Oct. 14, 2010
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Missouri women's basketball team hosted its media day on Tuesday, Oct. 13 after the second day of official practices. Head Coach Robin Pingeton and members of the team met with the media to discuss the upcoming season.
Head Coach Robin Pingeton
On Missouri being voted 12th in the Big 12 Preseason Poll:
"I really didn't have much of a reaction to be honest with you. I thought we could have been 10, 11 or 12. Honestly I thought we'd be picked last but I don't really pay attention to those preseason rankings. This is the toughest league in the country and we have a long road ahead of us before we're going to compete for a championship. But that's what makes this so rewarding, the journey that is ahead of us. The buy-in has been tremendous on a lot of different levels. I think this team will overachieve this year, I really do. Their effort, they are hungry, they want it. They have been working awfully hard for us and have done everything we've asked of them. I absolutely think this is a group that is led by three outstanding senior players and leaders. They're going to carry us this year along the way but I don't know if it will show up in the record book or in the scoreboard because of the tough nonconference schedule that we have. But I absolutely believe with all my heart we will be a team that overachieves this year at a very high level."
On how rebuilding Illinois State is experience for rebuilding this team:
"So much is laying the foundation of our program. The expectations, how we go about our business every day,t he way we interact as players, as teammates, as family members, the way we conduct ourselves in the locker room, on the court, in the classroom and in our personal lives. It is really about laying that foundation of the expectations we have for our players. Old habits die hard. It is not something where you come in and flip a switch and things change. I believe what we're doing this year goes way beyond what happens between those lines. It is about those locker room talks and the expectations we put on our players every single day. Changing a culture is a lot of fun but it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of energy and a lot of emotion. But these girls are hungry, they want to be successful. I think we have some really exciting things to look forward to, not only this season but obviously in the future."
On if the team is struggling with the new practice tempo:
"Absolutely. Our style is transition. Early in your years when you take over a program you have to be awfully careful between implementing your style and putting your players in a position where they can be successful in a system they can thrive in. Transition is going to be very important for us and they obviously are not used to playing at that pace. I don't think these girls are afraid to work hard, I really don't. I just don't think they have completely grasped what it takes to have success and have a championship program. That's our responsibility as a staff to mentor them, to teach them, to lead them. It's not that they aren't willing to do it; they just need to be challenged everyday to empty their tanks."
On what it was like to finally start practice:
"Actually I think I pulled a stomach muscle, it's been a while since I'm been able to be on the court and get after it with them. My assistant coaches have done a tremendous job in the preseason with our individual workouts, which has allowed me to be on the road a little bit more than usual with our recruiting. It was absolutely fantastic to be on the court again. I loved yesterday's practice. It was really energized, a little bit tiring, but emotionally energized in regards to the effort these girls put forth."
On the status of Kendra Frazier, who tore her ACL during the offseason:
"I really couldn't tell you at this point. We're rehabbing her as if we would be getting her back for that second half of season play. But I don't know if we would really be able to make a decision on that for a couple more months."
On what the seniors have expressed about the transition and change:
"As you visit with them they'll probably give you the real truthful answer but they've said some awfully nice things to me that have put a smile on my face and made me feel like they've really embraced our staff. I think that was pretty heartfelt. They're hungry, they want it. They are three of our hardest workers and they've proven themselves as leaders. When it is the last go-around you approach the season with a different sense of urgency than you do as an underclassman. We've talked a lot about leaving a legacy behind. This is the class that can turn it for us. They know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. As if the Big 12 isn't tough enough, now you have the nonconference schedule we do. I think they really have a good understanding that it is much deeper and much bigger than what happens between those lines. It is about the leadership they provide and the way we carry ourselves on and off the court, the character and integrity of our program. We inherited a team; we did not inherit a family. I believe to win at a high level you have to have a family environment in that locker room. You have to have trust, loyalty, accountability and discipline. It has been really neat to see that way this team has let down its guard and embrace each other."
On what her impressions of the seniors individually:
"Shak's kind of the mom of the team. She takes everyone under her wing. She's a little guarded, a little reserved, but really gets it. She's very mature for her age. She's someone who I think just wants to enjoy this last year. Jazz and Rae, they are characters. They bring a lot of life to the bunch. They have a great disposition with their charisma. They provide a lot of life in the locker room and on the court. All three are so unique in their leadership skills and you need different types of personalities in leadership positions."
On if other Big 12 coaches have reached out:
"They've been tremendous to me. When I first took the job I believe I heard from everybody. Over the course of the summer there have been smiles and handshakes. I've known some of these coaches for a while. I've been fortunate enough to play against a couple of them when I was at Illinois State and obviously my relationship with Coach Fennelly. I'm honored to be a part of this league. They are some of the best coaches in the country who are very good at what they do."
