Oct. 3, 2010
By Jon Cooper
Sasha Goodlett is not easy to please.
You’d think that her across-the-board improvement as a sophomore and finishing fourth on the team in scoring (9.7 points per game) and rebounding (5.3 rpg) while leading the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team in blocked shots (23, albeit down from 30 as a freshman) would create some level of satisfaction for the Bolton, Miss., native.
Some, maybe, but certainly not enough.
Not satisfied with last season is becoming a theme for this season’s Yellow Jackets, as they’re dissatisfied even after last year’s school-record 23 wins, fourth-place finish in the ACC Tournament, first-round ACC Tournament bye, first-round victory in the tournament, then a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.
What can you say? They simply want more.
“We felt like we could have done better,” said the junior center. “We want to build on that. Our goals are nothing less than what we accomplished last year. Nothing less than fourth place, nothing less than a first-round bye and nothing less than making the NCAA Tournament again. Our main focus is trying to get past the first round, which we plan on doing this year.”
Making the plan reality began over the summer for Goodlett, with her hitting the ground running…and shooting…and lifting…and running some more.
“I ran six days a week throughout the whole summer,” she said. “When I wasn’t running I was shooting, trying to work on my outside shot. This year I feel like what I did in the off-season is really going to pay off for me this upcoming season.”
She trained under the watchful eye of player development assistant Scott McDonald, and worked on her shooting with alumnus Chioma Nnamaka. The goal was to be a more versatile player.
“This year I want to take the high post a little bit more,” she said. “Last year, one thing that people scouted about me was, ‘Just let her shoot. If she’s not inside the paint she’s not a threat.’ This year I’m trying to become a more versatile threat.”
Goodlett has at least one supporter in forward Danielle Hamilton-Carter. Hamilton-Carter was unable to play in games with Goodlett last year after coming over from her native Sweden, but she had the opportunity to practice with her. That time together whet her appetite to play with Goodlett this year.
“I loved playing with Sasha early on in the season. She’s such a great player to pass to,” she said. “She’s a true, solid, post player. I’m so excited to play with her and I feel like she’s going to have her best year here this year.”
At the same time that Hamilton-Carter was learning from being around and playing with Goodlett, Goodlett was learning from being around and playing with Brigitte Ardossi, coincidentally the person she’ll be replacing on the floor.
“Brigitte taught us was to play with confidence,” said Goodlett. “You have to have the confidence in yourself and be a self-starter. Brigitte came in day in and day out knowing that she was one of the best centers in this league and she proved it day in and day out. Even on games when things weren’t falling she still played hard.
“One thing that she taught me was it doesn’t matter how you played the year before,” she continued. “It doesn’t matter how you played the last game. What matters is how you’re playing now and how you exude confidence in yourself.”
Goodlett is exuding plenty of confidence on behalf of the 2010-11 Yellow Jackets, especially with the addition of some new faces, including Hamilton-Carter and her countrymen Frida Fogdemark and Sandra Hasahya-Ngoie, all of whom can shoot from the outside to provide a much-needed boost in the perimeter game.
“Last year, we felt like we needed a shooter,” she said. “Alex [Montgomery], of course, is a great shooter but Alex is just one person. If you want an inside-outside game you have to have more than one shooter. We feel like Frida and Sandra are going to open up a lot of things for us. As far as the post, if you have three players that can shoot the three, then there’s no way that [opponents] can pack it in. Or they can then we’ll just shoot threes all day.”
Shoot threes all day? Georgia Tech? There’s a brash prediction.
“I feel like having a greater shooter presence is going to help us a lot this year,” Goodlett said. “Of course it’s going to leave the paint a lot more open for me to work and it’s also going to help Alex out because now they can’t just worry about her. I feel like overall having shooters is what is really going to take us to the next level.”
Sounds like Ardossi’s lesson in confidence took.
Goodlett plans to exude her brand of quiet confidence, although she hinted that as the season goes on she might get a little louder in the locker room as needed.
She also believes that there’s a confidence running through the team that has them believing anything is possible.
That includes holding court on Nov. 21, when the back-to-back defending national champion UConn Huskies invade Alexander Memorial Coliseum as part of the State Farm Tip-Off Classic, putting what would be an 82-game win streak on the line.
“I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought about the UConn game,” Goodlett admitted. “Everyone has thought about it. But we’re thinking about it with a different mindset. Most people going in playing UConn will think about it with a kind of fear. As a team, we’re thinking about this game as exciting. We feel like it’s going to be a really good contest.
“I feel like we are just as good as they are,” she added. “We have to go out and prove it as one team.”