Full Court Press: Aaliyah Whiteside

Photo by John Nakano

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
the court.

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
coaches, everyone.

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
the team.

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
your success?

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.