The 3rd-ranked UC San Diego women’s basketball team is off to an 8-0 start, including wins against two ranked opponents this season. Entering the week, the Tritons have two upcoming, non-conference tournaments in Las Vegas on December 18-19 and return to La Jolla on December 28-29 for the CCAA/GNAC Classic. Part of UCSD’s success can be attributed to the improved play of senior center Alexis Gaskin. The Vacaville, Calif. native is averaging 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and is shooting .577 from the field. Gaskin recently took time to discuss this year’s team, coaching staff and life on the women’s hoops team at UCSD.
Q- What is a typical Charity Elliott practice like?
GASKIN - We run. We jump. We dribble. We shoot at a metal cylinder. And every so often we bang into each other.
I figure it’s like the way most practices are for basketball teams with a supportive coaching staff. It’s intense, when we get in the gym we get as much work done as possible by going hard, and we work on execution because that’s what we need in the games. Other than a few seconds for water breaks, it’s none stop, which keeps up in top shape.
Q- Your scoring and rebounding averages are higher this year than previous years. Did you work on a particular part of your game during the offseason?
GASKIN - During the offseason (spring and summer), I tried to improve my all around game, starting with my strength and speed. I wanted to come back in shape so that I could focus on the other aspects of my game once we started back together. I also worked on moves away from the basket, as well as my outside jumper.
Q- The team has played in two tournaments so far in Anaheim and Phoenix. What were some fun non-related basketball activities you took part in on the trips?
GASKIN - Disneyland was definitely a highlight since it’s been about 12 years since I’ve been there. So it was fun to go on the rides with the team, and acting silly. The rides at California Adventure were also pretty fun especially since we were VIP. Oh, I can’t forget having to evacuate for fires again because our hotel caught on fire, it was the perfect ending to a great trip.
Q- UCSD travels to Las Vegas on December 18-19 as part of the Western Washington Great Western Shootout. Are there any sights or places you would like to visit during downtime?
GASKIN - Well if we have some downtime, I’m excited about shopping on the Strip and since Vegas is known for its spectacular shows, I’m really excited to see a particular one.
Q- Which teammate of yours is the toughest to guard? Who has the best outside shot?
GASKIN - I would have to say Marla. I give her a hard time about being short, but it does work to her advantage because she’s so low and has amazing speed. As for the best outside shot, that’s a hard one because I feel that any one of our shooters are the best at what they do. Mezzetta, Bull, Osier...the list can go on and on because they all are great shooters and are a threat on the court, which makes us a tough team to guard.
Q- Is there a funny story you can share that involves the team and the coaching staff?
GASKIN - Our freshmen have given us some great stories. But they’re great sports about it...one that comes to mind is when one of our freshmen came in with a bunch of bruises, and we were all proud because we thought she was getting them in practice. They were her ‘battle wounds’. But then she admitted that they were actually from her falling off her bike on campus while text messaging. So we gave her a hard time with that. Oh and we are always entertained with Coach Elliott’s phrases.
Q- Being from Vacaville, what are some of your likes and dislikes about northern and southern California?
GASKIN - I do enjoy the weather down here. And being in a big city down, it’s nice having so much to do and not having to drive so far away. But I do enjoy the small town feel of home every once in a while. And I’m kind of an impatient person, so the traffic down in southern California drives me crazy. No matter what time you drive, there is traffic. But both parts, I have family nearby, so I never really feel too far from home.
Q- You also lettered in track and field in high school. Did you ever consider trying some field events at UCSD?
GASKIN - Not really, once I knew how much time and commitment one sport required and how tough this school is, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stretch myself for another.
Q- What do you enjoy doing with your time outside of basketball?
GASKIN - Not a lot of people know this about me, but origami is a real passion of mine. I’m also an active member of the local chapter of SIBAA (Ships-in-Bottles Association of America). Just kidding...I’m probably just like all the athletes here, when I do manage some free time, I hang out with teammates and other friends, shop, movies and beach when the weather isn’t too bad.
Q- What would you like to do with your Human Biology major?
GASKIN - Since my entire summer was ruined by the MCAT, I figure I’ll try going to medical school. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll start knitting and open a quilt shop with my roommate.
Q- Is there much of an athletic background in your family?
GASKIN - I have a cousin who plays football for the University of Hawaii. My brother did have an active role on the Chico state cheerleading squad.
Q- What has been your favorite class at UCSD?
GASKIN - Any psych class with Amanda Roberts, she makes her classes so entertaining. And a class on hip-hop, when the subjects are what I like, it makes them so much easier to attend and do well.