Oct. 26, 2012
WASHINGTON - George Washington first-year head women's basketball coach Jonathan Tsipis took part in the Atlantic 10's annual Media Day teleconference on Wednesday morning. Below is a transcript of Coach Tsipis' comments heading into the 2012-13 season:
On his transition to GW and how the players are adjusting:
"I have a pretty experienced group with three fifth-year seniors and three traditional seniors who have been really willing to do whatever we've asked of them. And I think a big part of what we're trying to do here is getting everybody to buy in and understand that we've got to get better on a daily basis. I think from everything basketball-wise, to a leadership standpoint, to how we conduct ourselves in the weight room and conditioning, to the classroom, everything has been set at a higher expectation because of the great tradition that we've had in GW women's basketball.
On what attracted him to GW:
"There were several things. It was obviously a goal of mine to be a head coach, and I think one of the words that described my experience at Notre Dame was I was spoiled because I got to coach not only great basketball players but great, well-rounded young women who also had a very high academic expectation and really had an expectation of being great at whatever they did when they left Notre Dame. I felt that at GW I could coach a very similar type of student-athlete at a place where basketball is really important and has a strong tradition. I think the leadership of our athletics director, Patrick Nero, of making sure that I understood everything is in place from a campus, facility, resource standpoint, from presidential support, and that GW wants to be back where (former coach) Joe McKeown had the team and make that be the consistent level, to be back at the top of the A-10. I really felt like that was the right match for me.
On what he knows about the Atlantic 10 heading into the season:
"I know it's got an unbelievable set of coaches, and I know that obviously it's a strong conference as far as the number of teams that are not only vying for NCAA bids but that have gotten in the postseason in past years. I think it's a conference that has a little bit of a chip on its shoulder right now and goes in, year-in and year-out, and beats BCS programs. And basketball is important at each of the 16 schools. I think you see some conference in the country where that's not true. I'm excited. Every coach in this league has been very gracious to me, and I think they understand that if GW is good in the league it's good for the A-10. That's kind of how we view things here. But I'm excited, and I know that it's going to be a challenge going head-to-head with so many great basketball minds.
On the luxury of having three fifth-year seniors, including Tara Booker and Sara Mostafa, who have been teammates since childhood:
You know, it's great. From the first day when I met the team, I think the biggest understanding they've had is they just want to win. They were recruited by Coach McKeown here, and so they came in when GW was a top-25 program and making a Sweet 16 appearance that year right before they got here. They're both extremely sharp. They're both doing very well in grad school right now. They really could have continued on with their life; they didn't have to take this fifth year. From an injury standpoint, it's funny how things work out when you've played from childhood and you each miss a different year and you get to keep your path where you could each enjoy a fifth year. I think the thing that's been the biggest benefit for me is they just bring such a maturity to our team, but at the same time, that understanding that they're willing to do whatever I need them to do for us to be successful.
On how having a veteran-based team helps with the mental battle the players have faced:
"Some days when we talk about this team as a staff, we say we really have 13 freshmen, because everybody in some sense is learning things a different way, whether it's different terminology that I use or my staff uses, and just how we go about our business, it's just different than what they've gone through in the past. I think the best part of that is the excitement of where I see the program can go and not having an expectation that this is going to be something that I feel like, `well in Year 3 we'll be where we need to be.' I challenge them with their legacy, that I expect for us to be competitive and for us to do it this year. But it has to start with the understanding that they've kind of had to wipe the board clean of a lot of things and be willing to try new things because if your best players and your most experienced kids are on that level where they're going to do anything possible to make your team better and understand they may have to do something different or take a different role than they have in the past, then that really helps your underclassmen understand how important it is.