Interview with UCSB Women's basketball coach Bonnie Hendrickson on October 27, 2022
Gaucho Hoops (GH): Let's start with the players first. We can cover strategies, identify what you're working on, how the exhibitions went, and whatever message you want to communicate to fans later.
Bonnie Hendrickson (BH): OK, let's start with seniors first. With Ila, we're obviously excited for her. It's her last year. She's an all-conference player every day in practice. That's why she's so special. She just doesn't take days off. She's explosive around the rim, and she's working on getting to the rim more.
That'll help us because we've got a group of bigger guards. The factor is how well they can play together with ball handling, can they penetrate and kick, and can they keep people in front of them? So if they can't do that, it will impact their minutes. How big can we play on the perimeter--how big can our 2's and 3's be? Can they play together, because if they are all alike, and they have the same weaknesses in a sense, then you can't play them all together. We caught a little bit of that last year because we played Megan and Taylor and Taty together, as they're not primary ball handlers. To play all 3 of them at the same time is hard. Now we can tweak a few things. with not as much driving and kicking, or passing and cutting, but we'll see...
So Ila is a 3 level scorer, getting on the glass and rebounding, using her length
With Alexis Tucker, she's really improved from last year. She's worked hard in the spring and summer. She's worked hard to be confident facing the rim, ball handler, playmaker, getting down hill, getting the ball in the paint, kick it out, getting the right read. She's really improved from a year ago. She was used to playing with her back to the rim. Fans will see that right away, She didn't always play with her back to the glass last year, but she just wasn't aggressive pushing the ball forward. We want her to reverse the ball if there's rotation, she needs to be able to kick it out Can she make a quality pass, can she create a shot for somebody else by putting the ball on the floor?
Anya Choice is a 3 level scorer working on being confident in the mid range She's explosive to the rim. She's improved as a stationary 3 point shooter where the ball comes to her and she steps into it. She made that transition mid-season last year. More movement, not watching the ball and anticipating the ball, getting her feet ready. She's much more improved where she can pull up in rhythm, find that little gap and that space before she gets too deep, was her point of emphasis. Defensively, we had Danae last year, and we need someone who can guard the other teams' best player She's the most capable in terms of being physical and quickness. She's gotta turn the corner there and be more consistent with her effort and energy on that end of the floor. It would be incredibly impactful for us on the perimeter defensively.
Alyssa Marin is the starting point guard for now, can play the 1 and 2. Anya is our third point guard right now. Danae is gone and Alyssa has embraced leadership. Its her turn to step up and lead and get the ball ahead in transition, pass the ball and get us up the court quicker. She played a lot of catch football with her brothers growing up. She can throw the ball from the baseline for a touchdown, but sometimes that's the right thing to do, sometimes it's not. She working on that...like every point guard with decision-making: what's the right play to make? She's a capable scorer and comes back into the rotation . She can knock it down in the midrange. She's a good driver and drop passer. In transition, she passes it across half court. In the half court offense, she gets down hill, and makes good passing decisions. She's got great pace and great energy. I never have to ask her to speed up She's incredibly self-disciplined and very mature in that way.
GH: With Danae graduating, is there a point guard by committee?
BH: Alyssa and Callie Cooper split the duties last night. They're trying to find their niche and voice on both ends of the floor. This group has more scoring options, they just have to defend. How do I get us organized--how do I stay ahead of the play mentally? You can't take a play off, you have to focus. She played point guard last year, but it wasn't the minutes Danae played though. Having those minutes with Alyssa and Callie this year--it'll just feel different. Callie is explosive, she can get downhill, she can get in your face on defense, she's pesky like that She's small in stature but that's a good thing cuz she can get you into pressing who's she defending. That's a good thing, to get their head down without fouling. She can get into the paint and loop around. She's strong if she gets into contact and distributes. She will be a big impact with her ability to pressure the ball defensively. She just has to be consistent.
Alexis Whitfield transferred here from the University of Washington. She's a California kid, a Valley kid. She played well last night. She's big and long--big at the rim, good job on the glass, can get down hill, and score off two feet using her size and strength. She needs to get consistent as a 3 point shooter. Decent in the midrange when she is able to get to the rim because of her size. She's almost 6'2", has to tighten up her handle when she tries to drive it, because she's gonna get pinched more. Defensively, she has to be smart because she's strong and athletic and long. She's just gotta get out there and guard. She needs to not rotate defending the 3. She's gotta get up there and forced them to drive. Force a 2 or 3,and get help from the forwards. She'll get better as this is a different style from where she played. We require more responsibility to be a ball handler , to make decisions, improve quality of decisions: do I shoot, do I pass? That gets us thru the juniors and seniors.
Callie is a sophomore. Analillia tore her acl so she's out for the year. She had surgery last week. Laurel is injured--she's a backup 5. We're asking her to work on her face up game--away from the paint to create more room, especially in practice against Ila. Forcing Ila outside replicates what opponents are doing with her. Laurel is a good screener, able screener. Want her to help out the person with the ball. Step away from the rim on a penetration and kick out for a 10 footer. She can shoot the little 6 foot, 8 foot jumper. That'll impact us positively and creates space for teammates, and also gives her an opportunity to knock down the jumper. Good voice, good leader at the 5 on the defensive end. We need a good communicator on the back end of the defense.
Kennedy Johnson is a great athlete, explosive, can create alot from her defense. She gets to the rim, is shooting at a better rate from the 3. She needs to be consistent from midrange and finishing from 2 feet. She's sometimes so quick, too quick sometimes and doesn't have her head up to see where she is on the floor. She's explosive and has to finish higher. She has to get up off of two feet instead of one. She can get there fast but has to slow down and finish. She can get up and defend the ball. She can be impactful, can create havoc and cause opponents to make poor decisions. We just need more consistency, so she can create an impact for us on defense.
