Interview: Nicole Jules

When she was a freshman, 6'3 forward/center Nicole Jules suffered a knee injury that has limited her playing time throughout her career. In this VandyMania interview, she talks about how her knee has improved and the team's preparations for the first exhibition game on Saturday.

VandyMania: Nicole, how's your health, specifically your knee

Nicole Jules: It's a lot better. It's probably the best it's been since I've been here. We worked a lot in the preseason just to get my leg stronger, and then I did a lot more running with the team. It was monitored, and I would push it as much as I could, and then probably have to lay off a little bit, then the next time I could push it a little bit more. So it's a lot stronger, and it's probably going to last me a lot longer this season.

VM: So during the off-season were you able to do more of that than you have in the past?

NJ: Yes. Because this year it wasn't as aggravated as it has been. We monitored it so well over the summer, and then in preseason, I would go, and if it flared up, I'd lay off a little, maybe do more pool workouts till it calmed down, and then I would be able to do more. So a combination of running more and being able to lift more with it has helped it a lot.

VM: Has it paid off also in how many minutes you can practice on most days?

NJ: Actually, I have been practicing the full time.

VM: Really? That's a change, isn't it?

NJ: Yes. That's the biggest thing. I would probably say that the most that I don't do is punishment sprints. I'll get on the bike for those or do extra cardio later, but other than that, everything else that's fullcourt and halfcourt I do.

VM: That IS a change!

NJ: That is a change, because before I'd have to either go one, sit one out, go one, sit one out, whereas now, I just can get in there with the regular rotation and go.

VM: That's pretty exciting!

NJ: It's a lot better. It helps me gain confidence, and when I'm out there more, my teammates can gain confidence in me, too.

VM: I would think that would make you pretty hopeful for being on the court more as the season goes on.

NJ: Yes, I am quite hopeful because I know it can stand up, and I can push it more now. I think that's the biggest thing, and the coaches can see me going up and down and realize that I can go for a little bit longer.

Maybe I'm not the type of person who can go for 15 minutes straight, but if I can get in there and give them good three, four, five minutes hard and then come out and then go back and be able to do that, that's going to help the team.

VM: You have your first exhibition game this Saturday. Can you talk about what practices have been like this week?

NJ: This week? I think because preseason practice has been so much shorter, we have been putting in a lot of plays this week, trying to catch up. Like before we would work on a lot of drills to work on our initial offenses and our transition, but this week, we've been putting in a lot of plays. We put in our press, just trying to get all those little essential things, like out of bounds plays underneath, on sidelines, stuff like that.

VM: How are all the new people doing?

NJ: They're getting it. We see spurts. When it's clicking, it's good. But it's a lot to put in in such a short period of time, so the veterans are making sure we're making ourselves available and letting them know that we're here, that we can go over plays with them, that we can walk through things with them, and just being able to make ourselves available to them to ask us questions. We've been here for a couple of years so we can do it.

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