Wyckoff, Timpson, Gordon transcript from ACC tip-off

Bob Ferrante

Veteran Seminole Insider
May 10, 2022
FSU coach Brooke Wyckoff, Makayla Timpson and O'Mariah Gordon were the guests at the ACC tip-off event on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C. Below is a transcript:

I want to go into first establishing you and what it's like for you building your program at Florida State and so far how it's been for you.

BROOKE WYCKOFF: I honestly had a really easy job to establish me because I have grown up in this program. The foundation that Coach Sue Semrau laid is who I am, and basically it's about being about people first and being about these players first.

So that foundation, all I had to do was continue with that philosophy and be about the same things, which I believe is what we should all be about in this business.

But then there are differences. We're different people. So I think a lot of my stamp on it will come just in basketball things, style of play. The game has evolved. We constantly evolve, so we'll look a little different this year.

I really am just a product of just a great -- the legacy that she left.

THE MODERATOR: Absolutely. I can say that I'm part of her legacy as well being from Florida State. Sue Semrau definitely establishing what the winning culture should be at Florida State, and that's what you're very passionate about establishing. Coming off another season where you got ten wins in the ACC, but trying to build on that as well.

Obviously, you have -- the way you're looking at me. You're like, You better say KK. I'm going to say it for everyone else just so they have your name right: Makayla Timpson. When you are looking at how you are even different, what did you learn last year and some things you worked on in the off-season to be sure you're prepared for the next.

MAKAYLA TIMPSON: From last year, I learned that -- Coach was telling me like next year you're going to be playing more than what you did last year, so I just have to prepare my mind and my game to like expand.

Like I want to be better than I was last year obviously, but also for the coaches and my teammates and just expanding my game and being a great player that I can become in the future.

THE MODERATOR: You said expanding your game. What does that look like? Are we going to see some threes out of her or no?

MAKAYLA TIMPSON: You may see some threes -- well, you will see some threes out of me. Probably not as many, but you will see some threes out of me, and just being able to beat people off the dribble and just being versatile instead of just being on the block.

THE MODERATOR: O'Mariah, you were talking about being a different looking team defensively and what that looks like in the ACC. Can you describe how you're going to be a big part of establishing what that looks like defensively on your squad?

O'MARIAH GORDON: Defensively, I just think as a whole, as a whole team, we're going to be a lot better this year. We're going to be getting in people's grills. We're going to be in the gap. We're not sitting back and hoping.

So I'm very excited to see how we can just get out and run as a team.

THE MODERATOR: This is establishing pretty much a new-look Nole team when you're looking at eight players you lost in last season. You have six players returning, two with us right now. Four newcomers though. What can you say the makeup of this team will be about?

BROOKE WYCKOFF: I think who this team has been built to be is to be one that can get out and run and play with pace and space. So that means we've got versatile athletes on the team. Like we talked about just now, KK expanding her game to be able to shoot threes. We want all of our players to not just be pigeonholed into one position.

So you'll see multiple people in different areas on the floor doing different things.

That's where the game is going anyway. We're not necessarily playing complete positionless basketball, but that's where it's going. So we wanted to emulate that with our roster.

As O said, just defensively in this conference you have to be able to defend at all five positions. The players are so amazing. That is a huge point of emphasis. And, again, just being really, really strong and versatile defensively.

THE MODERATOR: I just remember being a freshman in the ACC, and it's just like welcome. That moment of just like this is what it takes to compete. This is what it takes to be this elite in this conference.

For you guys going into your sophomore season, if you could share one thing that you learned about playing in the ACC and how you have to prepare going forward.

MAKAYLA TIMPSON: The thing that I learned last year to help me prepare for the ACC is just knowing people are going to come to compete. They're going to challenge you in every way they can. You just have to be strong, physically and mentally. Like it's a battle you have to conquer, and the best will obviously win.

