Feb. 17, 2010
"Our Ole Miss game was a really challenging game. We struggled to get out of there with a win, but fortunately we did. Our Florida game, I thought the second half was the best we've played all year. We stepped up our post game was really strong with Kelley [Cain] and Glory [Johnson] and Lyssi [Brewer]. Guard play was very strong. I think Shekinna [Stricklen] is a lot more comfortable now running the point. Angie [Bjorklund] has been a real go to player for us. Overall, very pleased with our play and hope we can start to play and put together 40 minutes. I do think we're getting closer to that. Now going to Alabama, I think for us, we have to go on the road and be better. I think that's the one thing. We've had a lot of close games on the road, and at home as well. I think that's where, when you take the road, you have to show up. Our defense has improved, but board play has to continue to be better and ball security. Then we have LSU, they're so physical and tough minded. I think they're playing really well right now."
You've had a quick hook on Glory the past few games, what's going on with her game that's causing that?
"I think the main thing with Glory is not to pace herself. You're talking the best athlete on our team. For whatever reason, and I've talked to her about this, she paces herself and I just want her to go all out. I talked to her about this in our last game, just go as hard as you can and just pull yourself when fatigue sets in. We'll get you back in. I think that if we can get her to understand that. It took Lyssi a long time to understand that. She'll pull herself. I want them to do that. There is a different strategy as opposed to say `you play hard or I'll take you out', that's when players will pace themselves. I want us to go all out and then pull themselves out, knowing they'll get back in."
That's normally not a problem for her [Glory] though, has it? What do you think is causing that?
"I don't know. We've played a lot of games. It's a long season. Rather than pace yourself, take advantage of the fact that we have depth in our post game."
For you now, it's more of a consistent effort thing?
"You're sprinting rim to rim. She's had some great games for us and done a great job of scoring in the paint. She can defend on the perimeter, which gives us an advantage. You don't have many athletes that have the size Glory brings that can do what she does when she defends on the perimeter."
Has she said anything about what's going on with her game?
"No, I ask her even during the game. I say `you seem to give into fatigue, are you eating, are you eating healthy?' Everything I ask her, she says `no, I feel ok'. I don't think she's quite aware of it, but we'll keep emphasizing what she needs to do. She's definitely a key player for our basketball team."
You said at halftime of the Florida game that if this is who this team is, don't even think about San Antonio. Do you think this team is closer to being the team that you want them to be?
"I do, but we still have games to play and I think we'll continue to learn more about our team. Certainly, we have the talent. We have skill players. It's just a matter of them understanding that these habits are hard to break. We've got to have great habits every day in practice in all of our offense and our defense and our rebounding. We've just got to be invested across the board. One or two players decide they don't want to play hard, that's not going to cut it. We've made a lot strides, don't get me wrong. Overall, I'm pretty pleased. Watching our film, we are getting better. We're defending better. We've got to make sure we're not giving up middle drives, that right there will cost us."
Are you surprised that as a junior, it is the first time Angie has won SEC Player of the Week?
"For me, I didn't think much about it. I was like `wow' and moved on. We've had a lot of great ones. Obviously Angie, right now, is playing with tremendous confidence and I don't think she lets things bother her. If she misses a shot, she believes the next one is going in. She's done a much better job on the defensive end and that's a lot of progress there."
It seems like this lineup, for now, pleases you. Can you talk a little bit about your rotation off the bench? Who are you looking at there and how do you like the way that sets up?
"Well, I need to you all heads up. Kelley Cain is not going on this road trip. Reason being is that she has missed so many Thursdays. I talked to her about it and I said `would it help you if you worked out with us today and then tomorrow you would be here to go to your classes?' She was like `coach, that would be awesome.'"
So this is an academic related thing?
"Yes. We have had four Thursday's of classes. And she has missed three of them. And Syd is in the same situation and she emailed her professor. I'm not sure what the conversation was, but I know she is going to go with us. She emailed her professor and he said he would be able to work with her."
So Brewer starts in place of Cain?
Kelley is academically fine, she just needs to get caught up before postseason?
A majority of your SEC games have been on the road. I was thinking that this team could have a dicey SEC season. You've got to be pleased with the turnaround this team has made, especially after going 2-5 on the road last season.
"I really am pleased. I think we understand now what it takes and how hard you have to work. I think the one thing that has been the most impressive, is that in our tight games, we've found a way to win. I think down the stretch, as a team, we haven't hit the panic button."
A follow up on Glory, you're really going to need her and Lyssi to do what you're asking to do. Right now, would you use [Alicia] Manning as a backup?
"I'm also going to look at Taber [Spani] playing some four for us as well. That gives us four inside players if you take Alicia and Taber and Lyssi and Glory."
So you might not have the luxury of getting Taber as much rest as you had hoped for?
"Well, that's what Jenny [Moshak] and I talked about this morning. She said she actually was feeling better. I'll gauge that once I see her move. I think she'll probably work out today and I'm going to go in and watch tape with her as well."
Sometimes Glory gets in foul trouble, that's a no-no tomorrow.
"She's got to have the discipline and be smart whether she's defending on the perimeter or on the post. I think she'll probably play some on the perimeter as well."
Will the team wear any pink related things for Thursday's game?
"We will go with basically the same setup that we had at Ole Miss last week. We will wear pink uniforms against LSU."
Do you think the season has kind of flown by?
"(laughing) I feel like we've been on the road forever. It's just great to home occasionally. No, it really has. I'm very pleased with the maturity of our team from a year ago. I think they feel really good about themselves. You look at a Lyssi Brewer and what a difference she has made for us. Last year at this time, I was thinking are we ever going to get it together. I think it's a credit to the team and the players and their investment in the offseason. And even now, getting in the gym and going to Pratt, getting a lot of shots up. That's why Alicia Manning is playing a lot better, she's in the gym. I think across the board, we've got a team that's focused and they want to win."
Will this be a good test for them Thursday? Kelley is kind of the safety valve, she's there to clean up mistakes on defense, she's good to get the ball into inside? Will this be a good test to see how the respond to her absence.
"I definitely think so. I don't know how many of the players know at this time. I've talked to Syd and Kelley. The team will know today. I think it will be. Maybe it will help them step up and be focused and try to bring what they do best as players. I can't imagine them being in any kind of panic mode because of this. For some of them, it's an opportunity."
Academics aren't just lip service for you? That does come first.
"Absolutely. They are here first and foremost to get a degree. In the process we hope we win some championships."
Coach, can you talk about the Pink Zone initiative and what you think it has done to help raise breast cancer awareness and what it means personally to you?
"It means a lot to me. One thing is because of my relationship with Coach Yow. And now Stephanie Glance being on my staff. Kay had a major influence when she was my assistant Olympic coach. She was such a woman of integrity and the same time very passionate about teaching. Just being around her, I realized the wisdom that she had. I think so many of us that are involved with it, it is because of Coach Yow."