Q&A with Sharon Baldwin-Tener
Oct. 13, 2005
On The 2005-06 Season:
"I am really excited about this upcoming season and to see all of our players in action. We graduated a lot from last year, but I think that with the new players that we have coming in, mostly freshmen and one junior college transfer, there's a lot of excitement and a lot of the unknown. So far I have been pleased with everyone's effort and I'm excited that we are going to be able to have a much faster up-tempo style of play. That has been something that we have been working on and implementing for each of the last three years of the program. I look for this team to be able to press and run more, because we are going to be a little bit deeper than we have been in the past."
Breakdown Of The Backcourt Players:
"We have a true point guard in Jasmine Young. She likes to run the show and she knows how to run the show and we're looking for a lot of big things from her this season. We have a lot of depth at the guard position and all but one are freshman. Ebonee Downey is our lone returnee from the outside perimeter. We also have LaCoya Terry, who was a very good high school player. She can do a lot of things, has a great work ethic and really understands our style of play. Impris Manning comes from Thomasville High School, which is one of the great high school programs in North Carolina. She is accustomed to winning, running and pressing and our style of play fits her perfectly.
"Jessica Slack will see action at the guard spot for us this season. Although she has been slowed the last few weeks due to surgery, I'm pleased with her progress and I expect her to pick up where she left off. Alicia Person also had surgery in August and is a little behind schedule right now in terms of her conditioning. She will definitely be able to give us a lift once she is able to get back. Gabriela Husarova is a good-sized guard and most importantly has a good touch inside 15-feet and really likes to get out and run the break. I think that as far as our guards are concerned we definitely have more than we had last season. All of them fit our style of play very well, and it is important for all of them to contribute. We are a very balanced team and we're not going to have to rely on one person to score 25-points for us to win. Instead, we have that balance and depth for us to press and run more than we have in the past."
Breakdown Of The Frontcourt Players:
"Returning for her senior season at the forward position is LaToya Horton, who saw significant playing time a year ago. She has improved every year, stepped up her game and I expect a lot of things from her this season. Catherine Coley is another senior that has come in this year in much better shape. She has worked on her game and is really going to be able to help us at the post-position. Amanda Mills has good size and has worked very hard in preseason workouts. She has a great touch and presence around the basket. Nicole Days is another forward that saw quality minutes from a year ago. She got a little more comfortable and confident as the season went along and she should make an immediate impact in the frontcourt as the season starts.
"Cherie Mills has received a lot of recognition both at the junior college and high school level. She is a very good low post player that can shoot from the outside as well. The one thing that has been a main priority with her has been conditioning, and she is in the best shape of her life right now. Jessica Honesty is a freshman that really has a lot of ability and can cause some problems for other forwards in our. She is very explosive and can shoot the mid-range jumper, as well as drive to the basket. She plays a lot stronger than she is and is continuing to get stronger."
Looking At The 2005 Schedule:
"We are going to be road tested this season with a bunch of road games. With a young team this can be a little scary. On the other hand I think that will really prove beneficial to us when hit conference play. We start the season traveling to Duquesne and then head to the western part of North Carolina to participate in the UNC-Greensboro Tournament. Starting away from the place that we practice at everyday and our home crowd, we will have to grow up pretty fast, but I think that this team can handle those challenges."
On The 2005-06 Non-Conference Schedule:
"Obviously we are going to be playing some good teams. Duquesne, who we play in the first game, is a very solid team that will be a hard test for us. Then we go across the state for the UNCG Tournament in Greensboro and there are some very good teams in that field. From that point we return home to host the CPW/ Atavola Lady Pirate Invitational, which includes Southern University, Drexel and Idaho all of which are good teams.
"James Madison is visiting Greenville right before Christmas and that will be an exciting game because they have a really good program that has continued to get better in the last couple of years. In December we face Marshall for our first conference game, which is a little different that what we have done in the past because this is an early Conference USA match-up for or team.
"After Christmas we will play in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Invitational against Davidson before taking on Southeast Conference member Alabama. This game will be a tough test for our young team right before we get to the bulk of our conference schedule."
On The 2005-06 C-USA Schedule:
"It is going to be a very interesting year for Conference USA. When you look at the conference right now, there are four or five teams that are ahead of everybody else. Judging things based on last year and the last few years, it is hard to say with all of the expansion and new teams coming in who is going to be the front runner."
On The Importance Of Senior Class Leadership:
"We have one four-year senior (LaToya Horton) and the other two (Catherine Coley and Ebonee Downey) are junior college transfers. The one important thing is that all three of them realize what it takes to compete at this level and they can help the newcomers as the season goes along. LaToya provides the most leadership at this point because she has been through a great deal of game experience over the past three seasons. She has seen success when things are going right and she has been through some difficult time. Her past experience and leadership is going to help us mesh together."
On Cherie Mills:
"Cherie has the ability to understand the work ethic it takes to get to the next level. I've been very pleased with her in preseason conditioning and preseason workouts. Knowing that she has a long way to go, she has taken the little steps necessary to be successful at the Division I level. Cherie wants to be a great basketball player and if she continues with that mentality then she will be a very dominant player in Conference USA over the next two years."
On The Future Of The Program:
"I am very excited about the players that we have in our program. They all bring winning attitudes to the team and will do whatever it takes to be successful on and off the court, which is important for our program to move forward. There are a couple of pieces of the puzzle that we need to fill in, but I'm very happy with the players that we have and the direction we are going in."
On Freshman Playing Time:
"I've never had eight newcomers, seven being freshmen at any given time. Most likely we will not have five freshmen on the court at one time, but I will guarantee that there will be a lot of time when we have three or four on the floor. I think the hardest thing for us (the coaching staff) is going to understand that they are freshman. At the same time we are not going to consider them "typical" freshman. By "typical" I mean someone that goes into a game and plays 2-3 minutes, usually behind a junior or senior. I'm hoping that by the time we start conference play that our freshman are seasoned have played a lot of minutes. With only one senior at the guard spot, they are going to have to play. The good thing is that we've got a little more depth than in years past when it comes to positions, so we can sub out players if their having off nights."
On What A Successful Season Would Be:
"Our goal every year is to go to post-season play. We need to continue making the Conference USA Tournament, which is something we've done over the past three seasons. Gaining post-season experience is the first step in building a solid program. The obvious goal for us is to play in the NCAA Tournament, but we're trying to build a program that will be successful in either the WNIT or the NCAA Tournament."