O'MARIAH GORDON: Same thing. Basically like what KK said, just being ready for whatever. You're going to have ups and downs, trial and error, but the team that holds it together and they stay together, like that's who's going to win the game.

THE MODERATOR: That's coming from two sophomores.

You do have two graduate players coming in with Taylor O'Brien and Jazmine Massengill. What do they add to your roster?

BROOKE WYCKOFF: They bring a lot of experience and success in their respective careers. They have had a lot of success individually and on their teams. They've won a lot, and they've been leaders on their teams.

So to be able to plug them into this roster, which is a mix of a lot of younger players with some veterans, has been really, really nice.

THE MODERATOR: We already mentioned this is your first official year, but obviously with Coach Sue in a previous season stepping away to spend time with her family, you had that interim head coach stamp and were able to have a lot of success in that season, getting to the NCAA Tournament.

How is it different now, and just how did that build your confidence in knowing that this is something you wanted to make sure that you did, with this program specifically?

BROOKE WYCKOFF: It was an amazing opportunity to have that year of interim when, yeah, it's not all on your shoulders. Coach Sue was still the head coach. Just an amazing, amazing experience to try it out, to see -- to start to see who I was as a head coach, and for players to see me in that light was huge, so that stepping into this now, it's not all brand new.

I'm not starting from scratch having never stood up on the sideline and coached the game. So I'm very thankful for that and ready to take what I learned, which was a lot in that season, and the season after being an assistant again, and really be a better coach this year.

THE MODERATOR: You said you learned a lot. I kind of have to tap into that a little bit more, like if you can share one or two things that you did learn that you definitely wanted to build on in this role.

BROOKE WYCKOFF: I think honestly what you learn is the emotional maturity, emotional stability that you need like when you're coaching a game. I didn't expect that being a head coach in a game is like playing again.

When you're an assistant you're literally sitting the bench. When you're standing up, you are in the action. So all those same emotional highs and lows and you're sweating and all that, that comes back as a head coach and being able to, as all eyes are on you, decision-making. But really how you're responding in moments, it's huge.

So taking those lessons, seeing where I could have done better is really something -- the Xs and Os and all of that stuff, there's a million of those. Substitution patterns, learning all those mistakes. But really overall all eyes are on you, how are you handling each moment, and just always trying to be better in that.

THE MODERATOR: So when you're looking at last season, obviously you have to fill some pretty big shoes with Morgan Jones not being on the roster this year. But as far as the balance you want to see from your team offensively, what does that look like? How has the prep gone into really establishing what that looks like for your team?

BROOKE WYCKOFF: I'm excited about this roster. We have a lot of versatility, a lot of balance, like you said. Just a lot of really good talent that I think fits the system that we're trying to play offensively and defensively.

Again, you've got to be strong at all five positions in this conference. There's no letup really at any position. And that's why I'm excited about this new mix of players. These two are coming back with the experience of success in the ACC, and we've added to that and built on that with the rest of our roster.

THE MODERATOR: It's almost like a pop quiz for you guys, so get ready.

When you're looking at the philosophy going forward from Coach Brooke -- Coach Wyckoff.

BROOKE WYCKOFF: No, call me Brooke.

THE MODERATOR: But when you're looking at her philosophy, how do you guys build on that? What is that for you guys?

MAKAYLA TIMPSON: It just takes a lot of hard work and effort. Coach Brooke, she's been a player at Florida State and she's been an assistant at Florida State, and now she's the head coach. We've just got to please her in all aspects, because she's been there and done that, and she knows what she's going to do for our team and the legacy we're going to continue carrying, the one that Coach Sue left, and now it's going to be Coach Brooke's legacy.

It's very powerful, and we just have to get it done.

THE MODERATOR: We talked about it even before we stepped on the stage. You said, we're going to be special. Why is that?

O'MARIAH GORDON: I think first off it just starts with Coach Brooke. Like she has very high expectations for us, sometimes even higher than we imagine. Again, she's been there, done that, and I just know that like she believes in each and every one of us, and she's going to hold us accountable because she knows how great we can be.

