Stone: "We ended our home stand last night and unfortunately lost Stephanie Rich with an injured hand and we'll address that question in a second, but looking forward to the conference tournament. We're playing a team (Indiana) who we just played a week ago. We're familiar with Coach Bennett's coaching style and the scouting reports and the practice plan going up to it will be pretty fresh in our minds. We're looking forward to the challenge. We've faced adversity throughout the year so we'll do it again and rise up and hopefully win games in the tournament and move on."
Lisa you lost Shawna before the season started and you lost Lello (Gebisa) for a time and you lost Kjersten (Bakke); you've had injuries, but when you lose your quarterback does it makes you change the way you approach things. Can you talk about how you'll have to change up Thursday?
Stone: "We're going to be very innovative. We were up till' about two-thirty in the morning last night trying to come up with a plan and rotation. Steph will help us out. She'll help whoever's going to lead the charge. Ashley runs a little bit of point, and she will have to. Kandace is going to have to run a little bit of point, and we may have to move Jordan Wilson out to a three-spot, we may have to come up with some things defensively, but against Indiana's pressure defense its imperative that our players make good decisions with the basketball; that we find good passing angles; that we find ways to score. We did not do a good job of that down there. We did a nice job of that here, obviously, at our place, but that was in large part to Bakke and Steph. So we're going to have to fill that void someway and my staff and I will work as hard as we can to prepare our team. It's tournament time and a lot of crazy things happen in March and I'm hoping that the craziness we come up with on Thursday will provide us with a win."
You mentioned the innovation, what about defensively against Indiana, what are the keys going to be and I don't know how much that changes with Stephanie out.
Stone: "They're guard-oriented. They've got Cyndi Valentin, who I believe ran 40-straight free throws. She's a great free throw shooter and they get to the free throw line. Jenny DeMuth has taken 223 free throws this season. She gets to the free throw line, had 14 against us a week ago. That's the match-up. We match up very well inside. They have DeMuth and Valentin outside. Ashley, I think her match-up will stay the same. We can put Ebba on DeMuth, they played on the same AAU (team). There are some similarities, we know she's going to drive baseline. In some ways when you play a team so close together there's and advantage to that. You know what they're going to do. We've got to keep them off the free throw line and we've got to rebound. They'll push the ball in transition. We've got to contest high and hard. We have to rebound. We'll have a size advantage, and rebounding obviously is going to be a very key stat for us.
Stephanie can you talk about exactly what it is that happened to you and how frustrating it is to have this happen right at the end of the season after a really in a way a long season?
Rich: "I was just trying to poke at the ball when she (OSU player) just had the ball over her head looking into the post. But her elbow came down on my fingers and I could just feel it right away. It's frustrating, but like coach said, I'm glad it happened in the last game of the season rather than two months ago. But I'm really disappointed that I can't play in the Big Ten tournament against an Indiana team that we played so well against just a week ago. I believe in the girls and they're going to rise up and do everything they can to come up with a win. And the coaches will work just as hard."
So Stephanie what exactly is the injury, I mean how much recovery time would you expect?
Rich: "It'll probably be just six weeks, that's what Dr. Graph (orthopedist) said today. It's just a fracture of my right hand. I've got two fingers I can use."
How would you expect your teammates to respond?
Rich: "Kandace is obviously going to have to step in and just be a calming factor as much as she can. I know she hasn't been playing as many minutes these last few games, but I think once she gets on the floor and realizes she has to play more than 20 minutes a game then she will have to just relax and take care of the ball…I think this is a big learning tool for her as well, into her freshman season and going into next season for her. It'll be huge for her to have the team on her back kind of and just try to lead them as much as possible. And Ashley will step in and do everything she can as well, like she has all season."
Stephanie, as Lisa said earlier, you can still help the team out, even though you're not going to be on the court. What ways are you looking forward to be able to help them in other ways that you haven't done in the past now with an eye on the bench?
Rich: "Yeah, I hope to be in Coach Stone's shoes someday down the road and this is just a good opportunity to see how it goes from the sideline. I haven't been able to watch a game from the bench in a long time, so I think even being more of a leader on the bench will help and Kandace and I have a really good relationship. Anything I can do to help her calm down on the court or anything (I'll do), she asks a lot of questions. Ashley running the point, she hasn't run that for a while so I'm not an expert at the point guard, but anything I can do to help them I'll try to do."
Coach, like it wasn't tough enough to deal with a loss from last night's game but then you have to deal with this then as well, do you have that moment or two when you say when you hear about Stephanie's injury, what next, what else could possibly happen?
Stone: "I'm not a big woe is me (person) and I'm not a
person to make excuses. You're taking a player out of our lineup that's been
averaging 40 minutes the whole year and that's obviously tough for us, but what
I try to do is stay positive with our team. Again, my glass is still half-full
and I'm positive and its an opportunity for us to dig down deep and rally. We
have 10 bodies…we'll take 10 bodies in uniform and go after Indiana. Instead of,
‘oh no what's next', and ‘oh boy this is too bad'…I tell Steph Rich on a
positive note that this (injury) is better now than in December…when we're going
the whole year trying to fill this void. We're going to miss Steph immensely,
but she will provide the communication to our teammates. She and Bakke, the two
of them, and when those two speak people are going to listen. They'll back us up
and we'll go rally and dig down. You can't cry over spilled milk. We have to
rally behind it and stay positive and keep battling and finish the season off on
a strong note sending us in again to spring workouts and into next season."