ARLINGTON, Texas - UTA women's basketball held its annual Media Day press conference at College Park Center on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017.
UTA women's basketball coach Krista Gerlich:
Coach Gerlich's opening statement
"This is an exciting time of the year and we are really looking forward to the season starting off. We are excited about our five seniors. We have a very good senior class and are expecting big things from them. We were able to add some valuable pieces to the puzzle in the offseason and are looking forward to some impactful players from our newcomers. We have a challenging schedule and were able to get some practice time in during our foreign tour in Costa Rica in August."
Is there a game on the schedule that you are most looking forward to?
"The next team that we get to play is our most exciting and biggest challenge. We have some big teams on our schedule, but if we are not consistent and rise up to the challenge, anybody could beat us. We are just excited about starting the season and I don't know if i would pin point anybody but the next one."
On the success of the men against power five teams …
"I love watching our men compete at the level the do against the power five schools and we are hoping to get our girls to that level as well."
On a strength of the team …
"No doubt, our seniors. There is an opportunity for all five of our seniors to start. I don't think it would be a great lineup for us because of the type of style that we play but at the same time all five of them are very worthy of that. That senior experience and leadership is a huge strength. Having Rebekah VanDijk and Cierra Johnson back for their senior year is huge because our inside game is really dominant with Rebekah and now we have some people that can help her on the inside. Cierra has raised her game too, all around, because she came here as a defensive player and has really evolved into probably our best offensive player. She does it all. She could lead us in assists, rebounds, points, steals. One commentator for one of our games called her the Russell Westbrook of the Sun Belt and that is a huge compliment but that is spot on. Plus Crystal Allen. She is very underrated and just hasn't had a chance to prove herself the way the other two have because she hasn't been here as long. Those three in particular. That is the inside, the outside, three-point shooter, post player, those three are our biggest strength."
On playing a tough road slate …
"I don't know that I have the answer to that other then we just have to be tough. We have been preaching to them since day one about mental toughness, being road warriors, or just warriors in general. Last year we performed well on the road. Sometimes when you remove the distractions of your home, it can help. We are going to take one game at a time, we need to protect our home court as much as we can and win on the road. It is going to be exciting and I am excited to see how we handle that."
On the preseason trip to Costa Rica …
"It just gave us some confidence. It was great for us to just go over there and play. I platooned them all four games. We would play five at time. I think that made all of them realize the value they each have to our team. There wasn't anybody that sat the bench while we were over there. They all got great playing time. They all started. They got to see some early success in what we are trying to teach them. That is one of the hardest things when you have some new kids is just making them understand how it is going to look. That gave us an opportunity to gel a little quicker than normal."
Senior center Rebekah VanDijk
On the excitement to get the season started ...
"We are super excited. All of us can't wait. This time it is a long stretch and just to play the first game will be really exciting for us."
On who she is looking forward to going up against this season in nonconference...
"Kansas State because we have played them the last three years and have been close, but haven't beat them. This year I think it is the time and can just beat them."
On being one of the favorites in the Sun Belt Conference...
"It is exciting for us, but it puts a little bit of pressure on the team. It is a big motivator to work hard in practice and get better so when conference comes ready we are ready to play our best."
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