Q&A with coach Burgess
With the Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team off to a 4-1 start to the season, the Lanthorn sat down with head coach Janel Burgess to talk about the team’s early season success.
Grand Valley Lanthorn: What is your evaluation of your team’s (4-1) start?
Janel Burgess: I’m extremely thrilled with the cohesiveness and the leadership displayed in the first five games of the regular season. We’ve given each other the confidence to play through a variety of situations and still be successful.
GVL: What does opening the season against Michigan State University say about what you want the program to become?
JB: What we want the program to become is pretty simple. We obviously want to be the best that we can become each and every day. I think opening up against Michigan State on a yearly basis tells us we’re going to be challenged, and some of our weakness will be displayed very early and we’ll be able to grow and respond. Playing a great team like Michigan State each and every year helps us prepare and get ready for the season.
GVL: What do you like best about Briauna Taylor’s game?
JB: I think Briauan Taylor has shown what a true all-around basketball player is about this year. She’s obviously leading us in many different categories. Her presence on both ends of the court — offensively she’s doing a lot of special things because she’s very talented with the ball in her hand. On the defensive end, being able to defend oftentimes the best player on the court for as many minutes as she’s capable of doing and being able to rebound on the defensive side of the ball. I believe she’s leading us in steals also. That encompasses an entire player and that’s not an easy thing to do at any level. For her to be able to do that while a lot of people are focusing on her to be very special means a lot to this team
GVL: What did you need more from team in your loss to Ashland University?
JB: We needed to be focused on both ends of the floor. We had about a six-seven minute gap in the Ashland game where we totally lost composure defensively as well as offensively. Once we were able to get ourselves back together we really put ourselves in check, and do the simple things for a long period of time we were able to be successful against Ashland. We only got beat by one point in the second half. We just need to be focused on what Grand Valley does – defensively play as a unit and offensively be patient and take what the defense gives us and get the extra pass to find an open player for a shot.
GVL: How did your time as a college player at Iowa State make you a better coach?
JB: You know, I really think what really makes you the best coach is the people you surround yourself with after you get done playing. I’ve been very fortunate, I was coached by a great gentleman, Bill Bently, at Iowa State. But working beside Joanne P. McCallie, who now’s at Duke, definitely molded more into the coach I am today than many other people did. Also, the mentors that I have around me now. Coach (Ric) Wesley mentors me on a day in and day out basis, making me a better coach at Grand Valley.
GVL: Do the players and coaches feel pressure to avenge last season’s 10-16 mark?
JB: We only feel pressure to build on the great things we established at the end of the season. We displayed what true character was, we displayed what great defense was, and the only person that will put pressure on us to do that is ourselves. We just have to make those standards what Grand Valley basketball is all about. I’m very proud of where we’re at now. Defense will stay as the mainstay of the program. One of the things I’m most excited about that carried over from last year is the importance of positive encouragement and building each other up. These young ladies have done a great job, especially these last months.