Feb. 14, 2011
MADISON, Wis. – Coach Lisa Stone addressed the media Monday as the Wisconsin women’s basketball team counts down the Big Ten Conference season. The Badgers (14-10 overall, 9-3 Big Ten) travel to Iowa (19-7, 7-6) on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin returns home on Saturday to host Michigan (14-10, 7-5) at 12:30 p.m. in the Kohl Center. Saturday will be Senior Day as well as a pre-game presentation to Stone for her 500th win.
With only four games remaining in the regular season, Wisconsin is alone in third place in the conference standings. Michigan State leads the league at 10-2 while Penn State is half a game behind at 10-3. Michigan is fourth while Iowa is tied with Purdue in fifth place.
A complete transcription of Stone’s comments is below. You can also watch the video here.
Opening statement: I’m very pleased with the fact that our bye weeks this year have come at an opportune time. We had gone on the road last week to Indiana, then came back and played a very good Northwestern team. And the schedule this week is Wednesday/Saturday, we’re normally Thursday/Sunday. Our bye week, the previous time we were able to give our players off a Saturday and a Sunday, a weekend off to re-charge.
(It’s) similar this time. We took Friday off, practiced Saturday morning before the great excitement here at the Kohl Center with our men’s victory over Ohio State, and then took yesterday off.
We’re back at it tomorrow. We leave for Iowa tomorrow afternoon and take on the Hawkeyes, a very good team, a team we only play once. And the fact that they have their same starting lineup back brings some familiarity to our returning players. They’re a very, very good team.
But it’s given us some time to prepare where a lot of the teams in the Big Ten are playing Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday this week, so it’s a pretty tough schedule. I think our bye, obviously, well, we’ll find out if it was advantageous for us. But we utilized it to, again, get everybody back. We’ve got a clean bill of health going into today’s practice, and looking forward to a great week.
Four games left in the regular season, you guys are right there in the thick of the title race, do you feel like you’re in a good spot to, I know it’s just one game at a time with your team as always, but do you feel like you’re in a good spot?
We got to take care of business. We got to win games. There’s no doubt about it. This week is no different than the weeks leading up to this game. No game is any more important than the others. We will prepare as we have been preparing. I feel very good about our team in terms of our preparation.
Statistically, we’re taking care of the basketball (and) need to continue to do that, need to make shots on the road, which we’ve done in the last few away games. It’s just, it’s all about the next game. And you’re right, there’s only four left, two at home, two on the road.
Take care of business, and we’re only a game out of first place right now, that we stay in the hunt. And that’s up to us. You can get caught up in worrying about everybody else and having somebody do your dirty work for you. We just want to take care of business our self, play solid defense, take care of the basketball, make some shots on the road, rebound the basketball, and just stick to the details.
And again, I’m just very impressed with our teams’ preparation. And it’s a lot with our seniors. They know the likes of Kachine Alexander, and Jaime Printy, and Kamille Wahlin, and Morgan Johnson, and Kelly Krei, that’s the starting lineup from Iowa the last two years. And you only see them once, that your players are telling you about the other team before you even talk about the scout, that’s a good sign. The team is playing some good basketball right now. We just hope we can continue.
Stats don’t always tell the story, but you look at Iowa, they’re third in the league in offense, third in defense, you know, they’re rebounding, they’re averaging like 40 a game. Are you surprised they’re 7-6 in league play?
I am a little surprised with their conference record certainly. I’m not surprised with their statistics. They’re the real deal. They can really shoot it. And their game yesterday with Northwestern, they scored over 60 points in the second half. They got to the foul line almost 30 times, to Northwestern’s nine. They attack it, they shoot it, they drive it, they rebound it, they get extra second-chance opportunities. They’re really good.
But again, the Big Ten is really good as you can see with the records. We have to be solid in what we do. We have to play our way, Brian, that’s the bottom line. We have to control tempo. We have to control possessions. We cannot get in a running match with them. We’ve got to limit them to one shot. We’ve got to get to shooters, make sure they’re shooting contested shots. (We) got to stop the drive.
If we’re playing our solid defense and we limit them to getting in the paint, that has a lot to do with them getting in the paint, kicking for three’s. If our one-on-one containment is solid and we keep them out of the paint, hopefully, we’re getting out to shooters, and hopefully, we’re playing defense without fouling.
This senior class has gone through a lot, hadn’t it?
Yeah, they really have. They’re a special group, I adore them. They’ve been through some really, really good times, some tough times. And they’ve held themselves high, to a very high esteem both academically and athletically. They’re our leaders in the classroom, all four of them. They’re our leaders on the court statistically. They’re our leaders in the locker room in terms of expectation and their will and their want to win a Big Ten championship and get to the tournament.
And when you have that atmosphere in the locker room, it enlightens you as a coach. It’s fun to come to practice every day. You know, Dick Vitale was watching our practice the other day. I don’t think the players knew that, which was good that we were focusing. But prior to the men’s game, we had practice on the main floor, and I ran and got (him), he came out and took a picture with our players.
And the seniors are like, no, no, because everybody’s duking it out to see who is going to get to stand by Dick Vitale. And the seniors took charge. Their leadership prevailed, that they were going to be the ones that got to stand by Coach Vitale. They’re just a really neat group. I can’t say enough about them. It’s a pleasure to be around them. We want to finish off their senior year at the highest level, and I count on them. I count on them, every practice, every game.
Stemming off that, and counting off your seniors, Tara Steinbauer has been someone that’s been in the lineup every game for you. Can you talk about what she’s meant to this program and, I guess, accountability-wise too, just being there every day?
Yeah, Tara is the X factor. Every team has an X factor. (Mike) Bruesewitz was the X factor the other day. There’s no question. It’s not just scoring, it’s all that little stuff. And Tara, Alyssa and Lin are going to draw a lot of attention. Alyssa Karel has been Alyssa Karel the whole way, never wavered from that. Lin Zastrow is playing at a very high level, anchors our offense and defense. Emily Neal is a reserve player, understands her role, has been awesome.
When it comes to Tara Steinbauer, she’s the X factor. She’s one of the toughest kids on our team. She gets her hands on rebounds. If she’s not scoring, she’s defending for us. And when she’s scoring for us, it’s generally at a double-digit clip. Just tough, wants the basketball, can shoot the three, has made some big shots for us throughout the year. But it’s her toughness on the court, and that’s what we need to rest of the way. As you get into playing teams a second, maybe a third time once the Big Ten Tournament comes around, you need that X factor. And Tara’s our X Factor.