THE MODERATOR: I want to go to your staff too. I know that it's putting things together and establishing what that's going to look like for you guys and putting that trust in them. What makes them special and unique in each way?

BROOKE WYCKOFF: Yeah, I love my staff. Just so grateful for them every day. Starting with Morgan Toles, who was a player at Florida State and is now back as a phenomenal coach. Her on-court development skills and the way she connects with players is just elite.

Then Craig Carter is in charge of our defense and our nope mentality defense, which I hope you'll see. Tons of experience coming in on both the men's and women's side.

Then Bill Ferrara, my associate head coach. Again, just one of those basketball gurus, kind of basketball nerds as he calls himself, that really comes in with a philosophy offensive system that he has honed at all different levels and institutions.

So they're knowledgeable, they're passionate. They love this team, and that's all you can ask for. They're all in, and I'm very thankful.

Q. Transfer portal and immediate eligibility changed the way you kind of construct a roster, the way you recruit the players constantly on your team. You've obviously had additions and subtractions through the transfer portal.

BROOKE WYCKOFF: Yeah, it's the new reality. So the thing that I'm learning and have learned is just accept it. It's tough when you're losing players. It's also a great opportunity when you need to add players.

It is the new normal. So you're looking at it from that perspective of the cliche, it is what it is, and let's use it to our advantage.

It's certainly a great thing for student-athletes that are ready to move on or need to move on and can play right away and not have to sit out that redshirt year.

Q. Does it change the way you've had to recruit or the way you coach your team or the way you probably divide your time, right? Looking not only at high school players but players across the country.

BROOKE WYCKOFF: Yeah, it adds another element to recruiting, and transfers have always added another element, but now knowing that there's probably going to be a longer list of available transfers, and also again the immediate eligibility piece changes how you're looking at your roster and planning for your roster year to year.

It's just a great lesson always that you can't take anything for granted. You've got to really invest day to day and be really certain what you're about and just do that every day, and come what may at the end of the season, it comes, and you move on from there.

THE MODERATOR: I wanted to talk about that a little bit. You talked about freshmen, and so when you're looking at Ta'Niya Latson, and you're owning Florida when it comes to Gatorade players. You have four of the last five, ir three of the last five.

When you look at what it takes to own Florida and the recruiting in that aspect, even going down the line, it's winning against USF in Miami, how important is that? What does that look like for your program?

BROOKE WYCKOFF: Yeah, it's something we take a lot of pride in, recruiting players from Florida that want to stay in the state and really bring that sense of pride to a state school.

We're really fortunate, yes, the two-time Gatorade Player of the Year down here in O'Mariah Gordon.

THE MODERATOR: Small flex.

BROOKE WYCKOFF: Yeah. And then Ta'Niya Latson this past year. It's a great source of pride. It just adds that extra element of players that are playing for something goes a little bit deeper because they are in their home state.

Obviously their family and friends that have supported them all these years love that they're close, that they're close and can get to games. We're so excited and thankful to have these two representing Florida State and the state of Florida.

THE MODERATOR: Last question for you. I know it seems like it's your first year, but when you're looking at the foundation, it does take time to build what you want. What has gone into establishing that over time, since you've been under Coach Sue Semrau, but also what can we expect from you?

When you're looking at the fans and what you're saying to them pregame and really rallying to get them to the stands, what is the message we're going to see about the product this season?

BROOKE WYCKOFF: I want them to get excited about exciting basketball. Obviously winning is exciting. That's what we expect to do and holding that standard of winning and competing and getting to the NCAA Tournament and going deep into the tournament.

But the way we play is constantly evolving, and I want -- we all want to play an exciting brand of basketball. These players want to come out and love what they're doing on the court.

It will be hard. It's not always fun. It's hard work. But winning is fun, and that's what really I want our fans to know that they can expect a group of women that are going to come out and play their butts off and make them proud.
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