Did Lindsay Richards get a redshirt?
I haven't heard yet.
Finding a third scorer was a problem at times last year. Have you guys solved that?
I don't think it's going to be a problem this year. I think we're going to have a number of people that can score for us. The maturity from those freshmen from last year, I really believe that scoring won't be a problem with this team. Deb Remmerde, she adds an incredible dimension when teams are playing zone, especially.
The freshmen from last year were so highly regarded, Can you evaluate how they did and what you expect from them this year?
As a group that's tough because I think it's unfair to Lindsay Richards. She was one of the main cogs of the highly regarded class. When you lose one of those main cogs, it's tough to judge. Johanna Solverson proved it by being named to the all-freshmen team, but she has just begun to tap her potential. Tiffany Reedy showed minutes, especially early in the season, of how good she can be. Morgan Kasperek really didn't have an opportunity. Crystal Smith didn't have as many opportunities. Both will have those this year.
The class maybe didn't live up to the hype that some expected because of injuries. Will they make that jump this year?
I really believe that they will make a huge jump from that freshman to sophomore year, particularly people like Tiffany and Crystal. Those two are really ready to go.
Do you see Crystal maybe stepping up on offense a little more?
She was very confident in her 3-point shot in Italy; 21 points in that last game. Last year we relied on her for her defense. Now she understands that she has to be that complete player for us. She can shoot the ball. She did a great job in high school. Coming in as a freshman sometimes it's hard to encompass the whole game. But she's ready for it now.
Is Jamie ready to play 30 minutes?
Jamie has to be. Jamie is going to be thrown into a situation most likely that she's going to be playing a lot of minutes every game. We need to keep her healthy. That's one thing that she has battled is some injury problems, just minor things, nothing major. I feel like we have a lot of flexibility. I feel that Morgan Kasperek can go in there for us. Jennie Lillis can also play the five position. We have some different options. But Jamie is definitely a key position for us.
Can your players live up to your praise that they can be a very, very good basketball team?
I believe it. And I believe in giving them high expectations. If you have low expectations, that's what you're going to get. If you have high expectations, most likely that's what you're going to get. With this team, we have very high expectations.
What are your expectations?
Well, we don't really share our goals with other people. Sorry about that. I just think that you set goals as a team, and it's kind of like a family. You have rules as a family, and that's just the way that we operate. We try to keep those intact among ourselves. At the same time, I don't think it's any secret that we want to be back in the NCAA Tournament.
How do you view the Big Ten this year?
The Big Ten is the toughest that I've seen it since I've been here. We didn't lose anybody. All the great players return. You look at Shereka Wright coming back, Lindsey Whalen coming back, Mazzante coming back, Jennie Lillis returning. The core players from last year all return. this conference is going to be incredible. You're going to continue to see Ohio State and Michigan State make very strong statements.
Is Jenna Armstrong healthy right now?
Jenna Armstrong is healthy. She was out this summer, and missed the Italy tour. She went on the tour with us, but missed the 10 days of practice and missed the games. That was really unfortunate for her. You saw such tremendous growth. We put in new things during that time, and she missed that period. That set her back a little bit.
Is it going to be tricky to work in Faulkner, Remmerde and Armstrong all in at the two?
They will all play that position. You can throw Crystal Smith into that mix as well. We have a lot of depth at the two position, but that good because we don't have a lot of depth at the one position. When I lose Lindsay Richards, Kristi Faulkner will be moving to the point guard, which she excels at very well.
How did Lindsay respond to that knee injury?
I think she'd be lying if she said she wasn't down. How can an athlete not be down after something that's that important in her life is taken away from her? She may have put on a good face for everybody, held her chin high, but inside any time you go through any injury it's an incredibly difficult time for an athlete. She responded just as you'd want her to respond. She took in as much knowledge as possible. She'd come in and watch the film. She'd be very intense during practice on the sidelines in watching anf trying to take in as much information as she could. She tried to make the best out of a bad situation.
Did you see the enthusiasm as soon as she returned to the court?
Yeah. She's always had a great love for the game. It's never been a problem getting her in the gym. But when you go through an injury like that, she has an understanding of how important it all is and how it can be taken away from you very quickly.
Is she still a freshman kind of?
I think that she's matured more than that. Going through a season, even if you're not playing, you learn a lot from that. She now knows what's going to be expected of her. She knows how tough the Big Ten conference is going to be. She knows what it's like when we don't make the NCAA Tournament. She still lived everything with us last year. She's much farther ahead right now than she was a year ago.
Is she back to where she was before?
She's close. She's very, very close. No matter how much you try to put it out of your mind, there's that little reminder. You have that scar on your leg. It's a constant reminder of what happened to you. I think she's very close, but it's something that we all want to keep our eye on all the time.
What kind of things do you need to do with Johanna to work her skills into the team concept?
I wish I knew the answer to that. You go from being everything on your high school team to all of a sudden having to play in a team role. Some people adjust to that easier than others. Jo knows that that's a problem. She understands that. She's working on it. But I think as coaches it's got to be a constant reminder. It's got to be a constant focus for us in practice that when we start seeing her start playing individually, bring it to her attention and try to make corrections. It's just going to be an ongoing process.
How many times a game can Deb expect to shoot?
It's going to be different than the high school level. And she played at a smaller division in the high school ranks as well. Without a doubt she's going to go against athletes that are bigger, stronger, faster than she's every seen in her life. But, I've never seen a player that can shoot like her before. She's got an uncanny ability to shoot the basketball. So, especially when we see zone, she's going to see more time than against player, initially. But once she learns how to get that show off quicker against player defense and how to use screens to get open, she'll be great. In high school, she saw a lot of gimmick defenses. She's not going to see that in college.
What's her shooting range?
Let's just say that the nine inches that we're going to move the 3-point line back to next year won't make a difference to her. It won't bother her a bit.
How much is she in the gym?
She's in here a lot. It gets to that point of "Are you in here too much?" We would like for Deb to have a little bit more balance to her life. But she had straight "A's" in summer school. She's doing great academically. She's doing great on the basketball floor. Those two things and her family are the most important things in her life. And she's doing well at all of those things.
Will this year define the senior class?
I think so. But I also think this is the season that's going to set this program on a roll. We had our Cinderella season (in 2000-01), we had an OK season (in 2001-02) and we had last season, which was...but I learned from it. We do consider ourselves Coach Bluder's first class. We've been here since she's been here. I think we're going to set the tone for a lot of things to come.
Did you see the little things that went wrong last season as they were happening?
Yeah. You really could. We tried to overlook them a lot. But I also think that the freshmen needed some time because they didn't have anyone to teach them. You look at one position and there's Tiffany Reedy and Johanna Solverson going at each other. They're both freshmen. They don't know what it takes. It's no fault of theirs. You just need that experience. And everyone of us came from successful high school programs. Then you lose big at Kansas State, then you lose and Minnesota and Penn State, and it's like we never really got back up. We had a few good showings here and there, but we never found that consistency. I think that they have grown up a lot over the summer because I know I have. I think we had a great offseason, especially after watching the Selection Sunday show and not seeing our name come up. This year, we're going to be on it. And in 10 years, Iowa is still going to be on there.
Is there an understanding of roles?
More so now than they did last year, yeah. But I also think that we have not defined those roles yet. The thing that I really like about this team is its versatility. You bring in Crystal Smith and that's going to be a big difference. No one is going to be able to bring that ball down the court without her taking it a few times. Lindsay Richards is healthy again. If we can keep her confidence up, she's going to do great things. Jamie Cavey is doing a great job at the five.