Monday Press Conference: Lisa Stone

Women's basketball coach focused on her team's confidence and the importance of communication

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On the team needing to communicate better on the road:

"We had an interesting project on the way home last night that I will share with you. We watched the game film and I had every player critique the team and themselves and not be afraid to voice their opinions. It was very helpful. I was grading papers on the way home (so to speak) and it was neat. We've talked already this morning as a staff, and hopefully some good things will come. It was a very positive working project. The kids want to get better. They didn't want to start as we did yesterday. It was unfortunate, but now we come back home and we seem to have more confidence at home. We just have to find a way to have that edge on the road and step up the communication in particular when we are playing on the road in the Big Ten."

You have talked about a positive approach in terms of dealing with the shooting issues. (Men's hockey coach Mike) Eaves was just talking about how they were trying to approach their offensive issues. Certainly it is something every team goes through. Do you use a number of different approaches with this team to try get them to shoot better?

"I have to be consistent as a coach as well. It is interesting listening to Mike and (men's basketball head coach) Bo (Ryan). We all come from the same cloth. We are trying to find offensive answers. (We've had) some good things. The defense has been there. We had 23 offensive boards last night but capitalized on half of those. We had opportunities right under the basket. And I stated in this morning's paper that you can't yell at a kid for missing shots - they will lose confidence. You maintain your positive approach, you keep stroking (shots), you keep practicing, you keep believing in them and those things will happen.

"You have to keep believing in (the players). Confidence is such a huge issue with this team. It relates right back to just bringing the ball up the court. That has a direct relation on making a two-foot bunny shot. So as long as our defense can continue to show up and our play away from the ball - kind of like the play away from the puck (as Eaves referred to) - it's there. There are so many similarities that we as coaches and both my peers that were just up here (Ryan and Eaves) have told me 'Lisa, keep your head up. Stay positive. Things are going to happen.' That's what I have to keep going on. We watched the tape, we've already clipped it. We'll be ready for Iowa when they come back here, but we have to find an answer not just at home, but on the road as well."

Michigan has some of the same personnel (as they had last year). How are they playing with (new head coach Cheryl Burnett's) system? Has she changed it quite a bit?

"Cheryl Burnett has been a pioneer in women's basketball for years. I coached against Cheryl when she was at Southwest (Missouri State). She's had great players. She is a tremendous motivator and a great speaker at conventions. She always talks about her scramble defense. She is known for that half-court trapping, real scrappy defense. We have not seen that a whole lot yet (from them). Now whether she is waiting for her own personnel or not she is trying to put her team in a position to win as we are. I would like to press, but we can't right now. We have to put ourselves in the best position to win by doing things as a team. Jennifer Smith is their senior post player. We have two senior post players at 6-7 and 6-5. That'll be a challenge to guard this person. Tabitha Pool is a great, great player...a great rebounder, a great three-point shooter. They struggled last night, but that is the same struggles (we have) on the road. They are coming (here) and I hope that continues...

"I know that Cheryl is going to be very intense. She is very animated on the sideline. It is going to be nice to see her again. I am happy she is at Michigan because she is a great basketball coach and in time you will see a full-court pressing scramble defense. She gives lectures nationwide on a scramble defense, so we will prepare for that. I think she knows that it might be something they'll pull out. Iowa did that. Iowa is not a pressing team and they pressed us yesterday. So we will fully expect that even though we have not seen it on clips."

Can you talk about how happy you are with your personnel that you're able to start (Jordan) Wilson, to start (Kjersten) Bakke, to start (Emily) Ashbaugh. You hadn't done that a lot early in the season and that wasn't a luxury that the team had last year. Can you talk about the fact hat you've got people who you can start and have confidence that they are going to perform?

"I think there are times in any season, in particular midseason when you need to shake some things up, try to jumpstart people and get them going. Kjersten Bakke brings her lunch pail to work every day. She is ready at all times whether she plays a minute or she starts or she doesn't play. She is always into the game. Her attitude, her work ethic and her intensity have given her that starting nod. She is a great example for our team. Hopefully by starting her, the other players will take on that attitude and that type of behavior. Those are the messages we are trying to send. Jordan Wilson gave us great minutes in a couple of starts. Emily is coming back. We don't have time. The season is winding down with 11 games to go. We have to get things started now. We don't have a year to practice and it is unfortunate. I am going to stand behind them; we are going to work them hard. We go back to work tomorrow. We are off today and it is deserved. We played four games in a short amount of time. There are no excuses. We are going to try and get it done and we will go back to work. Who we start against Michigan...I won't know that until after tomorrow's practice."

Did you expect these bumps along the road when you came in?

"No. A lot of times I feel like I can come in and save the world. My family and my friends and my staff know that about me. That is they way I am. I have been very vocal about that - that I believe that, that I am a competitor. I can't wait to see the kids again because I want to practice again. That's the driving force and if I lose that I shouldn't be doing this. I don't anticipate bumps. I anticipate improvements and to make a difference and to improve this basketball team. That is what I expected when I took the job. I feel very confident that we are making some small strides. You are going to see some big things happen hopefully very soon."

Getting off to a good start is important for any team in any sport, but why do you think especially so for your team? In your seven wins this year you have been leading at the half in all seven of them. What is it about your team's psyche, their make-up that it is so important for your team?

"It goes right back to confidence again. I even asked Steph Rich to talk about my pregame speeches. She said 'They are original, they are different. They are very motivating every single game.'

"That's not what I was looking for. I am trying to generate energy - to make sure things aren't stale, that we keep fire, we keep excitement and enthusiasm in the program and the confidence level. When we are leading we are confident. When we are behind... I think having been behind against Penn State and then rallying like we did shows me some character that I think we have that maybe the fan didn't think we had. Confidence is a huge issue.

"If I had some magic medicine that I could inject into the team before the game for confidence, I think there would be a big difference because we have to be nearly perfect. That is what we have to strive for every game. You know when we are down someone picks you up and if your shots aren't going in, someone is going to the board and putting it in. It is the little things that make a big difference. Confidence is a huge issue that we have to keep improving on."

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