Oct. 25, 2012
LISA BLUDER: This year is exciting for us because we have the opportunity to host a national tournament to begin the season, and we have an opportunity to host a national tournament at the end of our season. Not often do you get the opportunity to bookend your seasons with hosting both types of tournaments.
We're in the preseason WNIT. We have guaranteed hosting the first two rounds in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and we've also been awarded the NCAA first and second rounds in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It's a great opportunity for our team, and we have three tremendous seniors on our team that I would love to see them take full benefit of this.
Q. Just an update on Printy, where is she at in her rehab?
LISA BLUDER: She's doing very well. Jaime, as you know, suffered an ACL tear the beginning of February, so kind of late in the year last year, but she's had a successful surgery, a great summer of rehabbing, and she is doing almost everything in practice at this time. Not completely 100 percent with everything in practice but just about.
Yesterday she took a charge against a guy in practice, and I just smiled at her because that's another hurdle. Every day we kind of go through those hurdles, and when you learn that your knee is okay and it can take those things, that's most of the battle is the mental part of it.
Q. Of the first four coaches that are speaking this morning, I think you were the only one that was here last year. What do the new faces bring to the conference or the reputation of the conference and maybe challenge wise for the coaches that were here in the past?
LISA BLUDER: Well, we have three exceptional new coaches in this league. All three of them have had a lot of success on the national level. It's just going to continue to make our conference stronger by bringing great coaches into our league.
The thing it poses for us veterans is we've got to work a little harder on those scouting reports again because you don't know the style of play that you've been seeing from an Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan consistently over the last several years, so we have to work a little bit harder in preparing for those people. But they've got the harder job because they have a whole bunch of new people to learn about.
Q. You have a lot of depth at a lot of different spots, maybe even more so than in the past, especially in the post with Bethany Doolittle and Morgan Johnson. What do those two bring and how do you like the pieces of your team as a whole from a depth perspective?
LISA BLUDER: I like the depth that we have on this team because in the past we haven't had any, so any depth is great depth for us. We are solid in every position with a backup there, and that's just something we haven't had in the past. We've kind of had to piecemeal things together because of injuries.
Another thing that's kind of different about our team this year is we won't be relying on freshmen to carry us. In the past we've always out of necessity had a freshman that's entered into the starting lineup and really had to carry our team and show up big to begin with. This year I don't think that'll happen, and that's good for our basketball team.
Q. You do have a lot of good players coming back, but you did lose Kamille Wahlin, and she kind of had the keys to the car for like four years. Did Samantha Logic learn enough last year to maybe ease that transition?
LISA BLUDER: Yeah, you had to bring that up. Kamille is definitely a loss, and when you have a four year starter like her that was such a great leader, too, it's hard to replace that. Samantha Logic just got better and better as the year went on last year. In the last month of the season she was three time co Big Ten Player of the Week. She just got better and better. Over the summer she's really developed more leadership skills. Even though we have three seniors that are captains of this team, she is definitely a leader on the floor, and everybody around her knows that.
She's looking forward to the role of taking over for Kamille in that leadership role, and she'll do a fabulous job for us.
Q. With a healthy Jaime, let's say we assume that, are you a top three team? You look who people voted, maybe one and two are solid. Could you be the third best team in the conference?
LISA BLUDER: One and two are really solid in our league. There are a bunch of us that could be three through six, and we could definitely be in the mix of that discussion. But again, doesn't matter, and I always kind of like to throw that back into my players' face, too.
Q. You're the most experienced Big Ten coach in the conference. What do you think about the three new head coaches joining the conference and what do you think the biggest challenge is coaching in the Big Ten?
LISA BLUDER: Well, the biggest challenge of coaching in the Big Ten, and when I came here 13 years ago, I know it was for me, is that there are no easy teams in the Big Ten. There are no games that you can automatically say, oh, that's going to be a W or that's going to be a W. It just doesn't happen. There's too good of coaches in this league. There's too good of athletes in this league. We have some great home court advantages, so going on the road is difficult in this league.
That's what's the difference is coming into this league, is that you probably came from a league, with the exception of Kim, that you were playing where you knew you were going to win those games, and you just don't have that in this league.
Q. Seems like one thing you have that nobody else has is Morgan. What has she worked on in the off season, and will we see a player that has taken a step or two beyond where she was a year ago?
LISA BLUDER: I am so thrilled that I get to go to practice every day and Morgan Johnson is there, because not only is she a great player, she's obviously a presence inside, at 6'5". Last year she was the seventh best field goal percentage shooter in America. She was 24th or 26th for blocked shots in America, but she brings a joy to practice every day that you just don't get, especially out of big girls. I mean, big girls are usually a little bit quieter; they're not the ones that talk a lot. She is exuberant every day in practice. She just brings a joy and a level of effort that our freshmen really need to learn from.
I am thrilled that Morgan is returning. She's going to have a great senior year. I'm thrilled that she's been voted on the preseason All-Big Ten Team because it's deservedly so.
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