The 13th-ranked UC San Diego women’s basketball team had a successful start to CCAA play last week, kicking off its title defense with road victories over Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona. The Tritons, who finished with an overall record of 27-5 and went 19-1 on the way to the conference crown in 2008-09, are now 3-0 heading into their December 15 matchup with Cal State East Bay. Sophomore point guard Chelsea Carlisle has been at the forefront of UCSD’s early season success, leading the Tritons in scoring in all three games thus far. Averaging 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.7 steals, Carlisle is poised for a successful sophomore campaign after earning CCAA Freshman of the Year accolades a year ago. “Chelsea is such a competitor,” head coach Charity Elliott said. “She wants to win and doesn't care what it takes or who gets the glory. And for being just a sophomore, I love seeing how she is taking on a new role as a leader on the floor.” The Agoura Hills, Calif. native took a break from practice and studying for final exams to answer a few questions for UCSDtritons.com.
Q: The UCSD women’s basketball team is off to a great
start in 2009-10. It’s only been three games, but give us your assessment of
the team’s performance thus far.
CARLISLE: In the games so far, there have been a lot of very good things that we have done and also things we will need to work on. We made some mistakes but everyone has showed tremendous resolve and we have beaten three very good teams. We have so much potential and so many talented players, it is very, very exciting. As we keep getting better, we are going to be hard to stop.
Q: Where do you think the team can improve going
CARLISLE: One of the best aspects of the team is how deep we are and so many people can play at a high level, so the chemistry between everyone still could use some improvement, but that will come in time. The chemistry and being comfortable with each player on the court will certainly develop as time goes on.
Q: After helping UCSD win 27 games and make an appearance in the
NCAA West Regional Semifinals as a freshman last season, what
expectations do you have for this years’ group?
CARLISLE: I believe this year we have the talent and depth to do BIG things. We believe we should definitely defend our CCAA conference title. From there, I believe we can win a national championship as long as we keep improving and working hard.
Q: The Tritons were picked to win the 2009-10 CCAA
regular season crown in the leagues’ preseason coaches poll. Which team or
teams do you see being the biggest threats to UCSD’s quest for a second
consecutive conference title?
CARLISLE: All of the teams in conference are very good and improving, so no games are going to easy by any means. But Cal Poly Pomona and Humboldt State are always very solid and give us tough games. We just have to make sure we are prepared and ready for every game and can't look past anyone.
Q: You’re only a sophomore, yet you’ve quickly
established yourself as one of the premiere scorers in the CCAA. Did you expect
to be so successful this early in your collegiate career?
CARLISLE: I had no idea, I just want to do whatever I can to help the team and win games. I've been successful largely because of the teammates I have around me. I have been so fortunate to be part of such an amazing team and I am happy I can contribute to the team's success.
Q: Talk a little bit about head coach Charity Elliott.
How has she helped your game since you arrived on campus?
CARLISLE: Charity is an amazing coach. She excepts a lot from us because she knows how much we can accomplish. She is intense but very encouraging and supportive at the same time. Off the court, she is a very funny and we all have so much fun with her and the other coaches. She has done a lot to help my game since I have gotten to UCSD. She pushes me to be the best I can be and has helped me become a better leader and overall basketball player. I love playing for her.
Q: Your freshman season had several memorable moments,
including your 30-point performance at Humboldt State, hitting the game-winning
three-pointer in overtime of that same game, or dishing out 10 assists against
Cal State Monterey Bay. What was your favorite individual moment of your first
season as a Triton?
CARLISLE: I would have to say the Humboldt game. It was definitely the most exciting game I have ever been a part of. We came back from like nine points down with less than two minutes left and won in overtime! Every time I talk about that game it gets me excited, haha! I was just so happy I could help our team win that game and luckily that last second shot went in. It will be a game that I remember the rest of my life, that is for sure.
Q: What did it mean to you to be honored as the CCAA
Freshman of the Year?
CARLISLE: It was an amazing honor. There were so many great freshman and to be chosen as the Freshman of the Year was very flattering.
Q: What do you generally do to prepare for a game? Any
pregame rituals you care to share?
CARLISLE: I try not to be too superstitious because every little thing before a game could become a superstition and I would worry too much about everything having to be the same. But it is hard not to be, sometimes. One thing I do do is wear the same socks for every game. When long winning streaks develop more superstitions seem to develop, as well.
Q: Were you considering any other schools besides
UCSD? When did you know that you wanted to be a Triton?
CARLISLE: I was considering a few other schools but when I visited UCSD I knew I wanted to go here. I loved the team and coaches and it just felt right and I definitely made the right decision. I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else. And you can't beat living in San Diego... It doesn't get much better than this!
Q: Your father played basketball play at UCSD. What’s
the most important thing he has taught you about the game? Who generally wins
when you guys play one-on-one?
CARLISLE: My dad has taught me a lot, but most importantly, he always reminds to have fun and just enjoy playing the game. My dad has a pretty deadly outside shot but I think I could take him one-on-one, I don't know about a shooting competition though.
Q: Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
CARLISLE: When I was growing up, I wanted to do everything my older brothers did. So instead of playing softball with girls i played in the baseball league with the boys. Once I reached about ten, I had to start playing in the different sports leagues with girls, haha.
Q: Where is your favorite place to grab a bite on
campus? How about off campus?
CARLISLE: On campus, I love Tacone! The wraps are amazing and I go there at least once a week. Off campus, BJ's and CPK are always very good.
Q: If you could have dinner with any three people,
dead or alive, who would they be and why?
CARLISLE: I would definitely want to have dinner with Kobe because he is my favorite basketball player and i am a huge Lakers fan. Probably Oprah because she's Oprah and that would just be really cool. Lastly, probably Michael Jordan because he is the best player to ever play and he accomplished so much in his career.
Q: What is the best part about being at
student-athlete at UC San Diego?
CARLISLE: The best part of being a student-athlete is being part of an amazing team. I know my teammates will be life long friends and that is such a special thing. Also, we are getting a college education from one of the top universities in the country. And it is also really nice being able to register for classes early, haha!
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