think that Maurita Reid gives us another opportunity to have this terrific scorer that people are going to have to give a lot of attention to. But I also think that we are going to have a lot of weapons around her. Renee had a lot of attention, and a lot of defensive schemes were set around her, and I think with our system and our personalities it’s going to be little harder to do this season.”
Q: Are there any specific areas that you and your staff addressed when recruiting the incoming class?
A: “People ask what position our players play and sometimes we can’t answer that because we look for basketball players. We look for very versatile players — those that can guard and play three or four positions. That is our style. We have an open court. I think a lot of people have raised their eyebrows to see what we are trying to do down here with our transition. We don’t lock into a robotic style of play and we don’t put our players in a box and say `this is all you are allowed to do.’ I think that that has drawn a lot of attention from our recruits. Now it’s a matter of cleaning it up. We get these basketball players, players that can make plays — not run plays – but make them.”
Q: Is there anyone you think will surprise opponents this season?
A: “I think that teams are going to be surprised with the return of Lamese James and Eboni Sadler. I think that people did not understand how significant the loss of those two players was. I am really looking for some big things out of Albrey Grimsely and Maurita Reid. They have a lot of experience. Additionally, the development of Carla Williams in the offseason has been pretty impressive. I think she is really ready to go.”
Q: Are there any specific team objectives or goals in 2007-08?
A: “We have addressed the needs of our depth and athleticism. I think that rebounding is huge for us and you will see that. We are very aggressive with the ball. This is a team that in the early workouts is quick with the ball. I think some of our full court defenses and traps are going to be pretty effective because we can cover a lot of distance and go get the ball. One of the objectives that we had to address is our rebounding and I think that we have taken care of that.”
Q: What are you most excited about heading into this season?
A: “I love these kids. I am really excited to see this sincere love and respect for each other that we have in this group. I love how accepting and challenging they are, and how committed they are to the University of Miami. This is a special group and I have really enjoyed it a lot.”