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October 11, 2017
San Francisco, California
LINDSAY GOTTLIEB: Hi, everyone, good morning. Thank you for being here. Pac-12 Media Day is an unbelievable day. It keeps getting better. Just to see the room filled with such terrific communications talent is really meaningful to us.
We feel in this conference like the story is no longer that we're on the rise, but that we're here. That's really fun to be a part of, to have been part of some of the growth and to now see the student-athletes thrive on this platform.
Very excited to have these two young women here with us today. They're now juniors. Personally for me they've been through so much with us, and they've turned into not just great talents, but really unbelievable leaders. To see them as upperclassmen showing our youngsters what Cal basketball's about, their goal is to lead us back to the top. I have a lot of confidence in them.
I think since the last several years this is our best combination of veteran talent and leadership with youth that's ready to contribute. Freshmen and sophomores that can play, but they have juniors and seniors to show them the way.
So we're really excited about the upcoming season, and can't wait to get started.
Q. Tell us about Jordan and how things are going on that front, and if you're going to have Jordan and the other young man, Weston, on the bench with you during the season.
LINDSAY GOTTLIEB: So Jordan is my son. Not Jordin Canada, although we can talk about her too. They met last night. It was very fun.
This time last year I was pregnant and couldn't tell any of you all, so I was just self-conscious about if I had a bump showing or not. So it's pretty unbelievable now to have a five-month-old son. As those of you who are parents know, it's life changing. It's unbelievable.
For me, the most special thing is that the young women I coach, who are also my family, are integrated with my other family of Patrick and Jordan. That has been the most gratifying thing, to see them interact with him.
For me, the challenge -- and I told them this before I went on maternity leave, I'm going to be the same type of coach, but there may be a little guy bouncing on a chair next to us.
Literally that's what's happened. It's been an unbelievable experience. I appreciate you asking about that.
But the focus for our team this year is really about being the Cal basketball team we know we can be, and to just have my family be part of that is pretty special.
Q. Kristine and Asha, you were both talented enough to play a lot as true freshmen. And now you're juniors. How does that change things for you both in terms of leadership and your role on the team?
KRISTINE ANIGWE: For me, I came in and saw great leadership. So I'm just trying to be the leader that I watched and I expected from the upperclassmen. It's just really exciting. It's my last go-around, so -- well, the last go-around, well, the last whatever. Okay, you guys get it.
But I'm just really excited with this group.
ASHA THOMAS: For me, I would say it's been an experience being myself, looking at myself in the mirror, seeing what type of person I'm becoming and then what kind of leader I'm becoming for the younger ones.
Then just seeing growth with Kristine and all the other veterans, to see where they've come. And it's been an experience. I've really been enjoying it.
Q. Coach, I know you said you're going to be the same coach. That said, having a child, has it changed your perspective on coaching and how you coach this team going forward? And then for the players, what's it like not having only Jordin, but Weston around, hanging around the team?
LINDSAY GOTTLIEB: So, there is nothing exactly the same as having your own child, but I've really felt over my career that I've had 12 to 14 children at any one time.
I was remiss in the opening statement to not mention that Kristine sustained a knee injury. It was six days ago. She's okay. She hyperextended her knee. It was very scary. But she was laying on the ground going, "Lindsay, Lindsay." And as a coach, she's as much my child. Seeing Asha go through what she's gone through, being a freshman point guard, I've really felt like I've had children before with respect to the team.
So my perspective is just right now different in that I'm trying to balance everything. Having a son that I'm nursing, it's a lot of time. It's a matter of managing that. And sure, seeing him smile or make some crazy sound makes a missed lay-up maybe not seem as significant.
But I do think the way I approach the treatment of my players and the way we run the program, I hope that how I am as a mother is just an extension of what I was doing before, if that makes sense.
But, yeah, it's definitely different to have Weston and Jordan around. And they can speak to that.
But my personal style, I hope that I've approached other people's children that I've had in my program -- I make a promise to their parents I'll treat them a certain way. I hope I've always been that way, but now having my own little guy just kind of puts it in perspective a little bit.
