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A Matador Minute with Junior Ashley Blake
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A Matador Minute with Junior Ashley Blake

Recently, women’s basketball junior Ashley Blake sat down with the media relation staff to discuss the onset of the 2007-08 season. Capable of playing either guard position, Blake, a Las Vegas, Nev. native, brings invaluable experience to a squad that welcome six newcomers expected to contribute heavy minutes to the Matadors’ rotation.

In Northridge’s exhibition victory over the Master’s College, Blake scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and recorded eight steals as the Matadors battled for the come-from-behind victory.

As the season begins, Blake is excited about the possibilities ahead for the Northridge women’s team, especially in disproving those who have questioned the team’s capabilities.

1. Can you talk about the The Master’s College game, especially the second half?
“It was a tough game, but I think it ultimately came down to who wanted it more and in the second half, that was us. Both teams were shooting at a high rate, but the entire team showed a lot of heart to get that victory.”

2. What has the team’s chemistry been like so far with six newcomers logging signifigant minutes?
“I think with a new team, the players have to get into the habit of learning each other’s strength’s and weaknesses. The more we get used to knowing each other and playing with each other, the better we are going to be in the future.”

“It has been especially nice playing with Whitney Ligon and Tonicia Tademy, the two junior transfers. I love to play with them because we have already started to develop a chemistry. They want to win as much as we all do and any time you get five people on the court who want to as much as everyone else, that makes for exciting basketball.”

3. What do you say to the Northridge community as to why they should come out and support the team?
“I would tell them that no matter what the result, this team is going to give the fans 110% in terms of effort. If you come to a game, you are going to get your money’s worth and we are never going to give up. We are out there to please the crowd by winning and playing hard.”

4. What are your individual and team goals for the upcoming season?
“Individually, I want be a leader on the court. Whether it’s through scoring, dishing out assists or just pumping up the team, I want to be a vocal leader for the team this season. So far, in my first season as an upperclassmen, I feel like I am earning people’s respect because people want to listen and improve.”

“As a team, our goal this year and every year is to win the Big West Championship and play in the NCAA Tournament. Seeing as how we were picked to finish last in the Big West Conference, the team is eager to prove everyone wrong.”

5. What have you learned from the coaching staff since arriving at Northridge?
“Having spent the past two years with the coaches, it’s all about knowing what the coaches want and when. When you learn that, you’ll succeed in the program.”

“I have also really liked working with new assistant coach Abby Vaughan, who is in charge of the guards. She brings a work ethic that pushes us to get better. She has a rule about practice that states we must shoot 60% and if we don’t we have consequences. To me, that demonstrates the will to want us to do better.”

6. Which player do you look to keep things light during practice and other team functions?
“I would definitely have to say Katrina Thompson. She is always saying or doing something to keep us loose and relaxed. Before the game against The Master’s College while we were still in the locker room, she got everyone quiet and then did some crazy things that got us loosened up before the game.”

7. What are you looking forward to most about this weekend’s games against Pepperdine and University of San Diego?
“Pepperdine and USD are both great programs. Of course I want to win, but if we come out, do what the coaches want us to do and execute, we’ll be confident for the rest of the season. Our goal is improve every game.”

8. What are your thoughts on the home opener against UCLA?
“I am very excited about that game. Any time you get the opportunity to play a school like UCLA that comes from a major conference, it provides a great opportunity for the team. That game is the reason you work so hard in practice and play the game.”

9. Do you have a favorite story about Associate Head Coach Carla Houser?
“I would also have to say Associate head coach Carla Houser does a great job using funny team-building exercises. Before The Master’s College game, she had the upperclassmen do a communication drill where we were given a picture that we had to describe to the other players. Because we couldn’t use certain words, all of the pictures came out looking different, but it reemphasized the importance of good team communication.”

10. Does the team look at the preseason projections as a source of motivation?
“It definitely is a source of motivation for the team. We are a new team and any time you go from getting picked fourth in the conference to last, it has really inspired us to prove those skeptics wrong. I relish the chance to play the underdog role and to be underestimated. We don’t have that target on our back and because of that, the pressure is somewhat off us. Now, we just need to go out and execute.”