There was little doubt that the Big West Conference’s Sixth Woman of the Year Award would go to sophomore Vicky Deely.
Although she has made just four starts this season and averages under 20 minutes a contest, the Sonoma, Calif. native averages 11 points and five rebounds per-game, good for second and third on the team, respectively.
“She’s a great spark for us coming off the bench,” said coach Sandy Simpson. “She brings us a great intensity on the floor. She’s the best rebounder on our team no question, and she has the ability to knock down the three or attack the basket. The sky is the limit for her. She’s got unlimited potential.”
Deely sat down with sports writer Trevor Cramer to talk about her role off the bench, the Big West Conference Tournament and the future of UC Davis women’s basketball.
As a player that has experience both coming off the bench and starting, which do you prefer?
I really like coming off the bench, because it gives me a chance to see what the other team is doing and the way the game is being played. So when I come on, I can have a few key things in my head that I can take advantage of.
When you come on the floor, it seems like you never hesitate to take a shot. How do you keep your confidence up?
It really comes from my teammates and the coaches. When you have people who are confident in you it gives you the confidence to shoot, because you know they have your back.
Do you have a favorite spot to shoot from?
I love the left side in transition. I just like to pull up and hit the shot.
Your play off the bench has spurred another 20-win season and your team did it in Sandy Simpson’s final year as head coach. What has it been like to be a part of his final season?
It’s been awesome. He’s such a great coach. He’s such a caring individual, and that affects you as a player. Everyone wants to play for someone like that, and we want to do this for Sandy. We want to send him out on a good note. We don’t want to see anything less than an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Looking ahead, Jennifer Gross will be replacing Simpson next year. How do you feel about her ability to lead the team in 2011-12?
We’re excited. She’s a really great coach and she’s looking forward to changing a few things within the program. She’s been waiting for this for a long time, and I expect her to take advantage in a positive way.
Returning to this season, how much does having a first-round home game help you in the Big West Tournament?
It is absolutely huge, especially considering [UC Irvine] will have to come from down south. Having the support of the fans gives us energy and that’s something we’ll take advantage of.
The Aggies don’t have anyone averaging over 30 minutes a game, while almost every other team in the league does. How do you think this might play into your favor in the conference tournament?
It’s a really big advantage for us. There will be girls on other teams who have been playing 35-40 minutes all year, and now they’ll be asked to play three games in a week. I’m hoping we can take advantage of that, because by the championship game they will be exhausted.
Does your experience from last year’s tournament help you as you enter this season’s edition?
It definitely does. We had a team meeting, and [junior] Lauren Juric told everyone to take a second to think about the feeling that we had last season when we watched UC Riverside cut down the net and put on their Big West Champion hats. That feeling of watching someone else take that [championship] away from us has really stuck in our heads.
If you guys are coming down the floor with five seconds left in the championship game, down by one, who takes the final shot for you?
I think it comes down to whoever has the hot hand, and whoever has the confidence in that particular game. The coaches will draw up a play, and it could be for anybody. Our team is so deep you never know who it could be.
Should you win the Big West Tournament, how would you feel about your chances in an NCAA Tournament game?
We would probably play Stanford, which would be a huge challenge. It’s funny, because we’ve played them in previous seasons, and we’ve played them tough, but they’re a great team. I know we wouldn’t give anything less than our best in that game, because even though our opponent would be nationally ranked, we would just worry about ourselves.