SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Bronco point guard Alyssa Shoji (AS), an All-West Coast Conference player and scholar, took the time to talk hoops with SantaClaraBroncos.com (SBC). Not only did she set a new school record for minutes played in a single-season but also scored in double-figures in 27-of-32 games as a sophomore in 2009-10. Shoji was named to the WCC All-Academic Team this spring. The Bellevue, Wash., native is studying in Santa Clara’s Leavey School of Business.
SCB: What was your fondest memory of this past season? You personally as well as the team?
AS: Probably my best memory of the past season was the excitement of the WCC tournament. Just the atmosphere of playoffs in general is exciting but beating San Diego and Portland in Vegas was icing on the cake and a great way to finish the season. I know if you ask any girl on our team, their best memory of the season it would be the WCC tournament.
SCB: Did the WCC tournament success carry over into your workouts this spring? As a team? Individually?
AS: I think the outcome of how we performed at the WCC tournament definitely carried over to spring workouts. I know as a team and me personally, we felt that at the tournament we finally put the pieces of the puzzle together and played the way we were capable of. Knowing our potential motivated us for the spring workouts and is what is driving us all to work hard. Now, I know we are all hungry for next season to start.
SCB: What is your favorite part about working on your game in the offseason? And what have you been focusing on?
AS: What is fun about the off-season is that you get to focus on what you want. It is the time for you to improve the parts of your game that you want to. For me, I am focusing a lot on improving my mid-range game as well as being more aggressive at getting to the rim. I think these things will help add to my game. Last year I relied a lot on my outside shooting but if I can add these things I will be more versatile.
SBC: SCU has a fairly young team. Talk about how your role as a leader has changed now that you will be a junior next season?
AS: It is weird to think that I will be a junior. I feel like I was just a freshman. I am very excited though. Now that I am an upperclassman I feel that it is my job to take on more of a leadership role then I did in the past. With a majority of our team being sophomores and with the three incoming freshman I think it is my role along with the seniors to lead with our experience. Our soon-to-be sophomore class now has a year under their belt, but as a whole we are still a young team. I think the success of our team next season will really depend on good leadership.
SBC: What did you think about the NBA Finals (Celtics v. Lakers)? Being from the Seattle area, have you been following the Storm and the WNBA season?
AS: I am definitely a Celtic fan!! So I was very upset to see them lose to the Lakers. That was a very sad day for me. You know being from Seattle, I loved watching the Storm play. I used to love going to see Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson play. I was even there when they won the championship at the Key Arena but I am sad to say I actually haven't really been following them this season.
SBC: Who is your favorite basketball player(s) past and present? How do you draw inspiration from them?
AS: Being from Seattle I was a big Sonic fan. When I was young I used to follow Gary Payton but now I am a big Ray Allen fan. I love watching him play. He is a very poised and confident player which I think are qualities that are good to model yourself after. It is exciting to see him play for the Celtics now and watch him and his team compete in the championship game... Lakers got lucky.
SBC: Besides basketball, what has been your favorite part of Santa Clara?
AS: Besides basketball, Santa Clara is a great place to be. I mean I can’t complain about the weather, definitely a lot dryer then Seattle but location-wise it is also great. You can hop on the CalTrain and head to San Francisco or drive out to Santa Cruz. There is a lot to do around here. What is also nice about Santa Clara is I know I am getting a great education. I am not only playing the sport I love, but I am getting an education that will help me after college. What more could you ask for?
SBC: Outside of playing at SCU, what is the coolest place you have traveled to play basketball and/or your most memorable basketball moment?
AS: Before coming to SCU I had traveled to places like Arizona, Georgia, or Tennessee for basketball, but what is funny is that my most memorable experiences were traveling to Las Vegas for the Main Event AAU tournament every year. I had been going there since 6th grade and we won the tournament a few years in a row too. What is exciting now is that the WCC tournament is held in Vegas. Vegas brings back old memories and over the past two years has created new ones :)