K-State Holds Annual Media Day

Oct. 22, 2014

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K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State women's basketball met with media on Wednesday at the Basketball Training Facility. Head coach Jeff Mittie addressed the media in a press conference followed by player interviews. The following is a transcript of head coach Jeff Mittie's press conference and select player interviews.

 
Head Coach Jeff Mittie
Opening statement…
“It is fun for me to be here. Practice has kicked off a little differently with the new rules. We have been going for some time. It has been fun to get them on the floor working. It has been a fairly hard-working group, so all of those things have been very good. It has been 15 years since I have had a switch, and one of the things that you do notice is that habits are sometimes hard to change. We have certainly seen some of that. We have tried to scrimmage as much as we can. We actually had a mock game day the other day. It was unique, because they have habits that they are used to on game day. I have things that I am implementing that are different. You can see the stress of even the returners of learning those differences in how we go about our game day preparation. It is just a step-by-step process for our group, even for me. Because of the new scoreboard, I have only been in Bramlage one time, and so we have only practiced in Bramlage that one time. We will have another mock game day coming up. We are trying to get rid of all those things we do not know as soon as possible, and then trying to get this team to take some more steps forward. It is coming quick, and it will be here before we know it. We certainly have a lot of work to do.”

On the junior guard Deborah Meeks…
“I think Meeks is a player that can go get her own shot, which we lack some ability to play. I said that earlier on that I wanted to have a little more ability to create your own and play off the bounce. I think she has done that pretty well. Fitting that into our offense, we are still trying to get her to understand where her shots are coming from. I have been pleased. I think she has a good work ethic to her, and she seems to grasp what we are trying to do. Her habits are not as strong as the returning players, so she knew this was going to be new. Coming from Trinity Valley, she knows how to win and she knows how to compete. I think she has picked things up fairly well.”

On the integration of the staff members…
“It has been good. I think that, for Claire (Coggins) and Jacie (Hoyt-Capra) who are the two new ones to me, there is a difference. There is the summer part of the expectations of the staff and learning those things, but then you get on the floor. I think both have done a good job of just sitting back. I have tried to give them areas that they know exactly what they are working on. What we want for our players, is clarity. It is hard for Claire Coggins, after a week and a half of sitting in meetings, to really know how practice is going to flow and where she can interject. I have tried to give her areas that are very clear to her. She has done a very good job with that. I think Claire has a bright future on the floor. She seems to have a good knack for when to pull a player aside and those things. A lot of times, the role of an assistant is just having a feel for when a player needs a pick-up or when a player needs to be pulled aside for a quick chat. It is not so much the x’s and o’s, although you want to make sure they understand those as well so that we are all on the same page. Jacie Hoyt-Capra, while she is not allowed to coach on the floor, she does have a responsibility off the floor with our players in a variety of areas. I think they have both done a solid job there.”

On the reception on the road of changing to the K-State polo…
“It has been very good. I was very pleased nationally. The Powercat is very well-known nationally. I would just say the reception has been great just across the state of Kansas, and that has been fantastic. All of those things have been very good and very positive.”

On the transition and advantage of Mittie coming from within the conference…
“Even knowing the scout of them and knowing what they are capable of, I think that part has helped me, but I think that is done with. Now it is about what you are doing today. It is about your productivity today. Because, quite frankly, what you have done in the past is not relative to how you are playing today. That has been a little bit of a message that our returners have needed to get quicker. They have not played as well as I believe that they are capable of. They need to pick it up here, because the productivity of today is going to be who is going to play here come the exhibition season and going forward. I think the initial evaluation that I had maybe helped me fit them into areas that I felt like we could fit them into, but now we are looking at who is playing well right now and who is playing well today. The sense of urgency for our group has not been as good as I would have liked. That has been a little bit concerning. Our group needs to have a better sense of urgency here. I think at some point they have maybe laid back, been a little timid, do not want to make a mistake with the new coaching staff and new head coach. I would rather them just get after it, play their tail off and we will correct the mistakes on film later. That has been my concern with the early part of practice, I just feel like we have not cut loose enough.”

On players stepping into the leadership role…
“I think that is a little hard right now because they are all thinking so much. They are just really trying to take everything in right now, so no I have not. We have not had somebody step forward and take this team and say this is how we are going to do things. I do not think our confidence level is there to do that yet. I think Kindred Wesemann is one that you know she is going to be diving on the floor every day. She is very comfortable doing those things, but Kindred is not comfortable enough in the offense right now to lead everybody at this stage of practice. It is certainly the goal to get there in the next two weeks. We have to keep in mind that Kindred is still a young player, she is still a sophomore. Because it is a new staff and a new offense, although she has the experience of playing in the Big 12 and playing for Kansas State, her experience is still on equal footing with everybody else. We are going to have a lot of meetings here. The guard play is an area of concern right now. We have new guards and guards that are having to do more than they did a year ago. Wesemann would fall right into that category of a player that was really a shooter who is being asked to handle the ball more and facilitate the offense more to get shots for other people. That is a different role for her.”

On Haley Texada…
“She is healthy. I like that. She has struggled to shoot the ball in the early part of camp here, some of that I think is footwork issues and just being comfortable with the offense. We are just in that phase right now. We are trying to get our players to understand where their shots are coming from. I think she is certainly capable. She is another player that is being asked to do a little bit more. How quickly we can get her assimilated into that will be critical for our team. There is no doubt you have got a group that has some success. I think it is critical for her to do it as quickly as possible, and the same with anybody who is returning. We have got to start getting those things pretty quickly.”

