STOCKTON AND GREEN WAVE READY TO OPEN SEASON Tulane Coach Addresses Media About Upcoming Season NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Tulane University women's basketball team opens its 2004-05 season this weekend on the road. On Friday, the Green Wave plays Howard University in Washington, D.C., followed by a game at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., on Sunday. All Tulane women's games are broadcast in New Orleans on WRBH-FM 88.3 with Tim Grubbs making the call. Season tickets and single-game tickets for all home games are available by calling 504-861-WAVE. Tulane will open its home schedule on Tuesday, Nov. 23, hosting Jacksonville State at 7 p.m. at Fogelman Arena. The young Green Wave features nine freshmen and sophomores, including two who are expected to start on Friday. On Tuesday, head coach Lisa Stockton addressed the media in the Hall of Fame Room of Tulane's Wilson Center.
We are excited to finally get started. I think opening week of basketball is what we have worked for. It is tough to go on the road four of our first five games, but I think it will be good for this young team to get away and go one the road and hit some adversity as far as other sites very early. We are very excited about our team; we are extremely young, right now starting two freshmen. I think this is a team that will continue to get better as we continue to get healthier. I think you will see a big difference in how this team grows and matures.
Do you think that the exhibition loss to Xavier was because you were overconfident?
During the beginning of the season you don't really know where you are at as a team going into it. Xavier's defense was much further ahead then ours was and if that shows us anything it is that we have a lot of work to do. Since that game, our team has been extremely intense and I think we have gotten a whole lot better. The way I look at it, last year we won that game by a whole lot and lost our opener and it would be nice to trade that right now.
How are the road games early on going to affect the team?
I think it is comfortable playing in your home arena, but the one thing I like about going away this early in the season is building the team. We are away, we are traveling together and I think it is a bonding experience. You face adversity when you get on the court because you don't know what you are going to face but I think that the bonding experience is going to be very positive for us.
What have you learned from your exhibition games?
I have learned that I have to be more patient, for one thing, that is about me. I think some players have emerged that I thought were very strong players for us like Dominique Philpots and Nikki Luckhurst, has shown that she is a gamer. The other thing is just going back to what we need to learn. Our defense is going to have to get better, that will be a big key in that and we are going to have to have some players step up and handle the ball.
Did you ever start two freshmen?
I don't think so and I don't know if that will continue. We have been in a position in the past where what the freshmen could give us was great, Grace Daley started for us as a freshman; Barbara Ferris started as well. As I look back on it Jami Montagnino and Cashmir White started for us later in the season last year, but as far as this early in the season, I don't think so.
Do the younger players push your upperclassmen?
I think what those [younger] players give us is that they are very intense, and I do think they push our upper classmen quite a bit. Even in the beginning of the year in conditioning, they came in and made their times and I think really made a statement there. The thing that those players have to do is get over those old habits from high school. That is one thing that we are trying to get rid of and I think the game experience will do that.
Are you comfortable with the continuity of the team right now?
Not yet, I think we are getting there. If you go back and look at our first two exhibition games we had some good moments but we also had some moments that were a little disjointed and I think that is what happens when you play a lot of players and when you play a lot of young players. Since our last game I think we have gotten better at that; I think we have organized practice in a way that there isn't a lot of stop and go; it is more fluid motion, so I think we will get there. The nice thing about a young team is that you see a lot improvement early on and the bad thing is that you probably aren't where you want to be right now.
Can you talk about the loss to Xavier?
It did more for our players, to wake them up. I think our upper classmen, Tymeka Moore and Lakethia Hampton, I have seen a bigger difference on how they have taken charge of this team. After the game in the locker room there are players stepping up and you really see who your leaders are and it is really important for the younger kids to see who those leaders are and who is going to step up in times of adversity.
Why did you have so much trouble winning on the road last year?
I think we just had trouble winning last year to be honest with you. I don't think it was being on the road as much as it was the schedule. When you look at our conference schedule last year we played the top four teams in the conference on the road, TCU, Houston, DePaul, Marquette. I think our road schedule and overall schedule was tough. I don't think it was being on the road as much as it was our draw.
Is there such a thing as over scheduling?
Absolutely, I thought last year, for what we had, our schedule was a little over our head. We had seven or eight of our conference teams in post season not counting LSU and Louisiana Tech. We gave LSU a pretty good game here until they broke it open in the last three minutes, and they were a final four team. Hopefully, playing that kind of competition last year and surviving it will make players like Hampton, Moore and Henry, better for playing a top competition kind of game.
Not making the NCAA tournament last year; is that motivation for this year?
Our program has gotten to the point where that is our goal, to play post season and preferably NCAA tournament. Last year that goal probably would have been a little harder to reach because of the injuries we had and the graduating seniors. When you talk about the schedule, we try to schedule each year to put ourselves in a situation at the end to be in that tournament, whether it is at-large or automatic. It is a motivator to the players that have been there every year and go home in March, they don't want to do that again. We go into this year trying to be the best team we can be but I know that the upperclassmen want to be in the postseason.
What teams did you put on and take off of your schedule?
Some of them were two-year rotations; Arkansas State rotated off; Auburn rotated on and replaces La Tech, we are in another tournament which added Texas A&M. It was more about rotation and whom we owed and also picking up a tournament. But we do play LSU again and our tournament is strong this year. I think it is a good schedule, we have some teams that are a lot like us, young; like George Mason this weekend that lost four starters from last year's team and last year's team was very good.
Is it critical for your team to start off fast?
I am a firm believer of building confidence and I think getting off to a fast start would be very important for us. I thought one thing that happened to us last year is that we lost a few close games, one and two-point games, early in the year and I think our team lost confidence. I would love to see our team come out strong, win some games and feel good about themselves, because I think that makes it easier to improve and come along during the year.
What is your feeling about a scorer like D'Aundra Henry moving to the point guard position?
We have had point guards in the past that have been top scorers for us, she gives us more dimension there then we have had in the past, we are going to need to score. She is going to have to get the ball out of her hands to get it back. I think it is exciting to have that kind of player out there because she is so quick and she is a slasher, she will average a lot of assists for us. She has matured a lot, I really do think she is one of the best guards in our league coming back and we are expecting a lot from her.
Do you wish you had more three-point shooters?
I think Jami [Montagnino] can shoot the ball, we will use her to open things up. Nikki [Luckhurst] is 5-for-5 for the year [in exhibition games] and is a long-range shooter. Also Jennifer Sands. We have some long range shooters; I really felt that is one area that we addressed this year with our freshman class because it was one of our weaknesses.
Stockton And Green Wave Ready For Opener
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