Sports Files with Greg Gaston - Jan. 18, 2013

Uploaded by WKNOPBS on 23.01.2013

>> female announcer: This is a
production of WKNO, Memphis.
Production funding for "Sports
Files" is made possible in part
>> Gaston: My guest today on
"Sports Files" is the head coach
of the Memphis Tigers women's
basketball team, Melissa
[instrumental music]
>> Gaston: This week's edition
of "Sports Files" is heavy on
the Sport of Basketball.
Later in the show we'll take you
on an exclusive tour of the
Memphis Grizzlies locker room,
giving you access to areas of
the team that only a limited
amount of people have ever seen.
But first, the women take center
Hard to believe Melissa McFerrin
is now in her 5th season as head
coach of the Memphis Tigers
women's basketball program.
It seemed like it was just
yesterday when she took over.
McFerrin has compiled a more
than respectable 89 and 59
record at Memphis.
And last season led the Tigers
to a second place finish in
Conference USA.
Entering the week, The Tigers
were 10 and 6 this season, an
amazing record when you throw in
the fact that the team has been
crippled by injuries.
And like her counterpart with
the men, Josh Pastner, McFerrin
is vocal and visible and a great
representative for the
Her fundraising efforts are not
going unnoticed, and the changes
to the Elma Roane Fieldhouse are
a direct result.
Today, the colorful,
entertaining coach of the
Memphis women's basketball team,
Melissa McFerrin, on "Sports
[instrumental music]
>> Gaston: Melissa, thank you so
much for joining us.
>> McFerrin: Greg, glad to be
>> Gaston: We appreciate it.
Well this season got off to a
inauspicious start, let's just
say, with Mooriah Rowser's
injury third game in,
Then you lose Bilgis Abdul-
And all of a sudden, everything
that you planned for has gone.
You have to go to a chalkboard
and figure out something new.
Has this been the biggest
challenge for you as a head
>> McFerrin: Well certainly here
at Memphis.
There's no doubt about it.
I probably would rival it to
year one when we didn't really
know what our roster looked
But certainly you're returning
starting point guard in Bilgis
And then the young player that
you probably had most counted on
to be impactful-They go down in
games three and four.
And now everything that you're
trying to learn about a new team
with eight new faces.
Now all of a sudden, you've
retooled once but now you simply
have to retool again.
So without a doubt, but I will
tell you this.
We learned a lot about our team
during that time.
And we took some tough losses
but at the end of the day, I
think we probably pressed Ariel
Hearn in to service much more
quickly than we would have
And she has really responded
along with some of our other
>> Gaston: Words that come to
Perseverance-which obviously,
these young ladies have done.
You went on the road.
You had that big winning streak.
And you won a game against your
alma mater, Missouri.
And we're looking at video of
some of these young ladies
really stepping up.
Talk about finding yourselves
really on that road trip.
When you went ahead and won some
of those big games that you did,
that really seemed to make a big
change after the problems with
the injuries early.
>> McFerrin: Absolutely, one at
Saint Louis and a very hard
fought game which it typically
is at Saint Louis.
Went to Seton Hall and won
another hard fought game.
Both of them by I think spreads
of seven.
And at that point in time, we're
beginning to get comfortable
again with our new personnel, in
terms of what we do.
We're trying to get Devin Mack
and Jamilia Ajanku running lanes
because we think they can score
because we've lost some scoring
with Bilgis and also with
Our post players came in to
focus a little bit more then.
As we got through those two
games, we began to see Pa'Sonna
Hope and Ann Jones becoming a
little bit more solid.
But at the end of the day, it
was simply about putting players
not in new roles.
They had already been in new
But a second time in new roles
in the span of a month.
>> Gaston: Second place last
year in Conference USA.
What does the race look like
this year?
What are your challenges?
>> McFerrin: The race looks like
UTEP probably leading the race
along with perhaps Tulane.
Tulane at this moment may not
look like a contender but they
will be by the end of the
And I also think UAB.
I think those would be the top
three teams that anyone would
point to.
