"First, the substitution pattern yesterday. We were trying to find some answers. We played a terrific basketball team in Michigan State yesterday, who have just an amazing balance attack, inside-outside. When you shoot 50 percent from 3 and likewise the same inside and get to the free-throw line as they did – I was looking for answers. And I was trying to rotate different post players, different guards, different combinations to try to find some answers.
"Fortunately, we had an opportunity when we cut it to 11 in the second half and [Lindsay] Bowen hit back-to-back 3s. That might have been the turning point in the game.
"Going on the road now we have to take the confidence that we may have built against Penn State here. It was a CBS game, early morning game. Jolene [Anderson] goes off for 27 last time we play them. Banks has a decent game as well. And we leave that game with a loss, yet knowing that we played one of the best teams in the league.
"They are very dangerous at home, as is Minnesota, and it's a big week for us on the road and one that we're certainly going to prepare for and try to keep or confidence and try to get back on track.
"Penn State brings probably the best 1-2 guard combo in the conference, in my mind. I think Jess Strom and Tanisha Wright are two very special players that lead their team. Jennifer Harris obviously is someone not to be forgotten, but those two – Strom and Wright – it's their senior year and they're making a push. They want a Big Ten Championship. They play very well at home. The task is tall in front of us, yet it is one that we certainly are not afraid of."
At this point in the season do you wish there was more consistency in your lineup?
"Our starting lineup has been the same for about the last five straight games. We haven't switched the lineup. Since Ebba's come back into the lineup, the lineup has been consistent. Rotating in a game is making adjustments during a game. I feel we do a pretty decent job of rotating. I think Ashley Josephson, Kjersten Bakke, Danielle Ward are giving us tremendous production off the bench. We'd like to get Jordan [Wilson] going obviously and get more out of Akiya [Alexander] Shari [Welton]. I'll play as many people as we can, but as far as consistency, I don't think we've changed much, we've just, when it gets into a situation in the game we're trying to make adjustments and trying to find somebody to get hot and get us going that we can ride out. That's what we did at Iowa, against Illinois, in double-digit deficits. Came back and its not that its inconsistent. It's just some people on the bench have stepped up and that's something that we're proud of."
Considering how Penn Stated started the season are you surprised at the success they've had?
"Their non-conference schedule was certainly an unbelievable schedule to start with. Pretty uncharacteristic when they came in here I believe their record was 6-6. But their non-conference schedule certainly has prepared them. They've beaten a lot of teams and in particular at home. They are a special team. They've got a great leader, Rene Portland, who's been there forever. When you look at their homestand, they play teams very well at home. They win on the road and they never doubted themselves. I think what it did is it made that team stronger.
"I think what also people don't understand is they went to Northwestern and got beat. I think people see that and they say, ‘how did that happen?' Jess Strom didn't make the trip. She was home -- sick or with an injury, I don't recall exactly what – but didn't make the trip. Tanisha Wright – they have to put somebody else into their point guard position. I think what that tells you is the value of that guard court together. Not to take anything away from Northwestern but that was something I think that also marks the fact that the Big Ten is getting stronger from top to bottom."
Lisa, your opponents in the Big Ten shoot 42 percent outside the arc. Is that more of a result of you having to double down on the post because you don't have any interior players?
"It is. Unfortunately we have to do that. We don't match up inside, height-wise or strength-wise. So we're doing what we have to. I thought we did a great job on Kelli Roehrig yesterday. We got in and doubled the post, caused her to get into foul trouble and turn the ball over. And then their guards got going. The last time we played Michigan State, [Liz] Shimek and Roehrig really took it at us and we iced on their guards. It is just we need to rotate a little quicker, our rotation has to be quicker out to the shooters. We need to get through screens a little bit easier and our posts have to continue to hedge. We're doing all we can inside. Our rotation has to get quicker."
Coach, you kind of talked about this yesterday with Jolene, but would you be shocked if she was not the Big Ten Freshman of the Year?
"I would be shocked. Truthfully, I would. I think Jolene's having obviously a fantastic year. And she leads us in many, many categories as well as logging a lot of minutes right now. Still has maintained her health and her ability to learn the game.
"She is still learning the game, and that is what's fun. To look at where she is now and where she can be, it's pretty neat. But Jolene's numbers statistically in rebounding, assists, steals, scoring, etc., in the overall conference standing is certainly something people need to take a look at."
Lisa, what do you think is going to separate Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Minnesota down the stretch?
"When you look at those teams, I think Michigan State has the best balance of anybody in the Big Ten. They are very, very, very balanced. I think Ohio State has the best strength, when you look at Ohio State. Minnesota has probably the most versatile post player in Janel McCarville, who we happen to play on her senior day.
"Penn State, I think, has the most consistent backcourt from the standpoint of a 1-2 punch. So as far as separation, it's who plays their game the best on that particular night. Ohio State/Michigan State I believe tip off next Sunday. I don't even know where the game is at, I don't think it even matters. Michigan State went in to Minnesota won by 29; come in to Wisconsin won by 24. Now they go to Iowa – they have a three-game on-the-road swing and they haven't flinched at all.
"What is going to separate them? I'm not sure. They match up inside, they match up outside. Game plan. Preparation. Teams that play within themselves.
"When we played Ohio State here I thought they were very patient, they worked the ball into Davenport, nobody forced their shot. That's why they are the No. 2 team in the country.
"I think Michigan State has great balance as well. Both teams have to bring their best game and it will be a fun match."
What is Jolene's future, not only this year, but through the course of her career? Where do you see her getting better?
"I think continue to improve in conditioning. She's someone that obviously we want her on the court. We'd like her to play 40 minutes if she can. I think defensively that was the big questions mark coming in. I think defensively she has made leaps and bounds of improvement. She's a much better defender than I think anybody thought she would be. She's guarding the second-best perimeter player on the opposing team. She gets in the way, she's a good rebounder.
"I'd like her to improve her ball handling; be a player that people can't guard. When you have a special player like a Jolene Anderson you want to do your best to have them start to believe that when they have the ball in their hand you can shoot it or you can drive. So the mid-range game, going to the rim, shooting – she has all that now, but it has to get better, along with just simple fundamentals and understanding the game. Ball handling. Where to be, when to slant. She's a great passer. She has a lot of the tools but I think with maturity and a continued improvement and understanding of the game, she's going to get better every single day."
The way she shoots sometimes is far from fundamental. Do you just let her play? Do you have to fight that instinct to say you can't shoot that shot?
"She makes, we call them the Port Wing shots. She learned that somewhere, I'm not sure where. They are off balance. She is a scorer. I love that. She is a scorer and I don't care how she does it. It may not look fundamental. Her release is very fundamental. She is a little off-balance here and there but she is so physically strong as she continues to get in better condition, not only strength, but she'll be more fluid getting to the rim. Her shots, she'll maybe be able to hang in the air a little bit longer. She'll get closer, her strength, I think just conditioning as a college athlete. You look at Brian Miller and his strength and conditioning program that we're utilizing now. When you've never lifted a weight and you've never been through the Big Ten, this is her first crack at it and she's a pretty good job. Obviously I'd like her to be square but because she's so strong and so powerful, I'm not going to take anything away from her. You are going to turn her loose. You have to turn that kid loose. She can play and she can score and we need that."