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Q&A with Sharnee Zoll

Sharnee Zoll returns as a three-year starter for the Cavalier women’s basketball team this season. She has a chance to become UVa’s all-time assists leader during the season. Zoll and her teammates play Team Concept Monday at 7 p.m. in John Paul Jones Arena in their preseason exhibition game. Admission is free to the public.

QUESTION: What is the most rewarding feeling for a point guard?
Zoll: It’s the same for any position, and that’s coming off the court with a win. I play point guard so I don’t get to score a lot, but I want to get my teammates involved. I want to do anything I to help the team and improve our record, and that all comes after getting those Ws.

QUESTION: What is your best basketball memory, outside of Virginia?
Zoll: Winning the national championship in my U16 league. I played for the Philly Belles and played with girls that now play for Maryland and Duke. It was a great experience and we won a ton of games that summer.

QUESTION: What are the team goals for the year this year?
Zoll: Our goal is to win every game and tournament we play in. That includes the Cavalier Classic, the ACC title both regular season and tournament and then win the NCAA championship.

QUESTION: Describe head coach Debbie Ryan.
She is absolutely amazing. She is one of the main reasons I chose to come to Virginia. Sometimes at practice I wish I had a note pad with me so I could write down everything she has to say about the game, as well as life. I just try and take as much in as possible.

QUESTION: You fill a lot of different categories on the stat sheet. Which stat category is most important to you?
Zoll: Definitely assists. As point guard I see it as my job to distribute and set up my teammates.

QUESTION: You are approaching Dawn Staley’s career assist record. What would breaking that record mean to you?
Zoll: Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Dawn Staley, who is probably the best women’s basketball player in history, is an incredible honor. If I can break it, then that would be great, but my main focus is winning games.

QUESTION: Why do you wear number five?
Zoll: It’s Dawn Staley’s number in the WNBA. She was a tremendous player here and is definitely someone I pattern my game after.

QUESTION: Going into your senior season, how would you describe your experience being a part of Virginia basketball?
Zoll: It’s been phenomenal. I remember when I came in as just a little freshman playing with five seniors and it definitely was a humbling experience for me. I was used to always being a leader on the team, and when I got here, I had to let those older players lead us. Now as a senior I’ve seen the players we have now grow together and that has made us really close. We all hang out together and are basically like sisters. We all play so hard for one and other and that will bring out the best in all of us.

QUESTION: With preseason preparation coming to an end, how important is it to set a tone for the year, and what is that tone you are trying to set?
Zoll: It is crucial to set a goal for our work ethic and dedication right from the start. We are looking to be ruthless. We want to always play with a lot of heart. We want to be a tough defensive team that hustles and plays hard each and every day.

QUESTION: Describe this team with one word.
Zoll: Sacrifice. Our team has a lot of players that can score. We have a lot of girls that come from high schools where they were always looked at to be the go-to player and score all the points. On a basketball court, not everyone can score and people have to be able to fill different roles. Past that, we also want to sacrifice everything we have for the team. We want to be able to do whatever it takes for the team. Finally, it also means every game. We aren’t afraid to give our bodies up by playing tough defense and taking charges, if that’s what it takes to win.

QUESTION: You are a big UVa football fall. What is your prediction for the team down stretch against Wake Forest, Miami and Virginia Tech?
We will win all three for sure. Then comes the bowl game and Chris [Cook] and Cedric [Peerman] back, and we’ll win that too.

QUESTION: What has been playing on your iPod recently?
Zoll: Lil Wayne

QUESTION: There are 10 seconds on the clock, you come down the floor on offense, and Virginia is down by one. What is the play?
Zoll: We would go high pick and roll. I’m going to run off the pick, throw a behind the back pass to Lyndra Littles, and she finishes the lay-up.

Q&A by: Raj Sagar, Virginia Athletic Media Relations

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