We were picked fifth in the
preconference poll.
However, we're hoping to close
that gap and be one of those
teams that's in the top four as
we go in to the final two weeks
of the conference season.
Our challenge is those three
I think now we know what our
team is.
We're going to have to weather
or young players maybe hitting
the wall in a January or early
February which is very, very
So we'll have to weather that
But as we go down the stretch,
we want to be a team that's
talked about in the top four.
>> Gaston: Big game this weekend
in New Orleans against Tulane so
that's one of those opponents
you talked about.
Last weekend playing at FedEx
Forum, you got a nice victory
over our rival, Southern Miss.
What is it like to play at FedEx
Forum, coach at FedEx Forum-and
the young ladies who you're
recruiting, how nice of a
recruiting tool is it to play
those games every once in a
while at the Forum?
>> McFerrin: FedEx Forum is an
outstanding facility for us.
I even had one parent
say-"Melissa, this really
legitimizes your program when
you can take games to a
beautiful NBA arena Downtown in
the city of Memphis."
And as we improved our on campus
facilities, now our facilities
are beginning to be a draw as
opposed to a hindrance.
So we love to take our national
TV games down there because it
shows every recruit that's
watching our game what a
beautiful facility that we play
They drop the curtain.
It's about 8,000 people.
We can put three and four and
five thousand people in there
and it can really be a true home
court advantage.
And our players now like playing
In the beginning, they didn't.
We hadn't had any success.
But now we've begun to win
nearly every game at the Forum
and our players love it.
>> Gaston: Great home court
advantage but also it's a nice
home court advantage when you
fill up Elma Roane Field House.
You're now in to phase two of
reconstruction-just adding.
Phase one-You were able to bring
in the new locker room at the
lounge, the video room, plus the
new scoreboard-the video
What's going on with phase two
at Elma Roane?
>> McFerrin: Phase two right
now-We are completely demolished
on two levels below floor level.
So what we are rebuilding is in
fact a training room complete
with a hydrotherapy pool where
we can rehab our players that
can not weight bear to stay in
We also have a polar plunge to
ice our players down at the end
of tough work outs or after
And then in the pit that we're
affectionately calling it, we
will have a completely renovated
weight room with a cardio area.
Also an additional player lounge
And really in a layout that's
going to be a great enhancement
for our recruiting efforts
because it's going to be very
picturesque down there.
The public will never see it but
our recruits will and certainly
our players, our current
players, will benefit from
having a beautiful state of the
art training facility.
>> Gaston: And while that is
ongoing, your new boss, Tom
Bowen, the Memphis AD, comes in
to town and all of a sudden
talks about a new practice
facility on the south campus
that will be shared by the men's
and women's basketball teams-
state of the art.
We talk about your recruitment
of these young ladies and having
the benefit of FedEx Forum, a
restructured Elma Roane Field
How about this new practice
I know it's going to take a lot
of money and it's still in the
drawing plans but how will that
benefit you?
>> McFerrin: That is the new
thing in college basketball
right now-to have a men's and
women's combined practice
facility where the women's side
mirrors the men's side.
Tom came in to town with this
idea and he is full charged
ahead trying to make that happen
for both our men's and women's
basketball teams.
Certainly the fixes in Elma
Roane Field House have served us
incredibly well.
But in this new era of very,
very big time college sports and
very big time facilities, that
now begins to put us on par with
the better programs in the
country in terms of what their
practice facilities look like-
weight room, training room, two
practice courts, probably a
court and a half so that we can
have six baskets for high volume
But it is going to be a state of
the art and it's going to be an
incredible recruiting tool for
our program.
>> Gaston: You alluded to
earlier a freshman you have,
Ariel Hearn, who's been
She's a local player from
Arlington High School.
What is your relationship like
with the local coaches around
the area?
And talk about recruiting
>> McFerrin: Well initially when
we came here, now nearly five
years ago, we were coming in
talking about winning and
winning big and being the
classic Conference USA.
But we hadn't done anything yet
so it was simply words out of
our mouth.
