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While everyone is recovering from the football game against Boise State, the women’s basketball team has quietly wrapped up its first week of conditioning and individuals. The program’s newest assistant, Velaida Harris, sat down with us today to give the information inquiring minds want to know.


GoDucks: So the entire roster; returners, transfers and freshmen is together for the first time. What has that been like for the coaching staff?


Velaida Harris: In one word: exciting. It’s good to finally have everyone on campus and in the gym at the same time. It’s just good to have the whole team together.



Sophomore Tatianna Thomas works on her dribbling skills while wearing a brace that helps keep her form.


GD: During these first few weeks of individuals before formal practice starts in October, what is the focus of the coaching staff? What goals are being set for the players so they can be ready for the official start of the season?


VH: Our main focus is to improve individual skill sets. Obviously the returners are at a different skill level than our incoming freshmen. Each player is learning how to do things the way we teach them. Everyone is taught differently in high school, so now it’s about learning our verbage, the intensity rate we work at, and getting a feel for the coaches. The newcomers are getting an understanding of our expectations on the floor.


Because of the type of offense we run motion your individual skills need to be high for our team to be successful. We are preparing to get ourselves ready for the first official practice on Friday, Oct. 17, with individuals, weights, conditioning and our training table. All these things are just getting everyone acclimated prior to the start of school and eventually our first practice.



Junior guard Micaela Cocks works on her ball-handling.


GD: Can you tell us what the coaching staff schedules for the 30-minute individual sessions? What kind of drills, etc., do the coaches go through with the student-athletes and what are the expected results?


VH: We work on footwork, shooting, penetration and pitch principles, closeouts, etc. In that half hour we focus on four things maximum, and carry that on through three-to-four sessions before we move on. Fitness is key to maintaining a high level of intensity for 30 minutes. You are learning different skills which challenge you mentally and physically. It’s all about FUNdamentals.


GD: Have there been any surprises this first week, and how are the newcomers looking?


VH: It’s not a surprise, but the development of Lindsey (Saffold) and AJ (Amanda Johnson) is further along than we expected. Their ability to learn new skills and concepts has been great. Darriel (Gaynor) and Jasmin (Holliday) are working very very hard. Much of this is new to them, but their effort and focus has been tremendous.



Freshman Amanda Johnson (left) and junior Lindsey Saffold (right) start their second week of individuals.


GD: And one final question because I know you have got to get over to Mac Court for today’s session - the coaching staff and support staff are having a contest on who has the best “money shot” from Italy. (For those of you who do not know, we have some stellar photographers in the women’s basketball program; coaches, SIDs, nutritionists and trainers included.)  Who do you think is going to have the photo that takes home the winner’s trophy and gets their photo framed in Tash’s remodeled lavatory?


VH: Well...I spent some time thinking about this, and I feel it would behoove each contestant to spend a little time (and treats) on Velaida.

As one of the judges, what I am looking for in the “money shot,” is what grabs me right away. I wish all the contestants the best of luck, no matter what the outcome, we’re a TEAM.

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