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Wednesday October 9, 2013Gators Host Annual Media Day

Gainesville, Fla.

#1 Ronni Williams, G/F, Fr.

On joining the program and her expectations:

Its been excellent. Coming to this program has really helped me improve my game and helped me get ready mentally and physically for what my career is going to bring for me.

 

On her positive approach and attitude:

I believe in filling in and being a team player, so whatever I have to do to get my team to the next level, Im willing to do it.

 

On playing in the SEC:

I chose Florida because I wanted to play in the SEC and bring (recognition) back home to my home state, to the best university in the state of Florida.

 

#3 January Miller, G, So.

On improving her game from year one to year two:

Conditioning was a big struggle for me freshman year, and I definitely worked on that over the summer. My jump shot has gotten a little bit better, but just overall the mentality of what to expect. Its totally different from last year just because last year I was new, but now that I have that experience under my belt, it makes a huge difference.

 

On if the absence of Viktorija affects the guards play:

It does affect the guard play, but weve always been used to having other sides post for the most part. So its nothing really new. Our team is really fast paced and we like to run a lot so it works out either way.

 

On working on consistency:

Ive definitely tried to work a little bit more on my ball handling, like I said and just getting my three consistent because I think we are going to incorporate that a lot in our plays. So it makes a huge difference. So yeah, Ive just been working on those little things that, coming in freshman year, I didnt really think about. Now that I know what I need to improve on I definitely try to work on those little details that make a difference.

 

#4 Carlie Needles, G, R-So.

On what shes excited for this season:

Im just really excited to start and play. Its a long season, but its also a long offseason too. Weve really been working hard so Im just excited to see what the perfect ten have to offer.

 

On what the keys to success this season are:

I think a huge key to success is communication. We have a new offense this year, and if we dont communicate, its really hard to be successful. And especially on defense, defense is always an emphasis for us. If you cant communicate on defense theres a lot of miscommunication -- who has who, who doesnt have who. I think communication is a huge thing for us.

 

On who shes looking forward to playing this season:

Its really hard to point out a team. I can say location. Im really excited to go to the Bahamas, thats where were going for Thanksgiving. Every team that we play this year is going to be good competition. You never know what youre going to get.

 

On her success as a freshman and expectations for her sophomore season:

Every year you want to always improve on what you did well last year and also on what you didnt do well. Something that I definitely want to continue to do is shoot the ball. Thats my strength, my bread and butter. Also, Ive really been working on my counters to my shot. Im really excited to see how my work is going to pay off, but Im just ready to play.

 

#5 Antoinette Bannister, G, So.

On her anticipation and goals for the season:

Im very excited. Its been a long 10-11 months and I cannot wait to step on the court with my teammates this year. Not being able to play my freshman season, Ive been going into the year just with the mentality of being able to show everyone what I can do on a collegiate level. I dont care about personal accolades though, as long as Im able to help the team win, then thats fine with me.

 

On the teams perfect 10 mindset, even after losing Vikta (Viktorija Dimaite):

Its not nine of us, were still the perfect ten with just a little scratch there. But as far as only having nine of us being able to play, I feel were still going to do great things. Losing Vikta hurts, but we still have to stay positive and look at all the good things. Were still going to have her there, shes still a part of the team so just having her and everybody there supporting and being there for one another, I think well be fine.

 

On deciding to transfer to Florida:

Back in October, my mom became ill and I didnt find out until December when I went home and thats when I considered transferring. North Carolina was my dream school and it was really hard but I had to do it for my family. Im so close to them so doing that I dont regret my decision at all and now it feels like this is where I was meant to be from the get-go.

 

#10 Jaterra Bonds, G, Sr.

On getting ready to start her senior season:

Im very excited but it just hasnt hit me yet so Im just trying to soak up every moment that I can and not think about it. Im taking it one moment at a time and it wont probably hit me until Senior Night when they play that video and I walk up to the court with my family. Right now, Im just enjoying my time still in the Orange and Blue.

 

On how shes going to build from a successful junior campaign:

This year Im just expecting my percentages (field goals/free throws) to be even higher. When you put in all that work in the offseason, getting your body in shape and just ripping out the shots you take, it all helps and its going to be big and I just want to be even more consistent than I was last year.

 

On improving closing out tight games:

I feel like losses like that (close ones) are lessons to learn. You have to go back and watch the film. You see the things you could have done better and things you did well and you just try to improve upon those things.

 

On their tough schedule:

I approach all games the same. You dont take any team lightly, no matter the name on the front or the back of the jersey. You approach it like its your last shot out there. Im happy for the tough schedule and Im looking forward to the challenge.

 

#13 Cassie Peoples, G, R-So.

