Oct. 22, 2009
Preparations are in full swing now for the Washington women's basketball team's new season as fall camp has started. The Huskies are looking to build on a 2008-2009 season that saw a young, talented team go through some growing pains on the way to building a veteran, experience roster for the upcoming year. Senior post Laura McLellan was a reliable contributor in the paint for the Huskies and the team will look for similar production this year. McLellan talked with GoHuskies.com correspondent Michael Jeremiah recently about new additions and the need for a strong inside game.
GoHuskies.com: How is fall camp going so far?
Laura McLellan: Camp is going really well. We've made a lot of changes from last season, just with how we are approaching things and how we want to identify ourselves as. We're looking good, a lot better. Last year, we didn't know how we wanted to identify ourselves. We were a fast-paced team, run and gun. This year, we are still going to run a lot, but we want to run more through our plays. We want to have set options and know who to go to. I think that players individually have roles, know their roles better now. I think we all just have a good understanding of what we bring to the team.
GH: What can you take from last season and use this year?
LM: The biggest thing from last year that we will take is knowing how bad we felt after each game we played, knowing we could have done so much better and that in practice if we had just worked a little bit harder we would have had a different outcome. It doesn't feel good being the last place team. It doesn't feel good to lose in games that we could win. Just knowing that and that we need to work a lot harder and give 100% in practice, it will carry over to the game.
GH: You dealt with injuries sophomore year, was there mental obstacle to get over to stay as relatively healthy last year?
LM: Knees are kind of scary because you're always thinking, "if I make this cut, is it going to give?" I think I had all of last year to get over the mental part. There was a little bit of the mental part. Every once in a while you tweak it and you think the worst right away. You learn to get over it. You know when something hurts as opposed to when you're hurt. I'm over a lot of the mental. I'm healthy, my knees are good and I'm doing rehab every day.
GH: What does it mean to have another post player like Regina Rogers come in for practice and in games?
LM: It's really good to have another big, especially when you play against teams like Stanford with Jayne Appel and California which just lost their two big posts. I'm a decent sized post, but going up against those girls it's kind of hard to muscle them around. Having Regina in there, I like to play the four, I feel like I'm more versatile and I don't like being stuck with my back to the basket all of the time. Playing with Regina, the other teams biggest defender has to play Regina obviously. It gives me a little more freedom. Her being in there will give our guards a lot more shots. If she gets the ball, you have to collapse, she will draw double team. It will open everything up. In practice, she beats up on you but you know that will happen to opponents so you'll take it.
GH: Second leading scorer, how do you plan to build on that?
LM: Like I said before, the whole team is going to build on this also, having an identity of what we are expected to do and being comfortable. Going from our freshman of not playing much with June, to sophomore year with Coach [Tia Jackson] to our junior year which was like another new year because of all the people that left. I finally feel like we have a couple years under our belt of confidence. I feel like I'm a lot more confident. I'll take the ball at anyone. I'm not going to back down from someone because their bigger or stronger. Just the mental part of it, Coach J has put into us that if someone is bigger than us, be quicker than them. If someone is quicker than us, muscle them. I think we are all going to be a lot better than what we had done last year.
GH: In terms of your skill set on offense, what's something Husky fans should look forward to seeing improvement from?
LM: Last year, what they saw from me was that I like to face the basket. I like to turn and shoot or try and outquick my opponent. I think that what people will see I've worked on is my back to the basket moves. My drop step and hook shot, really trying to outmuscle my opponents when I can.
GH: How important is a strong inside game to the success of the team?
LM: It means a lot. Intimidation alone. If Regina gets the ball it's going to draw a double. If it draws from the opposite post its going to open the high post or other post play. If the double comes from a wing its going to open the three for Sami [Whitcomb] or [Amanda Johnson] or one of our better three point shooters. There are just so many things that they will have to respect about us now that they can't just guard the girl who can play inside and one shooter. They have to respect a lot of people on our team now.