So it was very important over
the course of the last four and
a half years that we have
actually done what we said we
would do and that is bring this
program back to respectability,
compete at the very highest
level in Conference USA, get
back to the NCAA tournament
which of course that mission
still continues.
But we've become a team that has
accepted an NIT bid two years in
a row.
And now I think we have gained
the trust of the local coaches.
And we have gone toe to toe with
some big name programs for
Some we've gotten-some we've
But certainly now I think that
those local coaches trust that
we are going to win at the
University of Memphis.
>> Gaston: Melissa, if there's
something you could change about
collegiate women's basketball,
you had the power, what would it
>> McFerrin: Wow, that's a
really good question.
>> Gaston: Something that has
bothered you whether it be rules
or just the game itself.
>> McFerrin: Well I think at
this point and time we're trying
to find our way in terms of
media exposure.
We're trying to find our way in
terms of attendance.
And that probably is the one
We feel like we have a really
great product that somehow we've
had difficulty selling.
Now I will say this.
Having been in programs where we
average 12,000 people a game and
9,000 people a game, we know
that it can happen but we have
got to find a way to market our
program in a way that the masses
now begin to take notice of
women's basketball.
>> Gaston: Speaking of those
type of numbers for attendance,
you're moving in to the Big
And we know right now it's
pretty fragile.
But more than likely this
upcoming season, the 13-14
season, Connecticut will be
Notre Dame should be around.
You're talking about two amazing
women's basketball programs.
What is it going to be like to
go in to the Big East?-And these
young ladies you're recruiting
telling them-'Hey, you get to
play Geno Auriemma and the
Connecticut women's basketball
>> McFerrin: Honestly to date,
we haven't talked much about it.
The thing that I have told our
players was when we go in to the
Big East, of all the teams that
are coming in, I want them to
talk about Memphis.
So that we are the newcomer that
people take notice of.
And that really has been our
But we're going to go in
December the greatest arenas and
some of the greatest women's
basketball facilities in the
To go to a UCONN and experience
a sellout with thousands of
people there-that will be new
for our players.
Or Notre Dame-those very high
level programs.
But quite honestly at this
point, we haven't spent a lot of
time talking about it.
But we will.
As soon as this season is over
with, we will talk about.
We have got to be the team going
in that people take notice of in
the Big East.
And then we have to let the
chips fall where they may.
There aren't many people, many
women's basketball programs,
that can go in to a UCONN and
So that is not going to make us
We're going to be chasing UCONN
but so is the rest of the
country chasing UCONN and Notre
But what it will do it will
allow us from a recruiting
standpoint to tell the players
that we recruit, you're going to
play against the best
competition available
>> Gaston: We end all our
interviews with something we
call "Five for the Road."-five
questions, quick answers.
You ready for this?
>> McFerrin: Okay.
>> Gaston: You all set?
>> McFerrin: I'm ready.
>> Gaston: What is your favorite
professional sports team?
>> McFerrin: Wow, that's not an
easy quick one.
I'm going to say the New York
>> Gaston: The New York Knicks?
>> McFerrin: I was in DC with
the WNBA and became a Knicks
>> McFerrin: Became a Knicks fan
from being in DC?
>> McFerrin: I'm sorry-I was in
New York and DC with the WNBA.
But when I was in New York, I
became a Knicks fan.
>> Gaston: Favorite professional
athlete of all time?
>> McFerrin: Teresa Edwards.
>> Gaston: What an amazing
From Georgia, right?
>> McFerrin: Absolutely, from
Georgia-a five time Olympian in
women's basketball.
>> Gaston: Your favorite
musician, music, genre of music-
What do you listen to?
>> McFerrin: Reggae-favorite
genre of music is reggae.
>> Gaston: Reggae?
How about what reggae artists do
you prefer?
>> McFerrin: I like a lot of
I like a lot of them but I just
think it's happy music.
It's happy music.
I always say put it in the car,
put down your top, put on reggae
and all of a sudden you're on
>> Gaston: So you learn a little
bit about our guests with "Five
for the Road."
