The starting lineup obviously agrees with UC San Diego senior Megan Perry. After coming off the bench in all 33 contests last season, the 5-foot-9 Perry is the Tritons’ third-leading scorer (11.2 ppg) and third in rebounds (5.1 rpg) and assists (27) while starting all 12 games so far in 2013-14. The scrappy Decatur, Ill., native, who now calls Coto de Caza home, gets high marks from head coach Heidi VanDerveer. “Quite honestly, I think Meg is a total guard,” says the second-year Triton mentor. “She has great variety offensively and is smart and crafty, which really sets her apart. Meg is also an outstanding mid-range shooter who has become much more effective outside the arc this year. She’s excellent defensively and has accepted a leadership role for our team this season, which may be her most important contribution.” As the Tritons move into the bulk of their CCAA schedule, Perry took time to talk about her progress as a player, being part of a three-guard lineup, and what she hopes to do when she earns her psychology degree.
Q: How would you describe the evolution of your confidence level on the court from freshman to senior year?
PERRY: I think naturally as I got older and gained more experience I became more confident in myself. Teammates and coaches have encouraged me throughout my time here. I trust myself because I know that they trust me.
Q: Where and why has greatest growth occurred on the floor over that time period?
PERRY: This past spring and fall I really stepped out of my comfort zone and focused on developing myself as more of an offensive presence. I have always taken great pride in defense and in locking down my player, but in past years I was content to take a back seat on the offensive end. This year, we don’t have the hot hand of Chelsea (Carlisle), Daisy (Feder), or Emily (Osga) that we have had previously and I know that I need to be a factor in filling that deficit.
Q: What was your biggest surprise with the transition from high school to college basketball? Who did you turn to with questions/concerns? What was the best advice you got that first year?
PERRY: The biggest difference between high school and college was definitely the speed of the game, both physically and mentally. I thought that I was in pretty good shape coming in my freshmen year… but oh how wrong I was. After my first fall quarter here I had a new understanding of what it meant to truly be in shape.
Lucky for us, we had amazing upperclassmen that set the tone. It’s easy learning something new and going through something difficult when you have such great role models that you know will have your back. I am thankful for them because I know that they are the reason my class is as close as we are. Best advice that first year: “Run all the way through...(or we’re going to run it again.)”
Q: Last season, Heidi VanDerveer took over as head coach of the UCSD women’s team. How have things changed under her leadership? What do you consider her strongest coaching attributes?
PERRY: “Heidihoop” brought a refreshing outlook to our team. She coaches in a way that teaches us to be accountable for ourselves and for one another. She is motivating but she never yells in the way that other coaches might. This leaves us to communicate within our team and articulate what we want and need from everyone. I think this is one of the greatest things a coach could teach a team because at the end of the night it’s the players that must work together on the court to get the job done.
Q: What’s Heidi’s “go to cliché” when she wants to make a point?
PERRY: Before every game it’s, “We need to play hard. We need to play smart. And we need to play together. For 40 minutes, all in.” It gets us all pumped up, we do our cheer then take the court ready to dominate.
Q: Your team is 8-4 so far in 2013-14. Given the fact that you lost your top two scorers and two of the top three rebounders off a squad that went 22-11 the previous season, how do you look at what your team has accomplished so far this year?
PERRY: I am very proud of our team so far this year. We know that we don’t have the “star-power” that we’ve had in previous years with Chelsea, Daisy, and Emily, but I think we have really used that to our advantage. Every night is an opportunity for any one of us to step up and have a great game. We are unpredictable in that sense and that gives us the edge we need this year.
Q: After playing in all 33 games off the bench as a sophomore, you’ve moved into the starting lineup as a junior. How has that affected your preparation and play?
PERRY: The past two years, coming off the bench, it was important for me to bring energy and be a spark where one was needed. This year my focus is on consistency, through adversity and when things are going our way. I am working on being a voice on the court that can lead us to execute our offense and get stops on defense TOGETHER.
Q: UCSD uses what is essentially a three-guard starting lineup. How do you and teammates Miranda Seto and Stephanie Yano split the duties and what do you consider each of your strengths?
PERRY: I am very honored to get to be on the court with two such selfless and determined players. This is the first year all three of us are playing significant minutes together but I don’t think our chemistry shows that. We haven’t missed a beat. We know each other’s strengths and we play the game in accordance to them.
No one in this league has better handles than Steph. In several games I have heard the opposing coach’s frustration with it as they yell to get the ball out of her hands because they are scared she will drop a dime. Mir is just our ball of fire. She is everywhere on the court making hustle plays and taking it to the rim when we need it most. This year, I have gotten more confident with my shot and am able to bring a good variety of range on the offensive end. Together we make a lock down, fearless front line.
Q: You lead the team with 24 three-pointers, hitting a solid 41 percent from beyond the arc. What are the most important factors in being a good long range shooter?
