Big Ten Basketball Media Day Quotes

Oct. 30, 2005

2005 Big Ten Basketball Media Day
Sunday, Oct. 30, 2005
Chicago Marriott O'Hare in Chicago, Ill.


Theresa Grentz, Illinois

On outlook for upcoming season:
"We went from being one of the smallest to one of the largest teams in the Big Ten. I like being big and I like playing big. Erin [McCarthy], our 6'5" post player holds the potential to make a huge impact. We haven't been a strong three-point shooting or inside team the past couple of years, which has made it tough to compete. Yet, we've made adjustments. Our kids are young, coachable, enthusiastic, and focused on and off the floor. I expect good things."

On key players:
"Erin [Wigley] is a beautiful kid who has all the tools to lead this team. She's got it all together on the court, as well as the academic/social side. With only 24 months left in her college career, we're here to help her do whatever she wants to do. Audrey [Tabon] has really blossomed. She has spent countless hours at the gym working on her game. She is just an absolute delight."

Sharon Versyp, Indiana

On outlook for upcoming season:
"My expectation for this team is for us to get better every day. With such a young team, we're not worrying about wins and losses. Getting better means understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses. Once they learn my philosophy of coaching, we'll be able to achieve this goal.

On key players:
"Our key players have yet to be determined. We have quite a few freshmen who are still learning what I want them to do. Cyndi (Valentin), Jenny (DeMuth), and Angela (Hawkins), our seniors, definitely need to step it up. Everyone else will step in and contribute around them."

Lisa Bluder, Iowa

On outlook for upcoming season and key players:
"We're a young team. Out of our 12 scholarship players, nine out of the 12 are freshmen and sophomores. We don't have a lot of experience overall, but luckily we do have an experienced guard in senior Crystal Smith, who was third-team All-Big Ten last year. Quite honestly, I felt that it should have been higher because she ranked in the top 10 in every statistical category in the Big Ten; she's just a tremendous player. One of our freshmen from last year, Krista Vandeventer, was first-team All-Big Ten last year. She was the leading rebounder on our team last year, and will return for her sophomore campaign. We have a lot of young talent on the team, but the outcome will just depend on how well they adjust to college basketball."

On goals for the season:
"We want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament and place in the top half of the conference this season. When you place in the top half of the conference, it seems like good things happen to you."

Cheryl Burnett, Michigan

On outlook for upcoming season:
"The great thing about this team is that we have tremendous balance. Since we're so young, our chemistry is developing as we go. Basically, half of our team is the freshman class, and that is a good thing. We have significantly increased our depth, adding speed and quickness to our squad. This is going to have a huge impact on our program and the entire Big Ten."

On players taking leadership roles:
"After fourteen practices, it is clear that our leadership this season will be coming from several different areas. We are not going to have one player leading in every department. I've always said that there are multiple types of leaders, whether it is performance, communication or experience. We have seen a lot of players emerge in these areas and that is a good thing."

Joanne P. McCallie, Michigan State

On the league this season:
"It's just better all the way around from top to bottom. I think every time we hit the floor, we have the same issue; a battle. A lot of people would like to be where we were last year, so they play us more aggressively. I feel that when our opponents face us, they're playing their best game, and I welcome that challenge. It's very difficult because we seem to get everyone's best game, which will better prepare us for March. But in the meantime, we have to be prepared for every game."

On outlook for upcoming season:
"Right now, we're just trying to get better every day. We have to start all over again; it's a brand-new year, new chemistry and a new team. My outlook for this season is that I love our team, and we have lots of work to do to get where we want and need to be."

On key players:
"I think we have some new faces; we have a group of four people that widens out our talent, which includes Lindsay Bowen, Liz Shimek, Victoria Lucas-Perry and Rene Haynes. From there, Laura Hall is coming on strong, and we have three out of our four freshmen who will have a lot of minutes this season. We have some people that are returning with experience from last season and from previous experiences who will hopefully keep our team balanced and able to attack from all positions."

Pam Borton, Minnesota

On outlook for upcoming season:
"I haven't been this excited about a team in a long time. I think we have great balance and a lot of veterans returning. We have a great core of kids that are coming back from last year's team. We are losing only one senior from last year. I really believe that you need great leadership in order to be successful. Leadership is one of our strengths. I'm extremely excited about the core group that we have and the potential of this team."

On players and leadership roles:
"I think it is more than just one or two people who will take on leadership roles. This team will lead by committee. We have a great senior class with six players returning for their final year. We could potentially have two juniors starting this year. I hope to see at least four or five people in double figures. I expect a different player to step up every single game."