Freshmen--we have two. Skylar from Couer d'Alene from Idaho. Gets more loose balls than anybody on the team. Can get offensive rebounds; her numbers are as good as Ila's and post players. Just tremendous energy. She's on the floor, she's at the rim. She's going to be scrappy. She's tough defensively, learning as a freshman with the pace and speed, and talent level in Div. 1 and in our league. She's got a good mid range game and needs to find her rhythm from the 3 She's a little rushed, little sped up She's got good range, but like Anya, she gets caught watching the ball and when the ball comes to her, her feet aren't ready. She should shoot it, but she shouldn't because she's not ready. Love her energy and enthusiasm and makes things happen just because she's flying around, and that's contagious.
GH: So she leads the team in floor burns.
GH: She sure does. She's the first person down on the floor, and that's contagious. She's the first one on the glass consistently, coming from the 3 point line. That's how we play: 4 out, 1 in, and nobody boxes out so she was getting offensive rebounds.
Jessica Grant has the least stature in our group, but might be the most explosive as far as her ability to score. She hit four 3's last night, just didn't get her feet set or she would have knocked down more. She led the country in 3's last year, made over 500 3's in her high school career. She hit 10 in one game last year. She's like a silent assassin. She's not going to blow you away when you first look at her until she knocks down her 2nd, 3rd, 4th three point shot. She's just starting to understand where her teammates can find her. She's learning how to move without the ball, finding a window where she can't see the ball, and the ball can't see her, so she's starting to move and create opportunities for herself, because her teammates are looking for her. They can kick it out to her on the 3. Pretty soon tho, opponents will take that away, so she has to get down hill. She can make back to back 3's like she did last night. That's why she's here. But she can do more than that because when opponents run her off the 3 point line, and they will do that, so we had to spend time with her to be confident with putting the ball on the floor, and make a good play on the dribble and make a good decision. She'll throw it off the on ball screen to Ila, or penetrate and kick and get it out. She's going to get run off the line, so she doesn't have to make plays. As a freshman, that's really important to understand what she is right now. In games, don't try to be somebody else.
GH: So she's not a one dimensional catch and shooter?
BH: No, no, no, I'm talking all about the 3's, but she's a lot more than that, for sure.
Back to Tatyana, she's a spacer, 6'3", good 3 point shooter who stretches the defense. She'll be the hybrid 5 until Laurel gets back She has played a back up 5 and she's a good screener She has good feet and a 3 point shot. She just has to get on the glass and make some shots and she'll get minutes. Taylor Mole is a senior from Australia. was all-conference her first year, then came off the bench last year. It was good for her. She gets really antsy early--during the exhibitions, taking pull up jumpers and those aren't high percentage shots. She just needs to calm down and let the game come to her a bit. She's a 3 level scorer, 3 point shooter, midrange, finishes at the rim. Need from her defensively on the perimeter. She played at the 4 and is now playing the 3, so she has to guard out there aggressively and competitively.
GH: So with Coach Pasternack his words were urgency, urgency, urgency, referring to defense and rebounding. A lot of fans watch the ball, the shooter, but in his words, we have to defend, and we have to rebound. He's not so keen on their defensive prowess as individual defenders. Josh is one of our premiere defenders, but everything else is based on positioning. Meaning help defense, because if you're not super quick laterally, you better have position to help and communicate to teammates. What are your keys to this team? You were selected 2nd in preseason Big West polls. How do you fulfill those lofty expectations?
BH: We have to guard. After last night we gave up 60. We can't give up 60 points. We have to defend and be able to get into ball handlers. If we don't keep them in front of us, at least we can send them where we want them to go. Help is supposed to be about being in position. It doesn't take talent to be in the correct position. At this point, we only have a handful of defenders who can keep people in front of them against each other in practice. We have to get better there. Two things: improve defensively and our passing decisions.
We can get the ball there, but we don't throw what we call "money" balls. We got to get shooters in rhythm in the "pocket". Last night, that was disappointing. We sped up and rushed and so we got the ball there but they weren't really quality passes. Being as long as we are, use that on the defensive end and on the glass. We got decent numbers on the offensive boards. We have more players on the perimeter than we have had in the past. We have to improve on the decision-making so we make sure we take care of the ball. It's a game of possessions, so some of these guys have to box out on rebounding. With rebounding, you don't want to just go for the ball, you have to hit somebody first and make some contact. So you can't just stand there, pivot and hope. Hit your player, create what we call a push, and more than likely it comes right back at you. Rebounding on both ends of the floor, but on defense is why you win, and offense will tell you how much you win by. We want to put ourselves in a position based on seeding in the Big West tournament We gotta defend and get out in transition. Catch Ila before the defense can set up.
GH: So that's like a secondary fastbreak off transition.
GH: Yeah, it's like offense after a defensive rebound. Outlet up the floor, pass it up the floor, don't be dribbling in transition. Which means we have to rebound and we gotta get out and run.
GH: And that includes Ila running down the court?
BH: She runs, we're not waiting on her. She works really hard to be good in transition.
GH: I do have a question: "in the pocket", does that mean get the pass to the wheelhouse of the shooter?
BH: Yeah, right where they're calling for it, not above their heads, not below their knees. Hit them in rhythm, right into their hands, right where they're calling for it. We didn't do a good job of it last night. We were chasing above our heads, sideways...
GH: That's your first exhibition game.
BH: Yeah, that's why we're playing them. That's why we're here. It's gotta get better.
GH: Thanks, Coach--see you at the next game!