Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Interview with UCSB Women's Basketball Coach Bonnie Henrickson

Gaucho Hoops ("GH")Thanks for taking this interview, Coach Henrickson.  Let's start with a review of the players.

Bonnie Henrickson ("BH")OK, I'll start by class.

Drea Toler has been working on the same things: building up user speed and athleticism.  She's worked hard to become a capable 3 point shooter, can finish at the rim.  She's a good defensive player obviously, but she can drive and penetrate.  She has made good decisions to kick it out and pass to a teammate who can finish.  She has the ability to challenge the defense. She's got good footwork and balance, and  is hawkish on the ball, puts pressure on the ball and is disruptive defensively.

Drew Edelman can catch and finish around the rim.  We like to  rim run her.  We like to get her more touches before the defense can set up.  We like to get her out there.  Her strength and conditioning is much improved from last year.  Her free throw shooting is much improved.  She shot over 75% over the last 8 games last season, so we want her to continue that.  And to get to the free throw line more, and the way to do that is get offensive rebounds. To get catches in transition.  She is still the  focal point of our offense  We'll throw it inside.  She needs to rebound at a higher level, both on the offensive and defensive end.  That's where she can make a significant impact on both ends of the floor.

Mikala Roper plays both the 1 and 2.  We want her to get back to where she shot it well her sophomore year.  We're not asking her to be a ball hawk, but to contain defensively and keep the ball in front of her.  Players have different roles based on their strengths.  Drea pressures the ball, and Mikala applies defensive pressure by keeping her hands up, not providing a cushion, and steering the ball where it needs to be.   We need her to rebound on defense and offense.  She makes good passing decisions, and her ball-handling has improved.  She's in good shape and has really made a commitment from a fitness and conditioning standpoint.  Since the end of last year, she's made some really good decisions and choices, and we're really excited to see how those conditions play themselves out.

GH:  Can you elaborate on those good decisions Mikala has made?

BH:  She doesn't turn over the ball much.  She can put it down and reverse the ball.  We look at her as an experienced senior guard, and we have a lot of young guards coming in from the freshman class.  I mean they are young--they are talented, there's no doubt about that.  But we feel good about having Rope in there as a senior.  She and Chaya have seen it all.  Those two know more about where we've been and where we're going than anybody else, so we feel good about Rope playing at multiple guard positions.  It will be really beneficial to us.

Chaya Durr is a 4, a good athlete, and good offensive rebounder.  We'll need more of that.  Defensively, she's really good at defending bigger 4's and at times even 5's.  We look for her to rip and drive from the perimeter  We may her play her as an undersized 5, if we have foul trouble in the rotation.  We really only have 3 true bigs in the program.   She has leadership  She understands what we want and our vision.  She's been captain for 2 years and as a senior, that will be really important as well.  She's developed into a really good high / low passer into the bigs. She contributes on both ends.


Coco Miller is a capable 3-point shooter.  She's smart defensively and is a good low post passer. She has grown and can put the ball on the floor and can drop a pass, or just put the ball on the floor and reverse it or kick it out.  She's unselfish, and has a high basketball IQ.  I need her to be a more vocal leader, especially magnified because we have so many young players in the program.

Sarah Porter has worked to improved her ball handling and remaining consistent and becoming an even better 3-point shooter off the move, stationary...all the different ways and spots she can get some open 3's.  She needs to get some offensive rebounds to get to the free throw line more.  You know, if you're going to get run off the line, get to the rim and finish, and get an "and-1".  That's how you get to the free throw line more:  get more offensive rebounds.  Put those up and get out in transition more.  We need her to be who she is:  be a good 3-point shooter. but be prepared for people to run her off that line.

A newbie junior is Akilah Jennings.  She's a really long athlete.  We've had two team practices and individual drills, and she can certainly get up on the ball and guard defensively. She's really bouncy and athletic, and had the best vertical jump along with Andrea.  She is a phenomenal athlete and a capable 3-point shooter from Foothill and Northern Colorado. For her, she'll have to rebound defensively at the big guard or small forward spot. She can guard  the perimeter, and has the strength to guard the 4 in the post.  She can stretch the floor, spread the defense, put it on the floor when she's run off the line, and finish at the rim.  She's long and lanky.  Gaining strength for her will be important for her game at this level--the physicality of it.  For this and next year, the more strength she can gain, the more contact she can handle and finish.

GH:  She's eligible this year? 

BH:  Yeah, we don't have anybody sitting out this year.  Everybody competes and plays this year.

