Q&A: Frese discusses her first year at SDSU, past experiences

San+Diego+State+womens+basketball+head+coach+Stacie+Terry-Hutson+%28right%29+and+assistant+coach+Marsha+Frese+look+on+during+a+game+in+the+2020-21+season+at+Viejas+Arena.

Kyle Betz

San Diego State women’s basketball head coach Stacie Terry-Hutson (right) and assistant coach Marsha Frese look on during a game in the 2020-21 season at Viejas Arena.

by Breven Honda, Senior Staff Writer

San Diego State women’s basketball went through many changes this past season. 

One of them was bringing in assistant coach Marsha Frese last September

I talked with the assistant coach about her first season on the Mesa as well as looking back at her coaching career. 

Breven Honda: What was your first reaction when you heard you were coming to San Diego State?

Marsha Frese: “Oh wow. Just excited. First and foremost, it’s because I believe in coach Terry and her vision for this program. She has always been a huge believer in relationships with student-athletes and that’s pretty much how I have managed my career as well. So, very excited to be part of a staff that aligns with the values that I have in this profession.”

BH: You and head coach Stacie Terry-Hutson have known each other for a long time. What was it like this season to be on the same bench for the first time since both of you were at the University of Illinois? 

MF: “A lot of fun. We have some great memories from Illinois. We were both at very different points in our careers and with our families, but we have the same commitment and that’s the thing about going to work during the pandemic. We have a little bit of a shorthand with each other that we know what our comment, our feelings are based on. It cuts down on some of the learning curves that potentially you would have with working for someone you didn’t have that prior relationship to, so it definitely accelerated the process of being able to help, lend support to her and the rest of the staff.”

BH: What were some of the things you learned as a first year assistant coach?  

MF: “I’ve been in six different conferences. This is my first time coaching in the Mountain West. Really impressed by the caliber of play and the caliber of the coaches in the league. There’s a lot of experience in the league, a lot of proven coaches and in any given year, it’s anybody’s game. Obviously the support from the SDSU administration in the middle of a pandemic, things ran incredibly smooth, considering all the chaos that was going on around us. The program was super-well supported, not only by the administration, but the community itself. I think that level of support is unusual and you have everything in place to be successful here.”

BH: As a first-year assistant coach, what was it like to work with freshmen such as Flera Vinerte, Kimberly Villalobos and Kamaria Gipson? 

MF: “I was coaching the posts, which is where most of our young players are. I love always having a fresh start with student-athletes. I’ve coached at multiple programs and I’ve always been careful about not wanting to watch old film on student-athletes. I think whenever you have a chance in your life, whether as a coach or as a player, to have a fresh start and create your opportunity for everybody, Our posts are our youngest, least-experienced players and I love pouring into them and try to teach them fundamentals from day one. Hopefully as they continue to grow in their game, they can take a lot of value in that.”

BH: One of the things this team implemented this year was a 2-3 zone defense. What was it like to work on that with assistant coach Nick Grant?

MF: “Great. I’ve coached a lot of matchup zone in my career. I learned it from Bill Fennelly (the head coach at Iowa State), who passed it on to my sister. So I had a lot of experience coaching matchup zone. I know coach Stacie coached a lot of it at LSU as well. So always fun to tweak, find new wrinkles and find new lineups that go together. It’s something that could be very effective for this team moving forward.” 

BH: In addition to the 2-3 zone defense, how much did you focus on rebounding, both at the offensive and defensive ends of the floor? 

MF: “Well, rebounding is a mindset and everyone probably got real tired of me yelling, ‘Rebound!’ every minute of every practice. But I definitely saw changes within the mindset of the team that they knew we were going to consistently try to demand that from them, especially on the offensive end. With Kim, Kamaria, even Flera, we have some kids that really can be big time rebounders in this league, but they’ve never had that demand put on them. I think if they can embrace that and really buy into that mindset, they’re going to be really successful on that end of the floor.”

BH: What did it mean that prior to coming to SDSU, you had over 20 years of collegiate coaching experience? 

MF: “That’s just the stage in my career. I want to add value any place I go. We always talk adaptable. That’s something I’ve had to be throughout my career, whether it be working at different levels or within different conferences, among different staffs. I am at a stage in my career where I can look at my team from the 20,000-foot view as opposed to ground level and take a bigger picture of what’s there to help you be successful and maybe hold you back. I hope to bring a different level of experience to the picture and maybe a different perspective and what has happened in the past.”

BH: Not only you, but your family has experience. WHat was your reaction when you heard your sister, Brenda Frese, the head coach at Minnesota, received AP National Coach of the Year honors?  

MF: “I mean tremendous. I’m not sure people realize how difficult those honors are. That last time she was named AP Coach of the Year was our first year at Minnesota, and that was over a decade ago. So, success is hard. Sustaining success is really hard and it’s a tribute to her level of consistency she was able to accomplish and what she did this season.”

BH: What is the team’s mentality this summer heading into the fall and winter? 

MF: “Day by day, we have to get incrementally better. The one percenters of the world know that everything single day, there’s no such thing as the status quo. So, we did have a really young team in some important places. This offseason has been really critical for them as they realize pretty quickly what it takes to be successful at the division one level. I’m excited about some of the experience we have coming back and a couple of the newbies coming in that are going to finish it. As a program, we need to keep moving towards championship expectations and put the work behind it that’s required.”

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