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Women's Basketball

Q & A with Coach Erik Johnson

New BC head coach Erik Johnson will open up the season with his team on Friday, November 9 at BU (7 p.m.).

New BC head coach Erik Johnson will open up the season with his team on Friday, November 9 at BU (7 p.m.).

Nov. 5, 2012

Chestnut Hill, MA -

Q & A with Coach Erik Johnson

Q: It's now the start of the 2012-13 season, what are your feelings about being back at Boston College?

A: Coming back to Boston College is a dream opportunity for me. This is a place that I both love and believe in strongly. My family and I loved living in Boston when I was here as an assistant, so being back is wonderful for me both personally and professionally.

Q: When you first got the offer to interview, what was your initial reaction?

A: Obviously I was honored and humbled to be considered by Boston College in that coming back to BC was a dream of mine. Even so, my staff and I had worked very hard to build our Denver program and were extremely invested in those players. The Denver players and administration deserve all the credit for all our success there. My AD at Denver (Peg Bradley-Doppes) was wonderfully supportive in allowing me to follow my heart to BC because she knew what a great fit BC was for me. Still, my first reactions were about dealing with telling our players and recruits at Denver that I was leaving them.

Q: Did you have to make any major adjustments in preparation for your return?

A: Actually, this has been one of the most seamless transitions possible. My family is returning to Needham where we lived from 2005-2008. I am bringing my entire staff from Denver, two of whom (Yvonne Hawkins and Chris Brann) worked with me at Boston College when I here as an assistant. The style of play and keys to success for Boston College in the ACC are very similar to what we needed to do to win at Denver in a very athletic Sun Belt Conference. So much of our staff's philosophies are influenced by the success we had here at BC working for Cathy Inglese and coaching BC through ACC play and into the NCAA Sweet 16. We have a very clear picture of what needs to be done to return to that level and even push beyond.

Q: Talk about the staff that followed you from Denver to Boston College.

A: The best thing I have done as a head coach is to put together an amazing staff and keep them together. This is not only a great staff, but they are part of my family. Yvonne Hawkins and Chris Brann moved from Boston to Denver with me and are now back in Boston with me. Shelley Sheetz and I worked together in San Diego and have been close friends for a long time. I recruited Lisa Faulkner as a player, coached against her, and followed her coaching career closely. This group helped me become a successful head coach at Denver, and I could not ask for a better group of people with whom to work. I have been through a lot with this staff, in basketball and in life. They are all great teachers and excellent mentors for our players both on and off the court. They have also been there for me personally and professionally through my darkest hours following the loss of our son, Davis, two years ago.

Q: What about the alumni? Have you heard from them and have they rallied around your efforts to bring them back in touch with the program?

A: One of the neatest things for me personally has been the reaction of the Boston College Women's Basketball alumnae. The outpouring of support has been truly humbling. We have the advantage of having worked with many of them in our time here with Coach Inglese. I hope we represent a connection to the past and to the proud tradition of BC Women's Hoops, as well as to a bright future for the program.

Q: What was it like on the recruiting trail this summer? What were the reaction of other coaches and the future Eagles?

A: Boston College has a proud tradition of success in women's basketball, and the University as a whole is renowned worldwide as one of the very finest institutions of higher learning anywhere. This makes recruiting to Boston College an absolute pleasure. We love getting out and telling our story. For players who want the "best of both worlds" combination of academics and athletics, BC is an obvious choice.

Q: What are your goals for the team in the 2012-13 season?

A: First of all, this team needs to learn to be disciplined in our fundamentals. From there, we will build our system around our players' intelligence and unselfishness. The wins and losses will come as long as we focus on the process of improving every day, both individually and as a team. My goal is for this team to establish what BC Women's Basketball stands for and to fight with every ounce of their effort to live up to those standards.

Q: Can you give everyone a hint to the type of system you will run, knowing the team does lack size?

A: Our teams at BC under Cathy Inglese and our teams at Denver have been consistently among the national leaders in field goal percentage. We accomplish this through intelligent ball movement and creating shots for each other, so assists and passing skills will be emphasized every day. We will defend as a team and will use our players' discipline and intelligence to take away our opponents' strengths and force them out of their comfort zone. Our team will learn to love taking charges and using the advantages that we have, rather than worrying about lacking size or experience.

Q: The team has a new look with the addition of two transfer students along with three freshmen. What do you expect from the newcomers?

A: Because the two transfers (Karima Gabriel and Lauren Engeln) won't be eligible this year, we only have 11 players eligible on our roster at this point. Because of this, our freshmen will need to play right way. Nicole Boudreau is one of the most successful high school players in Massachusetts history. Alexa Coulombe is a state champion from Maine. Amber Cooper has overcome Hurricane Katrina and a number of injuries on her path to BC. All three will be called upon to contribute and will be a huge part of our future as a program. I also have high expectations for our two transfers who have to sit out this year due to NCAA rules. We expect them to raise our intensity level in practice every day and are totally prepared to make a major impact when they hit the court next season.

Q: Who do you look to as your biggest contributors in 2012?

A: Our team will emphasize balance, so we will need every position to look to score as well as set up her teammates for scoring opportunities. We will also expect our bench to contribute as well. Our most proven scorers are Kerri Shields, Kristen Doherty, Katie Zenevitch and Shayra Brown. Our two point guards, Tiffany Ruffin and Tessah Holt, both got major minutes last season and know how to be successful in the ACC.

Q: How do you see the lineup shaping up?

A: This is an exciting time because every player has the opportunity to establish themselves in a new system. They are all competing hard because they all want to play. At the same time, they realize how important team chemistry is, and they truly support each other and do whatever they can to help their teammates get better every day. They know that our path to success will be forming the best TEAM we possibly can.

Q: Talk about the schedule that you will face this season.

A: We have an extremely challenging schedule this season, which will teach us to compete at high level every single game. The home crowd will get to see us take on Northwestern from the Big Ten, Rutgers from the Big East, Arizona from the Pac 12, perennial power BYU, as well as the best teams in the ACC in Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Wake Forest, NC State and Clemson. We will be tested on the road early at mid-major powers BU, Hampton, and vs. Sacred Heart (in Seattle). The ACC road will take us to Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, Miami, Florida State, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech. The schedule speaks for itself. I know that our players and coaches all came to BC to compete with the best, so we all can't wait to get started.

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