Last season, Salisbury advanced all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The two leading scorers from that Seagull team Anna Hackett and Sarah Seipp graduated, leaving the scoring load and leadership to Julia McLaughlin. She is our Interview of the Week.
Pencek: In your first three seasons at Salisbury you averaged 7.2 points per game. This season that average has gone up to over 14. What do you attribute to that increase?
McLaughlin: Playing with Anna Hackett and watching how she could score and watching how she created offense for others. I also learned from Sarah Seipp. During those years my role on the team was more of a contributor. I would get a few points here and there, but I was more focused on getting rebounds. This year I have to be more of that scorer because we lost those girls from last year. I needed to step up.
Pencek: You knew Hackett and Seipp were not returning. Did you do anything in the off-season to prepare for being the focal point of the offense?
McLaughlin: It hit all of us when we tried to organize pick-up games and none of the seniors from last year’s team were there. It was up to me, Theano (Alvanos), and Lauren (Rothfeld) to get everyone going. It was during those spring pick-up games that we realized it’s on us.
Pencek: Was there any specific part of your game that you worked on knowing that the scoring load was on you?.
McLaughlin: There was not one thing. Everything is worked on during the off-season. As for shooting, the change was getting more shots up.
Pencek: If you were to pick one part of your game that you consider your strength, what would that be?
McLaughlin: Playing agressively. No matter how big a girl is, I’m still working if she was five inches shorter or five inches taller than me. I’m always working hard. I don’t mind posting-up on a bigger girl. I just keep working hard.
Pencek: Last season’s team had great success. Where do you see this team in comparison?
McLaughlin: We have the same goals, especially the players who were on that team. We know what’s like to win a championship and we want that again. We’re working just as hard as we did last year. We might not have the same people but we have the same attitude. We do the same thing for Salisbury, we have the same goals.
Pencek: Was their a different approach to the season knowing that you would be looked at as a leader?
McLaughlin: I continue to have to check my attitude. I can get frustrated really easy and it might show. If I get like that it is hard for the younger players to stay positive. I have check my emotions more than I did in the past.
Pencek: How is that working for you?
McLaughlin: It’s tough. There’s definitely days when you slip up. I try to keep it together especially with the sophomores on the team. Many of them did not see a lot playing time last year. Now some are starting and they’re all getting minutes. We all have to work together because there is not a lot upperclass leadership except for Lauren, Thea, and me. We all have to step up.
Pencek: Is there anything in a leadership role that has surprised you?
McLaughlin: Nothing specific. It is a lot of encouraging, enforcing what our principals are, and working together as a team. We are all doing the job of leading.
Pencek: Why did you choose Salisbury?
McLaughlin: I wanted to stay in state. I did not want to be too far away from my parents. It also had a great basketball reputation. I am a nursing major. Having a basketball program with a nursing program is hard to come by in the state of Maryland. I visited the campus and I fell in love with the campus. As soon I has learned that I got into Salisbury, I did not apply anywhere else.
Pencek: What are some of your interests off the court?
McLaughlin: As a nursing major, I work in the skills lab and I teach the younger nursing majors how to do certain skills for class and to get ready for clinicals. I am also a chemistry tutor. I spend most of my time working those two jobs and playing basketball.
Pencek: That is a lot on the academic side. Is there anything you care to share that is non-school related?
McLaughlin: I watch TV but I don’t think that counts.
Pencek: Do you have a favorite TV show?
McLaughlin: Right now I am watching The Wire. I just go from show to show. When one is done I go to the next.
Pencek: After basketball at Salisbury, what next?
McLaughlin: Get a job. Moving back home and getting a job in Baltimore. There is a lot of hospitals, a lot of options.
Pencek: Is basketball part of that future?
McLaughlin: Not immediately. At some point I would like to get back to it. Maybe playing in a league or coaching my kids but not immediately.