What will be the biggest difference from last year to this?
“I think it’s mostly just focusing a lot more than we have in the past. We’re playing from a different perspective now. We’re at the top and everyone knows who we are instead of playing from behind. It’s a different thing for the freshmen from last year, becoming sophomores. It’s a big change in being up high and playing with a target on your back from being the underdog and not having anything to worry about. I think it’s just focusing, doing the little things right and keeping ourselves together no matter
what the issue is.”
How do you treat all of the preseason talk personally?
“I don’t really pay attention to it. It’s there and I’m happy that people are considering me, but at the same time it’s just like, ‘Oh ok. Thanks, but its preseason.’ Everyone has preseason rankings and whatever but it doesn’t really matter. It matters how you finish.”
What potential does this year’s team have?
“The sky is the limit for this team. Last year, we were just getting into the groove of things towards the end of the season and becoming one. I think people watching saw our offense and how we starting clicking. We know where one another were going to be and it kind of started to move a lot better. I feel like this team has so many weapons. We have three point shooters all over the floor. We have people that can go to the basket. There are so many options to go to with the team that we have because we are so versatile. We can post up and we can do a lot of different things, so it’s amazing actually.
Talk about the team camaraderie and how it translates to the court..
“Out of all my four years here, I think we have the most team chemistry now and you can see that on the floor. You could see it all summer when we were scrimmaging longer than we were supposed to and you can just tell that we have a good time out there. That makes it easier to win games.”
Have you spent any time in the weight room, working on your size and preparing to shove some people around?
“I’m trying, but I think you can counteract size with quickness so that’s what I’m focusing on this year.”
You’re surrounded by a great supporting cast, how does that feel on the court?
“That is really fun and where that matters most is in practice. You’ll never have an off day in practice because if you are, someone will step up. It just makes the competition in practice step up which will carry over to the game.”
Talk about your leadership role this season..
“I think my leadership role is the exact same as last season, but only a litter easier because we just have one freshman. I look back to my freshman and sophomore years when I looked up to the captains, so I need to make sure I’m still influencing the sophomores and the juniors who are going to carry this team next year. That’s kind of my plan right now.”
What are the team’s biggest goals heading into the season?
“Our first goal is always to win the state championship, which means beating Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake. That’s always one of the big goals. Another goal is to win the Big Ten Championship and the other is to play in the Sweet 16. Our usual goal is to make it to the NCAA Tournament, but we already did that last year, we feel like we need to advance to the Sweet 16.”
Talk about the anxiety in waiting for that home opener..
“I think our fans are just as excited as we are still from last season, so we’re all ready to get going again.
We kind of have a sour taste in our mouths from the way it ended last year. We all remember that; we remember playing Ohio State and losing in that Big Ten Championship game. We’re excited for sure.”
On this year’s season
“It’s a good opportunity. We have everyone back and it’s just a good opportunity to build on what wedid last year.”
On the teams personality changing to a more fast-pasted one of the last four years
“I enjoy getting up and down the court more. We are not as big as we have been in the past, so we have to rely on our speed and shots in order to win games. Luckily, we have some great people on this year’s team.”
On what she wanted to improve over the summer
“I really wanted to improve on my ball-handling. Last year I wanted to improve on my shot and this summer I focused on all-handling. I minimized my turn-overs cause I take the ball out on the press, so I
want to make sure that there are no silly mistakes going on. Last summer was a really big focus on improving my shot and I changed my technique a little bit, so that was my focus. This summer I worked on keeping my shot consistent and working the ball-handling.”
On experience gained during the Big Ten and NCAA tournament
“I think our experience with that is going to help us tremendously even just with confidence. That experience just helps you enter each game with more and more confidence. Knowing that we have been in touch situations and pressure situations will help us each game this year even more.”
“Our transition is going to be a huge thing for us. We are not the biggest team, so we are going to be trying to run the floor that much more. Hopefully we will be able to go inside and outside a little bit more to open up our three-pointers even more.”
On feeling like a Wiley Veteran
“It definitely has gone fast. People tell you that but you don’t really understand it. I’m already a junior and it’s hard to believe. I think that experience will help me a lot this year.”
On what the team has accomplished the past two years
“I’m really excited with what we were able to accomplish last year but now I’m trying to focus on taking that next step and accomplishing even more. You can’t just settle and be happy with what happen last year.”
On Jade being on the team and team chemistry
“I think Jade is going to be a tremendous help for us. She has a strong physical body. She is doing great,she catches on quick and is willing to ask questions and listen. I really enjoy her work ethic and her ability to ask questions. Our team chemistry is unbelievable. She (Jade) has a great personality where she can come in and fit in with it. It’s a lot of fun to have a team like that and it just makes practice and traveling that much more fun.”
On this year’s expectations
“Our expectation is to do better than we did last year, which means trying to win the Big Ten and go further in the NCAA and Sweet 16, wherever that takes us. You don’t want to do the same as last year,you want to take that next step and get a step further than what you accomplished last year. Hopefully,our depth this season will help us even more.”
On her inside game
“It is one of those things that I look forward to. My teammates are relying on me to take the pressure off the outside and do what I can on the inside.”
On working in the offseason
“Improving my jump shot, my post moves, my hook shot. I’m just overall working on calling for the ball more and being more aggressive in posting up.”
On welcoming the freshman to the ‘family’
“I think we’ve got one of the best chemistry teams that I have ever been a part of. I love it. My teammates are my best friends. I room with a couple of them and it’s awesome. Jade has really come into the team, she’s funny, she’s hilarious, and she’s just come into the team and makes us all laugh. We On the team’s potential
“Definitely looking to win some championships and do some good things. I think we are going to be a lot better this year. We are just more confident and more aggressive this year. I think our work ethic is going to take us a really long way.”
On the team goals for the season
“We are definitely looking to improve on last year. We want to keep on that rise that we ended on last year. We’re just going to keep pushing for it and getting better. Hopefully win some championships and do some good things.”
Breakout leaders on the team
“Kamile has definitely done a great job on the floor, getting people set up and organized. Kelsey Cermak too is just an awesome senior. She leads this team off the court really well and makes sure we have great team chemistry.”
On offseason preparation
“We were in the weight room a lot. Our strength coaches did a great job of getting us faster and stronger. I just worked a lot on my defense rather than my offense.”
On being able to practice earlier in the season
“I actually like it a lot because we go five days a week, then we have the weekends off. This past weekend a lot of us were able to go home for the weekend. I like it a lot.”
On the 3-point shot as a part of the offense
“We are definitely ready. Kamile and I have been working on quickening up our shot. We’re definitely ready.”
On the newcomers
“They’re both fitting in really well. They bring a lot of different things to our team. Kali is really athletic,great passer. Jade is big body rebounder. They’re going to fit in really well.”
On her defense
“Our strength coaches did a really good job working with us. We just got stronger and faster. In scrimmages I tried to focus on my defense way more than my offense. I guarded Kash and Kamile a lot which helped me a lot. It’s definitely a mentality. In high school I never really had to play defense, but last year was definitely an eye opener and this year I am a lot more focused on my defense.”
On the underclassmen presence
I am really excited about it. A lot of Big Ten freshman - and freshman in general - didn’t get the experience we got last year. I am just really excited because I think we will be just that much better this year and that much more experienced on the floor.