Big Ten Media Day - Suzy Merchant
Oct. 25, 2012
SUZY MERCHANT: Well, it's exciting to think about another season upon us. That's for sure. You know, we've had an interesting off season. We've graduated some key kids off last year's team, but the youth that we have is really exciting and kids are going to be very impactful right out of the gates.
The issue with that is that we've got nine freshmen and sophomores, so we're a very young team but very talented, too. We're looking forward to the challenge of the Big Ten, and some of those kids are red shirt freshmen, so they really understand the rigors and the challenges of the Big Ten without having used a season of eligibility. They have a little different sense about them. But we're excited.
Q. Can you just kind of talk about how Madison Williams has progressed and how she's looked at practices?
As coaches we meet every day with our trainer and strength and conditioning coach just to make sure we have a good plan for her that day.
Does she do everything in practice? No, she doesn't need to do everything in practice. But she's out there and she's competing and she's doing well when she's in there, so that makes me happy.
Q. You mentioned the young kids. Who are some of the young kids who are standing out right now who I might not know about who are going to show up real early?
The other one that she's a little bit hindered with an injury right now but we're going to get her back here shortly is Brandi Agee out of Detroit Cass Tech. On the 1st of October they put a pin in the outside of her foot. She had a fifth metatarsal crack on the outside bone of her left foot. They put that pin in, and it's usually a six week thing. We're thinking she might miss two or three games early. She's an unbelievable athlete and talent. She can handle it, she can shoot it, and she can get to the rim, very competitive. I see those two freshmen as being very impactful for us.
I was asked about Madison Williams. Hopefully we all see her. I think Becca Mills as a sophomore has really had a great summer. She did some nice things for us last year as a freshman, and this summer she's really had a nice off season, as well.
Q. When you have those injuries and you've got people in and out of practice and they can only go do so much, how difficult is it to have a feel for what you have and how you're going to start the season?
For us we've used our scout team, who is as good of a scout team as I've seen, to be honest with you. Two of the guys have tried out for Izzo's team and have practiced with them. They're like borderline could make it, and I'll tell you, that's never happened before. They're a very talented group of guys, which helps us obviously get better.
And that's one thing we needed to do early with all of our injuries early on.
Q. What do you expect from the new coaches in the league?
Curt, Matt and Kim will do a very, very good job in the league. They each have their own systems and styles that they're going to bring to our conference, which some we've seen, some we haven't seen, and it's to be determined.
I'm excited for it. Those are three great hires for the Big Ten conference.
Q. I know you'd like to see Jasmine Thomas slow down a little bit in the way she plays. What speed has she been playing at in practices and what kind of leadership?
Having more of a commanding presence, going offense to defense, defense to offense, I mean, you need a point guard out there that's really loud and aggressive and has that commanding presence.
The last thing for me is to challenge her defensively. She's a world class athlete. She's an amazing specimen that way, and she should be able to keep people in front of her and do a really good job for us defensively.
When you ask me about her, especially early on with some of our limitations, it's going to fall on her lap a little bit here out of the gates, and those are three things our team really needs the most.
Q. Preseason schedule built for a young team, just to get some success both at home and on the road?
I mentioned Maddie. She has a difference presence about her now. Klarissa Bell has had a great off season and is doing an amazing job in practice with leadership and being a scorer.
We don't have to rely on all freshmen, but they're going to be impactful and a big part of what we do early on. That's a you never know kind of territory. But we're excited. It's really about getting the entire team back healthy and ready to go for Big Tens, which we fully anticipate happening.
Q. You played against Wisconsin, Green Bay in the NCAA Tournament two years ago. Can you tell me what you know about Coach Bollant from that experience?
No, they run that motion offense, actually a lot like what Michigan did because Kevin put it in at Green Bay before he came to U of M, and then when Matt got the job up there, he just kept it and built in his own little details that he'd like to see within it.
They share the ball well within that system. Defensively, they do a really nice job of switching screens and being in help side. They really, really do a good job of not letting you get the ball in the paint, and they'll switch 1 through 5 screens, and that's tough to play against sometimes.
Those kids were physical and tough. They were a veteran group when we played them. They had two, Players of the Year in that conference that were co players of the year that were seniors that year. They were really tough nosed kids.
That's what he'll bring, as well. He's got a talented group there at Illinois. There's some really, really high level pieces there. Amber Moore can really shoot it, you've got Penn inside, you got GodBold, you've got Magrum, you've got a lot of kids there that really can do some things and fit into the style that I've seen him play at Green Bay. They'll have some success early and maybe more than people expect early.
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