Tal Sahar is a sophomore.  She's a transfer from Seattle University and Calabasas.  She's a scorer, shoots the 3, she shoots it deep.  She's long, she's worked on becoming a better passer and a better ball handler.  Defensively, she's  working on containing and keeping people in front of her, using her length to take away shots and taking away passing opportunities inside.  She's working on footwork, so when someone puts it down, force the ball where want it, and working on staying underneath somebody.  Obviously, she brings the ability to score from 3, and she's got a pull up midrange game.  She watched games and practiced last year and saw when people run you off the line, you have to have an answer if you can't get to the rim, and can't kick it out.  She probably has the best pull up now. 

GH:  Yes, I saw her practice last year.  She's got a deadly outside shot.  Sounds like she's not 1-dimensional. 

BH:  No, her midrange game is good.  She finishes at the rim, and she has good size and length.  She can handle it.  All of our players have to handle the ball better.

GH:  Sounds like your squad is deep this year.

BH:  Yes, we have many good players and they're competitive.  They're forced to compete in practice and that's how they can improve at the rate we want them to.  There are tons of minutes to be had, and that's a good thing.  They're in the gym longer, playing pick up longer, and the young players have bought into that, and walked through the program like that.  We knew that about them, that's who  they were, and now they've played more than they ever have in the off season.

GH:  That's part of the culture now. 

BH:  Yeah, during the season, you become a better team, and during the summer you become a better player.

GH:  Good point. 

BH:  Alicia Hernandez is a 3-point shooter, stretches the defense, was hurt and missed 6 weeks last season.  She has to stay healthy and be on the floor.  Playing the whole season will help her.  She has to be able to put it on the floor when she's run off the line, pull up, pass, handle ball pressure, and reverse the ball.  She's a good secondary defender, and needs to get better defending the ball and keeping people in front of her, and challenge shots.  I was impressed with her basketball IQ, rotating on help side, and taking charges...making the extra rotation to prevent drives for a layup.  We trusted her at the end of games to rotate off the ball.  She might get beat on the ball, but she wouldn't give up a cushion 3, and would rotate on penetration.   When she was off the ball, she did a good job of rotating as a secondary defender,

Natalia Bruening is big and we need her to have a better sophomore campaign to play Drew better and less.  Drew needs to play less from a wear and tear standpoint  Natalia needs to produce in a back up role and get more minutes on the floor.  She's gotta rim run and get up and down the floor.

Our bigs run.  We don't have posts times and guards time.  We have times all our players are expected to make.  If we aren't all in transition, we have to wait for somebody to get there.  For her to turn the corner in her sophomore year, she needs to be committed.  "What do I need to do, and what does it take for me to produce and be an effective 5 in our program ?"  We're all excited for her to have a better sophomore campaign than freshman campaign.  "The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores."  There are minutes to be had for her there.  She's got an opportunity, so she has to grab it, take advantage of it, and own it

GH:  She's one of your two 6'4" forwards, right? 

BH:  Yes, she has upper body strength, strong core, and good touch around rim. She has to learn her defensive assignments.  She's capable, but now we just have to see it.  Be consistent.


We have two freshmen point guards.  Celine Quintino is a dynamic passer and playmaker, no doubt about that.  She can thread a needle, and posts have to keep their hands up to receive her passes because they're coming.  I asked her the other day if she has hit any post players in the nose yet, and she replied no, because I had told our post players to keep their hands up.  She can thread a needle.  She can see things that other guards don't even know is there.  We were excited when she signed because she is so dynamic.  She likes to get out in transition, and fits that mold for us.  She's a really good athlete, and is bouncier than we originally thought.  She can finish at the rim and can score in traffic. She needs to knock down the 3 to keep defenses honest, so they don't give her too much room because she can put it on the floor, and that will be important for her career.

Danae Miller is from Long Beach Poly.  Both can play and play together.  Danae has escapeability, and likes to get out in transition, which is how LB Poly plays.   Both freshmen played with quality post players,  which means they are aware of making the post pass. Some guards have never played with post players, so they don't know to look there.  But our freshmen point guards have a sense of patience to let the post players make a cut.  Because both have played with post players they will understand our conversation during film study, about where we want to throw the ball.  Danae is a really good defender, has good size, is a really strong kid, a really tough kid.  It'll be important for her career to keep defenders honest by making open 3's.  Both are playmakers and can get us out in transition.

GH:  Sounds like you will go 3 deep at point guard.

BH:  Yes, we will be 3 deep at point guard.  Drea, Cece, and Danae.

GH:  So will you be able to play two at the same time sometimes?

BH:  Yes, I believe we will.

Nina Radford is a big guard.  Can play the 3 and power forward, is a good 3-point shooter, has a good mid-range game.  She has the physicality to play the true 4  defensively.  We ask our players can you keep someone in front of you, can you make the post pass?  She's really skilled, has a good basketball IQ, can stretch the floor, handles the ball well enough to get by someone, by the secondary defender, and finish at the rim.  That will be the next step for her  in how she plays.

