This conversation has been edited for clarity and flow.
How did it feel to be named to the Big West All-Preseason team after receiving honorable mention last year?
“It was an honor, I was lucky to be picked. I’ve been working my tail off the last three years. I’ve been working all summer. I don’t know if most of you guys know but I actually was injured in the last two games of the season in March, so I’ve been out for about seven months. The whole offseason has been me getting healthy, so I was lucky to be able to compete this season with my teammates … it was just an honor.”
How much work did you put in over the course of the summer to get to the point you’re at now?
“It was a lot of mental reps because I wasn’t able to be on the court. I was strictly out of basketball for three months, so it was a lot of film [watching], a lot of mental reps, and rehab twice a week. [I was] just trying to develop the game mentally, you know, I was able to sit out and watch the game and just learn. Stepping on the court this year was a lot easier for me because I was able to dissect the game a lot while being out for seven months, so it was just getting mentally strong. … While I was home I was still doing rehab at a place in Sacramento. So I guess my summer, my off-time was kind of like being back here, I was still trying to get my body right. I wasn’t able to shoot or anything and be on the court … I was able to hang out with my family and friends which was also nice, and then once I got back to Long Beach in July, [it was] back to the same old stuff.”
Here at the Beach we get to see you perform at a high level, but why do you think you were chosen by outside media members for this honor?
“Honestly just putting the ball in the hole, you know, scoring, finding my teammates … Getting to my spots, moving without the ball. I think I have to find other ways to impact the game besides scoring. [I have been] working a lot harder than I did last year and in my freshman year, so just put in extra work every day.”
What do you have to do to earn All-Big West honors by season’s end?
“Just improving on my defensive skills, of course as well as putting the ball in the hole. Finding my teammates, getting my teammates open, and honestly, I’m just trying to go far this year and win Big West. We have a few girls that [are] going to be able to step up and be able to play that part and we can get the work in.”
Even though you were recognized for your individual success, the team was voted to finish eighth in the Big West coaches’ poll and sixth in media poll out of nine teams. How did this feel?
“That was just motivation. Me and my teammates talked about it, coaches talked about it, but you know we don’t really worry about what other people say on the outside, we know what goes on inside the Pyramid when we work. It was just motivation to work harder and prove the people wrong.”
What are your thoughts about Naomi Hunt redshirting this season?
“It’s gonna be tough, [she] was my buddy on the court. But I know that we have a lot of teammates that are able to step up this year and able to score the ball as well just like Naomi has. We’re gonna miss her, but we also have some other people who will be able to step up.”
Who do you see filling that void without the teams’ top shooter/rebounder?
“We have Ma’Qhi Berry back this year. She can put the ball in the hole, she can defend. Being able to see [Kianna Hamilton-Fisher] step out of her comfort zone, [and] she’s been a lot more confident. In the CBU game, she was getting to the basket and shooting a three, she’s actually been developing her three a lot this summer. I’m excited to see what she does this year and excited to see her put some points up for us as well. One thing about [Kristyna Jeskova] is she is gonna put her all out on the floor. She works hard, so she’s gonna be a big defensive key for us this year.”
What match-up are you looking forward to the most this season?
“Being from Northern California, we’re going to be in the Cal [Berkeley] Thanksgiving tournament, so I’m going to have a bunch of family and friends being able to come and catch those two games there.”
How did it feel to be apart of the Homecoming doubleheader this year?
“It was fun. I remember coming in my freshman year and being able to watch the boys, and it was my first year. Just the experience, a lot of people and I’m able to compete and it was just fun. I’m glad that we got the win, I’m glad the boys got the win, it was just a very cool experience. I’m very happy that I was able to experience that while I was here. It was nice to get a win and blowout a team, but aside from that game we still have a lot of work to do. We still have a lot of season left. We still have a few teams that we’re going to be able to actually compete against, and big teams that we have to prepare for, so it was just a nice easy win to start the season off at home.”