On what sold her on coming to Florida:

I used to live here my eighth grade and freshman year. I went to Father Lopez in Daytona Beach, so I had made a couple of visits here and to several other Florida schools when I lived here. This was probably the second-most familiar place after the University of Texas, because I had committed to Texas the summer before my sophomore year of high school, so this was the most familiar place to me.

 

On rallying with nine players able to take the court and her role this season:

One of my main focal points this summer was to get myself into shape and I know myself, along with everyone else on the team, worked really hard conditioning-wise. Tyler, our trainer, he conditioned us really hard so were ready to come out this season. Were going to run and play a fast-tempo game; were in shape to do that. So I know Im excited for that because I know my body is ready to get out there and do that.

 

On WNIT run last season:

I definitely think it helped them build a certain level of confidence because they did really well in the WNIT and towards the end. I think it helped them really see that they could make a push towards finishing and winning a championship for one. And two it just really helped build a lot of confidence in our team.

 

#22 Kayla Lewis, G, R-Jr.

On what has changed with the Offense:

Its a lot more dynamic than what were used to running. Its a lot more based off of personnel and read-and-react type things. So it has a lot to do with chemistry. You have to know what the point guard is doing so you can react at the four position and you know which cut to make, which were not setting as many on-box screens in the beginning part of the primary offense as we normally were doing. So its a lot more dynamic. There probably will be a lot more shot attempts, a lot more offensive rebounds because some of those shots probably wont be as pretty as normal but thats something that is kind of risk versus reward type thing. And I think well be rewarded more just because of the personnel that we have - people like January who can get to the basket and finish strong to Jaterra. And then that also gives opportunities for their penetration to kick out to people like Carlie, Lily and Cassie who shoot the ball really well and opens up for people like me, Christin and Ronni on the inside.

 

On adjusting to playing style:

I think its actually more natural for everybody else because having Jennifer (George) being more comfortable on the block with her back to the basket, we were just more comfortable throwing it to her especially as post players. Somebody like me, who is transitioned from a guard to a post player, I like to face it up more. Christn likes to face it up more and is really strong. Ronni is like a hybrid as well and so everybody feels more comfortable with not just being okay I have to get to the block and score with my back to the basket. We can all move. We can shoot the three. We can drive to the basket and we have opportunities on the low block as well. So I think, for us as a forward group, we feel a lot more comfortable with what were doing now vs. having a traditional low block post player, which we no longer have.

 

On whether the change has affected her play:

I think I definitely have more opportunities in the dribble-drop offense to have more outside shots at the four spot because at the four spot, its a four out one in offense so its only one person in at a time. So there will be a lot of opportunities to shoot that three. Whether or not I take the three, thats a personal preference, but there will definitely be opportunities to shoot it.

 

#25 Christin Mercer, F, So.

On whether she thinks she will have to fill a more traditional back to the basket position:

I dont think so because, even talking to my coaches, Im similar to Jennifer in playing styles, but Im more versatile I would say. I can step outside and shoot the jump shot or maybe even the occasional three. So I wouldnt say I would take on that big post role, as big as Jennifers was, but I feel like there is a little bit more on me that I have to do.

 

On her improvements between year one and year two:

Ive actually improved in a couple of spots on my game. I would say my shot. Im actually shooting threes now. Ive been shooting them but consistently making them. So Ive been working on that and my handles. I have to get my left handle as strong as my right so I can attack both ways.

 

On her biggest adjustment to college ball:

Besides time management, basketball-wise I would say just getting over your mess-ups, your mistakes. It was kind of hard for me because I would get down on myself, but I want to, I guess, be a perfectionist. So when I do mess up its like ah okay, man, but you have to move on to the next play because theyre already running down the court. So I would say thats one of the biggest transitional moments for being a freshman.

 

On this years team:

This years team is going to be something special, and Im not just saying that because Im a part of the team or because we have this perfect 10 thing. We actually built so much chemistry over the summer. We came together because theres only ten of us, so we have to play together. The chemistry has to be there, communication, everything. So I feel like this years team, not going to jinx it, but just watch us. Im going to say that. Just watch us.

 

#31 Lily Svete, F, R-Sr.

On how excited she is for the season to get underway:

Im really excited especially because its my last year, and Ive been a Gator for so long. I actually committed my junior season in high school so its been seven years total, but Im really excited. Being a senior, its my last everything. Every day I appreciate, and Im just ready to get it going.

 

On last year being a breakout year for her:

I have a lot more confidence. Ive just worked really hard since Ive been here so its nice to have it pay off. Im just ready to win a championship. Thats my goal.

 

On goals as a leader because of she and Jaterra Bonds being only seniors:

I think we have a great partnership and are great leaders. Shes great at talking to big groups of people and Im good with one-on-one interaction. I just really appreciate having her as a senior sister and Im just ready to win.

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