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Could you give us your impressions of UWM? I don't know how much you've looked at them so far.
"Well, we're beginning to look at UWM right now. There's some familiar names obviously, Molly O'Brien, Nichole Drummond, and Aubrey Hampton from last year. Now they've got some size inside. There are also some common names in (Megan) Rogers and some kids from the area.
"We'll get excited for this game. It's a big game on their schedule, and they're coming off a win yesterday over Northern Michigan and we're coming off a loss. We'll throw records away and we're on the road and hopefully we can handle their pressure. They're very aggressive on-the-ball defenders. They like to attack the basket. And they'll play hard. Sandy (Botham) is a person I've known a long time and they'll be up for the game, there's no question."
It seemed like yesterday you got the effort that you were looking for. What changes did you make in your preparation to get that response?
"Our practices have been accelerated to a point of what we expect. Our demand is at even a higher percentage, and our players responded very well. We got the effort we were looking for yesterday, and our kids feel good about themselves and their effort.
"Unfortunately, we came up a little short yesterday. But to see Jolene Anderson play like she did yesterday in a valiant effort, in two overtimes, and we were in foul trouble, and to put that team on her back, some really good things came out of that game. I'm really encouraged and very optimistic. Our team is not hanging their heads by any imagination. And to see the effect of practices in the last two days and our expectations and our focus and mental preparation, we demonstrated that yesterday."
After starting out with four straight wins and now losing five in a row, how similar or different is the message that you're delivering to your team right now?
"It is to stay the course. We don't need to flinch. We don't need to try to reinvent the wheel. That's not what it's about. It's about our preparation, and our demands, and how hard we practice, and our effort that'll be demonstrated on the court. We did that yesterday. We were smooth in the first half. We made some poor decisions. We were in the position we wanted to be in. We're under a minute with a one-point lead. They have to foul.
"They foul our two best free-throw shooters. We miss the front end of a one-and-one. And it comes down to moments of truth, and we still hung in there through, Jolene Anderson made, I'm not sure if you saw anything on the highlight reel, but it was a SportsCenter shot to put it into the second overtime. So some really good things came out of the game and messages that hopefully will continue to help us grow, because we are growing."
Coach, are there benefits, from what you've seen in previous years, with a long break? After this upcoming game, you've got nine days off.
"Again, it's finals week. And finals week is there for every student-athlete in America. And the break will be good due to the intensity that their mental capacity will go through. It's study time and there are a lot of things coming up. So it does come at a good time. We do have a game on the 23rd, as we follow up with that, and then have a short break before the Big Ten season starts. I think it does come at a good time from a standpoint of getting healed, but also give our players time to study for finals."
So what would you say concerns you from what you've seen during this stretch? I mean, is it the defense, guarding the three, finishing games?
"Well, right now it's consistency. I think that's a demand that we have to have in practice. We as coaches need to stay consistent, and we are. I'm convinced of that. It might be that, you know, we're intensifying things and demanding more, because we know they have it. We're encouraged by the fact that we have what it takes. And we've looked at what we've gone through this entire year.
Is this just all part of the process, just kind of the growing pains of a program? I think Mike (Eaves) has gone through it before. Would you say that's true?
"It is. You look back in the day when we all grew in seventh and eighth grade. You had . . . and whatever else they said, well, you're just growing too fast. We want to grow fast and work through some of those things. And, you know, you love these kids. Their attitude is very good.
"It could be a situation where kids are down in the dumps and so forth. They're not. They're very encouraged. Hard lessons have been taught, but when the moment of truth comes again, we'll make that shot. We'll make that free throw. We'll make a better decision. All of that comes with the process of growth.
"I really, truly believe in this team and our goals are still in sight. But we have to get it done on a more consistent basis, and that starts consistently in practice day to day, not just game by game. People evaluate your program by what they see in the games. They're not there every day in the trenches with practice. We need to transform practice then into the games and continue to grow."
A couple things about Janese (Banks), how does she stay out of the foul trouble? What does she need to do there? Obviously not foul, but is there something, that she's being too aggressive? And then also, have you seen any lingering effects from that Marquette game? Her shooting hasn't been particularly good since she got hit in the head.
"With Janese right now, she and Jolene have been out of position. Janese played the point yesterday for us and was in charge of running the team. And when you have somebody out of position for the first time ... but I'm not making any excuses for her. She made some poor decisions offensively. Defensively, there were some questionable calls down the stretch, but she's aggressive.
"She's our best defender. We'll keep that aggressiveness going. And for whatever poor decision may be made on offense, she gives us 100 percent effort defensively and that's where you soften the blow maybe a little bit from a standpoint of making up for things on the other end of the court.
"The hit in the Marquette game had an effect on Janese. She sat out of practice quite a few days and you lose a little bit of timing, and now we put her in a new position. She's a young person that is going to make some mistakes, but there certainly had to be some ill effects from the injury that has prolonged her timing in practice."
How is Kjersten (Bakke) coming along?
"Spurt-y. I mean, she was in the loop yesterday. We got her out on the court a little bit. We need her back obviously. Her leadership and intensity is outstanding. But where Bakke was out, Jordan Wilson picked up yesterday. Jordan Wilson played very well, gave us good, solid minutes, good decisions and, you know, that's encouraging as well."