VandyMania Interview: Jenni Benningfield Part II

In May, senior forward Jenni Benningfield was named to the national team that will compete in the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo in August. In the second part of her interview with VandyMania last week, she gave her impressions of the players who will join her in representing the United States in the Games.

VM: I'd like to you to talk about the Pan Am Games team. Looks at roster. Hmm. "Jenni Benningfield." If we were somebody else, having this conversation, what would people say about you?

JB: What would they say about me? (Laughs.) Good things, I hope!

VM: Seriously, what do you think they'd say?

JB: You mean maybe why they picked me?

VM: Yeah.

JB: My first thing, I think, would be versatility -- the fact that I can play 3, 4, or 5. That, and I think that I have a lot of passion for the game. I think I try -- I'm a good supporter of everybody on the team; it doesn't matter if I'm playing or not. If I'm sitting on the bench, I'm still going to cheer for everybody. I dunno -- maybe my intensity because I have a desire to win and to have fun while doing that. I think that'd be the first thing that would come to mind, maybe.

VM: When I first saw the roster, it struck me that Nicole Powell and Iciss Tillis are also very versatile.

JB: Yeah, yeah. I would agree with that. I would definitely agree with that. Nicole's more of a 3, but she can play the post as well. Iciss can shoot outside, drive, she can do anything. Nicole can do anything, too. That's going to be good, to have that kind of versatility for our team.

VM: One person that I don't know much about at all is Rebekkah Brunson.

JB: From Georgetown? I knew her name, but I didn't know-- she played incredible. She's very big, strong -- well, not big, but a strong body. She can jump and get rebounds, like-- she comes down with authority. She has some good moves. She really works hard in the post. I didn't really get a chance to talk to her that much, but as far as playing, she was intense and really worked hard down low. I thought that her jumping ability, like getting up and getting boards and stuff, was incredible. That's the first thing I noticed about her.

VM: Somebody I saw play once on TV, Janel McCarville.

JB: Janel McCarville, Minnesota. Yeah. She's goofy. (Laughs.) She's fun. She's an awesome person, though. She's always smilin'. But she works hard. She's a big body down low, but she knows her strengths and weaknesses and works hard as well. I'm looking forward to playing with her.

VM: Goofy, huh.

JB: Yeah. She's fun to be around. She's definitely fun to be around.

VM: Lindsay Taylor.

JB: Lindsay Taylor from UC Santa Barbara. Tall! I felt short with Chantelle, but this girl is definitely taller than her. She's really tall, but she had some good moves down low, and she's very -- she's somewhat versatile for as big as she is. She can go out and play D. She knows her strengths and weaknesses. I mean, this is all from 3 days of playing, so I don't know thoroughly. I'm looking forward to playing with her, too. She's really nice, too.

VM: Two girls from Connecticut, Ann Strother and Barbara Turner.

JB: Hm-hm. I knew Ann Strother. She came here for a visit. They're both very hard workers. Ann can run the floor and shoot the ball. Barbara -- she goes to the basket. She takes it to people. She's a smaller type of player as far as height, but she plays big. I mean, she goes at people. She's not afraid to take it to the hole, and I think that's incredible. She's got a good attitude.

VM: Do you know what positions they're thinking about for her?

JB: I have no idea. When we broke down into guards and posts, she was more of a guard. I definitely think she's versatile, too, because she played a little post in some of the scrimmages.

VM: It sounds to me like there's a lot of versatility across the board.

JB: Yeah, I would say so, for the most part. When you're playing at this level you have to be, I think.

VM: Loree Moore.

JB: Loree Moore. I enjoyed playing ball-- she was on one of my teams, and we worked really well together. Again, I didn't really know what to expect, you know, how she plays for Tennessee, but she's an incredible person. She's funny and cool to joke around with. She passes the ball incredibly well in transition. Obviously, she has a good work ethic, she plays for Tennessee, but I think she's going to bring a lot to the team as well.

VM: Nicole Powell?

JB: I actually went on a recruiting visit to Vanderbilt with her. I hung out with her a lot at the tryouts. She's so funny. She's got a good head on her shoulders. She's very passionate about the game, and obviously works very very hard. That's one person that I'm really excited to get to know. I think we're going to play well together. We did at the tryouts. She's a very cool person, though. I'm very excited about it.

VM: Roneeka Hodges.

JB: She had a very good tryout. She can shoot. She's not afraid to take it to people, either. Shoots the ball obviously, a very good shooter. A very nice person, too. So I'm looking forward to that, too.

VM: Laurie Koehn.

JB: I haven't really talked to her that much. But she's obviously a very good player. She can shoot. She can shoot the ball -- flat out shoot. So she's definitely going to make an impact on our team, I think.

VM: Jamie Carey.

JB: The first thing that comes to mind about her is she reminds me of Mac, in the fact of her leadership. She just runs the show. She runs it. I played on a team with her, and we worked real well together, too, and that was the first thing that came to mind and I started laughing about it, she reminds me so much of Mac, just tells you where to go -- (pointing) here, here -- supportive of everybody. So I'm excited about playing with her, she's just going to lead the way. She's done it several years; she's a veteran. So it's going to be good. She's going to show us the ropes.

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