Oct. 30, 2002
Question from David Williams (Atlanta) for Georgia Tech coach Agnus Berenato: Kudos to you and the staff for a great job of recruiting in the past five years. The team has gotten much more athletic and basketball savvy with this year’s squad having the most depth I have ever seen. With that depth, how are you going to keep the team chemistry together? The depth also gives us a chance to press. Will we take advantage of this option?
Berenato’s answer: “We have leaders and we have followers. They’re pushing each other, and every one of them wants to play. We only have a certain amount of minutes, and everyone’s just working really hard. There’s no animosity, no personality conflicts to speak of, and when we do, they seem to take care of it themselves … With 16 players, I’m sure there will be some problems. Some people will not get to play as much as they’d like, but hopefully our captains (Sonja Mallory, Nina Barlin and Alex Stewart) they will handle that, so it won’t ever get to the coaches. But yes, there will be problems. We’ve always prided ourselves on having great team chemistry, and I would think that we would have that again this year.
“We’ve already put our presses in, yes, we have a variety of presses. Our philosophy is we want to be up-tempo. We want to use the entire court defensively, whether it’s a score, if there’s a miss we will always want someone on the ball. We have certain presses after dead balls, free throws, etc. And we want to run the ball offensively as well. We’d like to score in the first six seconds, if at all possible.”
Question from John R. (Atlanta) for Georgia Tech coach Agnus Berenato: What are your expectations of your freshman class? What players/positions will most likely get the most playing time from that group?
“We brought this freshman class in to be an impact class. We’re looking for all of them to get playing time. Immediate impact will be at the four position, Kasha Terry. No doubt, she will be an impact player. She will really give Sonja some help in the paint, and it will have to take some pressure off Sonja. Everyone can double-down and triple-down on Sonja, and they will not be able to do that with Kasha in there.
“April Johnson, a 2 or 3 player, she is surprising us every day. We brought her in with visions that she could be a three (she played four in high school), but we watched April and now we’re thinking about moving her to a 2. They are interchangeable positions, and she will get a lot of minutes. Ashley Guerrant will probably play more than people think. She’s a 6-3 post player out of East Lansing, Michigan. She was a big-time volleyball player and she was awesome. Now that she’s starting to dedicate all of her time to basketball — she’s never done that — she’s improving, and we’re impressed with her. Jessica Williams is another 6-0 post player that’s incredibly strong, and she’ll help in the paint as well.
“Mallorie Winn is a 5-11 guard, and we love her game. She’s just so smooth, she never gets flustered. Sometimes she acts like she’s not breathing, you have to check her pulse to see if she’s alive. But she makes some unbelievable things happen, and she does some things that are really, really good. We have a great point guard in Nina and then we have a really good backup in Alex Stewart. Nina got hurt the second week of practice, and really that opened up the door for us to see Mallorie. In the future, she will be here.
“Megan Harpring is without a doubt the toughest, most intense. She’s got the best work ethic I have ever seen in my life. She will run through a wall if she thinks it can help you win.”
Quotes from Sonja Mallory:
“I’d like to be first in the league in rebounding. (Mallory was second last season.) I believe my rebounding effort last year was inconsistent. I need to devote myself to making a conscious effort to rebound so I can be first. I’d like to be on the all-defensive team too.”
“We go out and we play like we’ve been taught to play, we work like we’ve always worked and the other players feed off of that. They see us doing what we’re supposed to do, and so they do what they’re supposed to do. Most of leading is setting a good example.”
Mallory on Fallon Stokes: Fallon has improved a lot. She’s strong, can get to the basket. Her outside shooting has improved a lot. I think people will have to respect her shot more, and she’s getting more and more consistent every day.
Quotes from Nina Barlin:
Barlin injured her hand the second day of practice and has not been able to practice with the team. She also missed 12 games last season with torn ACL.
“My leg is great, never been better. I’m hoping in another two weeks I’ll be back. I’m planning on being back the first real game, which is Nov. 15th. They’ve got me in shape running and I’m working on my left hand.”
“Me and Sonja haven’t been to the NCAA, and that’s where we want to go. They are freshman and they don’t really know what to expect or how to get there, but we know and we’re trying to lead them, show them how to do it. Being a captain, being a leader is part of it, and we take great pride in that. And our freshmen have been awesome. They can take criticism, and if we tell them something, they do it.”