Sarah Bates is from Clovis West.  She's a 2 guard, is a capable 3-point shooter, and can put it on the floor.  They played a similar offense:  4 out 1 in, drive and kick, spread the floor, space the floor.  She's a good on-ball defender, a good secondary defender, started taking a charge the first day in practice.  She's got feel for that end of the floor, she's tough on defense.  She's a good passer and can make plays on both ends of the floor.

GH:  Sounds like your roster is really versatile, with players who can play multiple positions.

BH:  Yes.  we want to quick hit so our shooters can all get touches.  If we can outlet and run up the floor, and if players can make plays then we don't have to run as many plays.

There will be opportunities to run set plays...late game, we'll run some clock, so we need to execute.   A big chunk of what we do is get out in transition. But we need to get back and defend, because it's hard to get in transition if you have to take the ball out of bounds.  We want to be able to rebound and outlet, and get numbers.

There's a good stat with this freshman class.  Combined, their high school senior record was 116 -13.  From a culture standpoint, expecting to be successful, recognizing what it takes to be successful, the chemistry it takes, the work and toughness it takes.  We're excited by those numbers.

Like I said, coming in here, playing pick up every night, taking shots every night,  The upperclass were as excited as the coaching staff when we gave them that nugget.  That's an area of the program where we turned the corner.  The expectation of hard work, extra work, and culture of earning success.  The upper class were excited about all five newcomers having tremendous success last year.  If you are successful, you act differently, you think differently, you expect success, and expect to work to have success.  And to play with other talented players, other high school players and other summer teams, so it's not like they're the only talented players and they don't know how to play with other talented players.  They understand championships and what it takes to be champions.

GH:  They expect success, but they don't feel entitled to it. 

BH:  No,  These guys work.  They all came in and killed the conditioning test, all of them.  Passed it.  First time, all five new incomers.

GH:  So you're getting more athletic players?

BH:  Yep, a better combination of skill and athleticism.  We're not a track team.  We've got to be able to pass and catch, and knock down shots.  And that's what your best players are.

GH:  I'm just reviewing here.  You play a 4 out, 1 in offense.  

BH:  Yep, it's a motion offense.

GH:  Is that a Bobby Knight or a Villanova offense?

BH:  There are concepts to it, I wouldn't say there are any rules to it.  It's kinda evolved since we got here.  We tried quick hits for shooters or bigs, but we really struggled with continuity.

We play a lot of 4 on 4 in practice, 3 out 1 in.  We really struggled to score in Idaho a couple games into our first year, so I called timeout and said, "we play 4 on 4 in practice every day, right?"  OK, we're playing with a big out there, but we're still playing 4 on 4.  Let's stick with the concepts: drive and kick.  Kick out 3's and layups."

We then hit 2 3's, and hit 2 layups.  We're still in motion, and let's build it from there. I'm really proud of that because I wanted to get it right, and not be right.  If I was going to just be right, we would have been in the 30's all year.  We couldn't score.  Starting in Idaho, since then we've carried some of that over, and run motion 70% of the time.  Which gives them freedom to drive the base line and kick, how to rotate around that, straight line drive, mainline drive, rotation movement, floor bounce, paint touch, ball reversal.  There's all kinds of terminology.

GH:  It's not free lance offense, right?  But with a motion offense, the players have to read what the defense gives them? 

BH:  No, it's not free lance, where you try to make a play on the first side with a full shot clock.  We play in a good league, and defenses are too good. We're trying to get uncontested shots and lay ups are uncontested shots, on rotational rebounds, and how does that happen?

We set on ball screens, set flare screens in it.  We run quick hits into it.    We try and move the ball upcourt.  The players enjoy playing it.

GH:  Sounds like your players have to read the defenses, and what the defense gives them. 

BH:  Yep.  They have to keep their head up to see if the paint is open, and try to drive the paint and see what happens.  If it doesn't collapse, score.  If it does collapse, make the right read and decision.  I think that we've improved in a lot of areas, like our athleticism and skills.  I think the one area where we needed to improve a lot was to become a better passing team.  I've never seen a player that could pass, but couldn't handle the ball well.  We didn't handle the ball very well.  We needed to handle the ball at more positions.   If you can handle it, you can pass it, because your head is always up.  Your eyes can tell when you're dribbling, and with your eyes up, you can handle ball pressure.

GH:  Aah, Magic Johnson.  I noticed with Coach Pasternack on board, there seems to be a premium on transition. 

BH:  Kids like to play it and fans like to watch it, so it's on the coach.

GH:  Thanks for the great interview, Coach, and good luck this season.

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