Monday press conference: Lisa Stone

Women's basketball coach discussed the end of the exhibition games and the upcoming regular season

After having a chance to look at especially the second half, were you more pleased, other than their late run after the game was pretty much decided, were you more pleased with the effort and the dedication to some defensive work?

"Well, what we really wanted to emphasize this past week was to make progress and improve, and we certainly did. From one week to the next some great strides were made. We made a focus on defense, defensive transition, etc., and, you know, we gave up zero transition baskets yesterday, so that was good. Our team will do whatever we emphasize. We are going to work very hard on boxing out. We were out-rebounded yesterday. We played a very good team. Moorhead was a good exhibition game for us. It certainly helped us find out where we're at.

"But, you know, we got up by 25 in the second half and let them come back in it. That's something that we certainly want to address, try to put teams away and not let teams back in it. But, again, we're rotating a lot of people. Everybody played nearly double-digit minutes, and we were able to try to find some combinations and get some things ironed out before Friday. It will be imperative this week in practice."

What do you know about IUPUI? It looks like they have a good shot blocker.

"Yeah, and they have a player on their team, Kia Hayes, that played with Janese Banks, so she knows her. They played in similar all-star games, etc. We're getting into that tape today, John. I right now can't tell you exactly what they do. I do know that really these first games are more about us. It's a measuring stick for us. And now it's the real deal. I mean, exhibitions are a time to, you know, as Bo said, get rotations, your timeouts, you know, your huddles at the free-throw line, little simple things, as well as breaking film down.

"And my staff's over there working on it right now, breaking yesterday's film down, and then getting ready for IUPUI and a two-day turnaround before we play Southern. So there's a lot of things happening in a short amount of time. My job is to focus on our team right now and our fundamental progress, as well as continue to bring these young players along. I think those who were at the game yesterday were very excited about the improvement over one week in these young players."

Lisa, anything specific why you think this team will be better than last year's squad?

"Well, we're playing a more exciting brand of basketball, in my mind. I mean, it's more exciting for me to watch from the sideline. I would hope that that helps the fan as well. We're going more up-tempo. And yesterday, to play that type of running game that we're running offensively and only have nine turnovers, that's, you know, something to be noteworthy. And to improve from 23 (turnovers) the first week to nine the next week, you know, you go on the good and you keep striving for the best and try to get a lot of people involved.

"I think because we're small this year, we may have to come up with more gimmick defenses, pressure, which we did not do last year. So the changes in our offensive tempo as well as our defensive game planning game in and game out will be challenging for all of us and exciting. I mean, it certainly won't be dull. You'll see new things, hopefully continued improvement. And, you know, this, right now my main focus is working on fundamental boxing out. We didn't box out very well. We didn't clear space at all. That's what we're going to go to work on, as well as prepare for these next games."

Kind of following up, comparing this year to last year, for you what's the difference in excitement level, in confidence level that you have in the team that you're putting out on the floor to start the season as opposed to a year ago?

"Well, I think a lot has to do with the fact that we're deeper. We have much more depth, particularly on the perimeter. We're not as tall. We've been hit with an injury bug a little bit here and there. But the long and short is we have some people that can make individual plays. And I've tried to, from an offensive strategy game planning going into the year, try to allow the players to demonstrate their abilities, you know, turn them loose in some regard under a structure.

"We talk a lot about, this is the play, but play the game, not the play. And you have to be careful with young people, because if you say that too much then it's look out, here I come. You know, but once, that's all coming, and it's repetition, and it's patience, and they're excited. And they're excited to learn. They come to practice with big eyes and open ears, and they'll do whatever we emphasize. And that's what excites me. You know, 10 weeks from now I'm anxious to go back and look at our first few games. That's part of taking the program to where you want it to go, and continue to bring young people along and ride the leadership of your upperclassmen."

Coach, now that your exhibition season's over, would you have preferred to play state schools, and when do you foresee that happening?

"That's a great question. I was at Eau Claire when Bo was at Platteville. I would have loved that opportunity. And I'm a big, I'm in favor of it. Next year exhibition-wise we don't know who we'll play yet, but I'm certainly hoping that we can mix that into our exhibition season. That's yet to be determined. It has to be wanted by both sides as well. And I think there is more interest now on the women's side.

"I know on the men's, you know, I think it's this year they're kind of seeing what's happening and how, Parkside and Platteville coming in here, the benefits and how it all works. I think that'll really captivate the women to jump on board. I'm in favor of it. I'll do as they wish. It's great for us, playing teams that, have pre-game warm-up and an out-of-bounds play instead of sometimes the foreign teams, AAU teams, etc. But, again, looking at our two exhibitions this year, I'm happy with who we played. The exhibition team that we lost to beat Marquette last night, and Marquette's an NCAA-bound team. So we played some very good competition. That hopefully will prepare us now for what we're to expect in the non-conference."

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