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The last time you played Illinois they made quite a few 3-point shots. What are your points of emphasis to play a better game against them?
"Well, we hit a buzz saw when (we met last time). They were obviously hot and made a ton of 3s on us. But they came in off a disappointing loss and then took it at us, and they've not won a game since they played us. Now that doesn't mean that they're not capable. They just played Michigan State yesterday very, very well. They've got a terrific freshman in Lori Bjork and great leadership, a senior point guard and a senior inside that really are leading the charge.
"They're having a nice year, and hopefully we can play much better defense on the perimeter. We had trouble getting through staggered screens the last time we played them. And, right now we're licking our wounds from yesterday and trying to get back on track and hopefully go down to Illinois and have a much better showing."
You mentioned yesterday, what's it going to take, do you think, to win these one- or two-possession games?
"Mike Heller and I talked last night a little bit about like our record and how close we could be, we're so close. You listen to Mike Eaves talk about not overanalyzing. When you start to look at numbers, and we're 0-6 in games of less than six (points), if you then look at the Indiana game, that was a 3-point game with 20 seconds to go. That ends up not being six. It ends up being seven. So that's another loss there.
"And then our Iowa game here as well was another one, within a minute we're in a position to win. And it's just taking that little extra effort to finish the game and get the job done. And unfortunately, you look back and I wouldn't have changed anything we did yesterday. We orchestrated the game perfectly. We had chances. I feel really bad for Danielle Ward. She had a great game and, you know, she didn't lose the game. We just had a chance to win the game on that shot.
"And just not making free throws and shooting poorly for two games in a row now in the second half has been our demise. Yet we're right there.
"What's it going to take to finish those possessions? That's what I'm trying to analyze right now. And we're on the road for two more games. Illinois and Michigan State this week are tough foes. Then we finish back at home. So we've got to find a way to finish this season with some positives."
In the past week, Jolene Anderson, you know, has only been shooting about 25, 28 percent in the games. Do you think she's trying to take on too much, trying to take too many shots in the games?
"You certainly can't doubt the kid's effort. I mean, her effort has been outstanding, and some shots are halfway down and come back out. And we need her to score, there's no question. I think now that Janese has come back, we've been able to weather the storm a little bit from perimeter scoring. And Ashley Josephson has been hot from outside.
"So, from Jolene's standpoint, I think there is a little bit of undue pressure as you come into games having to perform and, maybe make 11 out of 20 instead of five out of 20. And they are good shots.
"We did talk a little bit about, particularly in the first half yesterday, we had a 12-point lead and that we're in the lead, play with the lead, not play like we're from behind all the time and have good shot selection and more teaching. That might be where Jolene might have to pass up an open shot for something better. Or we just continue to have her shoot the ball with confidence and we need her to score. She has to score for us. There's no question."
Well, I guess that's what I wondered, is if the shots she's taking are good shots, or if it is because she's more of a shooter that some shots might be considered bad shots for someone else but are OK for her?
"With her role on our team, a bad shot for her might be worse or somebody else. But that's what happens when you're the leading the scorer… It's not always a bad shot.
"I'm not saying that her shot selection is perfect, because it's not. I mean, our entire team needs to be more patient, more efficient on the offensive end, pride in possessions, things that we talk about every day.
"And because we're not scoring, our defense is not where it needs to be, and that's just a fact. And so we've got to find ways to move the ball, put people in positions to be successful, whether it's in the post or a wide-open look. Now wide-open looks, you can't yell at a kid for not making a basket. Yelling is probably a bad word. We can educate our student-athletes on what's a good shot and what's a bad shot.
"You listen to Bo talking too about their shot selection, things that you chart in practice. Those are things that you can teach in practice. In a game it's hard because they're trying so hard and sometimes when you're trying so hard, the shot might not be the best one that we need at that particular time. It might be better with a ball reversal."
You just mentioned that your team needed to play, especially against Northwestern, as if they had the lead and not coming from behind. Does that mean that maybe they played a little bit more passive and lost that aggressiveness?
"No, I don't think so at all. I think, again, back to the Indiana game last week, we had the lead and we were firing it up quick with 22 seconds on the shot clock, so time and score, the teaching of time and score and to work for good shots, high-percentage shots, and that you can attack but not hurry.
"And that's the type of mentality that we have to have, because that's the way you're going to win games. If we're not hitting, we're hurrying all the time, we're going to be playing from behind the whole game. So obviously our start was terrific yesterday. We played very well. I take nothing away from Northwestern. We put ourselves in a position to win the game and we came up short."
When you played Michigan State the first time, they used the press effectively and they've done that against other teams, Indiana and Illinois. How would you say your breaking of the press has been since then? And I imagine since Janese has been back that it's been better.
"Well, we turned it over a few more times that I'd like yesterday, but that wasn't because of the press. That was because of just we had loose handles out on the perimeter. But our press break has been a point of emphasis in practice since that game, and we're much better at it. I think our kids are more confident. It's not that we can't. It's just a belief that we can break the press.
"That Michigan State game was a terrific game here at the Kohl Center, and one that was a sad ending for us once again, but we were playing one of the top teams in the country right to the wire and unfortunately didn't get it done, coughed the ball up late in the game. So, again, fundamentals and press break, and, again confidence, instilling confidence in our players and keep believing in them. I talked to them after the game about that. We care about each other. We believe in each other. This is about us. Less about who we're playing and more about us and getting better."
Lisa, has there been a time this season where you've said, ‘Yes, this is us.' Or are you still waiting for that? I'm sure you're expecting it sometime soon hopefully, right?
"I think we saw some. There have been flashes of the defense we're trying to put in. Shot-clock violations, yesterday there was three. The conversations you have after a game, whether you win or lose, like if that shot goes in last night, what kind of conversations are we having. And because it doesn't, what kind of conversations are we having. The kids are giving great effort. They really are.
"We haven't put it all together yet, to be honest, Brian. We haven't. There hasn't been a game where I say, now that's us. There have been flashes of every single game. I look at Minnesota, we're playing the Gophers right to the wire in Williams Arena and we're pressing. We hadn't even worked on our press. Now you see us pressing a little bit more.
"And even the teams like in Eastern Illinois, it was a non-conference game, but we built some confidence. Yet we weren't as stellar as we were last night. So I think the, I truly believe what we're doing is right. We're staying the course and we're not flinching and we're believing in what we're doing. There's not a whole lot of changes. We just need to get things done and find ways to win and not find ways not to win."
Your game Sunday is part of I think maybe four games that are being shown by ESPN2. What are the pros and cons of that national exposure?
"Well, we're hoping we perform well, like we did the last time against Michigan State, there's no question. I think it was last year, it was a CBS game, I believe, with Penn State, and we played terrifically. We got down early, made a rush back, and put a very good Penn State team, you know, worrying about us a little bit. We didn't win the game, but we had a tremendous showing. Obviously it's great for recruiting. You need to play well.
"A lot of our games have been on TV, and obviously Tam does a great job with our Web site as far as getting things updated and so forth. So our recruits follow our games, and this is one that's shown to a national audience and we need to perform well, jump out early, find ways to break down their zone. I mean, they're a national runner-up, and the challenge is there. Look at Penn State men and Illinois men. That's one I referred to in some ways; what that does for your program, and that's the kind of goal we're going to go into; very energetic and positive and find ways to play well."