Oct. 25, 2012
CONNIE YORI: First of all, it's great to be here. A year ago at this time our Associate Head Coach Sunny Smallwood was here in my absence because of an illness that I had. This is all new to me. I didn't really know which hallway to come down to get here. But I'm really glad to be here.
It's great to be a part of the Big Ten. It's a great fit for Nebraska. We really enjoyed our first year in the Big Ten last year. We're excited for what we have in the future.
On paper, we have 66 points returning and 38 rebounds returning, so if you look at us on paper, there's a reason why we were picked second behind Penn State in the preseason poll. But unfortunately paper doesn't win games, and we've got to get a lot healthier if we want to be competitive in this league. The majority of our practices have been inconsistent largely because of our injuries.
We practiced a couple times last week with instead of 66 points and 38 rebounds; we practiced with 23 points and 15 rebounds because of where we are injury wise.
The key for us right now is to get healthy. Our continuity hasn't been there. October is a really important month to get your base stuff in and to get reasonably good at your base stuff, and we haven't been able to get to that point, largely because where we are injury wise.
If we can get healthy, we have a chance to have a great season, but that's a big part of it. We've got some very good players in our program, but it would be nice if they had a chance to practice a little bit more than they have at this stage.
Penn State is clearly the favorite in the league after winning it last year. I don't think there's any doubt who they have returning that they're the favorite. But you guys as media members and our coaches picked us second, but you haven't watched us practice.
Q. Update us on your injury situation. Who's not practicing and who is practicing?
CONNIE YORI: I think my time is reduced to a 15 minute block up here, so I'm not sure we have enough time.
Let me start with our returning starters from a year ago. Hailie Sample, I think the Big Ten Tournament, playing four games in four days, started two of our players, Jordan Hooper and Hailie Sample, were injured after that tournament. And Hailie really has been injured all through the summer and the fall. Up until the last week she had not played any basketball up until this last week, and she's a key for us. You look at her stats and you don't think, well, she's an impressive statistic, but she's a great defender and she rebounds for us and she does a lot of the right things.
Jordan has probably been in about one third to one half of our practices and our reps in practice because of, again, a recurring stress injury related back to playing last year, those four games in four days.
Then you've got Lindsey. Lindsey has missed we've had 17 practices, she's missed five of them and has been limited in some ways in some other practices. She's definitely more healthy than those other two guys.
Emily Cady, knock on wood, is the healthiest of our four returning starters.
Then you go to other kids who we expect to play for us. It's just been Meghin Williams has our third post last year, and she's practiced maybe one quarter to one third of the time. Adrianna Maurer is a kid that didn't play for us last year because of injury and she's practiced about one quarter to one third of the time. She'll be one of our backup post players. Rachel Theriot who is a freshman who we think is going to play big minutes for us and we're expecting her to play big minutes, and we need her to do that. Out of our 17 practices she's practiced in five of them because of an injury, as well.
Then we've had kids sprain their ankle, and we just have had one thing after another, kind of inconsistency. Most of our practices we've had seven or eight kids being able to go, and then some of them are part time, so they maybe can't go the whole time. It's been an interesting year in terms of trying to juggle our practice setting.
Again, I don't want to sound like a whiner up here, but that's part of the game. You've got to control what you can control. The good news is that those kids who are able to go have got a lot of reps, and you hope that they're taking advantage of those and getting better because of that. But our continuity is a little scary right now.
Q. How would you evaluate your first year in the conference, and what goals have you set for this year?
CONNIE YORI: It was a good start, considering how young we were a year ago. We were an exceptionally young team a year ago, and we were inconsistent at times. But I do think we had a good end to the season, at least in the Big Ten, in the Big Ten Tournament. However, we were just not as consistent as we would like to be, and again, largely that's because of our youth.
Moving forward to this year, on paper we can set our goals high, but realistically right now we aren't the second best team in the Big Ten, realistically, based on the fact that we're not very healthy. Goals are great, but you've got to have the personnel to achieve those goals.
Q. A little bit off the topic, but UConn coach has proposed some changes to women's college basketball, to lower rims, a larger ball, shorter shot clock, in an effort to make the game more attractive to fans. Does women's college hoops need some changes along those lines, or is the game fine as you see it?
CONNIE YORI: There's one person who has recommended those changes. I don't necessarily think that's across the board in women's basketball.
We talked about that last night. We were together as coaches, and we talked about what it would do to lower the rims to 9 foot or 9'6, because in volleyball you play with a lower net in volleyball, and in golf, women's golfers hit from shorter tees than the men. If you look at the challenge that you would face in lowering the rims would be every gym in the country has 10 foot rims. So it's from grade school, playgrounds, all the way to I think that's the challenge.
There's some merit to that, but logistically it would be a very difficult thing to do across the board.
Q. A new conference a year ago. So much is talked about rivalries. What may be one or two really the second you walked into their arena or they walked into yours did you say this is going to be something special going forward?
CONNIE YORI: It's a little early for us to say that. Naturally the schools in your area are going to be a little bit more rivals just because you probably see them a little bit more in recruiting. You know, contiguous states. Obviously Iowa, it makes sense that we're rivals. That's a very friendly rivalry on the women's basketball side. I have great respect for Lisa and her staff. I've known those guys for years and years.
It may be a little bit early. Obviously what happened with us and Purdue last year with the number of overtimes we played, that's what people think of as a rival. But I'm not sure we deem that any more a rivalry than anyone else.
Q. I want to go back to the 15 minute question for a minute. Are you fearful that you might not have some of these kids, or would you be more likely to maybe not play them in November to get them ready for later in the season?
CONNIE YORI: The concern is that we have rested them, and we've rested the two starters I mentioned, Hailie Sample and Jordan Hooper really throughout the summer, in Hailie's case throughout the fall. I'm not sure that's the answer because we've tried that already.
Our non conference schedule is very challenging, and so if we want to do anything in the non conference, we're going to have to have some of those kids. But you've got to play kids who are healthy. We're going to be really limited in our practices. We're probably going to be playing games without in some cases with kids without a lot of practice time, which doesn't bode well for preparation.
My belief system is that you practice you play the way you practice, and most coaches say that, but we've historically been a very good practicing team, and when we can't practice well, we typically don't play well.
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