Friday, October 14, 2011

Nikki Caldwell, Lady Tigers Speak at Media Day

First-year LSU women's basketball head coach Nikki Caldwell addressed members of the media on Thursday at the LSU Practice Facility as the Lady Tigers held their annual media day to preview the upcoming 2011-12 season.

LSU opened practice last week and will play an exhibition game against Xavier (New Orleans) on Nov. 2 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Caldwell era officially opens at Wichita State on Nov. 14 before the Lady Tigers return home to host Georgetown on Nov. 16.

LSU, ranked 24th in a Sporting News preseason poll, returns five seniors who are motivated to reach the NCAA Tournament after falling short last season. LSU plays host to the NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds on March 18 and 20, respectively.

Caldwell begins her first season after compiling an impressive 72-26 record in three seasons at UCLA. Below is a transcript of Caldwell's press conference and quotes from LSU players:

LSU Women's Basketball Media Day Quotes

Head Coach Nikki Caldwell

Opening Statement...
"The way this team has embraced the change and the new staff, it is going to be an exciting year for us. I am very thrilled first off to be here as the women's basketball coach. I knew that when Joe Alleva and I talked back in April that coming here was going to be an unbelievable experience. It has been unbelievable, not just being the coach here but by the people that I have gotten to know and meet as well as those that have embraced this program and university."

"I have a great group of young ladies who worked extremely hard in the offseason and that have been here in the summer. We have a couple of freshmen that have come in the fall, and they have not missed a beat. I am excited that I do not have to condition them in practice or motivate them. They are self motivated right now. All I am doing is teaching and implementing. They are running with our game plan."

"I am looking forward to our senior class stepping up this year, obviously led by LaSondra Barrett. She is someone that we are going to depend on in a big way. Also Adrienne Webb in what she was able to do last year. We just want to make it a better year for her as a junior. We have a lot of talent in our young classes in the sophomores and freshmen. The first thing I told them on day one was everyone starts on an even playing field. Make no mistake about it. The game does not know your age. I am not concerned with you being a senior or a freshman. I am more concerenced if you can play the game the right way. They've all shown that they can. It is going to be a battle everyday in practice to compete for minutes and starting. It has helped the competition. This is a great start for our team in our first week of preparation."

On the difference in personal she inherited at UCLA to LSU...
"Every program is different when you step in as the new coach. When I took over the position at UCLA, there still were a lot of talented players that the former staff recruited and brought in. Just like here. Coach (Van) Chancellor did a great job of recruiting these young ladies. There are a lot of similarities in the newness of taking over a program. Being at UCLA, there roster was predominately California kids and West Coast. Here we have a lot of the Southern region covered in Mississippi, Texas, Alabama and obviously Louisiana. Having played in the SEC and having coached in it for six years prior to coming here, it is a different type of athlete. It is a different type of physicality that the SEC plays with. I am excited with this year's team on taking on the challenge of not selling themselves short. They all felt last year that they did not step up and do what they needed to do. It is another challenge because this is a very prominent program if you look at the history. If you look at what Sue Gunter has done for this program and women's basketball, there is a lot of tradition here and it is very rich. There is no exception to not getting to the Final Four. We definitely want to make that the destination for us every year that we take the floor. Taking over at UCLA was more of my staff and I building the program into national prominence. While here LSU has always been in the spotlight in that regard."

On the team's transition to the new staff ...
"The team has responded fairly well. We're really trying to get them to practice at an intensity that they are not accustomed to. The challenge for this team is for them to not only practice at this level of intensity of a team going after a national championship, but they need to improve every day. We need to get better everyday in all of our action. This was a good week. We're not there yet, but there is a lot of promise and upside to this team."

On Krystal Forthan and the freshmen ...
"She (Krystal) needs to contribute right away. Krystal is a very talented player, one of those players that can play multiple positions. We are running her on every spot on the floor, offensively and defensively. Her versatility is going to be a huge asset for our program. The sooner she understands all of the responsibilities of all the positions, the sooner she will understand the game. She's been doing a lot of extra on her own, meeting with coaches one-on-one, watching film one-on-one, writing up plays. She understands that she is here for a reason like they all are. Sheila has been a bright spot for this program. She brings an undersized play to the game. I am not totally concerned with the size of our players as I am the size of their hearts. She brings that to the table. To round out that freshmen class we have Anne Pedersen from Denmark. You leave her open, and she is going to knock it down. We have a very talented freshmen class."

Click here for complete Media Day Quotes

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