On what Mittie sees from this team in the future…
“Defensively, I think this team has a real chance to be solid across the board. They have good length, size and strength to them. I think Breanna Lewis inside can really cause some people some problems. They grasp that quicker than the offense. Nobody across the country is where any of us want them to be. I think from the standpoint of knowing where they are supposed to be and understanding that part of it, they are certainly ahead of the defensive end than they are at the offensive end. I like that about them. I think they have a chance to be a team that can be an improved basketball team from a year ago at that end of the floor. My concern is scoring points. I am not convinced that we have found the answers there yet. My concern, also, is that we understand that the possessions we have are extremely valuable. Our guard play has got to really be able to facilitate the offense, be able to run things and be able to get the ball in the right people’s hands. I am not sure we even have a remote understanding of what to do right now. We need some separation right now. It is hard to see a separation right now. You could pick a different player every day. People might think that is good, but not right now. We need some separation because it is very difficult to see the separation that is necessary to even know where to get the ball to in order to get points. Meeks has separated herself as a player that can go get her own. Her shot selection is still a work in progress. Lewis has separated herself as a 6’5” post and being an improved player. She has shown that she can score better than a year ago. Other than that, we are still looking for some separation.”

On Breanna Lewis’ progress and potential…
“When I took the job, I was very impressed with her ability to be coachable, but repeat the footwork that we asked of her. I was impressed with those things. I have seen her make big strides here. I think she is a player that we are going to be able to thrown the ball into and have something good happen. We are certainly going to force feed her with that action. I would like to see her more aggressive rebounding and more aggressive shot-blocking. I would like to see her get more scrap-points down there because she has the size and the athletic ability to get in and around. She is just a player that has a lot of untapped potential. We are really having to change her mindset, but you see a little bit more every day. That is what you like about her. I think she is a kid that is learning to pass the basketball, and if you go back a year ago, you know that was a real struggle for her. We have worked really hard on just the fundamentals and the skills of doing that. We see her do more every day.”

On the difference in the offense compared to last season…
“They really shot a ton of threes last year. That was really their identity if you look back. They did not get to the free-throw line a lot, I think they were ninth or 10th in the league. They were one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the league. We are running a triangle offense right now, so you are going to see the ball thrown around a lot. We are going to shoot the three, but it is going to come from a select group of players that we believe have that ability. We are going to go from the inside out, because we do feel like we have a young center that can make good things happen and that I want to get a lot of touches. Part of the development is that we are not going to shy away from that development. We are going to go right at her and Bre is going to have to raise her game to that level. That will be the difference. The advantage of being in the league last year, is knowing they shot a ton of threes last year and we probably do not have the same ability to do that this year. I think we can get to the free-throw line better than a year ago. The inside game is developing, so those are the areas we are going to try to improve. We have got to get to the free-throw line more.”


Kansas State Player Quotes

Sophomore Guard Kindred Wesemann  
On practices…
“Practices have been great. They have been tough, but that is what it is all about. When you get in a game, it is not going to be as tough. It hasn’t been that tough, but practice as been tough. Girls are being asked to do things they did not do as much of last year, so we just need to get those things in perspective and do them.”

On the transitional phase…
“Now, we are learning and remembering things, rather than trying to get used to things. We should be used to it by now, but that is where we have to get better. It was tough at first, but our coaching staff is great and they have really positive attitudes and really good incentives to get us in here and work with us.”

On mock game day …
“Our mock game day was pretty cool, the girls came out and played pretty hard.  We watched film during our pregame meal, which was different. I can see where he was going with that, in which we get a little bit of a reminder of the teams you are going to play against; it is nice to watch.”


Senior Guard Ashia Woods
On transition in practices…
“It is more of making us into players and that is what we want. It isn’t a set offense kind of thing, which we started in the summer. We have had some time to work on it and build on it.”

On her leadership role…
“It hasn’t changed very much, they still expect me to be a leader since I’m a senior and have more experience than some players on our team. [Coach Mittie] is expecting me to be more aggressive, that is a little more different than last year. I’m still trying to adjust and develop confidence, knowing that coach is wanting me to produce and do what he wants.”

On three point shooting…
“I was more of a drive player last year, and depending on who was guarding me I could still step out and shoot a three, but being more of an offensive threat and taking it to the rim will not be much of a change, but it is a lot more mental. Coming from a team where we just lived behind the arch it will be different, but I don’t think coach has totally taken away the three point range from us. He is just making us think “drive first, then shoot.”


Sophomore Forward Breanna Lewis
On last season’s confidence…
“I feel like my confidence went up because of how strong I have gotten and how much I have improved since I got here. I’m trying to bring the end of last season to now and just improve on gradually from that.”

On the new coaching staff…
“Focusing on the little details of things and trying to get things together and just working on the little things that matter the most- like footwork.”

On growth from this season to last season…
“I think I’ve just grown tremendously as far as strength and things like that. I used to not be this strong, I put in a lot of work and I am trying to be the best I can be.”

On class work and freshman to sophomore transition…
“It is coming along. It really is just about time management. I’ve struggled with coming into college, but I feel like it has gotten better with the schedules. ”

On becoming better defensively, individually…
“Working on my foot work and being where I need to be when I need to be there. Getting to places fast enough to get blocks for my teammates that way they can shoot. The defense works together as a team and we need to work together to know where everyone needs to be.”