Aug. 13, 2009
Story by John Gragnola, SCU Media Relations Student Assistant
Santa Clara women's assistant basketball coach Tamara Inoue (TI) knows a little something about winning. Actually, make that a lot. Inoue came to Santa Clara in 2008 after six years of playing and coaching in Australia where she helped guide her teams to championships in each of the six seasons. In the following interview she talked about her experiences in Australia, her winning drive and her recent trip to South Africa.
SCU: You played and coached in Australia before joining the Santa Clara women's basketball staff in 2008. How is the game different Down Under and what are some of the ideas you have worked to incorporate at Santa Clara from your experiences in Australia?
TI: The biggest difference is the style of play. They are more fundamentally sound and play with more finesse in Australia as opposed to the more physical game you see in the U.S. Australians are very laid back and have a mindset that basketball isn't everything. That mindset is probably the biggest things that I have brought back from Australia that I have tried to incorporate here.
SCU: What are some of the reasons you chose to come to Santa Clara?
TI: My main reason was Jennifer Mountain, the Bronco head coach. I met her in Australia and when she called me about the job here, I jumped at the chance. I'm from Southern California so it is nice to be back here on the West Coast. It was tough leaving Australia but this seems like a perfect fit. The WCC is a great conference and the level of play is strong.
SCU: You played college basketball at Long Beach State and had a pretty successful career. How have you been able to use your college experience to relate to the players you coach?
TI: At Long Beach we were always second in conference and couldn't get over that hump. I think it helped me develop a drive to succeed because I know how it feels to be second-rated and I don't want my players to feel that way. We always try to push our players to the very edge and see what they can handle, both physically and mentally. Every team I coached in Australia won a championship so I have been on both sides and know what it takes to be successful.
SCU: What has been your biggest coaching accomplishment?
TI: I took over at a club in Australia that hadn't won a championship. We worked hard and; ended up going undefeated and won it all. It was great to see those girls turn around and win for the first time.
SCU: Describe the recruiting process. What do you think is the most difficult part of recruiting? What are the most important things you look for in a recruit?
TI: We go out in July and find kids that we like. Our relationship with the players is the most important thing. We like to talk to coaches and parents to get a sense of who the recruit is. Since it is Santa Clara, grades are important and we look for well-rounded players. Santa Clara is not a hard place to sell. It is in a great location, the WCC is a great conference and we are a pretty young coaching staff so we can relate with the recruits pretty well.
SCU: What are you going to focus on with the guards this year?
TI: Consistency is the most important thing. If you shooter, we want to make sure you are consistent in your shot. Every player has a role and they know what is expected of themselves. We have four new guards coming in this year so we will see what their strengths and weaknesses are and build from there.
SCU: You recently took a trip to South Africa. Can you tell us a little bit about what you did there?
TI: I had wanted to go to South Africa for a while. We went to a poor area of South Africa for two weeks and found a group of kids that were around 7 or 8 years old. We played basketball with them and spent time with them. There was a language barrier so we had to use a lot of hand signals. We basically just showed them the game and the kids were fantastic out there. They just want to play with you and were so happy to have someone to play with. It was very rewarding and I was humbled by the whole experience. It made me realize how great we have it out here in the States.
TI Favorite athlete: Lance Armstrong. He is the most mentally tough athlete and until somebody is able to outdo him, he is still going to be my favorite.
TI Favorite movie: Gladiator
TI One item I'd want on a desert island: My Blackberry