Feb. 4, 2010
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -
Thanks to a five-game conference winning streak, the first since 1995, the Spartans find themselves in a tie for third place in the A-Sun with Mercer. With 14 wins thus far this season, the USC Upstate women's basketball team has surpassed its previous season's win total for the second consecutive year.
Senior guard Courtney Hawkins (Greer, S.C./Greer) has started all 21 games for the Spartans in 2009-10, while averaging 7.6 ppg and dishing out 56 assists. She entered the season needing just 12 points to become the 12th player in school history to record 1,000 points for a career. She scored 13 in the season opener against North Greenville (11/13) and now posts a career total of 1,152.
Hawkins and her teammates begin a two-game road swing on Saturday evening at Kennesaw State followed by a contest with Mercer on Monday evening. She recently sat down with Alex Edwards of upstatespartans.com to discuss the midseason turnaround as well as the expectations down the stretch.
The Spartans started 0-3 in A-Sun, but have won five straight and eight of the last nine games to climb into a tie for third-place at 8-4. Describe what the team changed after a slow start in conference and what are the goals and expectations of the team for the remainder of the season?
We started off very slow in conference play and that was not what we expected to happen, because we knew that we were a much better team than our 0-3 conference record showed. Our desire to prove to other teams in the A-Sun that we can compete in each and every game has really motivated us. With everyone buying in to what the coaching staff tells us during practices and games, I feel that has been one of the main factors in our turnaround thus far. As far as goals for the remainder of the season, first and foremost, we want to win. The more you win, the more support and recognition you receive. Our crowds have improved over the course of the season and we want to continue to win so the fans will continue to come.
For the second consecutive season, Upstate has surpassed its previous season's win total. In your opinion what are the reasons for the successful turnaround since the first season of division I play in 2007-08?
We all try to focus on various parts of our individual games so that we can compete better as a more complete team. As far as the increase in wins, I feel it is credited to our hard work and desire. It is also a credit to the coaching staff. They see certain things during practice or a game and they work with us to help us improve individually and as a team. We practice hard and that carries over into our games. Hopefully, we continue to do the things we have been doing and win more games before the season ends.
What has been your most memorable moment thus far at Upstate?
There isn't one thing that I can really pick out. There have been so many great things during my time here. I am thankful for all the people that I have been able to meet here. Each year there is a new group of players that join the program and each year there is a strong bond that we form with each other.
Who would you consider to be your heroes?
There are several for me. My grandmother, I have several aunts and, obviously, my mom and dad. All of those individuals have had a tremendous impact on my life. Ever since I was little, they have always been supportive of me and my dreams. They always helped me with money so that I could go to basketball camps and they have always supported me at my games as far back as I can remember. Each and every one of them has been there for me and I am so thankful for that.
With this being your senior season, what are your plans after you graduate?
If I could play basketball overseas, I would love to be able to do that. If that doesn't happen, I want to do something in my field. I am a communications and electronic media major and any type of job in my field, I would love to pursue.
What is your favorite thing about head coach Tammy George? Why?
She is a hard worker and she is extremely motivated. She runs all the time and for long distances. Anytime you see her on campus, she is always running and I admire her self-motivation.
What advice would you give to a younger player who desires to play collegiately?
I would advise them to watch as many collegiate and professional games as possible, so they can try to learn from the best. Also, I would tell them to play and practice as often as they can because it takes hard work and determination to get to this level.
If your teammates were to use one adjective to describe you, what do you think they would choose and why?
That is a good question and, to be honest, I am not really sure. I tend to be the funny and crazy one on the team. Like I said I am not sure what they would pick and they might all pick something totally different. I am not sure I want to even know.
When you are not on the basketball court or in the classroom, what do you find yourself doing?
Since middle school, there isn't much I do that doesn't involve basketball. But I enjoy going to the movies, reading or just hanging out with my teammates.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you choose to go and why?
I would like to travel to Brazil, because I think it is a great place to go to. There are so many different cultures down there and it is such a beautiful county, I would like to check it out.