By Daniel Flores
Women’s basketball went through some changes this summer adding Julia Smith and ZsaZsa Lawson to the coaching staff.
Smith and Lawson talked about their transition to Cal Poly Pomona over the summer, and both had positive things to say about the process.
“Everyone has been very welcoming and warm. Everyone has been supportive from President Coley to Coach (Danelle) Bishop, all the way down to the players,” said Smith.
Lawson talked about her move to CPP as an “eye-opening experience.”
She talked about the new and “refreshing” people she has met and how friendly they have been by helping her figure out the logistics, such as NCAA rules that come with a new job.
“Everyone has been extremely inclusive. Since I came over, we have been having lots of fun,” said Lawson. “Coach Bishop has been great in helping me transition from a two-year college to a four-year college.”
Both coaches come with experiences as players and coaches at the collegiate level.
Smith had success as a player at both the University of Washington, where she earned Pac-10 All-Freshman Honorable Mention and at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas.
Lawson played right down the street at Mt. San Antonio College.
She won two state championships in 2007 and 2008, while the team compiled 37 wins in 38 tries.
After Mt. Sac, she went on to play at BYU-Hawaii.
Both Smith and Lawson also excelled in their jobs as assistant coaches.
Smith last coached at California Baptist University, where the Lancers went to the Elite Eight, won back-to-back PacWest and West Region titles and finished as runners-up in the 2015 NCCA Division II tournament.
Before coaching at CBU, Smith was an assistant coach and director of basketball operations at the University of California- Irvine.
Smith was instrumental in building the basketball program and helping UCI reach the Big West Conference Tournament three years in a row, from 2009-2011.
“Off the court, my biggest strength is caring and helping these players become women of society. I care as much about the players’ grades as I care about winning games,” Smith said. “On the court, my strengths are I am very passionate and I can be very loud, but I can be a bit of a perfectionist.”
Lawson went back to Mt. Sac to begin her coaching career.
Upon arrival, Lawson brought with her the championship magic back from her playing days.
During her five years at her alma mater, Lawson helped the Mounties reach the final four of the California Community College Athletic Association four times and captured two CCCAA State Championships.
“I am able to relate to these players and translate what the coaching staff is trying say to the players,” Lawson said. “My biggest weakness has to be my inexperience at this level of play.”
Both coaches seemed excited about starting their new adventures at CPP and expect to have a positive first year.
“We want to have a successful year,” said Smith. “We have a lot of returning players and that should help bring along our new players.”
Since last season, CPP has added transfer guards Crystal Malveaux and Mylah Andrada along with freshman forward Cameran Bahnsen.
Lawson seemed to be of the same mindset when talking about goals for her first year with the Broncos.
“We want to win at a very high level, and we want to push our players to achieve their full potential,” said Lawson.
The woman’s basketball season starts Nov. 10 in Azusa, for the CCAA/PACWEST Challenge.
Courtesy of CPP Sports Information
Courtesy of CPP Sports Information
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