KRISTINE ANIGWE: I think, adding on to that, I think her demeanor has changed as a coach because she expects us to just know what we're doing. So we're upperclassmen, me, CJ, Asha, Kayla, Nina, she expects us to know what we're doing, and she doesn't give us the leeway of, oh, you're learning. It's like, you know this, do it.
So I feel like that's our motto going into the season. Like we're older, we're better. So, yeah.
Q. Lindsay and the players, talking about the Cal basketball team that you want to be, I know the last couple years have had their share of frustrations, so how do you turn the channel on that? How do you turn the frustrations of the last couple years into being the team that you want to be?
LINDSAY GOTTLIEB: That's a really good question. In terms of basketball things, I think we have a better balance of ability on the floor. As I've said multiple times, not afraid to say I think Kristine is, if not the best, certainly one of the best post players in the country.
But now I think we have a terrific three-point shooter and leader in Asha. I think we have someone like Mikayla Cowling who can get to the rim. I think we have freshmen now -- Kianna Smith, Alaysia Styles, Mi'Cole Cayton -- people can break you down off the dribble and create shots for others. I think we have better pieces than we've had in the past.
But the other point, as Kristine was alluding to, I now have older players who I can look at in practice and say, "This isn't good enough," and they're able to get better within the course of a practice.
I don't think we need to lose two or three games in a row to say we can be better. I think they're able to self-assess in the moment, and that's maturity.
Two years ago we had zero seniors. Last year we had one that was competing on the roster. Now we have two really significant seniors -- Nina Davidson's playing really well and confident -- and two upperclassmen that I don't know if there are juniors who have played more minutes in their careers in the entire country than these two.
ASHA THOMAS: Yeah, I would definitely continue with what Lindsay said, the leadership, us maturing as players on and off the court. So we see different sides of our past, and we don't want to go through that again. We don't want our younger players to go through that. So we want to lead them to a better view of where we want to go.
Q. Larry Scott was just in here, and on a bit more of a serious -- I mean, on a serious topic, he said his message, he did bring up integrity with the women's coaches in the meeting this morning. Could you share that message and maybe how you feel about the importance of just a reminder of the integrity of the game?
LINDSAY GOTTLIEB: First and foremost, as Division I head women's basketball coaches, we're educators. I've said this before, I said it again, said it in some article that came out today, if I'm only talking to them about pick-and-roll defense, and I'm only talking to them about running the transition lanes, I am not, I don't think, doing a complete job. Right?
This is a time in their lives where they're learning how to be change makers, they're learning how to deal with adversity.
I think our number one thing is to lead them as human beings. So if I'm not acting with integrity in my own job, I'm certainly not the leader I can be for them.
I think the game of college basketball is unbelievable. We need to protect it. It's a good chance for coaches, given what's going on nationally, to just look and say: Are we conducting the sport we want to conduct? Are we conducting our business the way we want to and need to?
And I think generally we are, but it's a good chance to reset and say: What path do we want to go down here and make sure that we're the leaders in terms of how collegiate athletics is supposed to go.
Q. Asha, as a leader on the team now and upperclassman with seven underclassmen underneath you, what is your best piece of advice for your fellow teammates hitting the Cal campus for the first time?
ASHA THOMAS: It would probably be to be yourself. I know Lindsay has allowed us individually to be ourselves and be comfortable with ourselves and then around people.
I know for me, I love being myself. I really do. It makes me become confident on and off the court.
So our advice for them is continue to be themselves. Don't be scared to make mistakes.
I think that's probably a hidden thing where a lot of freshmen come in and they're thrown into the fire, as in my place, or they're not sure what college basketball is about. I think it's okay to make mistakes. It's the process of the four years or however long you're going to be there.
Q. Just individual things you two have been working on this off-season? I know you can shoot the three, Asha. Are we going to see more of that this year? And, Kristine, we know you're great down low. But what are specific things you've worked on this off-season, and what are we going to see in your game this fall?
