Wednesday October 9, 2013Gators Host Annual Media Day
#1 Ronni Williams, G/F, Fr.
On joining the program and her expectations:
ďItís 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.Ē
On her positive approach and attitude:
ďI believe in filling in and being a team player, so whatever I have to do to get my team to the next level, Iím willing to do it.Ē
On playing in the SEC:
ďI 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.Ē
#3 January Miller, G, So.
On improving her game from year one to year two:
ďConditioning 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. Itís 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.Ē
On if the absence of Viktorija affects the guards play:
ďIt does affect the guard play, but weíve always been used to having other sides post for the most part. So itís nothing really new. Our team is really fast paced and we like to run a lot so it works out either way.Ē
On working on consistency:
ďIíve 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, Iíve just been working on those little things that, coming in freshman year, I didnít 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.Ē
#4 Carlie Needles, G, R-So.
On what sheís excited for this season:
ďIím just really excited to start and play. Itís a long season, but itís also a long offseason too. Weíve really been working hard so Iím just excited to see what the perfect ten have to offer.Ē
On what the keys to success this season are:
ďI think a huge key to success is communication. We have a new offense this year, and if we donít communicate, itís really hard to be successful. And especially on defense, defense is always an emphasis for us. If you canít communicate on defense thereís a lot of miscommunication -- who has who, who doesnít have who. I think communication is a huge thing for us.Ē
On who sheís looking forward to playing this season:
ďItís really hard to point out a team. I can say location. Iím really excited to go to the Bahamas, thatís where weíre going for Thanksgiving. Every team that we play this year is going to be good competition. You never know what youíre going to get.Ē
On her success as a freshman and expectations for her sophomore season:
ďEvery year you want to always improve on what you did well last year and also on what you didnít do well. Something that I definitely want to continue to do is shoot the ball. Thatís my strength, my bread and butter. Also, Iíve really been working on my counters to my shot. Iím really excited to see how my work is going to pay off, but Iím just ready to play.Ē
#5 Antoinette Bannister, G, So.
On her anticipation and goals for the season:
ďIím very excited. Itís 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, Iíve been going into the year just with the mentality of being able to show everyone what I can do on a collegiate level. I donít care about personal accolades though, as long as Iím able to help the team win, then thatís fine with me.Ē
On the teamís ďperfect 10Ē mindset, even after losing Vikta (Viktorija Dimaite):
ďItís not nine of us, weíre 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 weíre still going to do great things. Losing Vikta hurts, but we still have to stay positive and look at all the good things. Weíre still going to have her there, sheís still a part of the team so just having her and everybody there supporting and being there for one another, I think weíll be fine.Ē
On deciding to transfer to Florida:
ďBack in October, my mom became ill and I didnít find out until December when I went home and thatís when I considered transferring. North Carolina was my dream school and it was really hard but I had to do it for my family. Iím so close to them so doing that I donít regret my decision at all and now it feels like this is where I was meant to be from the get-go.Ē
#10 Jaterra Bonds, G, Sr.
On getting ready to start her senior season:
ďIím very excited but it just hasnít hit me yet so Iím just trying to soak up every moment that I can and not think about it. Iím taking it one moment at a time and it wonít probably hit me until Senior Night when they play that video and I walk up to the court with my family. Right now, Iím just enjoying my time still in the Orange and Blue.Ē
On how sheís going to build from a successful junior campaign:
ďThis year Iím 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 itís going to be big and I just want to be even more consistent than I was last year.Ē
On improving closing out tight games:
ďI 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.Ē
On their tough schedule:
ďI approach all games the same. You donít take any team lightly, no matter the name on the front or the back of the jersey. You approach it like itís your last shot out there. Iím happy for the tough schedule and Iím looking forward to the challenge.Ē
#13 Cassie Peoples, G, R-So.
On what sold her on coming to Florida:
ďI 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.Ē
On rallying with nine players able to take the court and her role this season:
ďOne 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 weíre ready to come out this season. Weíre going to run and play a fast-tempo game; weíre in shape to do that. So I know Iím excited for that because I know my body is ready to get out there and do that.Ē
On WNIT run last season:
ďI 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.Ē
#22 Kayla Lewis, G, R-Jr.
On what has changed with the Offense:
ďItís a lot more dynamic than what weíre used to running. Itís 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 weíre not setting as many on-box screens in the beginning part of the primary offense as we normally were doing. So itís a lot more dynamic. There probably will be a lot more shot attempts, a lot more offensive rebounds because some of those shots probably wonít be as pretty as normal but thatís something that is kind of risk versus reward type thing. And I think weíll 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.Ē
On adjusting to playing style:
ďI think itís 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 Ďokay I have to get to the block and score with my back to the basketí. 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 weíre doing now vs. having a traditional low block post player, which we no longer have.Ē
On whether the change has affected her play:
ďI 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, itís a four out one in offense so itís 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, thatís a personal preference, but there will definitely be opportunities to shoot it.Ē
#25 Christin Mercer, F, So.
On whether she thinks she will have to fill a more traditional back to the basket position:
ďI donít think so because, even talking to my coaches, Iím similar to Jennifer in playing styles, but Iím more versatile I would say. I can step outside and shoot the jump shot or maybe even the occasional three. So I wouldnít say I would take on that big post role, as big as Jenniferís was, but I feel like there is a little bit more on me that I have to do.Ē
On her improvements between year one and year two:
ďIíve actually improved in a couple of spots on my game. I would say my shot. Iím actually shooting threes now. Iíve been shooting them but consistently making them. So Iíve 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.Ē
On her biggest adjustment to college ball:
ďBesides 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 itís like Ďah okay, maní, but you have to move on to the next play because theyíre already running down the court. So I would say thatís one of the biggest transitional moments for being a freshman.Ē
On this yearís team:
ďThis yearís team is going to be something special, and Iím not just saying that because Iím 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 thereís only ten of us, so we have to play together. The chemistry has to be there, communication, everything. So I feel like this yearís team, not going to jinx it, but just watch us. Iím going to say that. Just watch us.Ē
#31 Lily Svete, F, R-Sr.
On how excited she is for the season to get underway:
ďIím really excited especially because itís my last year, and Iíve been a Gator for so long. I actually committed my junior season in high school so itís been seven years total, but Iím really excited. Being a senior, itís my last everything. Every day I appreciate, and Iím just ready to get it going.Ē
On last year being a breakout year for her:
ďI have a lot more confidence. Iíve just worked really hard since Iíve been here so itís nice to have it pay off. Iím just ready to win a championship. Thatís my goal.Ē
On goals as a leader because of she and Jaterra Bonds being only seniors:
ďI think we have a great partnership and are great leaders. Sheís great at talking to big groups of people and Iím good with one-on-one interaction. I just really appreciate having her as a senior sister and Iím just ready to win.Ē