During the 2004-05 season, sophomore Kate Benz will chronicle her experiences with the Cougar basketball team. Visit wsucougars.com for future thoughts from Kate throughout the season.
Traveling with Coach Murrell is always an adventure. This is not a blanket statement; it is a hard fact.
After hearing stories of past Pacific-10 Conference Media Day experiences, I quietly thought to myself that nothing notable was going to happen this year.
Who was I kidding? It wasn't but 10 minutes after walking off the plane in San Jose when Jason Krump (our Sports Information Director) and I found ourselves sitting alone in a rental car with the alarm sounding.
"No biggie," we thought in unison. "It's just coach Murrell playing around."
On the contrary. We glanced out the window and saw men pointing at us and an older looking woman strutting toward "her" rental car, forcing us to quickly grab our luggage.
There seemed to be a mix-up and coach had us waiting to go…in the wrong car. On the way to the hotel, I heard stories of past media days about sounding alarms and needing jumper cables. It seemed that this one-day trip to discuss the upcoming season historically had more misadventures than minutes spent talking to the media.
After walking all the way around HP Pavilion from the wrong parking lot, Jason, Coach Murrell and I entered Media Day. I was unsure what to expect. If I would have seen these players and coaches last year, I would have stared dropped-jaw and starry-eyed like a teenage girl meeting Justin Timberlake.
Yet, today, I had the utmost assurance that the Cougars belonged along side the other representing members of the Pac-10 teams. Even though I am only in my second year as a Coug, I feel like the leap in maturity, confidence and fundamental play is something not only we (the team) can see, but something any spectator stepping in the gym can notice as well.
This past summer and preseason offered us a chance to gain strength, speed and downright mental toughness, something embraced with the guidance of Matt Ludwig (our strength coach). Matt pushed us through some crazy drills including everyone's favorite - sprinting up flights of stairs.
When practiced started, Oct. 16, we showed readiness and ferocity, which made me so proud to be part of the team. As the weeks progressed, we have bonded as a team. With the help of a Survivor-esque canoeing challenge and some getting-to-know-you games at Coach Murrell's lake house, we have learned to appreciate each other in our on- and off-court personas.
Yes, we have been working hard but the coaching staff certainly knows how to keep us loose. An outsider is clueless about the extensive inner-workings of Cougar women's basketball. Each day is a new adventure - we learn and laugh and tell one another to keep our goals in mind while remembering that basketball is just a game.
I love coming to practice to see the latest hairstyle Keisha Moore is sporting or to hear Adriane Ferguson speak new words she learned in Chinese class. We all enjoy hearing Coach Murrell stumble through daily announcements and occasionally seeing Coach Fisher trip while running a drill.
We give each other knowing glances when Coach Holland plays referee with his trusty whistle or when Coach Lewis catches one of us slacking off on defense. No one makes the slightest mistake without 11 teammates pointing out the blunder. And forget about trying to pull a fast one on the coaches - they'll pay you back when you least expect it.
Our first exhibition game is right around the corner. Speaking for the team, we're anxiously anticipating tip-off. The exhibitions games will give us a gauge as to where we are as a team and what things to work on before our season opener against Boise State, Nov. 19.
Until then, we'll keep working hard to create a new future for the Washington State women's basketball program.
Official Website of Washington State University Athletics | Bohler Athletic Complex | PO Box 641602 Pullman, WA 99164-1602 | 1.800.GO.COUGS