bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the last couple of weeks of play?
Mark Trakh: If you look at the overtime loss to UTEP at home, the loss at the buzzer against Southern Utah, we were up by one and they hit a shot at the buzzer to win the game, then the UNM game, we could be 4-4 really easily right now instead of 1-7. All we can look at is stepping forward and keeping on improving and keeping coaching the kids up. I think the environment is still great, the chemistry is still great, the kids are working hard, they're trying to do everything we ask them to do. I think eventually, we win that first close game, I think it might get us going. We're still working hard and we're still trying to do what we need to do. The kids are very receptive and are really doing everything they need to do. Hopefully we can get a couple of "W's" before conference starts.
bc.net: You've had a couple tough games this season, the game at UTEP being one, but then you bounce back and play a pretty good game against UNM and take them down to the buzzer. Your team has been able to put those bad losses behind them and keep moving forward.
MT: You know, we've only had one bad loss and that was UTEP and then our defense held them to 63 points and 23 at halftime, we just couldn't score at them. UTEP is undefeated and UTEP beat an undefeated University of Denver team 89-49 at their place so it's not like UTEP's not doing it to other people. I think you could question why did the game at our place go into overtime, so you could look at it both ways. It's a bad loss but they are extremely talented too and there's some good things that we take out of the game. We played some people tough, we played some people to 17 point games which were closer than that. There's not a matter of putting anything behind us, it's a matter of going on to the next game and taking positives out of the game we just played.
When we went up to New Mexico, we were 15 down with 12 minutes to go, we took a four point lead with three and a half to go, the kids could have quit in front of 7,000 people when they were down 15 but they didn't. We went out, pressed all over the place, forced a lot of turnovers, took a four point lead and then it was nip and tuck the last few minutes and with 20 seconds we had the ball and were down one and didn't make the shot. But like I said, we could have quit 15 down but we didn't, got back in the game, we worked hard, very winnable game. It is what it is, I'm always going to be optimistic about this team and I just think if we get that first close win or win a couple in a row, I think we're going to be okay. It starts all over again in conference and it's like I said, we're not 1-7 because of a lack of determination, or a lack of effort, or a lack of chemistry or anything else. The kids are working really really hard. It's easy to put a loss behind us because we don't dwell on losses, we just go on to the next game and take anything positive from the game that we just lost and just move on.
bc.net: What development have you seen through the first few games and some things that you've seen that you've liked?
MT: I like the way we're running the offense. We just struggle, we don't have anybody who can create their own shot. If the offense breaks down or we need somebody to get to the hole or get up and pull up a medium range jumper, we struggle. But, the kids are coming along as far as running the offense, running our quick hitters. We're starting to push the ball up the floor. It is a brand new team and a new coaching staff so it's just a question of the system is kicking in a little more each game. We're playing really good defense. That UTEP game might have been 63-27 but 63 points is a good defensive effort against them and 54 is a great defensive effort against the Lobos in The Pit. I think we just need to develop that go-to player who is going to maybe give us 20 and 15 every game. But I think some players are developing. Camila Rosen is really developing, had a great game against New Mexico, especially on the press, she had six steals. Kaitlyn Soto is playing a solid, solid point guard where she's not turning it over, she's been making outside shots. Her assist to turnover ratio is even. There's a lot of good things happening right now as far as the kids just getting better and getting more confidence. All we can do is keep pushing for the next game, staying positive and just working on the things we need to work on. There's been improvement in a lot of areas and hopefully we'll continue to improve.
bc.net: One of the issues that your team has had throughout the season has been turnovers and teams scoring off of those turnovers. What are some things that need to change to get that turnover number lower?
MT: We turned it over in the 20s against New Mexico but those turnovers didn't turn into any points. We turned it over on the first eight possessions so we didn't get a shot off in our first eight possessions. So we need to cut that, our guard play is improving but it's not the guards that are turning it over. Everybody is turning it over, either a travel or something. I just think that our guard play is getting better. Overall we definitely need to cut back on our turnovers, especially turnovers that lead to easy baskets. We don't get a lot of turnovers that lead to easy baskets, except against New Mexico. New Mexico we forced a lot of turnovers and pressed that led to a lot of easy baskets. In fact we scored 25 points off our turnovers which you could say is good and bad. Good in the fact that we scored 25 points off our turnovers, bad in that we scored 53 total. We didn't get a lot off our halfcourt or our break but it's getting better and I have faith that everybody is going to improve and that turnover number is going to come down as we progress through the season.
bc.net: One of the interesting parts about your schedule is that from the beginning of the season up through last Sunday against UNM it's been one game right after another and now you've had a week between UNM and the game on Sunday at Boise State and then eight days after that until UC-Santa Barbara. What are some benefits to having that much time off to re-energize your kids physically and work on some stuff.
MT: We work on some things, we can catch our breath, we can put in some new plays. We've worked on a different press. We definitely needed the practice time for sure and it's very beneficial right now.
bc.net: Now that you've had eight games to see the kids play together, who are a couple players who have stood out to you early on?
MT: Camila Rosen is really playing well, Kaitlyn Soto is playing solid at point guard. I think there's some other kids that have played some good games. I just think we've gotta continue to improve and find a consistent scorer. Tabytha Wampler could be that consistent scorer, we've just gotta keep her out of foul trouble. She's in foul trouble almost every game and her minutes are impacted and they're minimized. If she can stay on the floor, she had 11 points in 11 minutes against UNM, that's all she played was 11 minutes. We've gotta figure out a way to keep her on the floor and just start maximizing some of the other kids.
bc.net: What are some things that she can do or that the team can do to keep her out of foul trouble?
MT: There's just some reaching fouls, some frustration fouls that she's just gotta discipline herself to say, "I'd rather have them make this layup instead of me sitting on the bench for the first 18 minutes of a half." For instance, against New Mexico she fouled twice in the first minute and a half and had to sit the rest of the half. I think she's understanding and she'll get better in that area.
bc.net: Sunday you take on Boise State in Boise. They're 5-4 on the season what can you tell us about them?
MT: They're talented and they get up and down the floor and score a lot of points and they play really well at their place. It's going to be a definite challenge but we get them back at our place a week after that so it'll interesting. Every team that we've played with the exception of Southern Utah has a winning record. The schedule has not been easy and it doesn't get any easier with New Mexico, Utah, Santa Barbara. The schedule has been very challenging, especially with a new team that graduated three out of its top four scorers from last year so we'll see what happens.