Hopeful Horstmeyer Heads Into Third Season

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Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer and the women's basketball team begin practice Oct. 12. She sat down with The Daily Californian to assess the early outlook of her team.

The Daily Californian: What are you looking forward to this season?

Caren Horstmeyer: We've set a great foundation with the players we brought in a year ago. They've made very big improvements from last season and that's really encouraging. Players like (sophomores) Kristen Iwanaga and Leigh Greogory got a lot of valuable experience last year.

Then we've brought in a class that gives us added maturity, they're very skilled and I think will promote healthy competition. We're a lot deeper this year, and that will make a drastic improvement.

DC: Three of your five recruits this year are junior college transfers. Was that a conscious effort?

CH: Yes. We felt we needed the maturity and experience.

Timea (Ivanyi) is a post player who we feel has potential for the WNBA. Nihan (Anaz) is an extremely talented guard who could also make it in the WNBA, and Jacqueline (Sanchez) is another transfer who's only a sophomore. It's probably the physically strongest class that Cal has ever had.

DC: Where do you see them fitting into your rotation?

CH: Right now we have an open look and every position is open. Last year we were lacking that, players didn't really compete with each other in practice. You could kinda guess who would get each position last year, but now a returner's not necessarily gonna get the position. It'll be interesting to see them scrimmage and see who's getting it done on the court.

DC: Is that something the players have welcomed?

CH: Yeah, they're excited that we have these new kids, the returners are excited they're ready to compete. And they know we've brought in some good players.

On the flip side, I'm excited about how much they've improved over the summer, especially on offense.

We struggled to score last year-we were third in the Pac-10 in defense, so our thing is to get the ball in the basket. We feel that we'll be able to do that a lot better this year.

DC: Where do you feel you are in the rebuilding process?

CH: At this point, we haven't seen all our players on the court together, but the goal is to be drastically improved and we feel we will be. When I got here, I knew it would take a lot of work, it would be a two to three year process.

DC: You went through a similar process in Santa Clara, after losing seasons your first two years, your team went 28-3 and won the NIT title. Is it comparable at all?

CH: Yeah, I guess the pressure's on to go 28-3, huh? It's hard to compare the West Coast Conference to the Pac-10, but you hope by your third year you're really moving in a positive direction.

DC: So where are you with that?

CH: The goal is the postseason-to win a Pac-10 championship, get to the sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four, national championship. It takes time to get there, but we're on the way.

Our team is really about more than that, we've really developed a lot of things that weren't there before.

We have a team goal of a 3.0 GPA, and we were above that last semester and at 2.97 for the year. We've gone from a point when players didn't care about academics to now, when they all take great pride in the classroom.

We've got players doing three hours of community service a month and being role models.

DC: Are those off the court things key to what you're doing, especially compared to the way things were under (Marianne Stanley)?

CH: We're trying to develop that culture withing the program, and that was never there before. We've built very good team chemistry and the wins and losses come from that.

DC: Your schedule this year looks fairly challenging.

CH: We've scheduled a lot of teams that were in the NCAAs last year, and a lot of East Coast teams so Cal can be seen from a national perspective. Georgia is a top-10 team, St. Mary's, Syracuse...It should really help our power rating and prepare us for the Pac-10.

DC: You added Barb Smith as an assistant coach in May. What does she bring to the team?

CH: She's been an incredible addition, and very complementary to the staff we have. She's got head coaching experience (at San Diego State), she was at Colorado when they went to three Elite Eights. As a head coach, it's nice to have another head coach on the staff.

DC: Are you planning to change your sets, or will there be continuity with the system?

CH: We'll keep a similar system, but we'll have more freedom to do the things we want, especially building our transition game a lot. We want to run.


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