Oct. 27, 2011
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Lisa Bluder: Can’t believe another year is rolling around again. They say as you get older, they come around faster, and I think that’s very, very true right now. Happy for Jaime Printy being acknowledged as one of the top five players in this conference. That is a very difficult thing to do. It’s a great accomplishment. This is such an unbelievable conference, and now with the addition of Nebraska it’s even tougher. But for her to be acknowledged as one of the top five players as a junior, I think, really is a tremendous accomplishment for her. Congratulations to Penn State for being the preseason favorite. I definitely see that happening. I think they’re a tremendous team, and Coquese has done a great job. We’re looking forward to the year. We think we’ve got a great non conference schedule to prepare us for the Big Ten, but obviously getting ready to tip it off pretty quickly here.
Q. You mentioned Jaime. Let’s start there. She’s already proven what she can do as a scorer. What are you looking for from her this year as opposed to years past in terms of helping her grow and helping your team win?
Lisa Bluder: Like I said, Jaime has proved herself already on the offensive end. Everybody knows she’s an incredible three point threat. But she’s more than that on the offensive end because she’s proven that she can get to the rim, she can accept contact and still convert the basket. She’s a fabulous free throw shooter, so she can make you play the old fashioned way with the old fashioned three instead of the new three. See, I’m that old. But Jaime can continue to work on her leadership skills. She can continue to work on her defense and rebounding. Those are all things that can make her a more complete player. I think she’s already a pretty complete player on the offensive end. I’d like to see her finish that out, becoming a more conscious defensive player than she is right now.
Q. You obviously lost a lot in Kachine Alexander, but more than just the numbers, the energy t
hat she brought every single day. Who’s got to pick up the slack for that? Lisa Bluder: You know, the energy is the hardest thing, really. Isn’t that funny, such an intangible thing? You can all say, who’s your defense stopper, who’s going to get those rebounds, but when you think of Kachine people think of that energy right away. What a great example to really other kids around the country of how important such an intangible like that is to a team and to being a successful player. Really that’s something we’re still working on. Kachine was such a dominating personality that nobody had to assume that role the last four years. So now somebody has got to learn to assume that role. Usually big players are not those type of personalities, but Morgan Johnson is trying really hard. She’s got the most personality out on the floor. She was often a recipient of Kachine’s emotion on the floor. But we’re really trying to find that person still. You know, who’s going to come up with the rebounds and the defense. You don’t have one person, okay, you’re going to pick up the defense and the rebounding of Kachine. That’s got to be a team effort.
Q. For the first time in a number of years you have some real legitimate depth on your team. How do you expect that to change the way you can play the game?
Lisa Bluder: Yeah, it’s been so long, you’re right, it’s been a long time since we’ve had 12 healthy bodies. In practice it’s really nice. But yeah, in games it’s going to make a difference on how we can play. I think that we will be able to be more up tempo, and I feel like our team has always tried to push the ball pretty hard. And that’s something that I think we can do even more, and I think it can also adjust how we substitute because you’re not just substituting when a player has foul trouble or when a player is hurt, but now you can substitute for lack of effort or any amount of other things. So it allows you to substitute and use the bench as a motivator where we have not been able to use that in the last several years. But we think that defensively we can do some different things more in the three quarter court as well as full court.
Q. I was just going to ask, are you going to be able to coach now and not worry so much about foul trouble and not feel like, all right, we’ve got to protect?
Lisa Bluder: I hope so, although we’re a team that’s not bringing All Americans off the bench, that sort of thing. So we have to make sure that our top players are still playing smart. I want them to play hard, but they also need to play smart, too.
Q. Speaking of All Americans, with Samantha Logic coming in, what does she bring as a freshman? I read about your European tour and what she brought there, but what does she bring to this team and how do you expect her to impact it?
Lisa Bluder: Samantha, you wouldn’t pick her out of the lineup as the All American quite honestly, but when she gets on the court, you’d better be ready to play. She has a grit about her that I really enjoy, and Kachine had that type of edge. I think really good players have a little bit of an edge to them, and she has that. She is a tremendous competitor at whatever she does. She’s a very good passer. She’s versatile, she can rebound, she’s not scared to be physical at all, and I like that about her. But she just has a real good ability to see things unfold before they actually happen on the floor, and that’s kind of a gift.
Q. You had an unfortunate seed at the NCAA Tournament where you were playing at probably one of the best low seeded teams in history on their home court. Is there any possible changes that can be made to prevent that in the future, or is neutral site just not relevant or doesn’t work well enough in the first couple of rounds?
Lisa Bluder: Yeah, I have made the NCAA gods mad at me, I know that. I don’t know why, but I have. It was a great game. We played Gonzaga there. That was a really, really good women’s basketball game. You know, we’ve tried to go to more neutral sites with the eight sites instead of 16; it didn’t work. So we won’t be anxious to go back to it. I know they won’t be. You try it once, it didn’t work. You’re not going to rush back to that same sort of thing again. We’re obviously not there yet. It’s really unfortunate because the national tournament should not be played on somebody’s home court. But that’s where we are, and so we have to deal with it. We can’t control it.
Q. Is there any particular player that you would identify as the diamond in the rough, perhaps Morgan Johnson or someone like that, that may just very well, or you’re hoping will very well step up this year and make a huge impact?
Lisa Bluder: You know, we’ve always tried to be a very balanced team, and I think that we will be again this year. I think we’ll have tremendous balance on our team. You talk about Morgan Johnson, she’s a three year starter. You talk about Kamille Wahlin, four year starter at the point guard position for us. We’ve got a lot of really good point guards in this conference, but I really like Kamille Wahlin and the way she leads our team.
We’ve talked about Jaime Printy. Kelly Krei is somebody that people forget about on our team that is really playing well as a senior, and I think this happens sometimes with seniors, they’ve kind of been role players up until their senior years and all of a sudden a light bulb turns on, oh, my gosh, it’s my senior year, it’s my time to make an impact. Kelly is playing with a little bit more assertion than she has in the past, and I really like that. We have another kid that was not on anybody’s radar last year, Kalli Hansen, college transfer from Kirkwood, won two national titles her freshman and sophomore year. Really was kind of a role player for us last year, and this year she may start, she may not start, but she will play a lot of minutes, and she is doing some really good things in practice. If she can stay healthy, she could be somebody that people just don’t think about when they think of the Iowa Hawkeyes until they see us this year.
Q. When I watch your team, to me a big part of your success will be Morgan and her ability offensively to sort of maybe things work around her a little bit more because defensively her shot blocking, her enthusiasm makes such a difference. How is she a different player now during fall practice than she was at the end of last year?
Lisa Bluder: I think Morgan has really enjoyed being a mentor this year. We have a freshman Bethany Doolittle from St. Paul, Minnesota, who’s 6-4 and a true post, and we haven’t had a true post to go along with Morgan ever in her career. So I think she feels good that she can play and know that somebody is on the bench that can come in and is not going to be detrimental to the team, if Morgan has to go out that we can replace her with a center and not have to change what we’re doing by bringing in a power forward, someone out of position to play her position. I think that gives her a lot of comfort. And I think she’s really enjoying being that mentor this year to a freshman, and trying to bring them along, and that’s really developed her leadership skills.
And it’s just made her more boisterous on the floor, more demanding in the post, and so I think that’s been a really she has grown through trying to help somebody else grow, and that’s kind of neat to see.