Lisa, you've done a good job of using every single player on your roster in your exhibition games. Do you anticipate solidifying a lineup against Northern Illinois? Where are you on that point, or are you still going to use a mix?
"Well, we will rotate about eight players predominantly. We will … who will start yet is still to be determined. We have a week yet to prepare, but I like what I see. We have eight, nine … nine players that can probably rotate in there, but we'll decide on the starting lineup probably Friday. But I like what I see. The exhibition games allowed us to evaluate strengths and weaknesses. We've got a lot to learn, a lot to work on, but I'm real pleased with our progress this far."
Lisa, can you talk, I know you did last week about the class, but the big add over the weekend, which was something you guys worked very hard at.
"We had one more recruit, Janese Banks, a tremendous player. Her brother is a receiver for Tennessee, if you watch, on the football team, obviously, down there. We attended her game Saturday night, Denis Ianello and I did. We just … she sealed the deal that night. Janese is a great player, a great guard, great athlete and a person that's going to add leadership abilities. She comes from a great family. She's a tremendous student. She goes to Ben Davis High School, in Indiana. We watched her score 21 points, 11 boards (and) seven assists. She can do it all, great combo guard. We're real excited about her, I'm real happy."
One of the women's hoops reports, publications, mentioned that your recruiting class was in the top 15. He kind of characterized it as a sleeper recruiting class and that you really did a lot, put a lot into it. Can you talk a little bit about your pride in that and how hard you guys have worked to put the class together?
"My staff is outstanding. We've worked very, very hard from the get go; from the first day on the job to right now. It's on-going, I mean recruiting is year-round for every sport. I commend my staff for their hard work and their vision and what we've addressed for needs for the program as well as where we want to go with this program. But when it comes down to it, your players sell the program and we have some quality student-athletes on our current team right now. They've really sold our program. We were 100-percent on visits to campus, on official visits — everyone that came on an official visit committed to us. So, I feel very good about the fact that our students sold the University of Wisconsin, our program and we're excited about the future."
Lisa, as you guys approach the home opener on Sunday, is the team where you wanted it to be when you took over, or when you started practice. Where do you stand as you enter the regular season?
"I'm real pleased with our effort. We've got a long way to go, but I'm very pleased with acceleration of how this team has attached onto our system. We do have a week to prepare. Northern Illinois will bring just unbelievable pressure defense to us on the perimeter. Last year, the team struggled with the Northern Illinois' half-court defense. Carol Hammerle does a great, great job. She's been coaching for a long, long time and her history is really to paint the perimeter and put a lot of pressure out there. So, we need to address that this week. We'll practice against guys every single day in practice. Our players have given me three hours of their time every single day. Our practices have been long, a lot of teaching, a lot of conditioning, a lot of discipline and they have accepted and attached the system from the first day. They are in my boat and for that I'm thankful. When there is change, how quickly does that happen? I'm very pleased that they've bought in, they've really bought in. I'm excited about next Sunday."
With regards to recruiting, you mentioned before that ultimately the players have to sell the program, but can you talk about how big the difference has been for you, walking into a player's home, or talking to a player from the past places you've been coaching, to now walking in as the University of Wisconsin head coach?
"It's a lot different, when you're certainly … you know I'm from here. It's very easy to sell something you've loved your whole life. To give that excitement and that enthusiasm to those kids when you're sitting in their living room and their families, and say, come and join our family. There's no better place in the country to be a student-athlete. Come to the University of Wisconsin, we're the No. 1 college sports town, etcetera, etcetera. There (are) so many things you can sell, but ourselves and I think they can see my excitement about being back, being in my dream job and hoping and praying that we bring women's basketball to the highest level."
Lisa, are there any players in the first two exhibition games who stood out to you? Or were very impressive? Stephanie (Rich) and Lello (Gebisa) really, probably, did what you expected, but any of the other players who stood out in your mind?
"Well, Stephanie Rich goes with out saying. Stephanie's obviously going to have to play the point guard this year with the loss of Shawna (Nicols). Steph's maturity this year, those that have watched her in the past, she's matured into a great leader on this team, a leader by example. She can handle it, she can deliver it and she can score. I also think her defense has improved, as well. She's in great shape. Emily Ashbaugh has been a mainstay inside. I told her, at 6-5 and Lello Gebisa at 6-7, those are comparable to a 7-2 and 7-foot man, from a standpoint of basketball. When they have one-on-one coverage they've got to score and they're getting a little more confident that way. I'm very pleased with our inside game. Our height, we have to utilize. We're working very hard on taking care of the basketball in order to utilize that height. I'm very pleased with Ashley Josephson and Ebba Gebisa. Ebba was going to play the four for us, but due to injury, she's now shifting positions. The team has adjusted to our changes and playing wherever we ask them to play. I'm thankful for that. Kandace Evans is coming a long way. She's maturing into … she's the one and only freshman, but does bring us a dimension on the floor that we don't have. She's come along very nicely, as well. Then when you come with Jordan Wilson and Kjersten Bakke, they fill out that rotation of eight. We've got some power, some strength, some height, some quickness and some scorers in there. For us to be successful, we need to have three to four people averaging double figures. Our post players need to be up there shooting for double-doubles every game. And everybody knows, obviously, we have to take care of the ball."
Are you getting more and more nervous as your first game, real game approaches?
"I'm not nervous, Brian, I'm excited. I can't wait! This will be a long week. I have speaking engagements every day this week so that will keep my mind going and keep me doing a lot of different things. But I'm excited, I can't wait for next Sunday. Our fans are great. They came out in great support in our exhibition games and I'm looking forward to the start of the season."
Does Ebba (Gebisa) have an injury that occurred, that you switched that around, switched her on position?
"No, Ebba (Gebisa) doesn't have the injury. Shawna (Nicols) is gone. We went down a guard with position."