STONE'S OPENING STATEMENT:
Passion is why I do this job. I love coaching women's basketball. I love the University of Wisconsin. I have bled red since the day I was born at St. Mary's Hospital right down the street. My entire family is probably in this room. My husband and two children are sitting right here in the front row. Allison is 10, Tyler is 7, my husband Ed is my best friend and he is thrilled to death to be back in Badger country.
Growing up seven miles south of Madison and being a Badger fan my entire life, this is a dream come true for me. It is a dream come true. The passion I have, the vision I have, the commitment I have to winning at the University of Wisconsin is why I'm here. My background, you all have followed. A lot of you in this room know what that is. I'm a motivator. I have a little bit of energy. And with all of that, I'm going to drive this boat and we're going to get this done. Again, I'm committed to taking this program where they have not been. I've been blessed with wonderful people in my life, my family most important.
My philosophy is team unity, and we are only as strong as our weakest link. We have a great group of young women that are eager to get started. They are here in their workout clothes and that's really exciting. I like that. We're going to hit the ground running tomorrow with individual workouts. I will bring with me Donna Freitag as one of my assistants. I'm excited about Donna's addition to me as well. Donna and I grew up in the same street in Oregon, Wisconsin. My husband Ed is from Oregon, Wisconsin. Our entire family is from Oregon, Wisconsin. And I'm expecting a large contingency of new season ticket holders from Oregon, Wisconsin.
I know there will be a lot of questions, and I'm trying to touch on the bullet points here, but I cannot tell you how excited I am to be here. When Jaime Pollard called me about this, I was running around with a little bit more energy than I normally have. To meet the people and to be sitting right here, I cannot tell you what it means to me. We will work hard. We will improve in the areas of fundamentals. We will become a disciplined basketball team, and we will compete at the highest level in the Big Ten. I want our teams playing in March. And March Madness is awesome. I just talked with Coach (Bo) Ryan upstairs. To follow the path of what the men's program has done, and to ride the coattails and work closely with Coach (Barry) Alvarez. The University of Wisconsin is where I have always wanted to be. And with that, I tell you what, I am going to work my fanny off for that.
We are going to have an attacking offense. Defensively, I am a big defensive specialist as far as man-to-man defense, but we will not be afraid to make adjustments if need be. When I met with the team last night, they did not know who their coach was until Jaime told them. And I'm excited to work with them. I cannot wait to get on the court. That's my sanctuary, and I cannot wait to get on the court and work with them one-on-one.
The timing of staffing is yet to be determined. We're going to take our time and build a solid basketball staff to take this program to the next level. If that's adding a national recruiter, then we'll do that. I will seek the advice of members of this department and people in my profession to do the best I can for the University of Wisconsin.
Academic integrity has been extremely important to me. Always has, always will be. I was always a student-athlete, and my students are student-athletes, and we will maintain strong academic integrity. Community service has been very big with the Badger women and that will maintain. It has been very big in my 18 years as head basketball coach as well. We are very, very active in the community and we will maintain that. It's very, very important to build a tremendous fan base and pack this Kohl Center on a regular basis. And to do that, we need to have success. Success breeds success, and that's going to happen. It's going to be small steps, but we're going to get it done.
Recruiting is a big question. I'm sure that will be a question of all of yours. We will hit the ground running with recruiting. As a matter of fact, when I'm done with all of my (interviews) here we're going to hit the ground running today, with contact to two coaches. We have a great group, and the women (on the current roster) are wonderful women. And I know some of them through the recruiting process. Others I know are very skilled, very gifted and have tremendous potential to be playing next March. And I'm not going to make guarantees. I'm just going to tell you that we're going to work hard. I guarantee you that we'll give a solid effort, we'll work hard and we'll be a fun team to watch.
Again, my passion and my love for the state of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Badgers has been since the day I was born. I am 40 years old, although (Sports Information Contact Tam Flarup) had me at 42 and I might age two years in the next two days. I am only 40 and I'm thrilled to be here. And I'm ready to get going. I cannot wait. I cannot wait. I hope you can see my compassion here. What you see is what you get. I am full of energy. I'm ready to hit the ground running and I want to take this team to great places. I promise you ladies that I work as hard as humanly possible to do all I can for all of you.
Can you talk about the interview you had with Jaime Pollard. Did it go as well as he said it did, and how long was it before he called you back to the hotel?
Stone: We met last week and we finished negotiations this weekend. We wanted our players to be the first to know. To protect my family and my players, and my former players, I truly believe that Jaime Pollard did this the most professional and the correct way.
You had so much success at UW-Eau Claire. How much did you use from that experience at Drake, and how will you now use those two experiences at Wisconsin? And secondly, you now have two coaches that used to coach in the WIAC now coaching at Wisconsin. What does that say about that program?
