"Well, I think in a lot of ways people would be awestruck by what Jolene does, but it comes as no surprise. We see her in practice every day. She's very even-keeled. She could score two points or 22 points and her reactions would be the same. And her being that grounded is certainly a key reason why she's so successful. She loves to play. She can flat-out play. If it's her job to get a rebound and kick it up to somebody, fine. If it's her job to take the game-winning shot-––which we've allowed her to do--she's answered the call. She never gets too high, never gets too low, is pretty even-keeled. I think that shows a great deal of maturity at this young age."
Lisa, I know you say that one win does not a season make. But what do you at least hope the team takes from that win over Green Bay, from a confidence standpoint, from what they learned on the court?
"I think, it's hopefully a defining moment in some ways. You know, whether it's Green Bay or anybody else, our basketball team needed to demonstrate its courage and character in coming back and winning a very close game against a very, very formidable opponent. Green Bay is a great team. They've got it inside, outside. They;e got veterans. They're well-coached. They have all of the mechanisms to be successful. Here we are, down by six points with 2:20 left, and we rallied back. They missed a shot, we make a shot, you know, a call right in front of our bench with 30 seconds left, which could have gone the other way but went to them. All the measuring sticks and a little luck along the way certainly is something that successful teams need.
"But on the other hand, to taste that and now make it something that's memorable and to grow on that is huge for our team. (We have) one more game before the break, before we start the Big Ten season; this is something that hopefully will get the ball rolling. I've talked with a lot of my fellow coaches here at Wisconsin and they've just said, "Lisa, that's what it is; it's one big game.' And maybe that one big game could be this one that helps elevate us to where we want to go. That's yet to be determined. I'm just very proud of our team for demonstrating an improved finish. You know, a lot of games last year we were close; five games last season we were within an opportunity to win the game and didn't. This one we closed it down, came from behind, and won. And hopefully that's a good sign for the future."
Lisa, as much as Jolene is a difference-maker, can you talk about Jordan Wilson's play on Saturday and how important that post, because that's the first time I think this year that she's played at that level, how important that is to you?
"Well, I think the hunger and the intensity we have to bring from everybody, but in particular in the post area. We're so small that we have to out-scrap people. We have to take it at taller maybe bigger opponents and take it in there with a vengeance. Jordan did that. There's no secret to Jordan's big move to the basket. She's got, obviously, a very strong left hand. And to draw fouls and go to the line and make some free throws; her free throws, there was nothing but net. There was no rim on that at all.
"And I think that confidence, that strength, and her intensity; there was a different look on her face on Saturday. And I don't think it was just because it was her birthday. I really think that she wanted to win. And the team, again, needs Jordan to be a formidable force inside. We have to be strong inside to take some pressure off our perimeter."
Lisa, did you say anything differently maybe at halftime that led to them not maybe collapsing in the second half? I mean, last season you had so many, you know, close losses, where you guys were in it. And there just seemed to be an extra spark that maybe has even been missing earlier this season. Anything in particular that just led to so much energy in the second half against Green Bay?
"I don't think it's anything I said differently. We were down by two at the half, and we took some momentum in the locker room. Jolene had a tip-in to bring some momentum into the locker room. We were only down by two, it's our ball to start the second half. We come out right away; we score. And now get the crowd involved and continue to play tough-nosed defense, continue to rebound. We were beating them on the glass. And all of those things pay dividends down the stretch.
"You know, you have a player like Jolene that's going to make some big plays for you, and I thought Janese Banks' 3-point shot was a big backbreaker for them as well. The ball could have been tipped and gone the other way, but instead it came to Janese, she stepped back and knocked a 3 down. Those are some freshmen making some big plays. But, again, it really came down to some solid team defense, continued emphasis on the glass. Really (I didn't say) anything different at halftime. I'm pretty wound up from start to finish. And if that's what it takes, that's what we'll do."
Have you had to do anything in practice and in game preparation with having two freshmen starting? I mean, you didn't have that at all last season, and this year, you know, Janese and Jolene have really adapted well to playing so many minutes and starting. Have you had to adjust your coaching style at all?
"Not at all. I'm trying to find the best combination to put us in the best situation to win, and both Jolene and Janese have done some nice things. We've got a little more size on the perimeter this year. We can rebound a little bit better from the guard spot. You know, certainly it's not to take away from anything anybody else is doing. It's just a nice flow. Annie Nelson has obviously surfaced as a crowd favorite, and I'm very pleased for her. She played a reserve role and now is starting and is our leading rebounder. So, a lot of things can change yet this season, but I've not had to change my coaching philosophy at all. There's no class. There's no freshman or senior on my team when we cross the lines. There isn't. We're all even and we work hard in practice, and we'll put the best group on the floor."
Is Jolene one of those players that can make others better or has made others better?
"Without question. I even said that to Stephanie Rich my first week of practice. I said ‘Jolene Anderson is going to help make you and the rest of this team better. She's a great passer. She finds open people, takes some pressure off the ball-handler. We're trying to advance the ball up the floor a little more this year on the pass so that it takes more pressure off a point guard bringing the ball up the floor. Finding people in transition, defending, getting rebounds. There's no question she makes the rest of our team better. I think when you see a Jolene Anderson, her knees are taped up, she's on the floor all the time getting loose balls. That can become contagious, and it's certainly a great thing coming from an 18-year-old."
Lisa, is there any special connection with Santa Clara that you have for scheduling this? And is Thursday, now is that the first day of finals or is it the next day when finals start?
"I think Thursday is actually study day and, yes, we have permission to play on that day. I believe the first day of finals is Friday. Santa Clara is coming to us. There is a tie. Tanya Bauer played for me at Eau Claire. She assisted me at Eau Claire. She assisted me at Drake. And she is their number-one assistant Santa Clara. (We were) looking for a game, another non-conference game to fill our schedule. They played Minnesota. They played Georgia. They played some ranked teams, and they played some teams, UC-Irvine and some teams around their area that they've done very well against. (Asst. coach) Donna Freitag calls them high octane, which means they're all over the place. They'll press, they'll run, they'll push, they'll run sets. They'll bring a nice challenge for us, again another non-conference game to help us prepare for the Big Ten. But there is a tie. Tanya was a tremendous player for me, a dear friend, and is a great coach."
You mentioned a minute ago that you told Stephanie Rich that Jolene would make you a better or a different kind of player. She's gone through some role changes in the last couple years, Stephanie has, and an injury that ended one season early. How is she different as a player this year to maybe last year or the years past?
"Well, in some regards, as a senior you become a mother hen, if you will. And I think that entails all six upperclassmen, with six younger players. Everybody, not just Stephanie Rich, but the entire upper class has to oversee (the freshmen). Finals are coming. (The upperclassmen) give them direction and encourage them and will be there for them. And likewise, that's reciprocated with the young to the old.
"But Steph, it's really helped her a lot. I think it's taken a lot of pressure off her. Stephanie Rich has been called upon prior to my arrival to be the one that takes the last shot, to bring the ball up the floor, to make the big 3-point shot, to lead the team as a young person. Now she's able to do all of that with a supporting cast that allows that job to be, I think, that much more rewarding."