Gerlich, Lady Mavs Dare to Dream as Basketball Season Approaches
By UT Arlington Athletics Department
Posted on November 06, 2015, November 06, 2015

Expectations are high for the UT Arlington women's basketball this season, something the players and coaches discussed during Media day on Wednesday at College Park Center in Arlington.

The Lady Mavericks were represented by UTA coach Krista Gerlich, senior point guard LaShanda Green and sophomore center Rebekah VanDijk.

Opening statement:
Gerlich: "We are really excited about this season. The girls have been working really hard ever since we were in that dressing room in New Orleans after that Texas State game. They've had it heavy on their minds and on their hearts and have been really focused and have put in a lot of work in the spring and summer and currently during the fall semester to try to build on what we started last year and to continue to climb that mountain and hopefully battle for a Sun Belt Conference Championship. We've had great leadership from some really young kids and our seniors are really stepping up. We've added some nice players to our roster that have filled some voids and our practices have been very tough and competitive. We're just trying to get better every day and hopefully we can see the outcome on the court."

Expectations for the program:
Gerlich: "We have high expectations and our motto since we walked through the door here is change for championships, so we want to really battle for a championship. We don't want to settle for middle of the pack or just improving. We want to try to reach the pinnacle and win it, so it's a matter of having those high expectations and not letting these girls be satisfied with just raising the bar here at UTA, but turning this program into a championship program."

Building offensive depth:
Gerlich: "We've added a bit more motion to our offense that will hopefully move the defense around some so that can't sit down and double Rebekah in the post. We've also added some shooters and offensive threats on the perimeter. Like I said to our roster [Breck Clark] and [Kam [Cole] can come in instantly and help us with that, but also just trying to keep the ball in LaShanda and [Cierra Johnson's] hands a bit more as well and create some shots for them. If we can open it up on the perimeter some and knock down some shots, I really think they'll have a hard time doubling Rebekah. At least they'll have to pick their poison hopefully."

Blending five returners with newcomers:
Gerlich: "It's nice when you've got kids who understand your system and that we don't have to do as much basic teaching. We can start building on our offense and offer a few more options or get more intense and creative on the defensive end. To have those kids already have that chemistry is really good. What we're seeing is that when you have new kids come in and you have five already good at working together, it's a bit difficult for them to find their niche. I'm seeing last year our teams really pounded the inside, which is what we stressed. Now we have recruited some people that are scorers. Early, it's hard for our returners to figure out what's going on because we're not being as patient as we were last year and looking for the inside first. We're trying to get those shooters to buy letting post touch it first so that opens it up for them. It's a matter of them getting used to our philosophy and trusting it."

VanDijk expanding her game from record freshman year:
VanDijk: "Working on staying low, just being more dominant in the post, stronger, not getting pushed around as much and also spreading out my game. Being able to shoot with my elbow and working on moves to be a little more diverse."

Expectations about Preseason WNIT season opener against Baylor:
Gerlich: "Just from what we preach here, we're trying to change for championships and what better team to play that has won it at the very top of our game. That's what we want our kids to figure out. This is what it's all about and these are the people that you have to play with to be able to get your program to that level. We're really excited about the environment. That's what gets me the most excited. The first right out of the box, our kids are going to be in a hostile environment. They're going to have a great crowd and everybody is going to be excited about the first game of the season. It doesn't get any better than that."

VanDijk: "It's a great opportunity for us to play a team like Baylor. They're really good, so we're just really excited. It's good for us and it will teach us a lot. We work really hard just doing the little things right, so we're definitely ready for this challenge."

Team chemistry with the newcomers:
Green: "It's actually pretty good so far. We're blending in and trying to get the best chemistry that we can. I feel like they're blending really well with us. It's exciting to see that and I'm excited about this season."

Sun Belt competitiveness:
Gerlich: "This is just my third year in it, but I do think this season will probably be the most competitive. In the preseason polls, the top six teams all received at least one first place vote and that tells you that on any given night or just depending on how the season goes. You've got injuries and all kinds of things that can happen, so you're really going to have to come out and battle. The coaches have done a great job of recruiting and really trying to beef up their schedules so that our conference can get a higher RPI. We went from my first year to my second year here 23rd in conference RPI to 11th. The success that Little Rock had in the postseason tournament last year is huge for us. It's huge for our conference and even our teams because they can recognize that if we can play and mix it up with the teams in our conference, then we have a change to advance in the NCAA Tournament. You've got to go out and be ready to play."

Sharing a home with the Dallas Wings:
Gerlich: "It's going to be amazing. We don't know how that's all going to fit yet. We absolutely will run into them and share facilities and have to really work together to be able to make it all work. The fact that Skylar [Diggins] already knows our girls and has given them shout outs, them being able to be around those girls and see that level firsthand, Skylar is going to teach them something in the offseason just by her presence in the gym. From a recruiting standpoint, it's amazing because we can talk about them playing in our facility and recruits are going to want to come watch, if not us, then them."

Single game, season tickets or All Sport Passes are available at or by contacting the College Park Center Box Office at (817) 272-9595.

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