That's why we do this-reggae
Alright, two more for ya.
Favorite TV show of all time?
>> McFerrin: Not a big TV
Not a big TV person at all.
I'll tell you what my favorite
one is right now.
>> Gaston: What is it?
>> McFerrin: "Scandal."
>> Gaston: "Scandal."
>> McFerrin: "Scandal."-That's
the hot one right now.
>> Gaston: Okay, how about when
you were a kid?
Was it something growing up?
>> McFerrin: Not a big TV
>> Gaston: You were outside
playing which is what you should
be doing.
Alright, final question for ya.
How about your favorite movie?
>> McFerrin: My favorite movie-
>> Gaston: Every guest we have,
we always-
It's this question is always
perplexing to them.
>> McFerrin: I mean, the natural
to say is "A League of Their
Own" because that's such a great
But I'm one of those people.
I watch a movie.
It's done.
I can't even tell you who the
actors are in the movie.
So that's a boring answer but
it's true.
>> Gaston: Well you're trying to
make a movie of your own this
year with the women and
hopefully it works out well.
So far, so good.
Off to a great start in
Conference USA play.
Best of luck in New Orleans this
weekend and the rest of the
And thanks for being with us.
>> McFerrin: Thanks, Greg.
Appreciate it.
>> Gaston: That's Melissa
We'll take a break.
Coming up next, "Overtime."
[instrumental music]
>> Gaston: So here's the
The Grizzlies have just wrapped
up their game at FedExForum and
you head to your car to go home.
In the meantime the team heads
back to the sacred grounds of
their locker room, which is a
far cry from any ordinary locker
And it's off limits to fans.
Until now.
But thanks to John Pugliese,
Grizzlies senior director of
marketing communications, and
Ross Wooden, Grizzlies
coordinator of basketball
relations, we get to go on a
little tour.
>> Pugliese: Welcome to FedEx
Forum and the Grizzlies locker
It's a once in a lifetime
experience to get down here and
see where our Memphis Grizzlies
train, workout, and really spend
a majority of their time here at
FedEx Forum.
So I'm happy to have you guys
here, happy to have you here,
And I hope you enjoy this behind
the scenes tour.
>> Gaston: It is a sacred ground
for most people who don't get to
see it.
Pugs has been with the
organization for a long, long
time going back to Vancouver.
So if you're ready, let's show
everybody what's behind this old
steel door.
>> Pugliese: You know the first
thing you see obviously, we've
got a big room here.
We got 15 guys.
13 guys on our roster now.
They're all tall.
They're all big.
And they need their space.
And we also want to make this
Like I said, they spend a ton of
time here.
They spend a ton of time
together in this room.
So we want things to be as
comfortable as possible from
ergonomic chairs.
As you can see Marc and Zach-not
only do they work well on the
court, they also sit together in
our locker room.
And they're always talking
strategy and basketball.
You know for each of the
players, they actually have a
personal DVD player and screen
to watch tape.
Although a lot of players now a
days use their MacBooks and all
sorts of different computers and
A lot of things go on in this
Over here we have a large flat
screen TV.
We also have a film projector
for coaches and for the team to
watch film pregame.
We have our board where our
coaches will run through some of
the offensive plays.
They really focus on the
visiting teams who are the top
leaders from good three point
shooters to poor free throw
shooters, offensive rebounds,
team stats.
And also talk about what they're
looking to achieve this game
from a defensive standpoint,
from an offensive standpoint.
And really break down the player
match ups.
So a lot of great things happen
in this room.
Obviously they spend a lot of
time here.
We want them to be comfortable.
And we hope, you know, the B is
also comfortable when they come
>> Gaston: Pugs, it's a
beautiful locker room.
I would imagine it has really
evolved over the years,
especially when you were with
this team in Vancouver.
It probably looks a lot
different today.
>> Pugliese: Oh, absolutely.
You know, just from a design
standpoint to obviously that's
probably the biggest thing.
We don't have, you know, it's
not the 1990s anymore.
We're in 2012-13 and so you see
a lot of those design elements
within the room.
