Oct. 14, 2013
MONTVILLE, Conn.--- The University of Houston women's basketball program made history Monday, as head coach Todd Buchanan, sophomore forward Marche Amerson, and senior forward Destini Texada represented the Cougars at the American Athletic Conference's inaugural women's basketball media day at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Cougars enter the new season with renewed energy and expectations, as they return nine letterwinners and four starters off of a 2012 squad that finished 13-17 overall and 7-9 in the old Conference USA.
Monday not only marked the beginning of a new season, but the start of a new era for Houston basketball, as it readies for it's first season in the American.
UHCougars.com got a chance to sit down with a few of the Cougars at media day to get their thoughts on the new conference, upcoming season and more.
Head coach Todd Buchanan
UHCougars.com: What are your thoughts on the switch to the American Athletic Conference?
Buchanan: I think it's unbelievable. We're already here and to see the student-athletes that represent each one of these great schools, you can already tell this is just a completely different level. We're really proud and excited to be here and a part of this conference.
UHCougars.com: Thoughts on Louisville and UConn being in the same conference?
Buchanan: Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is an incredible challenge, but I always try to look at the class half full, not half empty. That's just the great thing about college athletics though, anything can happen on any given night. That's going to be the attitude we have. Really though, at the end of the day we have to just have to worry about us and make sure we're the best we can be. If we do that, things are going to take care of themselves.
UHCougars.com: When a team like a UConn or a Louisville comes to town, can you use these games as potential preparation for potential postseason play, knowing that more than likely those contests will be some of the toughest all season?
Buchanan: No question about it. When you play those kinds of teams and beat those kinds of teams, it's paramount. Depending on where you are at the time, those are the kinds of games that could make or break you when you're trying to get into postseason, whether it be the NCAA Tournament or the WNIT. The biggest thing is when those teams come to our place, we've got to make sure Hofheinz Pavillion is packed and everyone is wearing red and white, and trust me I'm not talking about that Louisville red and white. The fans are going to be huge for us, I want them to be our sixth man and really come out in full force. We're going to need them.
UHCougars.com: You have nine letterwinners and four starters returning from last year's squad. What are your feelings on this team entering the new season?
Buchanan: I've said it before, I absolutely love these kids and I love this team. I love the chemistry this team has. This is very tight-knit group, they get along on the court and off the court, so I'm really excited about that part of it. It's easy to come to work everyday when you love what you do and you love the people you do it with. This is just a really fun group to work with.
UHCougars.com: Due to the change in NCAA rules, you were able to work with the team on a more intimate basis over the offseason. How was that?
Buchanan: A lot of credit has to go to coach Scott. He stayed back with the team while I went on the recruiting trail and gave them an incredible summer workout. Coach Kelly deserves a lot of credit as well. That's the thing about this staff and this team though, we work together because no one can do it all on their own. We're all very blessed to have that family atmosphere here. It's very difficult to be at two places at once, let alone five or six places at the same time, so I'm lucky to have such a great coaching staff to help me out.
UHCougars.com: What are your expectations for this team going into this season?
Buchanan: I want to win our first game against Mississippi State on Nov. 8. Then we'll go from there and take it one day at a time, one possession at a time, and the one thing I want is for every fan, no matter if its vs. Louisville, Connecticut, or whomever, to walk out of Hofheinz Pavillion and say the University of Houston plays hard. I want them to say they play hard, they play smart, and they play together. I want people to know we're going to come at people with maximum effort, no matter who it is. If we do that I'll be a happy coach.
UHCougars.com: When people think of University of Houston women's basketball this year, what's the first thing you hope comes to mind?
Buchanan: Pride, tradition, and class. I want people to know that we're fighters, we're working hard, and playing hard every time we step out on the floor.
Senior forward Destini Texada
UHCougars.com: What are your thoughts on the new American Athletic Conference?
Texada: I'm excited, just really excited. I'm really looking forward to see how well we can come together as a team this season.
UHCougars.com: What are your expectations for this season?
Texada: My expectation is to get a ring. You put in so much work in the offseason and most of it isn't fun. I don't care if you're Michael Jordan, no one enjoys the hard stuff, but it's the hard stuff that makes you a great player. We do all this because we want to win and we want to win at the highest level. If you're not playing to win a national championship, then you're doing a disservice to yourself.
UHCougars.com: You're a much more experienced group compared to last year. What are your overall impressions of the team coming into the new season?
Texada: I love the team this year. The chemistry is awesome, we're just one big family, which makes us closer on the court. When you're closer on the court your mistakes are minimized because you can communicate better, which hopefully will lead to better possessions both on the offensive and defensive end.
UHCougars.com: You enter the season as more of an underdog with a lot of unknowns. What is your approach to that?
Texada: Honestly we just ignore it. We don't care where we're placed or how others may look at us. We have to worry about how we see ourselves and how we're playing. It's our job to go out there and prove people wrong
Sophomore forward Marche Amerson
UHCougars.com: You're in a new conference with teams like Louisville and UConn, two teams that were in the national championship game a year ago. Is this challenge you guys embrace?
Amerson: Yes, absolutely. I think this is just more motivation for us. You don't take any team lightly. You take every game seriously, but knowing we'll be playing teams like UConn and Louisville really just fuels the fire.
UHCougars.com: What are your expectations for this season?
Amerson: I expect a lot of success this year. You play to win, it's that simple. I don't care what sport it is, everyone wants to win. For us to be successful this year I personally need to become more of a leader and that's what I plan on doing this year.
UHCougars.com: This is your first time at conference media day, what's the experience been like for you?
Amerson: Honestly it's been a lot of fun. I thought I was going to be a lot more nervous and have trouble talking, but this is really cool.
UHCougars.com: What kind of style do you want to play as a team this year?
Amerson: Collectively we would like to play an up-tempo style on both ends of the court. We want to pressure our opponents on defense and then run-and-gun it on offense. I think that really plays to our strengths. It really all starts with the defense though, we need to be able to get those steals and quick rebounds in order to start fastbreaks and create easy buckets.