Q & A With Ataira Franklin
Sophomore guard Ataira Franklin recently checked in with VirginiaSports.com to preview the squad’s final five regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference games and discuss the season so far. For the most up-to-date news and features on the Virginia women’s basketball team, visit www.ExperienceUVaWomensBasketball.com and VirginiaSports.com.
Question: Talk about the road trip to North Carolina last weekend and what the team was able to accomplish.
Franklin: We definitely knew we had a long weekend ahead of us and we were going to have to be focused. We had a quick turnaround with a game at UNC on Friday and then at NC State on Sunday. In the first half at UNC, we came out a little flat and dug ourselves into a hole. UNC is a good team and it was hard to dig ourselves out of that hole, but it was a hard-fought game.
Going into the NC State game we had to have a short memory – we couldn’t let Friday night’s loss deflate us. Thinking about our game at NC State last year – quadruple overtime – we wanted to get it done in regulation. We came out hard in the first half and locked up on defense. They’re a good team and actually went up on us by one point, but we went on our run, locked up on defense and earned the victory.
Question: What is the team’s mentality going into the final five games of the regular season?
Franklin: We have five games left but we can only worry about the one that is right there in front of us. We have to take care of business and not get ahead of ourselves. We set goals for the season and we need to remember those goals but stay focused on what we’re doing. We will use the time wisely to try and get better.
Question: You are facing Clemson for the second time this season. What are some of your thoughts on the Tigers?
Franklin: Clemson is a scrappy team. Their record doesn’t necessarily reflect how good they are. In our first game we came out flat and they threw the first punch. Fortunately for us we were able to come back strong. It’s harder playing a team a second time or multiple times in general. We can’t afford to come out the way we did during the first game. We need to come out strong and pounce on them early if we want to win the game.
Question: What is your favorite team activity when the squad is traveling to an away game?
Franklin: Everybody gets assigned a word at the beginning of the season and we have to present our word to the rest of the team in a creative way. Since we had two games last weekend, we had two words. We’ve had presentations that are game clips, we’ve had poems, a rap, multiple things. They’re always entertaining. My word was communication. I did a poem with pictures and stuff. I had to google some old pictures of Coach Boyle. She thought that was funny – I had a picture of her and then I put words coming out of her mouth that said ‘Box Out Frankie’ and everyone thought it was pretty funny.
Question: As the senior class of Chelsea Shine and Ariana Moorer wrap up their final season as Cavaliers, what do the two of them mean to you as an underclassman?
Franklin: I’m really close with both of them. Chelsea has been a really good influence on and off the court as far as who she is as a person. Ari is someone I consider a best friend. She’s always worked with me on my game and I appreciated that. For both of them, they really want to finish strong and have success and take things further than they have in their first three years. As a team, we want that for both of them. Everyone is prepared to do whatever it takes. We want to play well for them and send them out on a good note.
Question: How would you describe Coach Boyle?
Franklin: I would describe Coach Boyle as consistent. We pretty much always know what we’re going to get with her day in and day out. There’s no question about her love for the game or what she wants to teach as far as basketball and life. That’s admirable and you can’t really say that about everybody in her position as a coach. Nothing on the outside affects her on the court with us. It’s always about the team.
Question: If you could take two attributes from two of your teammates, what would you take and from whom?
Franklin: Chelsea Shine’s patience. Sarah Imovbioh’s accent. Accents are cool.