The UC San Diego women’s basketball team is out of the gate quick in 2005-06, winning six of its first eight games. One of the early standouts has been junior Kim Buffum who poured in a career-high 27 points in a win at Cal State Bakersfield. With UCSD not scheduled to play again until a January 6-7 homestand, the co-captain recently took time during the holiday break to discuss new Head Coach Janell Jones and the current season's results to date.
Q- Is your approach this season different from previous years?
BUFFUM- I have a larger leadership role this year. We have some 18-year-olds on the team and I am one of the oldest at 22. With three seniors on last year’s team, I was able to learn a lot from them. As one of the captains this year, I am one of the links between the coaches and the team. The three co-captains are really the only returnees who saw a lot of minutes last season. It is important for us to help our team through the games and practices because we have experienced it before.
Q- What do you like about Head Coach Janell Jones?
BUFFUM- She is just an excellent person on and off the court. She has more than just the basketball aspect going for our team. We are really close now. We do a lot of things together off the court, team building activities. She has established a great relationship with each one of us. If Coach yells at us, we know it is only to help us. Janell is the greatest thing to happen to this program. She is an amazing person and coach who is going to take this program to the next level.
Q- The eight three-pointers and 27 points scored against Cal State Bakersfield... Was that a personal-best for you at any level?
BUFFUM- That performance was the best of my life. I made the first one, and then they just kept going in. I had never made that many three-pointers in a game. It was a memorable night because I did it against the pre-season pick to win the CCAA, and helped our team to victory.
Q- What is easier for you... a 15 foot jumper or a three-pointer?
BUFFUM- Back me up. Definitely the three-point line. Sometimes I miss a lay-up and tell myself, “I can make it from half-court, but cannot make an easy lay-up.” I did a lot of shooting as a kid and thought it was so cool if I could make shots from further away than my brothers. Sometimes on the court, you lose track of where exactly you are. I just seem to be more accurate from behind the three-point line than a little in front of it.
Q- Is there a favorite gym that you like to shoot in?
BUFFUM- Our gym. I love playing in RIMAC. I think we have the best facility in the conference.
Q- Is there a part of your game that you are really working on improving?
BUFFUM- In the beginning it was defense. Coach would come to me and say, “Kim, last game you had no steals.” Then, that next game I got five steals. Right now, I would say rebounding. After the last couple games, I was the only one to have one rebound and coach would ask, “Where are your boards?” Then the next game I had six rebounds. Janell looks for what I have to work on and tells me where I need to improve. She is really good at that and right now, to answer your question, I am trying to step up my defense and rebounding. I am already an offensive type player.
Q- Is having three-and-a-half weeks before the next game difficult?
BUFFUM- It’s a little crazy because we had three games in five days and then nothing. Then three games in five days again. The break will be good for our team. We had a strong preseason and played some strong teams. That exposed to us what we need to work on. The time off gives us a chance to really work on improving our gameplans, heading into the conference games.
Q- The next UCSD women’s basketball games are home against Cal State Stanislaus and Chico State. Will it be difficult to not look past CSUS and look at the Chico State game?
BUFFUM- I am really looking forward to getting back into action against those teams. Our conference is so tough. Anyone can win on any given night, so we will not be overlooking a determined Cal State Stanislaus team. Chico State is always known as a team that is run-and-gun. They are a fast team. I think that one area that we have improved from last year, is that we are a quicker team. It will be exciting to see our team against a team that plays similar to us. We can see how we measure up against the best.
Q- Did the team have a holiday gift exchange?
BUFFUM- We just had one the other day. We call it secret pal. This year was the most successful year because nobody knew who had them. Our coach cooked us dinner--it was great.
Q- Have there been any funny stories with this team?
BUFFUM- There are so many funny things that I do not have time to share them all. We have several characters on this team and there is never a dull day. On the road, we enjoy joking about Coach Jones and her driving.
Q- Do you have a favorite basketball memory?
BUFFUM- Right now, it would have to be the win over Cal State Bakersfield. We were going up against one of the top-teams in the CCAA and we went to their place and won. It was a complete team effort. We had three players reach season-highs, point-wise, and four players in double figures.
Q- Do you have any players you look up to?
BUFFUM- I look up to Hillary Hansen on our team. She just works so hard and I have all the respect for her. I also look up to a couple of our former players, Nicole Bromley and Ali Ginn. They were players that give everything they had.
Q- Is there a lot of basketball experience in your family?
BUFFUM- Actually not. My family is athletic though. My brothers, Geoff and Richard, they both played football. Richard played high school football and Geoff was a quarterback and won a National Championship at Azusa Pacific. I have a very supportive family. We would go to each other's games during each season.
Q- You were president of your high school’s sign language club. Have you had a chance to continue using sign language?
BUFFUM- I would have loved to have kept it up in college. I was fluent in my junior year of high school. I fulfilled my language requirement in high school because I did not want to take it in college because those classes are five days a week. Sign Language is something that I will always have, I am just not as quick now. I think it is the most beautiful language in the world. I have not given up the idea of doing something with it later.