I want to thank everybody for coming out today. I appreciate you being here to hear a little bit more about Iowa women's basketball. I was preparing for this media day and I was thinking that I've done over 20 of these now. I've been a mother for over seven years. There are some similarities to those two things.
As a mother, you're never cocky or proud because you know at any second a school prinicap could call you and tell you that your child just flushed the school's class fish down the toilet. That's kind of how I feel about this team, too.
You don't want to get overly anxious or too cocky or too proud. Just when you start feeling confident, Crystal Smith walks into practice with her shorts on backwards. Or, one of your freshmen asks, "Who's Bob Bowlsby?"
It all is a challenge, but I really do believe that this team has tremendous potential.
We know that we have Jamie Cavey, third-team all-Big Ten last year after leading our team in scoring and field goal percentage. She's poised for a tremendous year. She's assumed more of a leadership role as a senior. We have tremendous confidence in her. We couldn't be more proud of what she's accomplished in her three years here.
She's also the kind of person that keeps things light. She's kind of the team clown. Every team needs to have a good team clown.
We know we have Crystal Smith - the team's best defensive player last year. She's our sparkplug. Crystal is the quickest person on the team. She's the best defensive player on our team; the most athletic player on our team. She's fun to watch.
Wait until you see her this year because she's made some vast improvements. She was the most improved player on our team last year. I don't know if you can achieve that award two years in a row, but she's well on her way.
She's become more of an offensive minded player. She's quickly becoming an all-around basketball player for us. I expect great things out of Crystal this year.
We kind of have the tall and the short of it (Cavey and Smith). What comes in between is the question mark.
But every year that we've been here at Iowa we've had someone emerge and have a spectacular season, whether it was Randi Pederson our first year here or Jamie Cavey last year. The question is who is it going to be this year?
There are some typical suspects. Crystal is the most obvious, and actually I've already counted on her. So, I'm not going to put her among that group.
Jenna Armstrong looked than she has ever looked in preseason conditioning and workouts. She has a sense of confidence about her that I've never seen before. She is shooting the ball very well and very consistently. This is really what we recruited Jenna to do, and she's doing it now.
Tiffany Reedy, one of our tri-captains along with Jamie and Crystal, wants to get the job done. She really has matured in understanding the offense and the defense of the team.
Johanna Solverson has the potential. We all know that she can be a great player. Hopefully she is going to come into her own this year.
There's Morgan Kasperek, let's not forget about her. She's had a couple of years to learn the system. Experience is always beneficial.
We can look to our freshmen. And yes, I know they are just freshmen. But I think back on Jennie Lillis' freshman year and the type of impact she had on our team. I think some of the freshmen on our team can have an equal impact on our team this year as Jennie did.
I keep thinking of that quote - "Youth is not a time of life. It's a state of mind." I just hope that our freshmen forget they're freshmen and take advantage of this opportunity. Four freshmen on a 10-player roster can have a pretty big impact.
I love having a large freshmen class. I love coming to practice and everything is new. I love watching their faces when they try on their Iowa uniforms for the first time. I love every trip that they go on is a brand new experience. I love their thirst for knowledge. They're anxious to be at practice. Having freshmen on your team can be very invigorating.
We need to have a major climb of innocence this year because they are such a big part of our team this year.
Abby Emmert (5-9, FR, PG, Winterset) has a tough road to hoe. She can do it, especially with Crystal's health. That's going to be essential. Unfortunately, she's been hampered by a preseason hamstring pull. That has slowed the learning curve a little bit. But she wants the job, and she's as equiped as any freshman to come in and handle that position.
Krista VandeVenter (6-2, FR, PF, Osseo, MN), watch out for this one folks. She's good. I'll just say it right now, today. She's a good player. She might be our strongest player inside physically right now on our team. I think that she's far ahead of where Jennie Lillis was a freshman. She can rebound. She can score. She can play defense. She can run the floor. She's just a complete player.
Stacy Schlapkohl (6-3, FR, F-C, Durant) will help us with our inside game tremendously. She's got great footwork. She runs the floor well. She has beautiful shooting touch. She's going to see significant time as a freshman.
Jenee' Graham (5-10, FR, G-F, Bolingbrook, IL) helps us with our perimeter game. She led the Game Time League this summer in rebounding. She enjoys some parts of the game that people sometimes don't enjoy - playing defense and rebounding. She's a fun player to coach.
On the medical side of things, we've given a medical hardship for Lindsay Geoffrey. She's just has back pain ever since she's been here and there's nothing medically we can do to help her. It's come to a point that if she continues to play it's going to hurt her future life. So, she will be acting like a student-coach for us.
The major question mark out there is will Lindsay Richards return this year? I can't even give you an answer for that. I can tell you that her rehab is going very well. It just becomes a matter of when in the season that she can be back and be ready to play.
I'd love to see her return this year of she can enjoy the Big Ten season. If she's going to miss part of the Big Ten season, I just don't think that it's really worth it at all.
We have a great schedule this year just like last year when we played the 13th most difficult schedule in the country. We will host instate rivals Iowa State and UNI along with NCAA participant Marquette. We will feature Missouri, another NCAA participant in our KCRG-Gazette Hawkeye Challenge.
We'll be playing at Drake. We'll be playing at Creighton. In the Bahamas, we're making that trip. We hope there will be some trees still standing when we get there. In that trip, we'll be playing Florida in the first round and possibly Oklahoma in the second round. That will be a very difficult tournament for us.
This Big Ten is going to be extremely strong and one of the toughest leagues in America. I can tell you that I'm just as excited to coach this team as I was 20 years ago. It's going to be a great year for us. We're very, very excited to get it kicked off today.