Q&A with Mike Petersen -- Part II

Part two of Michael Jennings' interview with Demon Deacon women's basketball coach Mike Petersen.

DS:How hard is it to recruit at a place like Wake Forest?
MP: It is not hard at all, it is easy to recruit to Wake Forest but you have to make sure you get a combination of a really high level athlete, a really high level student, and a really high level person. Wake Forest recruits for itself it is such a great university because of the academic end, the social end, and the community feeling on campus. That is a non-issue, the trick is that the percentage of high school basketball players in the country that can help you win in this league is so small. You are talking about the top 1% maybe of all high school players who are good enough athletes to compete in this league. The real hard part is you having to recruit against Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee, Stanford and those type people. For us to be successful in our league, we have got to beat the people who are at the top of the women's basketball food chain in recruiting. That is not a function of Wake Forest as much as it is of us just getting people to believe we can win here. Wake Forest University is an easy place to recruit to, anybody that would not like Wake Forest has some serious issues. Now it is finding the right combination of kids who say, I want to go to Wake Forest instead of Duke, I want to go to Wake Forest instead of Stanford, I want to go to Wake Forest instead of Vanderbilt, that is the trick.

DS: You have had a good recruiting year this year according to most "experts", so you must be doing something right because recruiting seems to be improving every year.
MP: Yes it is, our first recruiting class, which is this years freshmen, was nationally ranked in the top 20. This year's recruiting class, which we just finished signing, with just four players in it, is nationally ranked in the top 20 so those are positive steps and positive signs. The only problem is it is top 20 in the country but is 4th or 5th in the ACC but that is the nature of this league but we are certainly taking steps in the right direction. I really like our recruits and I really like this freshmen class, I really like the incoming freshmen for next season and they will be able to compete better and better as we go along. It is a matter again that if you are winning in this league, you are trying to win a National Championship. To do that you have to be recruiting at the very highest level and that is incremental. We have signed a couple of top 20 classes and those are really good, but to make that next step, we need to start beating UConn, Tennessee, Duke, on kids and sign a top 5 class and that will help us grow as a program.

DS: To finish up, what would you like to say to all Deacon fans, what do you want them to do?
MP: Those that are currently coming, we love you. We had the fourth largest increase in attendance in the country last year and that is really significant. We love the fans that are coming and the atmosphere at the games has really changed radically and it has become a really good atmosphere. To those that haven't come, you are cheating yourselves. I know that, for your entertainment dollar, it is a lot better than going to sit at the movies and I know that if you come to a game, you will enjoy yourself because the style of play is good, the kids are great and it is the highest level of women's basketball in the country. You can come down and get right next to the action and, while we are really thankful for those that have come, because we have had such a positive change in the atmosphere at the games that more people NEED to come, because they WILL enjoy themselves.


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