The UC San Diego women’s basketball team is 10-2 and ranked No. 1 in the first NCAA Division II West Regional Poll. On a team with no seniors, Leora Juster is one of three Tritons averaging double-figures this season. Juster, a Los Angeles native, leads the CCAA in scoring with 21.2 points per game and is ranked 11th nationally. The 5-foot-8 guard also leads the team in assists, steals and free-throw percentage. Juster recently took time before the January 20 and 21 homestand to discuss the season and life as a member of the Triton women’s basketball team.
Q- How has Head Coach Janell Jones helped to improve your game?
JUSTER- She would like to say that she has “stretched” me. I am afraid of doing bad which makes me perform at my best. I am also in better shape this year and I want to do well for my teammates and coach.
Q- Is leading the league in scoring an individual goal of yours?
JUSTER- No. It is something that is just happening. I have a role on this team and scoring is part of it.
Q- What are the team goals now?
JUSTER- Right now, the goals get higher and higher each week. We want to continue to work hard and win every game. We do not want to plateau.
Q- Which player on the UCSD team are you glad you do not have to defend?
JUSTER- Hillary Hansen. She is unbelievably strong.
Q- Is there a key to shooting 90 percent from the free-throw line like you are doing this season?
JUSTER- Again, that is something that just happens. We shoot 50 free throws each practice, I am sure that helps.
Q- Which players are most improved since the first practice of the season?
JUSTER- Everyone has improved and that’s what happens over the course of the season. Our inside players Alexis Gaskin and Briana Hinga have taken on larger roles and are able to contribute much more.
Q- When you met all of the candidates for the UCSD women’s basketball head coaching position, what stood out about Janell Jones?
JUSTER- It began as a regular interview until at one point she just began telling us a story. She was really into it, raising her voice to near yelling saying, “I had to have them run 50 suicides but I had to turn my head because I was starting to weep.” All of a sudden we could see this energy and passion she has for the game. That was one thing that stood out to me with Janell.
Q- What would you like to do with your Mathematics and Secondary Education major?
JUSTER- Pretty much my only choice is to be a Math teacher. I would like to teach at the high school level and possibly do some coaching on the side.
Q- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
JUSTER- Basketball is year-round for me. I do random things when I can find time. I like to fingerpaint but I do not do much of it. Pretty much just hang out and do the things that you do when you hang out.
Q- Do you have any favorite T.V. shows, movies, music?
JUSTER- Not really. I am into Simon and Garfunkel right now. I do like that show Grey’s Anatomy. I get bored during movies.
Q- Do you look up to any athletes?
JUSTER- I look up to the players I play with. The teammates that I see working hard and are all-around good people.
Q- Was it an easy decision to come to UCSD?
JUSTER- It was very easy since I did not apply anywhere else. I was pretty lazy.
Q- Who is the funniest on the team, the best dressed and smartest?
JUSTER- Best dressed is easy. It would have to be Diahnn (Futalan) because she is going on America’s Next Top Model next season. The smartest must be Alexis (Gaskin). We are all funny. Alexis Mezzetta is pretty funny and Cecily Conner gets me laughing a lot.
Q- Is there a funny story that you can share that has happened to you?
JUSTER- One time in the locker room, I went to open up the mini-fridge to get a water. When I opened the door, Meghan McGovern was in there. She scared me, it was funny too because she is so little.
Q- What types of activites does the basketball team do away from the court?
JUSTER- We watch lots of movies and go out to dinner. We are also involved with community service. At Christmas time we handed out presents and try to help the community. There are also several basketball camps that we put on.
Q- Do you have any basketball memories that stand out to you?
JUSTER- The Bakersfield game was one of the most draining experiences of my life. Working so hard and getting that win felt so good. Playing the next night was a difficult task.