Would you say that another NCAA berth is an uphill battle for this team?
I think that's it's going to be an uphill battle. Do I think that we can accomplish it? Absolutely.
I don't think that making the NCAA Tournament is ever an easy task, But I believe that we can achieve that goal again this year.
Do you need Tiffany Reedy to step into a bigger role this season?
Tiffany is one of those people that could to me blossom and become the emerging, I don't want to say star because I don't really believe in having stars on the team, but the emerging player that has the spectacular jump from one season to the next.
She's really poised to do that. She's just matured more. Confidence is not an issue right now. She's worked hard. And when you work hard and you've paid the price through experience, that gives you some confidence. She has that now.
What are your expectations for Jamie Cavey this season?
Boy, if I could get a duplicate of last season I'd take it. She had just a marvelous season last year. It's going to be a little tougher this year without Jennie. People now just have to worry about her.
That's where the addition of some of our inside freshmen will make a big difference. Hopefully with their development, it's going to take a little bit of the pressure off of her.
Jamie is more of a leader. As a captain on this team, she's taken that responsibility seriously. She's leading by example. But she's even being more vocal with the organizational things that the team has to do. Boy, you'd never see that out of Jamie in prior years.
When you lose as much as you have, does it help some of the returners settle into new roles?
You're exactly right. That does happen. You saw that with the Bulls. When Michael Jordan was out, then other people had to step up. That's the way that it is with a lot of teams that lose great players.
Do you think that Tiffany was looking to pass to the stars when sometimes she should have been looking for the shot?
Yeah. As a freshman, when you have dominant personalities on your team and really tremendous players, you think that you don't need to do those types of things. Now, she knows that it's going to be expected of her.
Are Jo and Tiffany both going for the three spot or is one or the other maybe open to moving to the four?
Both of them are very open to moving out of their natural three position. They're both competing right now for the three position, but not only (willing to move to) the four, but possibly to the two. We don't have a lot of depth at the one and the two positions. That's where we really need a little bit more added depth.
How important is Jo's development to this team?
It's important. I don't think it's the most important thing. I don't care if it's Jo, Crystal, Jenna or Tiffany that steps up and has that emerging, spectacular year. We've got several suspects that can do it.
Everybody thinks of Jo because we can all see that she's a talent. She came in here very highly recognized for her talents. We're all just waiting for that to happen. I can't tell you if it's going to be this year or not. I wish that I could.
What has to happen for her to stop being flashy and being more consistent?
It's starts with her being consistent in practice and not having the erratic play in practice. As coaches, we need to be on her all of the time about what is acceptable and what's not acceptable.
It's more mentally understanding that you don't have to do everything. That's a really hard adjustment when you come from high school and you did do everything. To make that mindset switch is really tough.
She hasn't been able to do that yet. You can see it in games when she tries to take over a game when she doesn't need to or that playing one versus five is not going to work. You could get away with that in high school, but you can't do that here. Once she understands that she's just one cog in the wheel, that will help.
Did you have a freshman point guard in your coaching career?
Stephanie Schmitz? Yeah. That would go back eight years. She turned out to be a wonderful point guard. And she had an up and down freshman year. But by the time she was a senior, she led her team to the Sweet 16.
What's the hardest adjustment?
Facing the pressure. The game is just so much quicker at this level than it was in high school. You may think you saw defense in high school but it's nothing compared to what you'll see here.
How about for her on the defensive end?
That would be a question mark as well. You're right. Some freshmen come from zone backgrounds where that's all they play. They come here, and everything is new. Every coach teaches defense differently. Even if they were a man-to-man defense before, you've still got to break it down and start all over with them.
You don't change how you shoot the ball, usually. But you change how you play defense. Every freshman is behind the curve a little bit there.
Is that a concern for you this year, the defensive end of the floor overall?
We have worked very hard on that. Everybody knows that we were not a very good defensive team last year. That was a very big disappointment.
We weren't a very good rebounding team in my mind. That's something that I've always stressed. I've always had a great deal of success with rebounding.
Those are two areas we have spent the most time working on in preseason workouts.
Have you been surprised by VanderVenter? Has she been even better than you expected?
Possibly. We knew we were getting a really good one. But let's just say that she hasn't disappointed us. She has met every challenge that we have given to her. She's just lived up to her name.
What type of player is she?
She's more of a power forward, a Jennie Lillis type player.
Right now, does she look like a starter?
That could very well happen. I'm not going to sit here and name a starting lineup right now. But, it could happen.
What do you expect from Crystal offensively? What does she have to do for this team?
That's where we've seen the greatest development in Crystal. People could come in and watch her play defense and be in awe. But this year she has the total package.
She's scoring not only by penetrating and getting to the basket. She's offensive rebounding. She can pull up for the J. She can shoot the three. She's shooting the three very well. That's not something we've seen out of Crystal a whole lot her first two years.
If there's one thing that I can say I'm most excited about or most pleased about going into this season, it would have to be Crystal.
Does she take some of the vocal leadership role that you lose without Jennie?
Nobody can really replace Jennie's vocal leadership. She was just really special. She had a very special gift for being a tremendous leader.
We have Crystal and Jamie and Tiffany as our leaders now. Really of the three, I would almost say that Tiffany is probably the most vocal of the three.