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Chatting with James Madison coach Kenny Brooks

Oct 16, 2012, 5:12 PM EST

James Madison has four starters back from last year’s 29-8 team that was the runner-up in the WNIT. The group includes Tarik Hislop, who led the Dukes in scoring (14.8 ppg) and was picked to the preseason All-CAA first team.

A word to describe your team.

Fun.

How so?

We’ve got the all-name team. We brought in four kids this year. Their names are Precious, Destiny, Muff (Angela Mickens) and the transfer from Providence is called Lady (Lauren Okafur). Every day I go to practice and smile. 

Talk about the WNIT run this team made last March.

A lot of people asked me during the run, is it better to go to the NCAA Tournament and play one game or make a run in the WNIT? I couldn’t answer it at the time. As I look back on it, the run we had is going to pay more dividends than one game would have. We got to play against Davidson, Wake Forest, South Florida, Virginia, Syracuse and then go to Oklahoma State. It did so much for the kids individually and the kids as a team, but it did a lot for our community. We had people who had never been to a women’s game come to a women’s game. We’ve sold over 700 regular-season tickets for this year. I’ve had so many people come up to me and talk about that run. 

Talk about the role Toia Giggetts will play this season.

We reinvented ourselves in the WNIT. We inserted Toia into the starting lineup. During the WNIT run she averaged 8 ppg and 8 rpg. I expect more. She’s confident now, and she’s playing as well as anybody better, and she’s our best threat inside even at 5-10. I call her my little Charles Barkley. She does a fantastic job scoring, plays hard. I love that kid.

Talk about Tarik’s offseason.

She’s a sponge. She hasn’t just learned new moves, she’s incorporating them. She’s one of the best kids I’ve ever coached. 

Should we expect another great defense? JMU led the CAA defensively last season.

Remember we won a game where we shot 22 percent. They play so hard. If you want to come and see pretty basketball where we shoot 50 percent, you’re coming to see the wrong team. If you want to come and see kids play their hearts out, dive on the floor, come to the Convocation Center.

Something fun you did during the offseason.

I lived at the (golf) pro shop this summer. I not only played, but I got into it. My kids are older, so I can play nine holes without them missing Daddy. I can’t play 18 yet.

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