ASHA THOMAS: Definitely continue shooting at threes. Continue to put the ball on the floor as well. But also on the offensive side, knowing where my teammates are. Trying to make the easier play for them and not have them continue to force themselves to do something. Also on the defense, I need to pick that up. That's definitely something I need to do, and you'll see a change in that.
KRISTINE ANIGWE: This off-season I just worked on just getting stronger and getting faster. I wanted to run the entire game, and I want to be more efficient. So I felt like if my conditioning was up, I'd be more efficient because I'll be able to take bumps.
And just keep playing more efficient as in like passing out when I need to, getting the extra -- doing the extra play, getting on the floor, defense.
I want my game to be, well, like -- I don't want to be scoutable this year; I want people to be surprised when they get on the court.
So that's what I've been working on, is being diverse and faster and stronger.
Q. Can you talk about how cohesive of a team you have at this point, having returned almost all your players? And can you comment on how the freshmen are adjusting to the college game?
LINDSAY GOTTLIEB: I know it's a time of year where everyone's undefeated and people feel good. I feel very confident it's the best team chemistry we've had since our Final Four team. I can see it, I can feel it. Team chemistry doesn't always mean the rah-rah, we like each other. They do. We're defending national champs of dance team and have fun and that kind of thing.
But I think the chemistry's now there where they can hold each other accountable. They can raise the standards. They can get on someone to do better but still be good off the court.
So I think our chemistry and cohesion is really good. That partly comes from returning most of our players, but it also comes from a concerted effort by the people in the program to say: We want more. We want to do better.
So I credit the upperclassmen with that. The freshmen have been great. They've been seamless personalities to integrate. From a basketball standpoint, they're very high IQ basketball. They haven't seemed like freshmen some of the time. When they have, they've had friends and mentors and upperclassmen to show them the way.
Q. This may put you on the spot, and I don't want to put you on the spot, because you're the leaders and you've played a lot. So I want you to be specific. What are your personal goals this season? I want to talk numbers. First of all, you have some big numbers, and you know you've got to carry the team. Your shoulders feel heavy at times. But what do you have to do? What are your expectations per game? And also what are your team's expectations? You went to the tournament last year, second round. What do you have to do to help your team? What are your goals?
KRISTINE ANIGWE: Well, for me, in practice, I know I'm not carrying the team anymore. I'm a big presence on the court, but Asha, her shot has gotten so much better. People are getting to the rim. Kayla's getting to the rim. Nina, Penina, she's shooting threes.
We have so much talent. The freshmen are shooting the ball well. Like Mi'Cole, our starters are great. Like we lost one player. We went to Australia. We went to New Zealand. We killed it.
I'm just really excited for the season. More so numbers. I'm just trying to be efficient. I'm trying to get to the rim, pass the ball, shoot mid-range, trying to be mid-range and efficient all around. Play defense.
I'm trying to win. I'm not setting big goals because I know the goals we have for ourselves, but like if we don't make it, okay, but if we do, we got better than we did last year. So I'm trying to win, play strong, and play hard. Yeah.
ASHA THOMAS: As for me, pretty much everything Kristine said, literally. For me, I'm going to be the constant leader. Whether that's I have to score -- I know I have to score more. I have to do that on a consistent basis. I have to do better on a consistent basis. Assists. Keeping those up. Whatever I have to do to help this team win, I'll do it.
So it's going to be multiple things I have to do in one game, and I don't mind doing that.
Q. Australia and New Zealand, you said you killed it over there. Can you tell us a little bit about how you felt with the intensity before the season started and what you mean by that?
KRISTINE ANIGWE: Coach Lindsay brought up that we -- like the team chemistry is on a different -- like it feels different. And going to those trips, I felt like we just got closer. We did so much. We did scuba diving. It was so much fun.
I'm just really excited with our team on the court. Whatever translated off the court went on the court. So we're passing the ball, we're running for each other. We're playing hard for each other, because that is what we worked on the entire summer.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports