K-State Women Host Media Day

MANHATTAN, KAN. - Kansas State women's basketball participated in its annual media day on Wednesday afternoon in Bramlage Coliseum. The following is a transcript from K-State head coach Deb Patterson's press conference in the Legend's Room, with player quotes in the link above.

Head Coach Deb Patterson

Opening statement...

“We are very excited about the start of the 07-08 season. It’s exciting to see so many returners back in the gym with experience under their belts. We will look to the fact that a lot of our returners posted some very good minutes and production down the stretch. We will try to build off of that great finish in the WNIT tournament. There is a lot of excitement day in and day out in our gym by everybody -- in large part because we understood that we finished well. We have a very challenging non-conference plate; one of our toughest non-conference schedules in a long time. We will look to open up to a very good basketball team against Washington. In Cancun, we have an opportunity to play against both Tulane, who has been picked number one in their league, and Michigan State. We’ll be lining up against two great teams and programs with very established long term success. Certainly the games at Wisconsin Green-Bay and Creighton are always very challenging basketball games. Wisconsin Green-Bay is a team that is always a premiere NCAA tournament qualifier. When you round the pre-season off you find that there are a lot of great challenges for this basketball team. It will be significant early on to integrate Marlies Gipson back into the flow. We are very excited about her health, and how she looks in the preseason. She practices as though she is someone that didn’t suffer an injury that kept her out for the majority of the year. She is getting up and down and as a whole we are a very healthy team right now.”

 

On getting into the NCAA tournament...

“That is the challenge before us is to strive day in and day out to find a way to finish in the upper half of this league. If you put yourself in the position to finish one through six in the Big 12 you should get into the NCAA tournament. It’s a great league and it is very hard to do that, but that’s the goal. I said at the Big 12 media day that there is not a team in this league that does not aspire to that goal. I know we will have at least four if not five teams all year long from our league in the top 25. It will be a great challenge. The hunger, the experience that we are bringing to the floor certainly makes us encouraged that we can compete for that quality of a finish. Day by day we will learn a little bit more about our team in that respect. That’s why I spoke about our non-conference schedule because when it’s all said and done we will be important as is that top 6 finish. I am extremely disappointed in any year if the Big 12 doesn’t have six admitted into the NCAA tournament. I think that should be almost etched in stone, it should be a given. As we saw two years ago that doesn’t always happen or we would have been a NCAA team two years ago.”

 

On how tough the South is...

 “There is no question that the talent and athleticism in the South teams is extraordinary. Not only that but you have programs that have been in Final Fours or national championships. We haven’t seen that from North division teams yet. Everyone in the country understands that with Courtney Paris in particular and the roster that Oklahoma brings to the floor, in my mind you have a potential Final Four team there. And yet Texas A&M is picked in our league to be number one. Those two schools alone make the South division unbelievably strong. With the addition and change of Texas coach Goestenkors, you change the face of that program. Also with the athleticism in the number of high school All Americans. Like that, at Baylor, it is extraordinary. Those programs having been in Final Fours can find high school All Americans. Not just one or two, but if you look at their rosters sometimes there are three or four. Oklahoma State, the most improved team in our league a year ago, brings back Andrea Riley. They are a very solid confident basketball team. The North division, what you saw with Nebraska last year, is an example of the kind of competitiveness that you hope to bring to the table week in and week out. Being a North division team it’s not any easier to win. I don’t think there is a team in the South that looks at coming into K-State, Nebraska or Iowa State or KU for instance and says man lets just pencil in a win, thank heavens we’re headed up North to play there.’ It is not that kind of league at all. You saw that last year when 1 lost to 12 and 2 lost to 11. We have to take advantage of our opportunity that we have with the familiarity of the teams of the North. We have to neutralize the athleticism and the individual strengths of the players that you see in the South. They tend to be deeper and more athletic often times than the teams in the North do. That’s a challenge in this league. A year ago with three weeks left in the season it was still in reach for Nebraska to finish number one in our league. You saw with Iowa State making a great run that they made through the Big 12 tournament, that North division teams are very good. I don’t think they take a back seat, I just think that the South is that good. The familiarity that they bring with one another neutralizes the impact that they have on one another sometimes as they compete, just as it does us. The match up problems that the North and South teams have with one another is sometimes very distinct because the North division teams don’t seem to be as athletic. Colorado is a very tough place to play, and is a very good team. Jackie McFarland is one of the premiere players in our league. They have added depth and a lot of

real high quality returners there. You just toss it up and say not who’s not good,’ you just say who on any night is hot, who’s putting it all together, who is playing the best basketball, who can sustain it over the longest period of time, who is healthy, where are the home games and where are the away games when you do play those South division teams relative to the match up. Who is the better match up for you on the road? In our case is it going to Texas A&M or is it having Texas A&M up here? You look at the schedule a million different ways, and whatever way you shake it, it’s going to be hard.”