PERRY: Confidence is the key. UCSD’s program has always been known for its precision from beyond the arc and that is because we have players that are comfortable with their range. I trust that I have put in enough practice to knock down the shots I take in games, there’s no room for second-guessing.
Q: Could you win a three-point shooting contest with former Triton star (and current UCSD assistant coach) Chelsea Carlisle?
PERRY: Chels is one of the most talented players to ever put on a Triton uniform, she wouldn’t go out without a fight. If she was blindfolded I think I would have a chance.
Q: At what part of your game do you wish you were better?
PERRY: Being a voice on the court is something I have been working on. I wish I could be more clear and efficient with what I say. We have a lot of new bodies giving us good minutes this year, so it is even more important to be specific with what we need from each of them.
Q: What have been your proudest and most embarrassing moments on a basketball court?
PERRY: My most recent would have to be winning the conference tournament last year. It was such a hard fought game and season, it just felt so right that we got to cut down the net.
My most embarrassing, would be the first day I had to wear my facemask (in response to a broken nose) this season. It was weird and uncomfortable and I didn’t like it one bit. Since then I have accepted the mask for what it is and our “relationship” has greatly improved.
Q: How did you get introduced to basketball?
PERRY: I was first introduced to basketball when I was six or seven by my loving and sports-crazed dad (the same way I think a lot of little girls are introduced). I played on little NJB teams in my town and I just remember how I wished we had games every single day.
Q: If you couldn’t play basketball, what other sport at UCSD do you think might fit your skill set? Which do you think would be the most difficult?
PERRY: Soccer had my heart for the better part of my athletic career. I was actually looking to play soccer in college before UCSD basketball came along, so I would have to say if I wasn’t on the court I’d be on the field. I think water polo would be the most difficult sport for my skill set. I have trouble just staying afloat, I can’t imagine trying to play a competitive game at the same time.
Q: What are three things an outsider would find interesting about the Triton women’s basketball locker room?
PERRY: There’s a white board in our locker room so naturally throughout the week it becomes what one might call a masterpiece. Also, some of us, gifted or not, enjoy singing as we go about our daily lives in the locker room and before games we do a very special, very secret, cheer in our locker room to get us pumped up.
Q: If you could have one person come in to give the team a motivational talk before a game, who would it be?
PERRY: No one in particular comes to mind right now but Doc Rivers talked to us before a practice once when the Clippers were in town. It was powerful having someone so successful in what he does share the same core values as our team does.
Q: What are three interesting things about you that most people don’t know?
PERRY: I have the two most adorable puppies in the whole world, Casey and Emma (cuter than Miranda’s pups ☺), I LOVE stickers, and I am very, very superstitious (I always wear five braids in my hair for games, use the same Chapstick before games, I have a lucky bracelet that I have to give to Chelsea before games, and when I go through a yellow light I have to touch the ceiling of the car...)
Q: What was the best gift you gave and received over the holidays?
PERRY: I got a new camera and I am so excited to explore and find new spots to take pictures! Our team did “Secret Santa” this year for the holidays and I was lucky enough to draw McKennan’s name. I made her a sunset poster using the clippings of the paint sample cards they have at the Home Depot, and although it took a lot longer to make than I had originally thought, Mac’s reaction made it all worthwhile ☺
Q: What’s the most exciting place you’ve visited and where is one place you would love to go?
PERRY: I would really love to go to New Zealand. I’m not exactly sure what started my fascination with the place, but ever since, I’ve been thinking of ways to get myself over there.
Q: You’re a psychology major. What’s the fascinating class you’ve taken in your major? What do you hope to do with it long term?
PERRY: I took a social psychology class a few quarters ago and thought it was very interesting. We basically just learned all the reasons of why people do and act as they do. It gave me a lot of perspective and now I try to make a more assertive effort to think of these reasons before I react. I’m not sure what I want to do yet after I graduate. I have my eye out for a few internships so hopefully one of those will spark my interest in something I believe is worth pursuing.
Q: In your ideal world, what would happen between now and the end of the 2013-14 season?
PERRY: Obviously, our team would win the CCAA tournament and take home the ‘ship! And of course along the way we would have the time of our lives, creating memories that will keep us laughing long after the 2013-14 season is over. As recent pop culture would call it, YOLO.
Previous Triton Q&A Features
Sandy Hon (Women's Swimming) December 30, 2013
Drew Dyer (Men's Basketball) November 26, 2013
Kameron Cooper (Women's Volleyball) October 28, 2013
Rachel Leslie (Women's Soccer) October 9, 2013
Marie Diaz (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field) October 1, 2013
Joe Dietrich (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2013
Josh Cohen (Men's Soccer) August 23, 2013
Sara McCutchan (Women's Volleyball) August 9, 2013
Kellen Levy (Men's Cross Country/Track & Field) July 26, 2013
Izzy Pozurama (Women's Soccer) July 8, 2013
Colin Truex (Women's Crew Head Coach) June 28, 2013