Pepperdine women's basketball coach Ryan Weisenberg answered a few questions prior to the team's regular-season finale at Santa Clara:
Q: How is team morale?
A: "We are having a difficult season. There are a couple of people who are just waiting for this season to be over. Then there are the smart ones that are looking at this as an audition for next season. The team has actually stepped up the energy and the focus has gotten better. This is a great audition for next year and the players are starting to realize that we have six new players coming in next year. There are players who will be taking starting roles and the competition is going to be fiercer."
Q: What explains the team's difficulties of late?
A: "It is a lack of defense. We have a new defensive philosophy from the past, and it is easy to fall back into what you know. We have seen some major steps in the right direction. That point differential will not be there next year. We will have a whole summer to drill in that new philosophy. Our next two recruiting classes are impressive. We are battling between five players who would start for us right now and we can only give two scholarships to those five. The '15 class will be just as good as our '14 class."
Q: In the final games, what should fans expect?
A: "Our motto is we want one more -- we want one more win over last season. We are anxious to see who we will play at the WCC Tournament. We need to play at the top of our game. If all of us aren't there it will be a struggle. For the people who have gone to the games they have seen how hard these girls have been working. We have made it extremely difficult for other teams."
Q: Has the team philosophy changed?
"The team's approach to the game has not changed since day one. We believe that if we start going soft on the players because we are losing, not only will we lose our players but we will lose our momentum going into next season. We have made adjustments, yes, but we have not done anything drastic. It comes down to player development. We need to keep these girls accountable on and off the court and that is the big thing we are doing."
Q: Who should fans be watching for in the final game and at the WCC Tournament?
A: "Ea Shoushtari. Ea has been playing a whole new role. She has been thrown back into the responsibility of carrying the team, facilitating, and scoring still. She has done a phenomenal job at what we have asked her to do.
"Fans should look out for Allie Green as well. She has the possibility of winning Newcomer of the Year for the WCC. We generally like to celebrate team over individual, but this is huge and she has done an incredible job, so we are really pushing for her."
Q: What do you expect at the WCC Tournament?
A: "Last year we went in and our focus and mentality wasn't there and we got blown out by San Francisco. I have asked the girls who they would like to see in the first round. A lot have said we want San Francisco. Some say LMU, because it is our rival and we would like to knock them out.
"The intensity of the tournament is different. Something I learned from being with the Lakers and Sparks is that there is a different mentality. It is a completely new season. We are going to teach these girls how to prepare for the playoffs even after a season like this.
"In Julie (Rousseau)'s first season here, they were 11-14 going into the WCC Tournament and she won it! It is basketball and you never know what it can happen."