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2016 Big Sky Basketball Digital Media Day Quotes

From left to right: Rene Coggins, Robyne Bostick, Jack Murphy, Ako Kaluna
From left to right: Rene Coggins, Robyne Bostick, Jack Murphy, Ako Kaluna

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's and women's basketball programs participated in the Big Sky Conference's first Digital Media Day on Thursday. Head coach Jack Murphy and senior forward Ako Kaluna represented the men's team, while interim head coach Robyne Bostick and senior guard Rene Coggins represented the women's team.

Below is a transcript from today's Media Day.

Men's Basketball:

Head Coach Jack Murphy

On his offseason goals:

Getting healthy would be No.1, especially Ako Kaluna. We have also emphasized developing some of our young talent. We're really excited to get our players and the season going, and as we stand today, all three seniors are healthy so I would say things are going well so far.

On the strength of the team:

The strength of our team is experience and depth. The three seniors have all been part of successful teams, including the most successful one in program history. The freshmen last season played a ton of minutes, and they really weren't recruited to play that much and I didn't anticipate using them that much. However, now that they're sophomores, and they are definitely ahead of schedule having a lot of in-game as well as starting experiences. As far as this season goes, compared to this time last year, I think we're much more experienced up and down our lineup.

On players to be aware of:

Our sophomore class has come along well. The development of Isaiah Thomas, Mike Green, Corey Brown and Torry Johnson has been fun to watch. They've all had great offseasons. We put a lot on their shoulders last season, and being able to supplement our team with athletes like them – given their experience – is exciting for us.

On the Big Sky Tournament in Reno last season:

The only problem with last year's tournament was that we weren't there long enough. We're looking forward to getting out there, competing hard and making a long run.

On the team's post depth:

I would say if we had a game tonight, Ako and Jordyn Martin would be starting. Corey, Isaiah and Felix Rivera-Vega all showed flashes last year, but I think the issue was consistency. So far this season, though, these players have risen to the challenge. As a coach, I feel like we have very good depth and experience in the front court, and now we're just going to look for that on a more consistent basis.

His message for fans?

I would suggest all our fans get their tickets and get up to Reno. It's a great setting, there's not a bad seat in the house, and it's a wonderful week of action. All the games last year – men and women – were competitive. It's definitely worth your time, and Reno is a place where you can have a little fun away from the court as well.

Senior Ako Kaluna

On his goals and expectations:

My goal is to bring consistency to the court and carry it over game-to-game. I think it is important to look at every game as if it is our last.

On the first few weeks of practice:

I think the first couple weeks of practice have gone well. We work hard day in and day out. Even when it's not practice time, we're still in the gym working hard and trying to get better. One thing I've been trying to focus on has been my leadership and reflecting that in my game.

On the preseason polls:

We took it as motivation to play hard and use the mindset, "Us against the world."

On his thoughts of Reno last season:

There is no advantage for any team. It's a neutral site and it's all based on the energy you bring. It's a week full of basketball, and I think that's what all coaches and players dream of.

His message for fans?

We feed off our fans' energy. We love it when the stadium is packed. It gets us hyped and everyone else hyped as well.

Women's Basketball:

Interim Head Coach Robyne Bostick

On her offseason goals:

One thing that we wanted to work on was our conditioning. Our team did a great job of working hard in the weight room and our strength coach did a good job of pushing the team and making them better in that area.

On her returning players:

We have five seniors on the team this year and they bring a ton of experience. Each senior has made significant contributions in their three years here. They each have started a number of games and Rene Coggins has started almost every game in her career. That will be really helpful for us this season.

On players to be aware of:

We have two players who were able to practice, but not compete because of NCAA transfer rules last season. Our junior class is made up of Olivia Lucero and Kenna McDavis. They made us better just in practice last year and bring a unique set of skills to the table. I think they'll have a true impact for us.

On the incoming class:

We also have four freshmen on the team. One (Brianna Lehew) is returning from an ACL injury and we hope she will be ready to go at some point this season. Peyton Carroll is a versatile post player from Oregon who can do a little bit of everything and Raina Perez is a point guard from the Phoenix area that will really help us in the backcourt. We have Va'e Malufau from Hawaii who will be an all-around player for us. She's a great rebounder and has the ability to score around the basket.

On the Big Sky Tournament in Reno last season:

The conference office did a really good job of putting on the tournament in Reno last year. It was good to see everybody in the same site and have the men's teams there too. I think our team had a great experience and it was nice for the fans to be able to plan ahead of time for the trip. Our athletic department also afforded us the opportunity to bring NAU's band and I think that really contributed to the environment.

On the preseason polls:

Our record last year wasn't indicative of the talent we had on our team. Our five seniors want to show that last year wasn't the best season, but this year can be different. We have some great senior leaders including Rene Coggins. Our underclassmen want to prove people wrong who don't think we'll have a great season and I think we have the talent to do it.

Her message to fans:

It is nice being in Reno and being the only show in town at that time in March. Both the men and women have a great product on the floor so get your tickets now and come see us in Reno.

On the quick turnaround as interim head coach:

I think most assistant coaches begin their careers wanting to be a head coach and I was no different. I've learned a little bit from all the coaches I've worked under including Coach (Sue) Darling. At this point, we're just making sure we do the little things as Rene said. My focus as an assistant was player development so that's a lot of what we have done up to this point.

On getting the players to buy in as head coach:

So far with us being a couple weeks into practice, the team has bought into what we are trying to do. Last year we didn't do as well as we wanted to do, so I think everyone is motivated to try and do something different. With the coaching change, everyone comes in on the same level given everyone is learning the same new things. The learning curve has been strong and our senior leadership has been fantastic in terms of what we are trying to do as coaches. The buy in has been good so far.

Senior Rene Coggins

On the first few weeks of practice:

The first few weeks of practice have been amazing and there is a lot of optimism and pride on our team right now. Specifically for me, Robyne has focused on the transition aspect and really getting me to push the ball. We are focusing on the details; no aspect of the game is too little to focus on.

On her goals and expectations:

We're looking to compete really hard every game. I'm expecting my teammates and I to come out ready to compete every game and practice. I hope I can take on more a leadership role this season and help lead our team to victory in that sense as well.

On the preseason polls:

We took it as a little offensive, but we are ready to fight back. We have to remember that in our conference, everyone has a bid to Reno so it's never over.

On her thoughts of Reno last season:

It was really exciting and we had a lot more support with fans being able to plan ahead. We all had a really great time.

On managing a triple major:

It's really fun, I couldn't decide between the three. I enjoy all of them and have a great goal in mind for my future. It's unique to even be able to have three majors so I'm thankful NAU allows me to do that. Balancing school and basketball can be difficult; it's a lot of prioritizing but I also have a great support staff here. My motto is to do the best that I can with the time that I have.

On the senior class and transfers:

Our senior class is so close that we could give each other a look and just know what the other wants. To be able to come together in our fourth year after grinding for three will be fantastic. It's a huge help having our transfers with a lot of experience already too – they are filling big roles.

Her message to fans:

I think we'll be a lot of fun to watch this year. We're really excited and we have a deep team. We hope everyone comes out and supports us.