But space, the size, and how,
you know, sports science has
really developed in to make this
truly a job.
It's not just come in, get
You'll see the rest of the
locker room suite where they
have their weights.
They warm up.
They get taped up.
They warm down.
You'll see training rooms.
So and you'll see all of those
technologies that really come in
to a full locker room suite.
>> Gaston: Alright, you're going
to hand off the baton to our
good friend Ross Wooden.
>> Pugliese: Absolutely, Ross is
going to take you on the rest of
the trip through the locker room
and hopefully you get to see a
great behind the scenes view.
>> Gaston: And we'll see you at
the end.
>> Pugliese: Sounds good.
>> Gaston: Thank you, Pugs.
>> Pugliese: Thank you.
>> Wooden: Now Greg, as you can
tell from the echoes of our
voices, we can only be in the
players' shower area inside the
locker room.
And you can tell by the nozzles
just how tall some of these guys
really are.
Temperature controlled in here.
It's a good place for players to
go after the game and get kind
of cleaned up after the games
and the practices.
We have some saunas out there as
well for the guys to kind of
And let's go take a look out
here inside the training area.
Now Greg, follow me.
We're going to enter the
hydrotherapy room where we have
various whirlpools for the
player to kind of get the
treatment that they need.
We can adjust it kind of ht and
cold-whatever the situation
dictates to get them ready for
the games.
>> Gaston: Ross, would you know
if the players use this room
more after a practice or do they
use them after the games?
Or is it even?
>> Wooden: With my observation,
it kind of just depends on how
many bumps, bruises they have.
Obviously it's a long season and
there's a lot of, you know,
nicks that these guys get over
the course of the year.
>> Gaston: Alright, where else
we going?
>> Wooden: Let's take a look out
at the rest of the training room
and we'll get to the weight
lifting room.
>> Gaston: Well I would imagine
that's during the course of a
season, all the players at one
time or another are spending an
awful lot of time in this room
right here.
>> Wooden: Absolutely, and
sometimes you don't really see
that on the court.
A lot of the guys kind of fight
through things and as the year
goes on, they kind of learn just
to kind of play through it.
And yeah, we take a good amount
of time and the trainers take a
good amount of time to kind of
get these guys ready.
>> Gaston: You have a great
staff obviously.
>> Wooden: Absolutely, Drew
Graham, Jim Scholler.
Kelly Lambert's our strength and
conditioning coach.
A lot of tables here where these
guys get massaged, get kind of
stretched before the game, taped
up-any number of things.
>> Gaston: No stones unturned I
would imagine.
As far as being with media
relations, do they give you a
nice massage, a nice little rub
down once in a while?
>> Wooden: Not yet, not yet.
I've never asked either.
>> Gaston: What's next?
>> Wooden: Let's go in to the
weight lifting room.
>> Gaston: Ross, we know how
well conditioned basketball
players are-some of the best
athletes in all of sport.
We don't normally see a lot of
really big, beefy, bulked up.
But we do know they hit the
weights and you have one
impressive weight room.
>> Wooden: And you can see how
many weights they hit.
We have some of the best
athletes in the world and we
just try to take the proper
measures to kind of get them
what they need to stay in shape
and take the court.
>> Gaston: There are some I'm
sure that like to lift a little
but more than others.
Some maybe don't want to get as
Is there a player or two that
you know of that really liked to
hit the weights more than
>> Wooden: Well it depends per
But we all remember that Zach
game where he kind of led us to
the overtime win in Phoenix.
He got that monster third game.
He came in and lifted for
however many number of minutes
before the game started as part
of his routine.
And it obviously helped him that
>> Gaston: So he was lifting
before that game that night he
went for 38 as you said and 22
That's got to be uncommon,
right?-to lift that much before
a game.
>> Wooden: Well it really comes
down to a personal preference of
what I've seen.
Some players like to.
Some players, you know, they'd
rather not.
It kind of feels like it affects
their game a little bit.
But they just try to listen to
their own bodies and what they
want to do.
They all have their routines.
