Preseason Questions and Answers With Steve Curtis
Friday, October 17, 2008

Last year you were upset that Ashley Jackson and Karolina Zaloga didn’t get any postseason honors, do you think that will change this season?         

While I was disappointed some of our players did not get the recognition they deserved we have to understand that is a function of our overall team performance.  We need to move up in the standings and beat some of the teams and players that are getting that respect.  As our team improves our players will get more of these honors and individual awards.  If we do, our players will get the recognition they deserve.

What was the most frustrating thing about last season?

Our lack of consistency. In almost every game we played well for 30-35 minutes only to have a stretch where our opponents would go on a huge run. Some of that can be attributed to our youth, the fact is we are all college players and have to make enough plays to win. Scoring streaks are part of the game, but this season we need to shorten the runs by our opponent. That comes with maturity, so I anticipate our team doing a better job this year.

This is your third year, do you feel that you have put your stamp on the team?

We are becoming more like the team I envisioned when I came here three years ago.  There is more understanding of our system, and the players are starting to get a better grasp of what it takes to have a successful program.  We still have quite a bit to learn, and there is so much more to do to reach our goals.  We need to take a big step forward this season, that's for sure.

What are you expecting from your team this year?

Improvement in every area.  We have to cut down on the turnovers, and we must do a better job defensively.  Having said that I'm not sure there is an area we could characterize as a strength last season so we need to get better in all phases of the game.

You have the core group of your team back, what is your feeling about the team?

 I am very excited about the progress we are making.  The experience we gained last season was difficult to get through but it was invaluable for us as we grow.  The returning players have improved and the newcomers all have the chance to contribute right away.  There should be competition for playing time at every position, which is a good thing.

 What did you stress in preseason workouts?

We worked very hard on the basics of the game. A lot of our problems last season came down to fundamental mistakes: off balance passes, not concentrating on our footwork and losing balance on our shots. We have addressed those types of things all fall and hopefully we have improved on them.

You return all five starters from last year, how are the new Ladies going to mesh with the returnees?

If fall workouts are any indication our chemistry should be great.  With eight returning and six new players there is always the concern of the two groups going their own way, but so far there has been no evidence of that.

 What are you expecting out of your freshman?

Our new players have to grow up quickly.  Our program hasn't progressed to the point that our freshmen can expect to come in a take a year or so to adjust to playing at this level.  We often tell them they don't have time to be freshmen, they have to come in ready to play.  This group is competitive, talented, and used to winning.  We think they are going to have great careers at Centenary.  

This year you have two seniors, how is Karolina and Cierra going to help the younger kids?                                                                            

I have been extremely pleased with Karolina and Cierra this fall.  They are working hard, and they do a great job of leading by example. It hasn’t been only those two though. All the returnees have worked extremely hard this preseason.

You have Bojan Jankovic for the third year, and this is the first year for Kristen Davis, how are they imperative to your success as a team?                                                          

Head coaches usually get the credit, but the lifeblood of any program is the assistant coaches.  They do so many things that are vital to our success but go unnoticed.  Bojan and Kristen do a great job with our players, and equally as important they are quality individuals who represent our university and community well.

The schedule looks to be more difficult with three NCAA Tournament teams, LSU, Oklahoma State and Oral Roberts.

We are making a conscious effort to upgrade our schedule, and adding teams from the BCS conferences is a priority.  We want our players to see what it is like to compete on the highest level.  There are very few schools in America where a student athlete can get such a high quality education and at the same time play against NCAA Tournament caliber competition.

What are your thoughts on The Summit League this year?                 

The league will be very tough again.  I would say South Dakota State and Oakland are probably the favorites based on who's returning, but there are several teams that could make a run at the championship.  It should be an exciting season.

Now that more teams know about Anne Farrell and Ashley Jackson, do think that will open more holes for Bethany Joseph’s 3-point shot and Karolina and Cierra’s outstanding shooting?             

One of the things that excites me about our team is the fact that we have so many weapons on offense.  We should not have to rely on one person for scoring, we can take advantage of how the defense is matched-up with different players.  

You have plenty of height on your team, with four players standing over six feet, do you think you have enough height?                                         

It is important for us to establish a presence in the lane.  Anne, Leslie, Sarah, and Natasha can all score on the block, and they are good rebounders as well.  Each has been very good in preseason workouts and we are expecting great things from them this season.

With the Gold Dome going through its final renovations, how is that going to help in the success of the program?

The renovations to the Gold Dome are going to make it one of the best facilities in The Summit League. The new chair back seats and bleachers will make the games more enjoyable for our fans. There have also been improvements to the weight room. We are excited to play in our new home arena soon.