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Healy meets media to discuss season and NCAA tournament hopes

ON WISCONSIN <b>Healy and the Badgers travel to Nebraska this weekend to finish Big Ten play</b>
Healy and the Badgers travel to Nebraska this weekend to finish Big Ten play

May 7, 2012

Watch Healy's press conference Small Video Graphic

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin softball head coach Yvette Healy met the media Monday at part of Wisconsin Athletics' weekly news conference to discuss the 2012 season, the matchup at Nebraska this weekend and the team’s hope for an NCAA tournament bid.

Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Healy's remarks can be found below.

Yvette Healy: I am excited about our last weekend. It's hard to believe it's gone as quickly. We know we're in for a battle going to Nebraska on the road, being a new foe in the Big Ten, and never having traveled there.

It's going to be a long road trip, and they're undefeated at home. They're a great program, and I think it's no better way for us to close out the season.

Question #1: How frustrating was it yesterday not to play the third game against Michigan?

Healy: It was frustrating. We were doing everything we could to get the game in, and Mother Nature just wouldn't help us out.

They're a great opponent. But I think we kept getting better, and our improvements from game one to game two were great.

We were really happy with the adjustments we were making, and we were anxious after we made their number one come back, and throw back-to-back games, to see her again the next day. It's tough, but what can you do in an outdoor sport.

Question #2: Did you expect to be where you were after this short of time running this program? Did you expect to be talking about 30 wins and setting records for Big Ten wins and that type of thing already?

Healy: We're really pleased. I think that we're in a great position right now, and it's something that we have to keep kind of taking a step back and enjoying, because the more you win, the more you want to win. And the better the team plays, the more quickly you want it all to happen.

So even now down the stretch, a lot of people are saying: Wow, it's tough; you're seeing all these tough teams, and are you happy with how they're playing? And we really are. You have to kind of put it all in perspective of it's the group that we've got here and we're getting a lot out of them.

So I think there are a lot of individuals overachieving right now, and we're really pleased with it. And it's all their hard work. But you get players like Whitney Massey and Michelle Mueller who are just exponentially adding to their games. And you can't say you're going to predict a kid like Whitney Massey to have the season she did last year and then lead the nation in doubles this year. She's made some giant strides, and that contributes a ton of the success.

Question #3: What's the mindset right now? Obviously right now I think you're three games behind Michigan, probably out of the question for a Big Ten Championship regular season, but how much do you look at the standings? Nebraska being tied with you, how much does that push you going forward?

Healy: Well, of course being tied with Nebraska right there and seeing them the last weekend, that's huge. We know if you've got a chance to be in a conversation with a legacy program like Nebraska in May, that's a huge feat for Wisconsin softball.

But the big talk is postseason. We're on the bubble and we're excited about it. I think our destiny is in our own hand and the fact we're still having conversations of what's next and are we still going to be playing, that's an exciting thing.

So from a focus standpoint, that's what the team's focusing on. It's been fun being in the conversation about winning the Big Ten, but Michigan made some huge strides this weekend, and we understand that, but there's still a lot of exciting things that can happen.

The team is really focused just playing great on the road at Nebraska and giving ourselves a chance to keep playing.

Question #4: I was going to ask about that bubble and being on it. Do you guys feel like you've done enough and merited enough to get in? Do you feel you have to prove something and get something out of this weekend series to lock up a spot?

Healy: I think this weekend is huge. Everyone's always considering how you play your last ten games, and we're 6-4 going into this weekend, so -- or we're 4-3. So we know -- I'm already anticipating what we could do. But we're hoping to come off it and be above .500 for your last ten games.

And to play on the road at Nebraska, again, they're just a team that's always in the NCAA tournament. They're a World Series program.

You want to play well down the stretch, you want to prove you can play well on the road, and this weekend it sets everything up.

I was laughing. We had our banquet last night with our team, and they don't make anything easy. We've said it all year long to all of them. They like to come from behind and have these great comeback wins and they like to make it exciting and down to the wire. I said: How would this team do it any other way than actually leave it up to your last games on the road to see whether we're going to keep playing? And that drama's been there all year, so I didn't expect anything less.

Question #5: I want to make sure that -- some people might read what you said a few minutes ago about you didn't see players perhaps coming and playing as well as they had this year; that this might be an aberration. I don't sense that you think the season is an aberration. Correct? That this is the course that you seemingly plotted, correct?

Healy: Of course. You want it to be getting a little better every single year. And I think there's a strong plan in place, and I think we've seen a lot of improvements. But a lot of the current student-athletes are making huge strides.

I think as a coach when you take over, people are usually waiting for you to bring in a big recruiting class and see what happens.

For us in year two, we've worked our butt off just coaching and trying to improve the current players, and they don't always buy in and they're not always on board. And this group, they do, and they're excited about it. And I think their success really is about them wanting to be great.

So in building the program, of course we're going to keep recruiting and bringing in great student-athletes, but we haven't brought in a huge class yet.

To make improvements at this point, it's just all due to the current student-athletes really having a hunger and desire and putting the work in.

Question #6: How many coaches do you think take that approach? Is your’ s unusual; that some coaches walk in and tear all the walls down and start over again, you seem to have just gotten some spackle and started to repair that way and created something that seems to be in pretty good shape?

Healy: I'm actually really proud of being able to coach and work with the current student-athletes. I think at this level when you're in a BCS program people want to win right away and there's a lot of scraping that usually takes place.

We talked about making it a family atmosphere when we came in. I think our actions are backing up our words. I'm excited about this and I would love to see this model work. I would love to have an impact on how other programs do things so that we can really keep the integrity there.

Now, of course, if people aren't working hard and if they're not getting it done and don't have good attitudes -- I don't say we're not keeping any freeloaders, but the fact that you can work within your current group and just really improve your student-athletes, it says a lot about what I want college sports to be about.

And I'm pleased that our administration kind of encouraged us to do it this way. I think it's not the norm. But there's a lot of heart behind it and, boy, it would be a great story if we could pull it off and make the most of it.

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