Beth Combs, Northwestern

On outlook for upcoming season:
"We are excited about this year. We have a lot of new faces. Northwestern definitely has a new look this year. I think people are going to see things from this program that they may have not seen in recent years. We have a total of eight underclassmen, but we are looking to rebuild and bring some respect to the program. I think that we have the team to be able to do that."

On players taking on leadership roles:
"Ifeoma Okonkwo is our only senior. I think that she has made a very serious commitment to her game over the summer and she stepped up in practice over the last couple months. I think she realizes that this is it for her and she hasn't been able to experience success on the court in the previous three years. She is ready to step in and shoulder some responsibility. A.J. Glasauer is our only junior and did not get a lot of playing time last year. A.J. and Ifeoma are outstanding when they work together. We are excited because all of these girls spent time together this summer. They were getting stronger, getting better, and getting to know each other. Our incoming freshmen spent time in summer school so they were able to step in and gel with the team. We are going to play a lot of underclassmen but they will step up and really get some things done. We are excited about that. We are looking to rebuild, bring respect to the program and protect home court."

Jim Foster, Ohio State

On outlook for upcoming season:
"I always present our team with the goal of just trying to get better every day. I don't necessarily set goals for the team, because if we just work to get better all the time, at the end of the season we will be playing in some very significant basketball games, although it's always a hope to make it to the NCAA Tournament. We have a lot of talent this season, which should hopefully show through by the end of the year."

On key returnees and newcomers who will make an impact:
"Jessica Davenport and Brandie Hoskins are definitely two key returnees this year, especially since Jessica was a first-team All-American last season. I hope to see continued improvement in her play, and we're hoping to have the consistency she had last year back for this year. I feel that Brandie is one of the best guards in the league, and her play improved greatly over the course of the summer, especially her mid-range game, and it'll be a good starting spot. We have transfer Debbie Merrill from the University of Cincinnati and freshman Star Allen who, I think, will have a great impact on this program. I believe they'll help us with post-game and with rebounding; we're a better rebounding team and running team now."

Rene Portland, Penn State

On outlook for upcoming season:
"One of the only things we are a lacking is experience, which we will look to gain very quickly. We are playing Duke on Nov. 18. Our mindset is that if we are playing the game, we might as well win it. I think we are working hard. We worked hard teaching the players tradition. Our schedule, both conference and non-conference, are very tough. It will wake us up very quickly if we are not ready. I know it is going to be good for us. A tough schedule has always been good for our team."

On players developing leadership roles:
"Amanda (Brown) has had some playing time. She has been very fortunate to work with the Canadian National Team system. She helped them achieve some of their goals this year and she understands how she has to lead. She will carry a lot of weight with her on the court too. It is not just about the leadership of the team, it is a personal thing. She has to be a leader on the court and our leading rebounder. We will get two years of hard work out of her. So, all the hard work that we put in this year will stay with us next year. That is the benefit of having such a young team."

Kristy Curry, Purdue

On outlook for upcoming season:
"We're excited. We're a year older, so hopefully that means we're a year better, a year smarter and a year wiser. We have a healthy Katie Gearlds and a healthy Erin Lawless, which is always a positive. We have five newcomers who will make us better simply by their presence on the court. I like the team a lot and I enjoy spending time with them, and that's a different feeling than I had last season."

On goals for this season:
"It's always a goal that everyone does well academically, because goals in the classroom are always important. We always want our seniors to graduate with no worries. We also always have the goals to win the Big Ten Tournament and have the chance to compete in the Final Four. These are all goals we've always had, and they are goals that probably never will change."

On key players:
"Katie Gearlds and Erin Lawless are definitely two key returners because they were our leading scorers last year. For us to have a great year there's no doubt we'll need their consistency, but we'll also need the third and fourth wheels to get the car going. That help will come from Aye Traore and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton giving their A-game every night. Cherelle George has a chance to impact our team, along with Jodi Howell. Also, Danielle Campbell and Stephanie Helgeson makes our team bigger and Lauren Mioton gives the team great energy. So overall, we have a lot of great players who will make our team better this season."

Lisa Stone, Wisconsin

On outlook for upcoming season:
"I'm excited about the season. We are still young; we have four seniors, no juniors, and the rest are underclassmen. Janese Banks and Jolene Anderson represented our country this past summer. Both of them were mentioned in postseason honors last season. We have young players that have had success as freshmen, which gives us a lot to build on."

On players developing leadership roles:
"Jolene Anderson and Janese Banks will lead. Annie Nelson is a senior. She broke into the starting lineup two years ago and has maintained that. She is a steady player. When I look at the chemistry of our team, I realize we have a team that is as ready as they have ever been to have the year that we want to have."