Big Ten Media Day - Joe McKeown

Northwestern coach Joe McKeown

Northwestern coach Joe McKeown

Oct. 25, 2012

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JOE McKEOWN: I'm just excited to get going. Like most people this time of year, we're actually 4 and 0 instead of probably everybody else is 0 and 0. We took our team to Italy and played four games, so I'm counting those. I have five freshmen and four seniors back basically, so we're really looking forward to trying to blend this team together. It should be a lot of fun.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about Italy and how that might have matured your team and the experience?
JOE McKEOWN: Well, it was just for our players a once in a lifetime experience probably, and I appreciate Northwestern and Jim Phillips giving us the opportunity to do that. The NCAA allows you to go every four years, and I know Coach Carmody took his team, would be three years ago now, and you just saw how much that helped, just giving freshmen especially a chance to play with seniors.

The culture part of it and the team bonding part, you just can't replace.

Q. Can you speak a little bit about how Danielle had such a great season last year, really emerging last year and what kind of role is she going to play this year as a senior?
JOE McKEOWN: She's had a great preseason as far as workouts and the way we're practicing. At 6'4" can step out and shoot. She had some injury problems last year that stopped her from maybe even having a better year. But right now she's playing as well as I've ever seen her play.

Q. I understand you guys talked a little bit about this last night, but there's a proposal out there for some changes on the women's side of basketball, lower rims, shot clock. Do you think the game needs some changes? Is it necessary? Is it practical?
JOE McKEOWN: We talked a little bit last night, some of the coaches. I saw some of the articles. You know, I think we're still evolving as a game, and you're going to go through some peaks and valleys when you think about we've only had the WNBA since 1997. I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with Coach Auerbach when I was at GW and he talked about the early years of the NBA and how much they struggled at times, too. We still have to nurture our game. They talked about in the NBA putting 12 foot baskets up a year ago.

You have to look at changing things if you feel like they're not working. I will say this: I would like to see a bigger basketball. I'd like to see us use a big ball again, and I think we miss a lot of lay ups. Some of it is your ball, some of it is you've got bad lay up shooters, and I've got a little bit of both probably, but I've said that for years. I don't know about lowering the rims, but I do think we shouldn't be intimidated by change, either.

Q. Who are a couple of the freshman kids who might be impact players this year who I might see very early in the season playing?
JOE McKEOWN: Probably right now we have four freshmen. The one that's probably been the most consistent as a freshman who's from the Chicago area, Maggie Lyons, from New Trier High School, same high school as Amy Jaeschke, who just had an incredible career for us. Maggie has a chance to play a lot as a freshman, contribute a lot. She can really score, doesn't play any defense like most freshmen. She'll be fine.

Lauren Douglas is a 6'2", kind of utility player, can play second base, shortstop, third, everywhere. But she can do everything. Just learning the game for us. She's from Memphis, Tennessee. Those two have really stepped up.

Like most freshmen they're up and down, but I'm excited about them.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Karly Roser? She has one year under her belt, how she's matured and how her game might have improved over the summer?
JOE McKEOWN: Yeah, Karly Roser last year played 35 minutes at point guard in a league that put seven teams in the NCAA Tournament. We threw her right into the fire, and it was more sink or swim. She did a great job for us. She's really come back now I think a much more mature player.

I'm really excited about her. She's shooting the ball a lot better, and she's running our team better. She's kind of taking control of practice, which you want to see as a coach.

She just needs to get her confidence level way, way up. It's tough when you're a sophomore when you've been playing 35 minutes a game as a freshman and your roles change a little bit. If she has a great year, that's really going to help us.

Q. You have two seniors, Kendall Hackney and Danielle Diamant. What kind of ownership are they taking with this team in their senior year?
JOE McKEOWN: The best thing to happen to us was to put them in charge of some of the things that we did overseas. They really embrace that role right now. Sometimes in athletics, naming captains and things like that becomes very ceremonial, and in their case we haven't even named a captain yet, but just from a leadership standpoint, they've been through some really rocky times and some great times at Northwestern. They're the first two players I recruited when I got the job. They feel really invested, and they want to have a great senior year.

They're both healthy now and they're both playing real well.

Q. You have some new coaches in the league. How do you think they're going to impact the Big Ten?
JOE McKEOWN: They've all come from programs where they've had tremendous success, whether it's been within their conference, in the NCAA Tournament. Pretty experienced rookies, actually. Each situation you walk into is a little different, especially the one I walked into. But you're able to just use your experience.

All three of the coaches coming in will have an impact on that program. Their track record is terrific. It's great for the league when we do have job openings, the level of coaches that come into our league.

Q. You talked a little bit about your trip to Italy in the preseason, as well. Which player have you seen make the biggest improvement so far this year?
JOE McKEOWN: Good question. We've had a couple people really step up. Karly is one of those where she has just matured a lot. We have a sophomore named Alex Cohen and a junior Meghan McKeown, coming off tough years with injuries; Alex as a freshman didn't play a lot. But they really played well in Italy and did a lot of different things for us. Alex is 6'5" and can play multiple positions, and both of those guys can really shoot the ball well.

This year hopefully we'll be a much better shooting team. We're going to spread the floor out more, chuck and duck a little bit.

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