Jan. 4, 2010
MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin women’s basketball coach Lisa Stone addressed the media Monday as her team returns home for two Big Ten Conference games. The Badgers (11-4 overall, 1-3 Big Ten) host Purdue (7-6, 2-1) on Thursday in a game that will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. from the Kohl Center. UW hosts Michigan (9-5, 1-3) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin has lost its last two Big Ten games, both on the road, for its longest losing streak of the season. UW looks forward to returning home where it is 5-1 this season, including a win over No. 16 Michigan State on Dec. 28, the Badgers first win over a ranked team this year.
A complete transcription of Stone’s comments is below while you can watch the news conference here.
Opening Statement: (We’re) coming off a tough road loss last night, a buzzer beater at the end and, unfortunately for us, it shouldn’t have come down to that. We played very, very well last night offensively and defensively. (It was) night and day different from our game at Iowa. (I’m) very pleased with our team’s growth and the ability to get better. We just couldn’t capitalize at the free throw line and had some costly turnovers throughout the game.
But Illinois is a very, very good team and it came down to the last play of the game, but there’s 40 minutes in a game. (It was) tough to lose on the buzzer, but we’re very encouraged by the fact that we come back home. We’ve played four Big Ten games, three of which have been on the road and looking forward to coming back home and getting back on track. Our team is showing some improvement, getting better and we hope that we continue to grow throughout practicing and get ready for Purdue on Thursday.
Lisa, I can tell the disappointment in your voice. Just the little things, wasn’t it? Was that what it came down to yesterday?
That was it. We are a team that is … Our identity is defense, our identity is toughness and we want to be a team that doesn’t beat themselves. And costly turnovers, some little things. We missed a couple box-outs down the stretch, some free throws down the stretch and turnovers throughout the game. Those are things that I know we can get better at, but I thought we executed better offensively.
Defensively, we were very solid against two of the best players in the league, if not two of the best players in the country with Lacey Simpson and Jenna Smith. There’s a lot of good things to take, despite a heartbreaking loss, lot of really good things to take. But, again, it’s about our principles, it’s about our details and doing the little things the entire game and that should get us over the hump.
Does this make this home stretch then that much more important when you guys are having a little trouble on the road?
There’s a lot of games to be played yet. We’re just at the start of the Big Ten season and we feel that this is a team that is very focused on getting things done. Our kids are really sticking by the game plan. Again, there’s a lot of games left. The homestand … it’s important. You want to protect home court in the Big Ten. It’s imperative and there’s, speaking of imperative, parity itself is something that’s very evident in the Big Ten.
Michigan went into Ohio State yesterday and lost only by three points. The Big Ten is as even as it’s been since I’ve been here and you need to prepare for every game. (We need to) continue to stay to our principles, to what we stand by, who we are, get the little things done and take care of home court.
Looks like you and Purdue are pretty even, if you look at the stats, right?
Well, we match up very well with Purdue. They’re still a Purdue team. Purdue is a team that has great tradition in the Big Ten. They always have. They’ve done well in the past. They get to the Big Ten season and they like to flex their muscles. They’re led by FahKara Malone, just a great point guard, and Brittany Rayburn and Jodi Howell. Their returning backcourt is back, probably one of the best backcourts out there.
Their post game, they’ve been strapped with some injuries early in the year, took some tough losses early, but they’re very confident when it comes to Big Ten play. We need to be ready. They’re a very good defensive team. They’re a team that has a scoring offense that we need to make sure that our defense is right point on and that we find ways to score from a lot of different areas, not just outside, not just inside, but a collective effort as we go into this game.
Can you just talk about Rae Lin’s (D’Alie) development, not just as a player but off the court and what she’s brought to this team from a leadership standpoint?
Well, Rae Lin is a player that was signed late out of high school. She stands 5’3 tall. She and FahKara Malone are the two smallest point guards, I believe, in the country. They’ll go head-to-head against each other on Thursday. (Rae Lin) has a passion for the game. She wants to go into coaching. She wants to lead by example. She will admit her faults as well as work on her areas of weakness. She’s improved her shooting percentage.
She leads by example, by her passion and her work ethic. She’s very, very competitive, very high energy and when that’s all put together and geared at the same time and she’s at her best, she’s terrific. The Michigan State game was, in my opinion, her best game of the year and it’s nice to come back home with that in the back of your mind, knowing that that’s how Rae Lin played here at home. But we’re going to need that the rest of the way.
Obviously, Taylor Wurtz had a nice game yesterday. Could you explain her progression as a freshman and, you know, what more she can do for you at this point?
Well, she is a and I’ve said it a number of times, she is as much of a gym rat as anybody I’ve ever met. She’s in the gym every day. In fact, she’s out there right now, again. We got back last night from Illinois (and) she probably went right to the gym to shoot free throws. (For) Taylor, it was almost like a coming out party, in some regards, last night. I thought she played tremendous defense. She guarded Lacey Simpson and did a nice job. I think her greatest improvement has been her defense. Her on-ball defense against a very, very potent offensive player in Lacey Simpson was very encouraging.
She was a bright spot last night, not only defensively, but obviously offensively. (She) hit some huge shots for us. She’s a player that if she misses a shot, the next one is probably in. She’s working on her mid-range game. She’s working on getting to the basket. She can shoot the ball deep. She’s played a multitude of positions, anywhere from one through four, and that’s a lot to ask of a freshman, but I think her maturation has really been visible. Usually, you have to wait until their sophomore year to see that type of impact. Taylor is really starting to grow into her own and we’re hoping that she can keep improving and keep giving us what she’s giving us right now, because she’s been very special for us.