Bearcat State Of Mind

While the rest of the country was recovering from our New Years parties, the University of Cincinnati Women's Basketball team was working hard for their next game against Big East foe Rutgers. We spoke with the Bearcats head coach about her team and the game ahead on Tuesday night.

While Billy Joel placed people into a "New York State of Mind", University of Cincinnati Women's Head Basketball Coach Laurie Pirtle has got her team and some die-hard fans in a "Bearcats State of Mind".

While the end of the 2005 saw the Bearcats earn a hard fought overtime victory over Pac-10 foe Oregon State, 2006 brings the much anticipated Big East schedule and one of the nations ranked programs into Fifth Third Arena.

Coach Pirtle spoke with Bearcat Insider on New Years Day after running her team through its paces getting ready for Big East foe and ranked opponent Rutgers. Our conversation ran the course about her team, its success and what the future holds for women's basketball at UC.

Last season Coach Pirtle learned her team lacked a little something needed to be successful at the college level. Entering her 19th season at the helm of the Bearcats, she knew better days were ahead, but just wasn't sure how soon they would get here. After her teams overtime victory on Thursday night, she now knows her team has reached a different level. When asked if her team last year would have battled and prevailed in the same environment, Coach Pirtle was quick to respond.

"This team is very different from our group last year. Their mental make-up is totally different and this separates this group from last year's group. Last season we gave away nine games, we've now learned to forget the past and live in the moment.

While this Bearcat team is off to a fast start, it begins its first journey into the Big East against one of the leagues toughest teams and coaches. Tuesday night the Bearcats welcome Rutgers and their Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer into Fifth Third Arena. When asked about competing against Coach Stringer, the Bearcats longtime coach was quick to point out the following.

"Vivian and I are not competing on the court. We're both more worried about the 200 minutes played on the court and preparing our teams to be successful."

When asked about Rutgers, Coach Pirtle shared her views on the Bearcats next foe.

"Rutgers is a very talented team. They have some very good players who are physical and place pressure on you all over the court."














Rutgers showed their strength Friday night when they defeated 19th ranked Texas 63-49 to improve their record to 9-1 on the season. One player who must continue to post the numbers she's shown during the early part of the season is Treasure Humphries. The junior from Canton, Ohio (McKinley HS) has become the team's leader in many different ways.

"Treasure would have done this last year if not for her lost wheel. She's worked very hard and is back fully recovered and showing her ability. She's a player that stays within her ability and is just a very talented young lady."

But while Treasure has provided the much needed leadership and scoring, it's been the overall play of five "True" freshmen that has seemed to set the mark a little higher this season. Shelly Bellman, Jill Stephens, Michelle Jones, Angel Morgan and Kahla Roudebush have given the Bearcats a new feeling of confidence along with a much needed collection of talented players. When asked about her freshmen and their progress, the Bearcats head coach pointed out freshmen is not the word to use in describing the talented five.

"With the amount of time they've played early on this year, these girls are no longer freshmen; they are now playing more like sophomores. What's impressed me most about them is they came in with a high basketball IQ. They've adjusted very quickly and want to play well and win every game."

When asked how she prepares her team for the rigors of college basketball, the answer came quick and swift.

"We have a very good group of guys on our scout team. It's almost like recruiting, we go out and watch pick-up and intramural games around campus and find guys who we feel can compete and push our team. It makes it hard right now with the holiday break, but they do a great job and they really help our team prepare."

As with many of the coaches at UC I've spoken to over the past few months, I had to ask Coach Pirtle the question many Bearcat fans have been asking. With all the talk of change put in place by President Zimpher, is she or her staff doing anything different when it comes to recruiting?

"We graduate kids, we have since I've been here and will continue to do so. As for any change in how or who we can recruit, there has been no change. We are doing things the same today as we have since I've been here. The only change is we're part of the Big East and that opens doors to players who want to play with and against the best."

The Big East will be a major test for the young and talented Bearcats.  Bearcat Insider looks forward to covering the women's team during the season. We would like to thank Coach Laurie Pirtle for taking the time on New Years Day and speaking with us about her team.

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