Although two-time CCAA Player of the Year Leora Juster deservedly gathers the lion’s share of the publicity accorded this year’s UCSD Women’s Basketball, she’s hardly the only weapon Head Coach Janell Jones has at her disposal. When the CCAA champion Tritons tip off Friday against Western Washington in their NCAA Division II West Regional opener at RIMAC Arena, sophomore standout Michelle Osier will be starting her 56th consecutive game. Last year’s CCAA Freshman of the Year, the versatile Osier is averaging 11.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore and was recently named first team all-conference. The 6-1 Placerville, CA native out of Ponderosa High School has six double doubles this season (five in the last 10 games) for the 14th-ranked Tritons who are 23-4 overall. “Michelle assumed an important role early in her career and handled it well,” says Jones. “Her best asset is that she’s an extreme competitor—she just hates to lose. Her game is a bit unorthodox but she’s probably the difference maker in how our team plays. When she’s on, we’re usually at our best.” Heading into the playoffs, Osier took time to share her thoughts on the season and what lies ahead.
Q—What is the team’s feeling about winning the CCAA championship?
OSIER—Well, it’s a great honor because it’s the first time in UCSD Women’s Basketball’s history that it’s been done. But we mostly look at it as the first step along the way to winning a national championship.
Q—Does playing the NCAA Regional on your home court provide a tangible advantage?
OSIER—Honestly, I don’t think it really matters where we play. We’re going to come out with the same intensity either way. It is convenient, though, that we don’t have to miss as much class right before finals.
Q—Is the team approaching this year’s NCAA opener differently than last year?
OSIER—We’re going to come out in this game just like we would in any other game. If we work together and leave it all out on the court, I’m confident that our passion will lead us through six more games of basketball.
Q—What do you remember from last year’s NCAA first round game against Seattle Pacific?
OSIER—We were a young team last year, and not many of our players had much college playoff experience. We were pretty drained from anticipation by the time the game even started. This year will be different; we’re going all the way.
Q—What is the key to this team advancing in this year’s post-season?
OSIER—All we have to do is play our game, and that in itself should take us where ever we want to go.
Q—Saturday was Senior Night. Can you provide some quick thoughts on what each of the four seniors brings to this year’s team?
OSIER—Well, over time, every girl on our team has become one of my best friends. To those who watch, it is pretty obvious that they are all extremely talented on the court. It’s too bad, though, that the fans don’t get to see what the girls are like in our locker room (laugh). The four seniors in particular are a very entertaining group of girls: story time with Kacie, sweet dance moves with Leora, linguistics with Gov, and wrestling matches (never with me, thank God) with Hillary. I’ve never met so many girls with such strong and unique personalities, and they all happen to be on my team! I love them!
Q—On a nightly basis, what does Michelle Osier bring to the court?
OSIER—I bring my jersey, my shoes, my ankle braces, some water...(laugh). Well, I try to bring my best game with me every night, which most of the time, involves bringing confidence. But my goal for every game is to get as many rebounds and steals as possible, to be a huge presence on defense, and in general, to add to the score as much as it takes to win.
Q—What gives you the most satisfaction on the basketball court?
OSIER—Aside from watching Coach try to march up and down the bench in her stilettos, I get the most satisfaction from getting rebounds and steals. Either way, I love to battle for the ball.
Q—For you, what was the most exciting moment of the 2006-07 season?
OSIER—So far, the most exciting moment was when Meaghan Noud hit the game-tying shot at Sonoma, which put us into overtime. We never should have let the game get so close, but Noud definitely saved the day! It was like God was warning us to quit messing around!
Q—Can you give three words that describe your Head Coach, Janell Jones?
OSIER—I don’t think three simple words could possibly do her justice, but most of them would be something sim-U-lar (yes, that’s how she says it) to: intense, crazy, and passionate.
Q—How does Coach Jones compare to previous coaches you’ve had?
OSIER—Coach Jones is the only coach I’ve ever had who could manage to turn a short, hour and a half practice (she promised) into a three and half hours. She lives and breaths basketball. We all wonder, though, “what does she eat?”
Q—What type of pre-game routine, if any, do you have?
OSIER—Before every game, I make sure to call my dad so that he can give me my “pre-game talk.” He’s been telling me, almost word-for-word, the same thing before every game ever since I was little: “Box out, jump high, beat your man down the court every time, make all the easy ones, and just go in there and kick ass! And don’t forget, I’m so proud of you!” Now, I’ve become a little superstitious. I’m not going to lie, if I don’t get “the talk,” I’m a little worried.
Q—What is your toughest, easiest class at UCSD?
OSIER—Well, I think most students would agree that pretty much every class at UCSD is tough, but I’d have to say that gospel choir was the hardest class for me. My mom kept the singing gene, and class past is way past my bedtime!
Q—What other sports do you enjoy watching? What is your worst sport?
OSIER—It’s shameful to say as an athlete, but I’m not really into watching sports. If I’m at home, I’m forced to watch ESPN because my dad is the master of the remote. But other than that, I stick to playing. My worst sport would have to be swimming. I pretty much stick to doggy paddling.
Q—Outside of basketball, what do you hope to accomplish in the next two years at UCSD?
OSIER—During the next two years, I’d like to get good enough grades to get into med school, I’d like to learn how to surf, and I’d like to learn how to cook more than just chicken and pasta.