The UC San Diego women’s basketball team is looking to improve upon last season’s NCAA West Regional appearance with another strong year in Head Coach Janell Jones’ second season. The Tritons, predicted to finish first in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, are off to a 2-1 start and in the midst of a difficult non-conference stretch that takes them against three ranked teams. The 2006-07 squad returns nine letterwinners and four starters from last year’s team. Alexis Mezzetta is one of those starters returning to the team and recently discussed the current season and the personality of the hoops team.
Q- How did you spend the off-season? Did you work on any particular part of your game?
MEZZETTA- During the summer I really tried to work on making my shot more consistent and I worked on getting faster and quicker foot speed. I also attended Point Guard College Camp with Deana Evans to learn more about playing the point guard position because I had never played that position until last year.
Q- What has been your favorite part about playing for head coach Janell Jones?
MEZZETTA- My favorite about playing for Coach Jones regarding basketball is her fire and passion that she brings about the game to the court everyday. Off the court Coach Jones is unpredictable! We never know what she is going to do or say and she definitely makes things interesting. We all get a good laugh out of her and each other.
Q- What are the team goals this season?
MEZZETTA- Our overall goal is to win conference and win the national championship. It is something that we have had on our minds since we lost early last year in Regionals. Everyday though, our goal is to work hard at practice and push each other. We will win games this year by out working our opponents every day and taking pride in it.
Q- Who is the best shooter on the team? Who is the best defender?
MEZZETTA- Leora and Meaghan Noud are pretty much amazing shooters. They never miss! It makes my job easy and fun because you know when you pass them the ball it’s an automatic two points. Hillary is definitely the best defender. She destroys people in practice and in the games. She always does the little stuff like boxing out and that is what makes her such a great and consistent defender. Plus, she is ridiculously strong.
Q- Who on the team, are you glad you do not have to defend in a game?
MEZZETTA- I am glad that I don’t have to defend Leora because she just embarrasses people. She can score anyway, drive, pull up for a jumper, or hit a three. This is what makes her almost impossible to stop. She also does an awesome job finishing around the hoop and just when you feel like you have stopped her drive she throws up this shot that just bounces in. Bottom line, we are all happy that Leora is on our team.
Q- Is it difficult to go from playing a nationally ranked Chico State team, to a team that was predicted to finish 11th out of 12 in the CCAA?
MEZZETTA- If anything it is just mental. We actually had more time to prepare for Chico because they are a bigger threat to us. As far as the games go we still have to play the same way. Sometimes that second game is more important because we had to make sure we played the way we would against the best teams we will face. It was a test for us to play our game and not theirs and I think we did a great job.
Q- Your hometown is Sonoma. What do you like about San Diego? What do you miss about Sonoma?
MEZZETTA- I LOVE the ocean. I could go and watch the waves for hours. I also love living here in college because there are so many college kids everywhere and it creates a great atmosphere. I miss seeing the vineyards in Sonoma and the feel of a small town where you run into a million people you know when you go to the grocery store. I definitely want to live there or near there up north when I get older.
Q- What is the most difficult drill in practice?
MEZZETTA- There are two that come to mind. The first is Tip Drill, which sounds like it would be fun but it involves about 10 girls full court. We have to hit the ball off the backboard and then sprint to the other basket and do the same thing continuously unless the ball drops and then we have to start over. This is all while Coach yells, “Who’s going to be the one to drop the ball and start over?” The second one is Alley Drill and this is just one on one zigzag full court to work on your defense. It is pretty exhausting.
Q- You attended the University of Colorado. What made you decide to transfer to UCSD?
MEZZETTA- I decided not to play basketball in college and quickly realized that I had played sports since I was five and I missed it too much. I knew that I had to transfer and play again and I had a friend here on the team. She told me about the program and I really liked that UCSD had great academics. I also knew that I wanted to go back to California because the weather was freezing and I could not stand the wind-chill that dropped the temperature from 13 degrees to feeling like 7.
Q- What would you like to do with your Biology major when you are finished at UCSD?
MEZZETTA- I am going to take the MCAT this summer and then I am planning to go to Medical school if I can get in. I don’t know yet what type of doctor I want to be or what I want to do. I don’t know enough about it yet but I would love to try and incorporate athletics into my career somehow. It would be weird to not be involved with athletics.
Q- Have any funny stories that you can share involving the team and or coaching staff?
MEZZETTA- This past summer we would go to the beach a lot as a team. We would BBQ, boogie board, surf and play a LOT of beach volleyball. One time we decided to play on the grass instead of the sand because it was the only open space. This was not a good idea because the ball went flying everywhere...hitting kids, adults, picnic tables, old people. Sure enough the ball gets hit into this large tree and gets stuck. Before any of us rational people can even think of a way to get the ball town, Coach heads straight for the tree like she’s on a mission. She decides to start climbing the trunk as high as she can go, with one bad knee, let’s not forget. Then as we are yelling at her to get down because we are sure she will fall, she is assuring us that she can get the ball even though she is still a good 10 feet from it. We assumed when Coach realized how far she was from the ball she would come down but no, she actually starts heading out on one of the limbs towards the ball. By now we just think she is crazy and really think she is going to fall. Meagan McGovern is begging Coach to come down by now and looks like she just doesn’t know what to do. As Coach makes her way out a reasonable distance on the limb she wraps her arms and legs around the tree and begins to spastically shake the branch trying to get the ball loose. If you are imagining this right now it did look as ridiculous as it sounds. After her awkward shaking, she finally gets the ball loose but we are all too busy laughing on the ground at the way that she was shaking the branch. It was hilarious and the image will always be in our minds.
Q- What is your favorite song on this year’s warm-up tape?
MEZZETTA- I love the first song that we run out to. It is this African song with drums that Leora, of course had. We wanted to use it last year but didn’t get it together in time. I really like the beat of it especially when we are running out. Also I think it is neat to have the first song on our tape be a song that no other team has on theirs, has heard of, or means anything to.
Q- What other UCSD sports do you enjoy attending?
MEZZETTA- I enjoy watching our women’s volleyball team because their games are always exciting. I also enjoy watching soccer because I used to play soccer and volleyball in high school. It was fun to watch a big track meet last year because there was a teammate who also did track. Last but not least, our team is going to make it out to a lot of baseball games this year because they are our brother team and support us.
Q- Is there anyone on this year’s team that you would nominate to sing the national anthem before a game?
MEZZETTA- Well this is actually a big thing on our team. We have a bunch of characters and pretty much everyone wants to do. Marla, even though she won’t admit it is an amazing singer and should sing the national anthem because it would be beautiful. Meagan McGovern is an amazing singer and she loves to sing for others. You have to ask her to sing for you when you get the chance. Krystal Flower is always singing and if she sang it, it would be great because she would make it into a theatrical performance. And then there’s Hillary. It has been her life long dream to sing the national anthem but we all aren’t singers. She still sings it though at the top of her lungs. You must love her for that. Maybe one day Hill, they will let you sing it.
Q- Are there any shows or places you’d like to visit on the team’s trip to Las Vegas?
MEZZETTA- The team actually wanted to see Thunder from Down Under but that isn’t going to happen. I really want to catch a comedy or magic show but I am not sure who is performing. I definitely want to go on some of the roller coasters they have and do some sight seeing.