Q & A With Women's Basketball Coach Erik Johnson
Nov. 7, 2013
Chestnut Hill, Mass. -
Q: Coach, you have one season under your belt. Did the first season go as planned?
A: Our main goal for our first season was to establish a culture of how we work, how we treat others, and what we stand for as players, students, and people. Our players welcomed our staff and have trusted us to guide them. Their improvement from when we first got here has been remarkable, both on and off the court. We far surpassed outside expectations on the court with wins over Rutgers and BYU in non-conference play and ACC wins over Virginia (twice), Georgia Tech, NC St., and an ACC road sweep over Virginia Tech and Clemson.
Q: After season one, do you look back now and say we have the program headed in the right direction?
A: We ended the season with great momentum in the ACC tournament. After beating a very good Virginia team and becoming only the second #11 seed to win a tournament game. We then went down to the wire with a Top 10 team in North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals in front of a packed Greensboro Coliseum. Many of our fans saw those games on TV or in person, so the energy and excitement surrounding the program is definitely high.
Q: At what point during last season did you know the team, as well as the staff, were all on the same page?
A: The best thing I have done as a head coach is hire an amazing staff and keep them together. This is our coaching staff's sixth season all together with me as head coach. (four at Denver and two here at BC) I also worked with Coach Hawkins and Coach Sheetz for several years, when I was an assistant coach. Coach Hawkins and I were both here at BC as assistants during some great years for our program under legendary coach Cathy Inglese. I believe we have a very strong vision of how things need to go here to be successful, and we have also grown together as a staff over the last six years. These are both huge success factors.
Q: Look back now on the first season – what are some of the things you are most proud of as a staff?
A: Perhaps our proudest achievement is the huge improvement our team made academically over the last year. I was extremely disappointed with the level of academic success our players were achieving when we arrived. I am happy to say that last spring our team GPA skyrocketed to over a 3.0 and we had eight players over a 3.0 and one on the dean's list. It was simply a matter of emphasizing academics, mentoring them in how to improve, and holding them accountable for doing the best they possibly can. The skills it takes to excel in the classroom (work ethic, discipline, communication, strategy, organization, etc.) are the exact same skills it takes to be successful in basketball.
Q: This past summer the team really seemed to have worked hard not only academically but also in the weight room and in team workouts. Are you happy with the progress of the group so far?
A: This summer's emphasis was on leadership, team culture, and accountability to each other. I am so proud of the progress our players have made and the ownership they are taking of every detail surrounding our program.
A: As I mentioned above, leadership is a huge emphasis for us, and seniors are always a driving factor in the culture of our team. I hold those three to extremely high standards and they have embraced those standards and are taking ownership of the legacy they want to leave this program.
A: Lauren Engeln will give us another guard who can score, handle, and pass. Her red-shirt year was spent tightening up her fundamentals and becoming comfortable with our system. She is so ready to play. Karima also spent a very productive red-shirt year with us. Her rebounding and defense will make an immediate impact in the paint, and her offensive skills have improved greatly. I am extremely excited about both of them. The freshmen are learning very quickly. Kelly Hughes will remind a lot of fans of Nicole Boudreau with her shooting range and great court sense. Emilee Daley and Kami Mickens both have huge upsides. Emilee is a 6-foot-2 athletic shooter, and Kami is one of the best on-ball defenders I have ever coached. All three are working hard to learn and improve every day. Time will tell how quickly each can get up to speed.
Q: Everyone is relatively healthy going into the 2013-14 season. Is it easier or harder to put this team together and will they come together quicker than last season?
A: As in any season, we are dealing with lots of injuries. Nicole's back will always be a challenge, we have two players out with concussions currently, and Shayra is still healing a broken foot. Injuries are part of any team in all sports. We simply work to control what we can control and work as intelligently as we possibly can.
Q: What are some of the goals of the coaching staff for this team?
A: With the loss of all three players who played the point guard position last season, handling pressure will always be an emphasis. We want to continue to lead the ACC in assist/turnover ratio and three point shooting as we did last season, but we need to improve significantly rebounding and on defense.
Q: After one year at Boston College, was it easier and/or different while on the recruiting trail?
A: We are going after the top players in the nation. BC is one of the premier academic institutions in the nation and we play in the premier conference in collegiate women's basketball. Recruiting the best of the best is always a challenge, but the word is out about us and we are certainly seeing increased interest from top talent nationally.
Q: It’s now the start of the 2013-14 season, what are your feelings about being back at Boston College?
A: This is my dream job. I want nothing more professionally than to bring BC Women's Basketball back to national prominence and give the BC community the women's basketball program that they expect and deserve. We made a huge first step last season. Now it's time to take the next step.