A Matador Minute with Freshman Analee Viena-Lota

A Matador Minute with Freshman Analee Viena-Lota
Recently, freshman Analee Viena-Lota sat down with the media relations staff to discuss the ongoing women's basketball season. A native of Honolulu, Hawai'i, Viena-Lota has seen her role in the Matador game plan expand tremendously over the past five games. During that period, she is averaging 8.6 ppg, good for third on the team, while shooting 57.6 percent (19-33) from the field.
Against Cal State Bakersfield on Dec. 19, Viena-Lota came off the bench to explode for a season-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and grab nine rebounds. Viena-Lota arrived at Northridge after an expansive high school career that saw her travel around the U.S. to face other select teams and also included a trip to Japan to face some of that nation's best. Although she does admit to being homesick at times, Analee Viena-Lota brings a swagger and determination that will reap dividends for the Matadors, starting Thursday at UC Davis and in the future.

1. Can you talk about your freshman season so far?
"When the season started, I was really nervous. Now, I am starting to gain my confidence. I really enjoy playing with my teammates. I think the Bakersfield game helped me boost my confidence especially. It was exciting to start the other night against UC Santa Barbara, and I am enjoying the additional playing time. I realize, though, that playing time is based upon performance"

2. What does it feel like to be in the "zone"?
"You feel like you are never going to miss. I felt lucky most of the time. It is almost a feeling of being unstoppable. Everything seems to be on point."

3. How has it been so far adjusting to college life?
"I thought it would be hard, but it has been easy. I met some boys from Hawai'i and it has been nice to find a home away from home. I just try not to think about home too much."

4. Is it comforting to have so many student-athletes at Northridge come from Hawai'i?
"It is comforting to have them around. The culture in California is so much different. It is hard to explain...It was hard to relate to some of the experiences people have out here."

5. What are the differences between the beaches in Southern California and Hawai'i?
"The beaches in California are dirty and the water is cold. Plus there are a lot of people. The water in Hawai'i is not as cold and it is a lot cleaner. Plus the sand is real sand in Hawai'i, not a mixture of mud and dirt or whatever it is. It just is better.

6. Do you have a pregame ritual?
"I pray before each game. It is something I have done my whole life. I look for guidance and to help the team."

7. What have you learned from the coaches so far?
"I work a lot with coach Vaughan and I am enjoying it. She brings a large knowledge of the game. She is trying to help me with my defense because I know it is something I can improve."

8. Who keeps the mood light on the team, whether it is in practice or during a game?
"I love hanging out with Crystal Hahs. She can laugh at anything. We have the same sense of humor. She is a fun person to be around. Katrina Thompson is another person who does a good job of making people laugh. She has a great attitude and lot of energy. She keeps things going when things are down. She gives us that energy and spark in games and in practice."

9. What are your goals for the rest of the season?
"I would like to make the All-Big West Freshman team. I would also like to get quicker on defense. As a team, I want us to do better in 2008 and advance far in the Big West Conference tournament."

10. What do you miss about home the most?
"I miss surfing. I miss it because it allows you to tan fast. I can't surf out here because it is cold. I miss the food, especially poi. I also miss my workout crew, a group of basketball players that makes training fun, though it is really hard.

11. What makes a good rebounder?
"I think my athleticism and long arms help me get rebounds. I think sometimes it's about being in the right place at the right time, but it also comes down to boxing-out, something I need to work on."

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