Stone: Well we had great success obviously. If I can do what Coach Ryan has done, I would be pretty excited about that, and I'm glad to see that he's here. But I had a wonderful, wonderful time at Wisconsin-Eau Claire and you know, I'm a person that always wants to learn, and I hope my players are the same. We're going to learn everyday. And we're going to laugh every day too, and I told them that last night. We're going to learn, and we're going to work hard. We're going to work harder than maybe they've ever worked before. But that's how we're going to win. And being involved with our players...I'm a player's coach. I'm very active with them and my door is open. I carried that over to Drake. We had great success at Drake under some very trying circumstances. The Sweet 16 run last year was so memorable. It's where I want to take every team and maybe beyond. And it's something that, when you do this job, and there are coaches in this room, and they know what I'm talking about, that experience is unbelievable and the Wisconsin fans are ready for that. All I can do is promise you I'm going to work as hard as I can and so is my team.
This past season at Drake wasn't as successful as some of your other seasons. Do you think you've proven yourself, that you're ready for this job?
Stone: This year was a year that, we were 16-12 instead of 21-7. And close, and I'm not going to make excuses but we went through a lot. We lost some players to injury, we were without a point guard the entire year. But our players hung together the entire season. There was never dissension, we had unity, we played players out of position and they overcame a lot of things. And I tell you, I love playing in March. That's what we're striving for and if you want to call it a blip on the screen you can. All I can tell you is we're going to take days one at a time, and we're going to get better every single day and you're going to see improvement.
What about your other two assistants at Drake, including (former UW star) Barb Franke? Are you considering them to come along with you?
Stone: Donna Freitag and I will visit, and we will put the best staff together that is humanly possible. Obviously Barb and Tonya are being considered, but we need to look at making sure that our staff is what we need to take this program to the next level.
What are some of your biggest challenges taking over a program that has struggled to meet postseason expectations, and what do you have to do to get over the hump?
Stone: I'll tell you right now. There is no one in this room that wants postseason more than those kids sitting right there. They want it bad and so do I. And there is potential in them. I told them I am going to do my best to maximize their potential to get there. That comes from hard work and I told them next season starts today. It's the start of something new. All I can say is that we're going to work hard and we'll make adjustments. We're going to take this group of young women and they're ready. They're hungry. They want it too. When we both want the same thing, it makes it a lot easier to handle.
There was one player signed last fall. Have you contacted her yet, and also, are you going to try to sign somebody this spring for next fall?
Stone: Right now the current team is right here. Sasha's situation, we'll evaluate, and this has all happened pretty quick. I have to get a new phone number and move my family and those types of things. However, recruiting is our No. 1 priority right now and we will look into that and evaluate that immediately.
What makes this administration's goal of winning Big Ten championships and going deep in the NCAA Tournament a realistic goal in your mind?
Stone: Expecting to win, doing the unexpected...there is potential with these young women. And why can't it happen? I'm not going to put a timetable on that, and they're not asking me to do that. We're going to make improvements, and they want to be there and so do I. Together we're going to get there.
What is your relationship with the state coaches, and what is your assesment of the talent in the state of Wisconsin? Can you get those goals accomplished with players from the state of Wisconsin?
Stone: Without question, the state of Wisconsin is a hotbed. It's ready to go. Donna and I both are very connected in the state and bordering states. Very connected. Already, some coaches have already called us with their excitement. We're going to work hand in hand with high school coaches in the state of Wisconsin, keep Wisconsin's best in Wisconsin. That is one of my personal challenges to myself. To do that, we're going to work hard, we're going to stay connected with those coaches and that starts today. Donna and I are going to be on the phone all afternoon and get this done. But we're going to extend, and we're going to have to. We're going to widen our recruiting base a little bit...at Drake we recruited just the Midwest. We will stretch that out a little bit, and again, a lot of that is going to have to do with our hires, and where we put people in what positions. But there is great talent right here in the state of Wisconsin.
Having prepared your Drake teams to play Wisconsin the last couple of years, what did you see from that vantage point?
Stone: Tremendous potential. Tremendous potential. We need to cut down on our turnovers, without question. That's fundamentals, and that starts tomorrow with hard work. Fundamentals. I am a very strong fundamentalist. The game is not difficult. It's getting players to believe in what you are doing and following your path, getting in your boat and start rowing with you. It starts with improving on fundamental areas. We're going to be very disciplined, and we're going to make great strides. All of you, the media and our fans, will see the improvement. And be patient with us because good things will happen. Because these are good people and good things happen to good people.
I don't want to drag up bad memories. But as a Badger fan from birth, why didn't you play for Wisconsin?
Stone: You really want me to tell my story. Wisconsin is one of the only Big Ten schools that did not recruit me. But I'm glad to be back.
At what point did this seem like it was really possible for you?
Stone: When Jaime called. I knew that I wanted to coach basketball. My degrees are in physical education and athletic administration, knowing that when I left Iowa, that if I couldn't go into coaching, I could go into administration. I love coaching. I was able to start at a very young age and from that point on, I've dreamt...my first day of coaching, saying, in order to get where I want to get, I'm going to have to go through these steps, and I've taken those steps for 18 years.
Lisa Stone Q&A
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