I met with WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard today to do some spring cleaning on a variety of subjects.
I’ll let you work your way through all this information. I posted some updates on WKU’s 2013-14 schedule and coaching staff earlier today at bgdailynews.com, but this is the rest of the conversation.
How did you feel about attendance in Diddle Arena this year? “I feel like we had some crowds that picked up, definitely, from the numbers I saw from last year. But I also understand what (WKU athletic director) Todd (Stewart) was saying, that people would have to come out and see what the team was about and what the girls were doing. I think that with what we showed the fans, I’m hoping we have an improvement. I don’t know how much it’ll be, but I know one thing – we’re going to promote and try to build off that.”
Was it difficult having 700 or so fans for a postseason home game? “You’ve got to prove to people. We know where this program was, but it took a lull there for a minute, and we’re working to get it back. One thing I was impressed with, even though we had 700 something, that had to be one of the loudest groups of 700 fans you’re going to see. That was awesome for our players. Of course, we’re always going to live off the tradition that we have, but we also have to live in reality. We have to know what’s going on around us and what’s gone on the last couple of years, so we’re trying to live in the present.”
Heard said the players got this week off, and they’ll soon have three weeks of individual work. During that time, players can have two hours of basketball work and six hours of strength and conditioning per week.
The coaches can recruit during the April weekend that serves as the spring evaluation period and again in July.
What holes will the 2013 class fill? “The biggest thing I’m looking for, especially after the Auburn game, is to be able to have some size. We knew that was going to be a struggle for us this year, but I’m really proud of what we did without anyone over 6-2. Bria Gaines and Ruta (Savickaite) will be crucial to us and will allow us to let Chastity (Gooch) play with her back to the basket.”
Heard said 2013 signee Aleeya Harris will likely play the 4 spot, and that she’s athletic, can get up the floor and rebound. Kierra Muhammad will provide defense and quickness, she said. “I think that’s one thing we need – someone to put on the ball constantly so we can cause chaos.”
Do you still feel like Gaines is the signee most ready for college ball right now? “That’s what I think, but what I hope is that I’m sitting here with you in the first couple weeks after practice saying, ‘I know I said Bria, but we’ve got this kid stepping up and that kid stepping up.’ That’s what we need to have.”
On freshman forward Jalynn McClain: “Jalynn McClain’s upside is unbelievable. I think she grew through the whole postseason and she ended up being our sixth man. … The biggest thing for her is working on her game to try to pull her out and put her at the 3. Getting her confident in her shot will be big for her.”
Heard said she hopes freshman guard Kendall Noble, out with a torn ACL, can be released in June.
She said during the offseason, the coaches will likely break down freshman guard LeAsia Wright’s shot and try to improve her form.
Heard also said she’s expecting solid senior leadership from guards Chaney Means and Bianca McGee next season.
On Gooch and Alexis Govan not having to carry so much of the load next season: “It’s going to be an adjustment for all those players. When you go from having nine all year to 15, it’s going to be an adjustment. But it’ll be awesome for them because they won’t be in a situation where they feel like they have to play 32 minutes a game. As coaches, if we’ve got kids playing that many minutes, we don’t think we’ve done our job. They won’t have all that pressure like they had this year.”