Senior Aaliyah Whiteside has done it all for the Jackets in her four-year collegiate career. She regularly starts at both the guard and forward positions and is currently leading the ACC in scoring with 21.8 points per game. Whiteside is far from a one-year wonder, being in the top five all time in Tech’s annals for free throws made in a season, free throw percentage and points by a junior. If Tech is to make a push towards the postseason, there is little doubt that Whiteside will play a major role in that effort. She sat down with the Technique to share her thoughts on the team’s current situation and reflect on her career.
Technique: How is the team preparing to face No. 3 Notre Dame [last] Thursday?
Whiteside: Well, we had a day off [Monday], so we’re just getting our minds prepared for it. I know we’ll have a gameplan to go over for the next couple of days. I think we will just have to go out there and put it all on
Technique: Is it any different compared to a usual game because of their ranking?
Whiteside: No, I think you have to prepare for everyone in the ACC in the same way because any team can beat any other team on any night. I think you just have to bring your A-game every night and just be mentally prepared and locked in.
Technique: The team [was] 2-5 in conference play, but every loss has been competitive. Can the team learn something from those losses to help them moving forward?
Whiteside: Those five losses have all pretty much been … tied until the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. Right now we just have to focus on finishing the game. I think if [stepping] up my leadership in those last five minutes would help because we are a young team. But we have to finish, so some of those losses will come the other way.
Technique: How would you compare the talent level on this year’s team compared to past Tech teams that you’ve been on?
Whiteside: This team is definitely very talented. I think we’re working through the growing pains, and we’re really starting to see our identity. This is really one of the most talented teams I have been on.
Technique: Do you think this team is capable of reaching the NCAA Tournament?
Whiteside: Yeah. That’s always one of our goals as a team, and I am always going to believe that until the final buzzer. I will keep fighting for that until then, and I know we all will — the
Technique: How would you describe your leadership role on the team?
Whiteside: It’s just to lead us offensively and be a vocal leader defensively. It’s just to get us going — whatever we need. If we need a basket, I’m going to get it for
Technique: Looking back on your sophomore season, was it difficult for you to transition to the forward position?
Whiteside: Yeah, it was definitely difficult. I think at times it had its positives, but it was definitely difficult. I think I’m way more comfortable now at the guard position.
Technique: You’re scoring nearly 22 points per game, which is the best in the ACC and No. 14 in the nation. What would you say is the biggest reason for
Whiteside: I would have to say the coaches, definitely. Coach Jo ([head coach MaChelle Joseph]) has been pushing me since I’ve been a freshman. I think from my freshman year to now, I’ve improved a lot, and it has a lot to do with her. Also, my teammates have supported me; they believe in me, and she believes in me. All of that combined with me working hard off the court in the offseason too; it’s just a culmination of
Technique: Do you think you can keep up this scoring pace through the rest of the season?
Whiteside: Yeah, I think it’s coming naturally since it’s my role on the team to score, and I’m definitely going to go for it.