"Janel McCarville's a great player, there's no doubt about it, and she demonstrated that in the national spotlight in the Final Four last year with a tremendous point guard in Lindsay Whalen. I don't think they've skipped a beat really. I think Lindsay is a special player of her own, and she's around and I had the pleasure coaching both of them in USA Basketball. I've known Janel McCarville a long time. She makes a lot of people so much better. She makes their team go. She's a low-post presence. She's a high-post presence. She can split double teams. She can score. She can rebound. She can block shots into the fifth, sixth, 10th row of the Kohl Center. Not one person on our team will guard Janel McCarville. Many, many people will. In fact, everybody will. If I could put the whole bench out there I certainly would.
"But Janel McCarville's not somebody you can stop. She's somebody you need to contain. And we need to go at her as when she's on defense; try to get her in some foul trouble. But I respect what she's done. I respect her as a person and how she has matured into a fantastic student athlete. She's overcome adversity, and has taken her game to a new level. She has the Gophers on her back. She's carrying them on her back right now, along with some other great players. Shannon Schonrock is tremendous from the perimeter. She's trying to pick up the scoring punch from the outside. Shannon Bolden inside has certainly done some great things for them. (Jamie) Broback is strong and physical. They probably are better in the post this year than last year.
"But when you play a Minnesota team that tasted the success they tasted last year, and already have played teams like LSU to the wire at home; they're drawing 10,000, 11,000 people at their home games. (But) for us, it's their first Big Ten road game. And I'm hoping the confines of the Kohl Center and a reminder of how well we played against them last year here is something that we can go on. We picked up our first road win yesterday, and this is another time to cross the lines and compete. You know, like Bo (Ryan) had said, it's a time for us to demonstrate our abilities, to rise up and play some improved team defense, get out in the open court, and hopefully get one here at home."
What did you like so far in the two league games that you played? I mean, and in part two, what do you hope to see them improve upon, especially in these next two games in which you're playing two of the toughest teams in the league?
"I think the two games, our Purdue game and our Northwestern game of last week, were very different entities, if you will. I think the Purdue game, we played our best game of the season outside of four minutes, our slow start to the second half, yet we were still in the game. We competed even with 32 seconds left in the game, shooting free throws. I really felt we were in a position to still win the game. And I liked the look on our team's face. We didn't fall down. We didn't give up. We competed and gave great effort against the 20th-ranked team in the country. I was very, very proud of our team's effort. I felt bad for our team that we didn't come out with a win, because we played as well as we have all year.
"The Northwestern game, going on the road now we had a different look about us. Obviously instead of wearing home whites we were in away reds; and started the game in okay fashion yet had too many mental breakdowns. We need to get more scoring, obviously, out of our post play. We need to get more people involved in defenses and reactions. We tried to do some trapping and our rotations need work. We have a couple days of practice, which is what we'll address. So we are clipping our Northwestern game, getting ready for our Minnesota game, and taking the good from each of the games and getting better at that. And, you know, as far as weaknesses go, continue to alleviate those things and continue to improve."
Lisa, does being so close against Purdue, getting your first road win yesterday, is it a matter of confidence when Minnesota comes to town?
"You know, we're a team that really believes in respecting our opponents but fearing no one. And our team will be fired up. We have a lot of players on our team, Ashley Josephson, Kjersten Bakke, and Annie Nelson all played AAU basketball with Janel McCarville. They know her. She's a fun person to be around. She's a jokester. And they'll rekindle some friendships there. They're not going to be afraid. This is an opportunity for us to play against a ranked team at home and put things together. And I think last week's two games, taking the good from that and pushing that forward and continue to improve is something we're looking forward to. It's a great challenge for us, but one we're not afraid of."
Lindsay Whalen was good at breaking down defenses with her penetration. So is Minnesota different this year? Do they not do that as much? Does it change your defensive approach?
"They've got a nice guard court. They really do. Schonrock is a water bug out there. She's very, very active, and was last year, along with Lindsay (Whalen). They traded off. So they not only can penetrate and break defenses down, but they use McCarville to break defenses down. They'll go to her and she'll break defenses down, whether it's a skip pass, stopping at the high post, passing the ball. She's great at finding people in back-door cuts. She's a great, great passer. And we have to make sure that she's challenged. We need to make things as difficult as we can for them, and that comes from just aggressive defense."
With Denise (Ianello) leaving, how does that affect you short term and then, you know, down the road for recruiting?
"Well, Denise is going to be with us the rest of the year. We go on as status quo. I mean, that's the way it is. Denise is a great coach and is somebody that we'll miss, but we respect her and her family's decision. Her quote to me was ‘we have a lot of work to do yet this year, Lisa. So we're going to go on as we go on.' And I'm confident that we will continue to improve as a team, and blend together as a team, and, finish the season off strong."
With Rob (Ianello) being in the type of position that he was in, I mean, in bringing Denise in, did you anticipate that it might be a short-term situation?
"I don't think anybody can predict that. I mean, you put a staff together, and if your staff is going on to opportunities, maybe head coaching jobs, that's good; those things happen in sports. You have the graduation of seniors. Denise is not saying ‘goodbye', she's saying ‘see you later'. She's going to be a mom and I respect her for that a great deal. And I congratulate Rob. It's a wonderful opportunity for Rob Ianello and I'm happy for him in his career. That's the coaching carousel, and this is a positive not a negative. And I think that's what listeners, and people and spectators need to keep in mind. This is a very positive situation for our coaching family."
Lisa, do you ever wonder how Janel McCarville got out of the state of Wisconsin?
"Actually, we recruited her to Drake as well, and it came down to the wire. It was Drake and Minnesota. So I know Janel a lot, and she'll pick me up and twirl me around probably when she sees me. And it, I'd rather have her focus more on me and not on our team when she's playing. But it, you know, it's unfortunate, but she's made a great name for herself in Minnesota. I'm very, very proud of her. She's gone from being a player that obviously was good in high school to becoming one of the nation's best post players. And I'm very proud of her. I respect her and I look forward to playing against her."