On the tough nonconference schedule:
"When you lose four seniors and your leading scorer and leading rebounder and three starters off a team that finished last in the Big 12 and you come out and play teams like Tennessee, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Xavier and Florida State, five top-20 teams in your nonconference. Man it is going to be tough. It is funny because as a player I think it is a schedule that you want to play, especially as a senior. And as a coach I'm sitting here thinking we have a bit of a challenge ahead of us. But that's OK too. I do think those kind of teams prepare you for the Big 12. There will be no opportunity to build a false sense of confidence with the tough schedule. It is what it is but we're looking forward to it."
On if team captains have been named yet:
"We have not chosen those yet. I waited to see how some things play out in the locker room and on the court because I feel like we're getting to know our players better but we still don't know then quite at the level we will with some more time. Some people who have stepped to the forefront, naturally, are our three seniors with Rae and Shak and Jazz. Bekah Mills has done a tremendous job for us as well. I'm so proud of her to come back from three ACLs and play with the kind of toughness she's played with in our practices. It speaks volumes about the competitive spirit she has. Those four are the ones who have rose to the top and had a strong voice in the locker room and on the court."
On if the she has set goals for the team:
"Not yet but that will come. Before we really have those heart to heart discussions as a team and they take some ownership of some of those goals we'll set we all need to get more familiar with each other. They need to get more familiar with us and we need to get more familiar with them, what they're capable of accomplishing on the court. Off the court we certainly have set some parameters on what our expectations are. In regards to where we want to finish in the Big 12 and number of games, rebounding percentage and more specifics, we have not gotten to that point yet.
On if the team will set goals for the season:
"We definitely will, I'm a big believer in setting goals. That's part of a process too. It's part of a process of everyday stepping between the lines and having a championship program. I've always believed winning will take care of itself if you go about your business the right way. Every day you come with the right mindset, empty your tank, play as hard as you can play and you're as coachable as you can be. I think when you run a program that has structure and accountability on and off the court winning will take care of itself.
On building attendance:
"I absolutely am here to win basketball games, as a Division I coach that's how you keep your job in this day and age. But it is so much bigger than that to me and my staff. It's about impacting lives. I've said that from day one. I believe wholeheartedly that is the position I'm in. It's about impacting lives and preparing them to be successful on the court, in their personal lives, and graduating our players with degrees. Along the way I think our players serve as great role models for this community. I don't know all the facts about attendance and season ticket holders but we've had a loyal group who has supported us through the trenches the last couple of years. We've got some people who are really excited to check out this new system and this new staff and maybe jump on the bandwagon. But I think it goes both ways. Obviously we need those loyal supporters in our community but it's our job as a coaching staff to put a product on the court that is fun to watch, that plays hard and that wins. That's who people want to support and that's how you grow your attendance."
Junior Bekah Mills
On coming back from injury:
"It feels great to be back out there. It is what I've wanted all along. I like the new system, the team is really coming together and I think we'll be exciting to watch this year."
On getting used to the intensity level of practices:
"Top to bottom learning how to play at this high intensity level. That's going to be the difference. It is never taking a minute off, or a play off, it is bringing that intensity the entire time. That is something we're getting used to."
On the biggest difference this year:
"I say the biggest thing is everyone is coming together as a team, encouraging everyone and recognizing that everyone can bring something to the table. That's what we're trying to do. Making everyone a part of the team and contributing to it."
Senior Jasmyn Otote
On how practices have gone so far:
"The first practice actually went really great. We had drills we had done in the past in individuals but everyone was just prepared and
ready to get it done. We all picked it up. The first practice was extremely great."
On what it's like being a senior:
"I can't believe I'm a senior, everything has gone so fast. I just want to go out with a bang and make this year my best year."
On the coaching staff:
"This coaching staff, Coach P., Coach Putnam, Coach Norton and Coach Cox, they really bring a family aspect, which was something we didn't have before. You want to come to practice; you want to come to the gym by yourself or with a teammate. You just want to be around everybody because of the family atmosphere that Coach P. has drilled into us."
Senior Shakara Jones
On what makes the team confident things will turn around this year:
"The atmosphere, the change of the atmosphere. The positive attitude is what is helping to think, `this year we are going to change things, this year we are going to get more wins.'"
On which returners has impressed her the most so far:
"I would have to say both the sophomore and junior groups, not just one person. I think they've really stepped up their confidence and stepped up their game as a whole."
On which of the freshmen has impressed:
"All of them. To be honest I had only known Maggie Flynn and a little about Paige Spietz. What I've seen from all of them is a huge step from summer to now. So the group as a whole is all doing very well."