 

On how Jackie Stanley will change the coaching style...

“Jackie has been very fun to coach in the early season practices. She is different from the post players that we have had in our program in that she is very strong, physical and tough minded mentally. She is absorbing a great deal in a short deal of time. She is just flat out one of those post players that have a don’t-back-down mentality. We have had players like Shana Wheeler and Ashley Sweat in the post, and Marlies Gipson as an undersized post player. Jackie brings a size dimension. She is a very solid strong body; she runs the floor extremely hard. When you bump into her, you bump into a wall. She tends to get the best of impact. I look for her to be a presence very early, she is going to be a player that we can rely on to pound it in and go up strong and she’ll get to the foul line a lot.”

 

On replacing Claire Coggins' ability to score off the dribble...

“That is something that is going to be a challenge for us. Claire was that player in the open court and on the perimeter had that jump shot. She could catch the ball in the open floor and finish very athletic at the rim and get to the rim. I look for Kimberly Dietz to step up in that roll. She showed great ability last season to penetrate and get to the rim in situations where we put the ball in her hands. Because of the personnel that we have this year there will be less of a responsibility on Kimberly’s shoulders to be just a three-point shooter possession by possession. She will become more of a penetration, someone who gets to the line. I have every confidence that she can; she’s big, strong, and physical and has great handle skills to do that. I look to her more than any other player as that replacement as that aggressive get to the rim, go strong player that we had in Claire. I think the ability of players like McCullough, Kincaid, Nelson, and younger players like Spani to come in and hit the three ball for us more than Kimberly this year. We know Kimberly can do both.”

 

On how much better you will be with Marlies Gipson back...

“Marlies changes the game for us because she is a great passing post player, great target in the post, steady influence. Anytime you put a player back on the floor that has potential to score double figures and rebound at a clip of over five to six rebounds a game you’re better; it doesn’t matter what the situation is. Marlies brings that to us. She is very fundamental. She has a very solid jump hook, nice turn around where she elevates and scores over defense. She’s great at creating space on her catch and score moves in the post. The versatility that she brings, from how she can score and pass in offense, to rebounding and passing, changes the game in the post. It also changes the game on the perimeter. It takes a lot of pressure off of your guards. We are better because we are deep, and because she is a high percentage scorer that makes quality basketball decisions. Marlies very rarely makes mistakes; she is a very smart intelligent player off the catch. It is fun to play around her. She is someone you know is very dependable as a player on the floor and as a coach on the sidelines.”

 

On Ashley Sweat’s experience coming into the season...

“There are two things that are huge for Ashley Sweat. She grew up mentally at a rapid pace once we lost Marlies. Ashley was having the classic freshman year with a lot of adjustments of changing positions and rolls. We were asking her to do something she had never done before which was to play big, strong, and physical in the post. She was a finesse player at heart and we asked her to change everything that she knew. Prior to losing Marlies, mentally that was very tough for her. Physically that was very overwhelming. Once we said to Ashley Sweat you have got to step in and provide production in every game, minutes, defense, offense’ she took that to heart. She grew up very fast, and got tougher very fast. Instead of mid-January, February, and March like a freshman she played like a sophomore deep into their sophomore season. She brought a responsibility to the floor every game. That’s huge, every coach and player will tell you that. As we head into this year what does she have behind her, she has a great deal of confidence, significantly higher expectation on herself in production, just flat out getting the job done. She understands what that means. I look at her as if she finished the season as well as anybody in Big 12 play. The last three weeks of her season she played better than any other freshman. She comes in this year with knowledge of what she is capable of bringing to the floor. More than anything a sense of responsibility and accountability for bringing that game day in and day out, game in and game out. That is what is going to make Ashley Sweat a great player. The versatility, physical skills and instincts that she brings combined with that gives her the chance to be one of the premiere players that we have seen here at Kansas State.”