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Athlete Round Table: Women’s basketball season preview

The Daily’s Sally Egan interviews Kianna Williams, Alana Smith and Dijonai Carrington about their impressions of the upcoming season

Sophomore guard Kianna Williams will be a leading force on the women's basketball team this season. As a freshman, she averaged 10.4 points across 35 games and was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. (BOB DREBIN/isiphotos.com)

The Daily’s Sally Egan sat down with three returning women’s basketball players, sophomore guard Kianna Williams, senior forward Alana Smith and junior guard Dijonai Carrington to get their thoughts on this upcoming season.

 

Sally Egan (SE): What do you think the team’s greatest strength will be this year?

Kianna Williams (KW): I think our depth will be. [Head coach] Tara [VanDerveer] always talks about tag team basketball, one person goes down the next person that’s up, we’re really competitive in practice and that’s a testament to how deeply we want to play and want to be.

Alana Smith (AS): I think it will be our team culture and the chemistry that we have, how well we get along with everyone on the team.

Dijonai Carrington (DC): I think our overall greatest strength will be our depth; it’s not like anyone is head and shoulders above the next person and I think we’ll do really well being able to play with one another and give each other breathers. We won’t be coming out because we’re letting down the team, we’ll be coming out because we’re tired and need a quick rest.

SE: What do you think the biggest difference between this year’s team and last year’s team will be?

KW: I feel like this year’s team is more experienced. We lost our two seniors who we’re going to miss, but I feel like the juniors and sophomores now have experience. We’re trying to help the new freshman catch up to speed and get them ready for big games. I think overall we’re more experienced and I feel like our team chemistry is a lot better compared to this time last year.

AS: Last year we were kind of getting used to a new offense, trying to wrap our head around that, but now we’ve had a year under our belt, so I think now we’ll have a chance to have a some fun with it and get off the train tracks a little bit and do our own thing.

DC: This year there’s not really a hierarchy; we’re all on even playing field. We can all piggyback off of one another. It’s not first team vs. second team, it’s just these five will start this game. Maybe another five could also start the same game but you can only pick five. I think that’s a big difference from last year is that all 15 people can go.

SE: Which rematch from last year are you most looking forward to and why?

KW: I’m gonna have to go with Baylor. I’m from Texas and I’m really looking forward to that game but there’s actually quite a few. Oregon, we lost to them, we lost to Arizona State, we lost to Cal also, so there’s not one game that I’m looking forward to the most, but I’m just getting ready to play those teams again. It’s gonna be a fun season.

AS: Oregon, for sure. We beat them once and then they beat us again so we definitely want to try to get another W up on them.

DC: I have two, Baylor and Oregon. Baylor because that was just kind of embarrassing and I think it will be a really good challenge for us early on in the season. I think us controlling our home court and letting them know they’re in our house is gonna be huge. With Oregon, they took the title away from us, so that’s a huge thing that’s needed, that revenge. I’m excited to play them; I love playing the Pac-12 and I have some good friends on Oregon’s team so it’s a little bit of a rivalry.

SE: What do you think will distinguish Stanford’s style of play from other teams this season?

KW: I feel like our pace will distinguish us. We like to play with pace, offensively and defensively, we try to rush people when they’re on offense and when we’re on offense we try to set the pace, we want to go at our speed.

AS: Every year we’ve put an emphasis on defense and being the best defensive team in the country and I think that’s something that distinguishes us a lot from all the other teams.

DC: Our pace. Even just watching film of how we play this year and how we played last year, it’s completely different. We play way faster, we’re more comfortable with our offense that was brand new last year and now we can go with the flow and fill in spots. I think we run the court and play in transition so much better, and I think we may be able to play some zone because we’re so long this year. All of our wings are 6’0” and above.

 

Contact Sally Egan at egansj18 ‘at’ stanford.edu

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