Michelle Clark-Heard, ShaRae Mansfield talk Lady Tops, All-Diddle Arena team

We met today with WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard and assistant coach ShaRae Mansfield, who is a member of the All-Diddle Arena team that will be honored at Saturday’s game against Arkansas State.

Here are Mansfield’s comments, as well as Heard’s thoughts on Thursday’s game at North Texas and the All-Diddle squad:

MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD, coach

Focus during some time off: “I think the biggest thing is trying to give the players as much rest as possible, but also be productive. This is a big stretch for us, just like every game.”

Time to hit your stride? “As long as I’ve been coaching, you hear the great coaches and mentors – when you get to the end of January into February, that’s when you should be playing your best basketball.”

On North Texas: “They’re very talented. They’ve got kids that can score. (Alexis) Hyder is playing really well right now, and we didn’t guard as well as we should’ve in that game. We’ve got to get better defensively and do the things we need to do. Thank goodness that Alexis (Govan) scored 40 in the game, when I go back and look at the film.”

Parity in the conference: “I feel like every day, you’ve got to be prepared. You can’t look at the name on anyone’s jersey. You have to be ready to play. I think that has really shown.”

All-Diddle Arena team: “I played with (Kim) Pehlke and Clemette (Haskins). It’s a phenomenal opportunity, and it says a lot for Lady Topper basketball and the history. It’s a big deal, and I’m excited to hopefully see a lot of those players be here.”

“It lets them know about myself as a coach and where my passion comes from – my pride. My face kind of lights up when I talk about those players and the things that have happened.”

On Mansfield’s role on coaching staff: “ShaRae has taken the opportunity to do basically whatever we’ve asked her to do. It’s hard to be thrown in the fire, but what I talk to her about is just being her natural self. She has an unbelievable personality, and the kids gravitate to it. They like her.”

What she can provide for the players: “ShaRae played hurt most of her career, and they can talk to her about how she made it through. They can ask her questions, and I talk to her about that. She’s really good at that, being that positive reinforcement around the program.”

SHARAE MANSFIELD, assistant coach

Being named to All-Diddle team: “It’s a huge honor to be selected, one out of the 10. There’s been some amazing athletes that have played here at Western. To be on the same team as a Lillie Mason or a Clemette Haskins, it’s awesome.”

Importance of working past into current team: “It’s vital. I’ve walked in their shoes, and I feel like I have a lot of knowledge to help the girls with. They ask questions all the time, and it makes me feel good that they kind of look at me as their role model. Anything I can do to help the girls, I will.”

Coaching this year: “My role is kind of multi-faceted. I’m coaching and still doing the director of operations position, and I would say more so director of operations because that’s how I started, and there’s a lot that needs to be done in that position. As far as coaching, right now, it’s being there for the girls.”

On Chastity Gooch: “It’s amazing. To see her, and how good she is – and so young. I see her doing these things and getting these double-doubles. It’s awesome to be able to help her in any way I can. … It’s going to be so enjoyable to watch her grow that much more and become that much better. I just look forward to what the future holds for her. I think it’s going to be awesome.”

What does it take to record double-doubles the way Gooch has? “It takes heart. She has the talent, of course, but besides that, you have to want it. You have to have the heart and tenacity to go out there and do that. I really, really respect her for that because I know how hard it is. You have to take your game to the next level. She has what it takes, I think, to be an All-American.”

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