The Cardinals open the exhibition season on Nov. 13 against the Hoosier Lady Stars at 7 p.m. at Cardinal Arena.
Head Coach Tom Collen:
"We're excited about the upcoming season...we're extremely optimistic about so many things in the program, and we're really ready to look forward and not look backward. We return four of our top five players, and we're excited about that. We're getting a lot of publicity in the community. The University has really done a great job of beginning to market the women's basketball program out there. I'm excited about that. In the past I don't think they've ever sold more than 100 season tickets, and we started a season ticket drive last week and we're up to 650 season tickets sold just in the last two weeks, and I think that's a pretty good statement."
"We're returning an outstanding lady in Jazz Covington who made the freshman All-American team last year and she made all-Conference. She was a preseason first team pick...we've got a lot of newcomers to the program, a good recruiting class, we've had a couple players sitting out last year, who are going to be great players for us."
On the height his team now has:
"Last year we had two true post players and they were both untested freshman and Jazz Covington had a great year, but it was very difficult for us because we didn't have a lot depth inside...we weren't very big or physical. We won 20 games but got outrebounded by our opponents. This year we add (So. Forward) Missy Taylor, a transfer from Purdue who is an outstanding player...we add (Jr. Center) Tatjana Kiseljova, a junior college player who sat out last year, which gives us some more scoring inside. We have (So. Center) Jenna Lemnus coming back, we added (Fr. Forward) Yuliya Tokova, a 6-2 forward post from the Ukraine who gives us more size. So all of a sudden we have a different look...we're going to go from being the smallest team in the league to possibly being the biggest team in the league and the deepest team in the league at the post position."
On sophomore center Jazz Covington:
"I'm really fortunate that we inherited her last year. I'm not surewhat we would have done without her. She had an outstanding season. A lot of that is her natural talent. She's got a great work ethic and she wants to be good. When I arrived here... I asked her why she came here and what her goals were, and she said she wants to take Louisville to the Final Four...we're excited about her. Last year she played 35 minutes a game for us and she touched the ball just about every time down the floor. She's going to have a little bit more help this year which I think will complement her. I expect her to have an All-Conference type season."
On sophomore forward Missy Taylor:
"She's incredibly versatile. I think she would have been a difference maker for us last year...she's an outstanding three-point player...we're going to play her at the `3' this year...her best attribute is her ability to shoot the 3-point shot and to feed the post, so you're going to see a lot of `Missy Taylor to Jazz' down low..."
On how last year will influence this season:
"We asked the kids to remember what that feeling (not getting into the NCAA tournament last year) was like and to think about what they were going to do in the off-season to not have that feeling come back again...I don't think they want to be in that situation again. They worked very hard in the off-season."
On his expectations for the guard position:
"It's a wide open battle right now...I think we're going to have to find our clutch plays from somewhere else...however, I've got a lot of confidence in (Jr.-Guard) Jess Huggins to who came here as a walk-on...and when we put her in the lineup we won 10 straight games...we need to get her to be more assertive...beyond Jess we're still searching for that player who's going to back her up. Right now it's a race between (Fr. Guard) Patrika Barlow...and you may see Angel Bradley move over to the point guard position for us..."
On the style of play he will use:
"I do think we're going to push the ball up the floor more this year...I think you're going to see Jess push the ball up the floor, Angel, Patrika...so we'll be looking for early offense, and I think we'll get a little bit more of that...I think this team has some players who can make shots, but I think you're going to see those shots coming from putting the ball inside and then coming back out... I think you're going to see a team that hopefully makes good decisions when we don't have numbers..."
On entering his second season as head coach at U of L:
"We feel like we laid a pretty solid foundation. We feel like the better part of that has been done and now we can move on and do a better job recruiting and a better job coaching our team."
On how the impending move the Big East Conference has affected recruiting:
"It has impacted us a great deal so far. I think you'll really see the residuals from that when we actually move into the Big East and we're playing UConn and Notre Dame and Rutgers...it hasn't quite sunk into kids yet that we're in the Big East and I think you'll see greater affects of that down the road..."
On some of the other top teams in the conference:
"Across the board if you look at Depaul, Marquette, Houston, and TCU...they all return enough of a nucleus to make the conference very competitive. I think you're going to see Charlotte step up and be very competitive again...I thought last year Conference USA deserved six teams to get in (to the NCAA Tournament)...I think we've got six of seven teams that are potentially NCAA type teams, so it's going to be a tough conference schedule."
Sophomore Center Jazz Covington:
On the newcomers being able to assist her this year:
"I'm really looking forward to that. Now, I can actually get out there, and I don't have to worry about fouls, or fouling out...I can just get out there and go all out, knowing that I've got somebody behind me that going to come and step up..."
On the style of play:
"We're bigger. Each one of our post players can shoot the three, so I think that's still going to be a big part of our game."
On the disappointment of not making the NCAA tournament last season:
"It only made us stronger. What happened last year is last year. We're really looking forward to this year and improving a lot. We're really on a mission this year."
Sophomore Forward Missy Taylor:
On having to sit out last season:
"It was really hard, especially when the team went on the road. I'm very excited to be able to contribute this year. We've been working extra hard this preseason so we're really excited."
On the difference between this year's team versus last year's team:
"I think we have a lot more depth in the post...now there are about six of us playing the `4' or the `5'."
On Jazz Covington:
"Jazz is a beast. She's extra good and I think she's really going to be a good leader for our team this year."
Senior Guard Nina Simotes:
On her expectations for this season:
"...definitely experience and maturity is going to determine how well we do this year. We're excited and the girls are great."
On the difference in the way the team will play this year:
"I think it's (the abundance of post players) going to be a great combination for our team. We're going to be very, very strong in the post...we're also a great outside shooting team, so it's going to be hard for teams to double-in on the post...I think teams are going to have a tough time against us this year."
Senior Guard Angel Bradley:
On the team's motivation to get to the NCAA tournament:
"That would be so enjoyable. Making it there would make my season great. That's our focus this year. We want to make it to the tournament. I don't think there's anybody on this team that doesn't. That's our motivation every day."