Freeman Optimistic

Women's coach Marianna Freeman leads the Orangewomen into the 2002-03 season after a highly successful 2001 campaign.

Who is going to be in the starting lineup?
That's a very difficult question to answer. I wasn't here in the month of September when they played a lot of pickup ball and most of the time they'll come in the office and say such and such is playing and this person is doing well. It kinda gives you an idea of what your players are thinking. I wasn't proxy to that because I was away. The starting lineup as it is every year is up for grabs. What I can say is this, you can be assured that Julie McBride and you can also be assured that Shannon Perry will be on the floor. Everything else depends on who comes through and plays the best.

What is Coleman's role?
Rochelle Coleman is really the person I had designated as the person that really needs to step up for us and show us what she can do. This is a great opportunity for her to break the starting lineup. I said to her before I left to go with the world championship team that I expect her and I envisioned her being in that starting five. But I don't intend to give it to her. She had to earn it, but I think Rochelle will be up to that challenge.

What is the toughest game on your schedule?
They all are. If you look back at the success we had last year it was because we were 10 players and the sum of our parts were much better than the individual parts themselves. I think this year's newcomers will serve us in just that manner. As a unit, 1-7 that we brought in, each will contribute something that will be significant and certainly will be better with the sum of their parts.

Who will start at center?
It's wide open. We're looking forward to Chineze returning. Pretty much has been rehabbing all summer and she's still in rehab. Pretty much we're just waiting for her the doctors to tell her. We look forward to probably getting her back. I hope that this is the season that she does return.

Where will the leadership come from?
Julie led last year by example. This year we're continuing to ask her to lead by example, but also to speak up and be demanding and commanding of her teammates so that we can continue to build on the foundation that we build last year. She's going to be significant, it's going to be a little more difficult for her on the floor this year because she can't sneak up on people like she did last year. But Julie is a year older and a year more mature and certainly all summer long has become a better basketball player. I still think very much that she will make an impact for us.

Why will this team be good?
By hard work, by playing together, and by playing great defense.

Talk about the newcomers.
The newcomers are coming in and the people we have returning have showed us them the work ethic that will help them grow. They have accepted that challenge. When I came back from China and you look at them physically and mentally, I think they've made great strides. I feel really good about this group physically and chemistry.

What is the key to this year?
Everybody needs to understand and accepting their role. Everyone making winning their No. 1 priority. We as a coaching staff being one in mind, body and soul. We're going to give them a game plan that should allow us to win the game and then they've got to believe in it, and go out and execute the game plan. That will be the key to our success.

Yeah, we've got a very tough schedule. Who made that schedule? Fire that person. All of them. Really, that's not a cliché. Every last one of them. The big east over the past 10 years have been built as a respectable conference based on the level of competition that my sister schools play. We have put together a policy that we play the top 100 teams. And because of that, its made us a respectable conference. One that players all over the country are looking forward to playing in. This year's schedule is as tough as last year's but if you look back to last year, it was our RPI, the strength of our schedule that helped us be an NCAA participant with 18 wins. And so it's very valuable to us who we play and how we play them. That's an important part.

What do you want from the juniors?
That's a pretty good returning group not totally mature, they're not seniors. But they are juniors that have played a lot from their freshman year on. If you recall, Chinee's first year here, she started the UConn game. We're down at Old Dominion and we win in triple overtime, Chinee was in that game. Irving goes down the last six games before the end of the season and I throw Julie McBride in. She's never relinquished that position. We've got a lot of experience in the backcourt. I think if I didn't have Julie and didn't have Shannon I think I'd be grayer than I'm grayer now. With those guys, knowing that I have two people that know what to do with the ball in their hands, and have been in situations that are tough, we can pretty much work with that adversity.

Who specifically will lead?
It's two. Julie and Shannon. Shannon is feeling good. She's in the best physical shape she's been in since she's been her. They have shown our new people what it's like to be a college athlete.

What type of defense will you play?
We're going to see a continued use of the zone. Its pretty funny that you ask that because my players are like, ‘coach, are we going to play some man?' and I go, ‘yup, we're going to play some man'. That means very little. The zone was good to us. We're going to stay with that and play a little man at times. Basically I can say that we're pretty much a 2-3 team.

Will Shannon play well?
Hopefully she does. But she knows how to play positions one through four. You might see Shannon down there was a 5-8 four player like last year. People would think about when they played us, well, where was Shannon Perry? Every game she was in a different spot. I thin kit was hard for them to define what she was but everyone understood her importance to us. Hopefully we can definite a spot for her. Let her play a lot of three and let her play on the perimeter and show what she does well which is create her own rebound feed the post and all of those little things you can keep statistic-wise.

What role do you envision McBride playing?
Julie will play two and a little three.

When will you play man?
If we're down and you have to get back in the ball game and we just need a stop and they've just been shooting the lights out then we'll do that. Other than that, we're just going to stay in the zone. It's tough to make shots when you have to.

What will help this year?
We were able to No. 15 ranked class and that has a great deal to do with our success. And also the type of recruiting we've been doing over the years. Specifically when you're a team trying to climb out of the cellar, people had to see that you were going up the ladder. There's no one that can say as a staff, we don't make our players better at Syracuse. Because you can look at each player that comes into us and they're much better when they leave and people are beginning to recognize that.

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