With its first exhibition game looming on Sunday, the Western Kentucky women’s basketball team hosted its annual media day Wednesday.
Coach Mary Taylor Cowles was joined by senior forward LaTeira Owens and freshman guard Ileana Johnson. Much of the talk was about the progress of the seven freshmen, the leadership of the seniors, why last year wasn’t fun at times and last year’s late run to the Sun Belt Tournament final.
Here are some of the highlights from the interview sessions. There will be plenty more coverage in Thursday’s Daily News, as well as in the coming weeks in our basketball special section.
The Lady Toppers play Kentucky Wesleyan at 2 p.m. Sunday in their lone exhibition of the year.
Mary Taylor Cowles
On what’s still coming along:
“All of it. There are days I scratch my head and wonder if we understand, because we’re doing a lot of new things, even the seniors. That’s a lot of learning going on. There have been a lot of two-a-day practices.”
On the team’s seniors:
“I think they have a little bit of an attitude about last year and how we did and how we finished, but yet how difficult it was along the ride to get to where we ended.”
“There are days where I’ll just be quiet, and it’s amazing to listen and hear our seniors coach and teach. Each of them have their own way of doing it.”
On the coaching staff’s turnover:
“I’ve learned that change can be a very positive thing. I think with what we’ve been able to add to our staff, it’s been a very positive thing.”
On expectations for Owens:
“I think we’re going to have to have different players every night step up. I don’t think this is a team where we’re going to have that one dominant, All-American player, and that’s OK. They’re smart enough that they realize that. Do I think a lot’s expected from LaTeira? Of course I do, but I think a lot’s expected from our seniors all together.”
On using the end of last season as motivation:
“Making it to the championship game and losing by seven – a lot of teams would be satisfied with that. I don’t really like the word satisfied, and I don’t think our seniors do either. While that was a great run that we made and we learned a lot about ourselves in that conference tournament, that’s not how we want our program to end – losing.”
On not always having fun last year:
“Last year, we didn’t have a lot of bonding time. This time we focused on being more of a team, knowing each other on and off the court. That’s one of the biggest differences from last year.”
On expectations for herself:
“The main goal is to come ready to play every night and compete with anybody. The main thing is to be more vocal because last year I wasn’t vocal on the court. I didn’t know how to do that. This year I know I’m more vocal.”
On last year’s late run and being projected third in the East:
“We have a lot to prove because a lot of people count us out. Every day in practice, everyone comes to compete. Last year made us say, ‘OK, we know how to get there. Let’s try to get there and win it.’”
“It’s good to be the underdogs because on any night, we can come out and show them that we should have been picked No. 1. But, underdogs – that’s nothing.”
On adjusting to the college game:
“It’s been quite an adjustment, but the seniors have been great and patient with us. It’s been a lot of learning, but the seniors have been right there, kind of holding our hand through it.”
On who has helped the freshmen the most:
“The sophomores have been great. They’re kind of like the sisters, they’ve been there a year ago, so they know how we’re feeling. And the seniors are like our moms. They’re watching out for us, encouraging us, teaching us along the way.”