Lady Hawks Talk: Lillis, Richards Ready to Roll

"We have the potential to do things," Iowa Forward Jennie Lillis said. "Last year, it was a question as to whether or not we could. We saw it sometimes. We saw it other times. It's the point that maybe we can do the things that we couldn't do last year." Read more from Lillis and Lindsay Richards as they and their teammates prepare to tip off the season this weekend in the Hawkeye Challenge.


Are those your first stitches?

No. I actually had a scar there before. Now, I have two.

Both from an elbow?

No. I fell when I was little. These are my first basketball stitches.

Can you tell us who caused you to fall?

We were scrimmaging our Gray Team and just tripped and caught my chin on the floor. It happens.

How crucial is this weekend going to be with two home games before a five-game road trip?

It's definitely going to be a big thing for us. We do want to set the tone. That's exactly how it is. Last year, we kind of played games at the beginning of the year. This year, we really need to set the tone. It is a must win for us. We need to go into every game thinking that. You want to win every game. It's not going to be crucial if we don't win something. But this will set the tone for the rest of the year.

Do you guys like starting the season with this home tournament?

It is nice. It's nice because you get to start at home. In that sense, you can't really pick a better place to start than on your home court in the tournament that you could potentially win. Coming off of a championship the first weekend, you can't really beat that.

With two games back to back, it's kind of hard to make adjustments. Is that tough?

You have to do that. We're going to be going that in the next week, too. It's just going to come down to whether we want it or not. You have to be smart with things, too. But we really have to come out in that first game. We really can't think about the second game.

Do you get the sense that this team is ready to set the proper tone for this season?

Maturity is a big thing this year already. People have grown up a lot over the summer. We're not as young as we were last year. We know what to expect. We know the kinds of things that we need to do. It's just a matter of doing them. If we do those things that we know we need to do, we can be a very good basketball team.

What is the best thing that this team does right now?

We have to work on our turnovers. And we can do a lot better on defensive intensity. We've been crashing better. We can get better. That's the biggest thing for us. We have the potential to do things, and we can do those things. Last year, it was a question as to whether or not we could. We saw it sometimes. We saw it other times. It's the point that maybe we can do the things that we couldn't do last year.


Coach said that she would like to see you be more vocal. Is that the tough to do as an underclassman in trying not to step on the toes of the upperclassmen?

I wouldn't look at it so much as being a underclassman making it extra hard. It's just something that I have to learn to do. I'm not as vocal as some of the other people on the team. I can be. I'm going to need to be. She wants me to be. I've been working on it in practice and got some feedback from coaches. I'm improving. The point guard has to be vocal. I understand that. It's a difficult situation whether you're an upperclassman or underclassman because certain people take to certain kinds of criticism. That's the part that is the most challenging, finding a way in which everybody responds positively to your suggestions.

Are you close to learning what makes each of your teammates tick?

Yeah. I was a little more vocal on my high school team. It's something that I've been working with for a while. I'm getting there.

How do you like to start the season off with the tournament?

I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun. I'm excited. After sitting out for a year, everything is like a great, new opportunity.

Is there any added pressure considering that the team has not lost in the last five years?

No. I don't think so. I don't really look at that stuff. I try to take every day one step at a time and look towards the future and not worry so much about the past. This is a whole new year. Even though there's a lot of returning players, it's a new season to see how we play together. We've come to know each other a little bit more. And the cohesion on the team is becoming stronger and stronger. I look forward to good things.

What is the biggest strength of this team?

Depth. We're learning to use that more and more to our advantage. We have a ton of people that have offensive potential. In our first two games, we've had a couple of people score in double digits. And that's going to become more and more the case once the season continues. We have people to step up in that three and four position to score. Last year, Jennie and Kristi were our offensive threats. This year, they will be, but there are more people that have the potential to step up and fill in those other spots.

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