And they listen to our strength
and conditioning coach, Kelly
Lambert, who's job is to kind of
put these guys together to kind
of take the court.
>> Gaston: Go through their
routines, go through their
regiments and Kelly Lambert does
a great job with these players.
Alright, what do we have next?
>> Wooden: Let's take our next
stop to the equipment room.
>> Gaston: Now Ross, I guess
this is where they make the
Grizzlies look good.
>> Wooden: They do and they put
a lot of long hours in to doing
Chuck Sweeney and Vince Ford are
some of our hardest working guys
We have an actual laundromat
back here if you want to follow
We have washers and dryers.
This is all for one team.
And you can see just jerseys, t-
shirts, practice gear, shorts,
headbands, towels, more towels-
everything that they need.
If you follow me back here,
closets full of more of the
Each player has two or three of
the home road and the alternate
versions of the jerseys which
they keep back here as well.
More gear, headbands, other
things that I haven't seen.
Greg, what size do you think you
need at this rack?
>> Gaston: I'm usually a large,
sometimes extra large depending
on the fit.
You got something for me?
>> Wooden: Well I do see this
might fit.
How about Hamed Haddadi?
>> Gaston: Let me try.
That should fit, I think.
Let me.
>> Wooden: Maybe not.
>> Gaston: No, that's more like
a dress I think.
>> Wooden: Yeah, I think so.
Well how about we throw it back
to Pugs for one more thing.
>> Gaston: Alright, Ross.
Great job.
Thank you so much.
>> Wooden: No problem.
>> Pugliese: Well we're at the
other end of the locker room
right now.
And just over here to my left is
the coachs' area.
So from Lionel Hollins, Berry
Hecker, Henry Bibby, Dave
Joerger-they're all in there,
every game reviewing tape, going
over strategies.
And as we head down the hall
here, we start off with the
pictorial history of the Memphis
So everyday the players walk in,
they see where we came from-not
only Vancouver but all the way
through the years in Memphis.
This door right here leads to
our video room.
And in there, we go through all
the different games-both ours,
our opponents away-and really do
a great job of getting tape to
players and making sure they're
reviewing them.
>> Gaston: Is there one player
who may want to look at the tape
and examine his opponent more
than any other?
>> Pugliese: I think they all do
a little bit but definitely can
say that about Tony Allen.
Pregame, whether he's on the
training table getting taped up
or whether he's in the locker
room just putting on his shoes,
he's got his headphones on, his
laptop in front of him, and he's
reviewing tape to make sure he
gets his defensive stops he's so
famous for.
>> Gaston: He's focused.
More and more pictures here as
we walk down the hallway.
>> Pugliese: Absolutely, and
here really starts our time in
Memphis from the building of
FedEx Forum to our first game-
playoff game-all the way through
to our brand and logo change.
Highlighting Grizzlies Academy-
some of our community work, our
Martin Luther King game, and
then some of the accolades we
received in the last ten years.
>> Gaston: Alright, where are we
entering now?
>> Wooden: We're coming in to
the players' lounge right now.
So a little oasis and break from
the taping, all the tape, the
weight room.
In here we're able to have
pregame meals, prepared meals
for all the players.
They can watch some TV, relax.
They can also play a little pool
or ping pong.
And there's definitely a lot of
players in here who enjoy ping
>> Gaston: Well Pugs, this has
been, again, very informative.
Also as we said, something that
folks don't normally get to see.
Thank you so much for taking us
behind the scenes on this tour.
>> Pugliese: Well I really
appreciate you coming up and
showing this to everybody.
And we hope people get down to
FedEx Forum to see this team
play soon.
>> Gaston: Absolutely.
Thank you, Pugs.
>> Pugliese: Thank you, Greg.
>> Gaston: And there you have
Thanks once again to John and
Ross for playing the role of
tour guides.
And to Grizzlies Director of
media relations and publications
Jason Wallace for all his
assistance in helping us here.
And that will do it for now.
Remember, to see any previous
show head to our website at
WKNO-dot-org and click on KNO