bleedCrimson.net: You had a big win against Idaho on Saturday afternoon and really persevered through the end of that first half and then played maybe the best second half you've played this season.
Tamara Inoue: I think you said it best, it's the first time we've put a second half together. And we know as a team and as a staff that that's been our problem. We push and we motivate as much as we can but at the end of the day the kids go out and execute it and they finally did and we couldn't be prouder. The challenge now is, remember this and let's do it the rest of the season.
bc.net: What was the biggest difference in your mind in that second half against Idaho versus the other second halves you've had?
TI: I think our defense really stepped up and we really go them frustrated and then I think that built confidence for us offensively and we executed our plays that coach was calling and actually knocking them down. That helps.
bc.net: You've started to play more consistently for longer periods of time and obviously you had the good second half on Saturday. You've been getting good shots all season they just haven't been falling for you.
TI: I agree, the shots are there and the game plan is there, it's just executing it. We're all human, at some point we're all going to be tired of it and they're going to be sick of it and the staff will be sick of it but at the end of the day it's the players and again, we try to keep positive with them and criticize them in the right places and get them to fire up and I think the difference is hitting shots. I think Meela, Camila Rosen, has done a really good job for us and for her stepping, now that relieves pressure off of Tabytha, relieves pressure off of Kaitlyn Soto, relieves pressure off of Erica Sanchez. Kelsie Rozendaal is our best percentage shooter, you've now got five tools out there that can help us. I think we've been four offensively and now we have five and [Jasmine] Rutledge coming in. We have good tools and as coaches we're not focused on one kid all season. At the beginning it was Kaitlyn Soto and Tabytha, now Camila is in the picture and Kelsie is in the picture and now we've got Erica Sanchez in the picture and Jasmine Rutledge… the fact that people are improving and stepping up for us a big gift to the coaching staff.
bc.net: How big of an impact has it been to have the upperclassmen start to come around and get into a rhythm?
TI: It's awesome, you can't ask for anything better than for your upperclassmen to step up and they're really paving the way for what Coach Trakh wants our young ones to see. The fact is that all four seniors are contributing tremendously and for a coaching staff to see the four seniors step up, that's the best thing you can have as a new staff. "Wow, our seniors want this really bad." Coach Trakh has done a tremendous job of putting it on their shoulders and saying, "Hey, we're going to go off of you and what you guys want and we're going to play with you guys." I think for any program, as a coach that's what you want. We can't ask for anything better.
bc.net: A lot of coaches like to wipe the slate clean when conference play starts and Coach Trakh has been big on building off of each game. What has been the mindset going into conference and into a situation where you could very easily finish in the top half of the league?
TI: Preseason, especially being brand new, you've got to try everything you have. Coach puts everything up his sleeves and kinda throws it out there and we're seeing what works. We started off with a complicated offense and we kind of moved away from that and have gone more to set offenses. Defensively we've been consistent, we haven't changed our mindset on that. We're trying to figure out what kids are good at what, what their strengths are and play to their strengths and that's what we've been trying to do all preseason.
Obviously it's not worked in our favor in terms of wins losses but as far as our team as a whole I think it's helped us and Coach thinks it's helped us.
Now conference-wise, of course you're going to start a new slate, why wouldn't you. We don't have a lot of wins in our category. And if we're 0-0 it motivates our kids as well. I think splitting this first home series it has now given our kids the mindset of "We're okay." It's shown our kids that we're good enough to do it.
bc.net: The San Jose/Hawai'i road trip is the toughest trip in the WAC and maybe one of the toughest trips in the country. How do you prepare for that as a new coaching staff?
TI: Our job is to get them prepared one game at a time. Right now we're kinda not looking ahead to Hawai'i, we're looking at San Jose State, they're a really good team right now. They're on a three game winning streak and they're doing well so we have to focus on that trip first. As far as the Hawai'i trip, I trust Kara Whitely, she'll hydrate them and get them ready to go. There's no difference, it's a new venue, the court's the same, the rims are the same size, we're going to go in there and play hard like we always do.
bc.net: How much growth have you seen from the team from the start of the season to now. One of the things I've noticed on offense is that they're always moving around. Which can be a challenge because the kids can sometimes end up standing around and not running the offense.
TI: I'm glad that it's getting noticed because we do scream and harp on that all the time. To be honest, I'm really proud and I know the staff is really proud of our upperclassmen. They've come in and really set the tone for the underclassmen and I think that when Coach Trakh asks something of them they really buy into it, they're like sponges, they absorb it and then they go execute it the best they can. I think every kid on this team tries their best and it's about understanding exactly what we want from them. The fact that the movement is there, that is a big thing with Coach Trakh. You're never to stand. That's something we never want to do, we always want to make sure the defense is working to what we want. Obviously a lot of glimpses, now the challenge is to put it together for 40 minutes.