Caldwell, Lady Tigers Preview Season at Media Day
LSU Sports Interactive
BATON ROUGE -- With a week of practice already complete, second-year LSU women's basketball head coach Nikki Caldwell previewed the upcoming season as the Lady Tigers held their annual media day on Wednesday at the LSU Basketball Practice Facility.
"With the loss of five seniors, we are leaning on Jeanne Kenney and Adrienne Webb to carry that leadership role," said Caldwell. "Thus far they have answered that call. I am extremely pleased with the progression of our first year (players). They have really been great followers. We have leaders, but you also have to have great followers."
Webb, a senior from Madison, Ala., is LSU's top returning scorer after averaging 9.9 points per game last season. Webb stepped up her game in the postseason and carried the Lady Tigers to the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game.
"Adrienne Webb has really set the bar high for this team to practice at her level of intensity," said Caldwell. "Our theme this year is that you win from within. We want to make sure that every day we come together as a team and do our very best. The accountability factor is going to be there. Each player has to take ownership of the outcome of every practice and every game."
Caldwell joined LSU men's basketball coach Johnny Jones for the media day event.
"I am excited to be here, especially with the addition of Coach Johnny Jones," said Caldwell. "I can't tell you enough how special he has been in such a short period of time. He has been reaching out to our staff in a very personal way and has helped with anything we need. I am glad he is here and back with the LSU family."
Both Caldwell and Jones will be a part of "Pass a Good Time" from 6-8 p.m. at the Maravich Center on Thursday. Fans can come out and see both the LSU men's and women's basketball teams, eat free food, get autographs and much more. Doors to the Maravich Center open at 5:30 p.m. The first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a free LSU Stein mug.
The Lady Tigers play two exhibition games beginning with Xavier of Louisiana on Nov. 1 in the PMAC. Season tickets are now on sale at www.LSUtix.net beginning at $50.
A transcript from Wednesday's press conference is below:
LSU WOMEN'S BASKETBALL MEDIA DAY
HEAD COACH NIKKI CALDWELL
"I am excited to be here, especially with the addition of Coach Johnny Jones. I can't tell you enough how special he has been in such a short period of time. He has been reaching out to our staff in a very personal way and has helped with anything we need. I am glad he is here and back with the LSU family."
"It is an exciting time for LSU women's basketball. With the loss of five seniors, we are leaning on Jeanne Kenney and Adrienne Webb to carry that leadership role. Thus far they have answered that call. I am extremely pleased with the progression of our first year (players). They have really been great followers. We have leaders, but you also have to have great followers. Our returning players have really stepped up their intensity in these last five days of workouts. There is a lot of work still to be done. We have had a tremendous offseason. Everyone stayed here and I was pleased with that. This is going to be a challenging year for us. We have lost a lot of our scoring and our defense. We are going to have to be creative on how we defend the basketball this year. We are still going to look to establish our running game, our inside-outside attack, and win some basketball games."
On the expectations of guard Jeanne Kenney this season...
"Jeanne has answered the call that has been placed upon her. It is interesting to see her off the ball now. Danielle Ballard has really stepped up her game, and has really tried to take ownership of that point position for us. That will allow us to give Jeanne Kenney more opportunities to score off the basketball. We can run screens for her because the kid can shoot the basketball. Last year she had to sacrifice some of her game in order to run the point. This year we expect her to be an offensive threat."
On Theresa Plaisance's role this season...
"We are going to run our offense, and give Theresa (Plaisance) great looks. She just has to knock down shots, which is what she does best. She is so versatile in her ability to score the basketball. You can move her away from the basket because she has a three-point threat. You can put her inside where she is very skilled at going left or right. She is going to have to pick up a lot of scoring, which I know she is very capable of doing. She has shown that in practice. As long as she continues to practice at that elite level, the games will be easy for her."
On freshman redshirt guard Anne Pedersen...
"Anne (Pedersen) has been a great addition to our team. Last year when she sat out she was very positive on the bench, and very much involved. I am very pleased to see how she has bounced back from the knee injury. She has been one of our top guards as far as conditioning. We literally have to gauge her. She will push beyond the threshold. We are running her at multiple positions because she brings that versatility to our team. She is having to learn four different positions. She is accepting that challenge, and I expect great things from Anne Pedersen this year."
On the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M to the conference...
"The league is heading upward. Just a couple years ago Texas A&M won a national championship. That brings strength to our league. Now you have a program that is nationally known. Adding Texas A&M also gives us the opportunity to get in the state of Texas. From a recruiting standpoint we very much like that. Missouri is going to be a team that you can never take lightly. We welcome both coaches and both programs to the SEC."
On the attitude of this team...
"Our theme this year is that you win from within. We want to make sure that every day we come together as a team and do our very best. We call it a gut check. You give yourself a thumbs up if you are doing well. If you are not competing at that level that you know you should be competing at then you give yourself a thumbs down. We want to make sure that we are practicing and competing like you are playing for a championship every day. Adrienne Webb has really set the bar high for this team to practice at her lever of intensity. We are answering that. The accountability factor is going to be there. Each player has to take ownership of the outcome of every practice and every game. It is their game to play, and it is their championship to go after."
GUARD JEANNE KENNEY
On comparing last year to this year...
"It's still a fast-paced game. There's always that energy and excitement, as well as great I'm still going to distribute the ball, but I'm also going to be more of a scoring threat. We have many great scorers on our team, and everyone is expected to do just that."
On last year's seniors and the SEC Tournament championship game ...
"You just have to keep moving forward. Our goal this year is to get back to that game, and to ultimately win it. At this point in the game, it's not about the past anymore; it's about the future."
On the first week of practice this season ...
"It's been a great start so far. We've definitely already had a taste of ups and downs, but we're focusing on finishing strong and keeping the positive attitude and goals for our team."
On freshman guards, Kuaneshia Baker and Danielle Ballard...
"They bring great energy to the team and they're willing to learn. It's exciting when you have freshmen as talented as they are to come in and help out."
GUARD ADRIENNE WEBB
On what fans can expect this year ...
"The fans can expect our team being as hungry as we were last year. We've seen what it's like to get to the NCAA tournament, and do well. Now, we not only are looking forward to playing in SEC championships and NCAA tournaments, but also have the chance to win those games in the end. We just want to get back to what LSU really means and the legacy that was held here before we all got here."
On her role this year ...
"This year, it's more about being the leader that our team really needs. It's stepping into the role of the upperclassmen that our previously seniors filled perfectly. At the end of the day, it's just about teaching and being able to do big things this year for my team so we can succeed."
On who might have a breakout year ...
"Everyone should do something special, considering we only have 10 players this year. Theresa (Plaisance), Shanece (McKinney) and Sheila (Boykin) have been getting in the gym this offseason to work on their game. Derreyal Youngblood, one of our freshmen, has really shown progress in practice so expect big things from her, as well."
FORWARD THERESA PLAISANCE
On what to expect out of the new team ...
"We're going to be extremely young and versatile. We have so much to offer including size and quickness. This year, people will be expecting a lot of minutes out of everyone here. Nikki pushes us to just go hard all the time."
On what to expect out of this season ...
"This season, I hope to pick up a lot more responsibilities than in years past. I'm definitely going to be more of a scoring threat, as well. I've also been working on my defense, so you'll see more stops from me on the defensive end."