The Nevada women's basketball roster underwent major changes during the offseason with five players transferring out of the program, including the team's top two returning scorers, and 10 new faces being added to the roster. One of the main pieces bridging the gap between last year's team and this year's squad is senior guard Nia Alexander, who made her debut with the Wolf Pack in 2019-20 after transferring in from San Francisco. Alexander appeared in all 31 games with 28 starts, tallying 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 41.5 percent from the field.
Because of Alexander's sturdy play last season and her expected role this year, she has been named Nevada Sports Net's Wolf Pack Athlete of the Month for October, an honor presented in partnership with Champion Chevrolet. You can watch our full interview with Alexander below (there's a special guest late in the interview) or check out the Q&A underneath that.
Q&A with Nia Alexander
On how COVID has changed preparation for the season
Nia Alexander: "I would definitely say the procedures you have to go through during the day. We have to wear our masks at practice. We have to get our temperature checks before we do anything, whether it's weights, film, shooting. I know at some schools it differs, but we don't really have extra gym time as we would without COVID. Sometimes you just have to make the best of what you have and do the best with what you can do. That's how it's changed. The ability to be present and not worry about whether our games will be canceled. We have to be prepared, and that's what the coaches are doing. They're preparing us as if we are going to play all those games, and we want to do well. That's kind of what we've been going through right now."
On what she likes about Nevada's new-look roster
NA: "She (coach Amanda Levens) recruited a lot of great people this year. I think we have a lot of people who are hungry. We have some freshmen that are hungry, we have some transfers that are hungry and we all push each other in practice. I think this will be a good group. We all get along, we all enjoy each other, we all work hard for each other, so I think we're going to surprise some people this year for sure."
On how her role changes as a senior
NA: "Definitely continue to be a leader, a vocal leader, a leader by example with my work ethic, how I practice, how I get in extra shots, and when it comes down to playing I'm just going to continue to do that and try to be that person that keeps us together when things are tough. I think that's the role I will play. Being aggressive. All of the good things. As a senior, that's kind of the time where the coaches look at you to be an extension of them and be that example. That's what I'm hoping I can do for the team this year."
On growing up in a hoops family (mom played at Washington; dad was her prep coach)
NA: "Honestly, it was cool. I'm really close with both my parents. My mom, I feel like at the time she was the one who was more annoying or something, but going Division I, you see that was the bare minimum. She was holding me and my teammates at the time to a higher standard because she had been there. She played overseas. When I got to college, it wasn't so much of a shock because I was used to her being more detail oriented. But overall it was a pretty cool experience to see things from the coaches' perspective. My parents weren't really biased toward me. They would keep it 100, and be, like, 'You played well, but did you play defense?' It helped me maturity-wise being able to see different perspectives on the court, for sure."
On who wins the family basketball games
NA: "Yeah, nowadays it doesn't look like there's any competition for me or my little sister (Aaliyah). My sister goes to Eastern (Washington) now. It's her freshman year. But my dad still tries to talk mess to us. But we tell him, 'You're not even in the conversation at this point. We can beat you. It's not high school anymore.' I'm first (in the family), and I'm going to send this video to my sister so she knows she'll never beat me ever. She'll never beat me."
On what she's learned from dealing with the pandemic
NA: "Honestly, taking it day-by-day. I started meditating with my breathing, trying to be present. I like to be organized and I like to plan, and this season you really have to plan on doing the best with what you have and doing your best for today. Being present. Trying to value the time when I am with people. FaceTime. Reading the Bible. Focusing on God's word. Sometimes I'll be, like, 'Yo, I don't really want to practice today.' But it's like it's bigger than me. I'm trying to look outside myself and doing things for my teammates and coaches. It is definitely difficult when you don't necessarily know for sure if we're going to have what we think we're going to have. It's a good lesson of doing the right thing regardless of the results."
At this point, Alexander's teammate, Eliska Stebetakova, joined the Zoom chat, so we asked the Czech Republic native how she's enjoyed Reno so far.
Eliska Stebetakova: "I just love the team and the coaching staff. I love all of them. I love how the coaching staff is so positive and they give us so much energy and how they work with us. I've never had that. I didn't have coaches like this, and this is what I really appreciate."
And then Alexander said she wasn't looking forward to Halloween because she doesn't like candy, at which point we had to (jokingly) end the interview because candy is the best and can't be talked about in a negative light. Good luck to Alexander and the Wolf Pack this season. The season opener is scheduled for Nov. 25.