“Real quick I'll just make a general opening statement in the fact that there are two ranked teams coming to town, obviously Illinois tomorrow on the men's side and number-three-ranked Ohio State on the women's side. It's a great week to be in the Kohl Center, a great week to be a Badger fan, so come on out and cheer on both teams as we hope to come away with some big wins this week.”
Lisa, can you talk specifically about Ohio State? Do you view Davenport maybe about how you'd view McCarville, just that there’s going to be more than one player guarding her and keeping an eye on her?
“ Well, we just actually talked about that, Tammy, at a staff meeting. We talked about defending Jessica Davenport. The thing about Ohio State that makes them so goll darn dangerous is the fact that they’re talented in many different places. They’re quick. They’re athletic. They’re explosive. And their game with Michigan, the score is 15 to 14 at the eight-minute mark and they ended up scoring 85 points. So they’re very, very explosive.
“They’re very dangerous from a lot of places. They obviously have Caity Matter who’s a fantastic three-point shooter in that particular game. After the eight-minute media she came out and knocked down five straight three-point shots, five in a row, after the fourth, followed up with a fifth. So that’s how quick they can explode on you. They have inside. They have outside.
“But Jessica Davenport, as far as defending her, will be very similar to Janel McCarville. And if you can coin a phrase, it's like you smother and recover. You smother the post and you recover out to your player. We will take part of that. We’re not going to completely try to just take Jessica Davenport out because they have so many other players. Michelle Munoz obviously comes from a heralded heredity and is a tremendous athlete at the high post. If we leave her, she’ll be dangerous. She’s the one actually that broke the doors open against us last year at the high post as we were trying to take care of LaToya Turner inside.
“Caity Matter though, they’re going to keep her on the single-player side so you cannot double with your weak-side guard. We’re probably going to have to play her one-on-one and offer no help to try to keep Caity in check. And last year Ebba Gebisa had that assignment. This year it’ll probably end up being Janese Banks. Right now we’re ironing out the match-ups at this juncture. But they’re very, very, very, very solid this year. And obviously they’re ranked as one of the top teams in the country; beat Rutgers by two last week in a non-conference tilt. And they’re playing very, very well. But, again, it’s an opportunity for us to play against one of the nation’s best. We’re here at home. And we’ll play hard for the entire 40 minutes, and see what we can do.”
Out of all the teams you’ve played, the top teams, Purdue, Penn State, Michigan State, no, you haven’t played Ohio State yet, but is their ranking indicative of the fact that they have one of the most complete all-around games of any of the teams in the Big Ten? Is that safe to say?
“Well, they’re the coaches pick, they and Michigan State, to win the Big Ten. And both teams have held up there. Now Michigan State lost to Penn State yesterday, but Ohio State has athletes, they have shooters, they have inside, they have outside, they have defense in the full and half court. They have it going. They have some nice young freshmen. Marscilla Packer is tremendous and will come in and back some things up. Ashley Allen is now back at the point as a senior after being injured last year. So they have leadership. They have young players. They have a tremendous post player.
“When you look at their roster, really we match up pretty well until you get to their big post. So it’s going to be a fact that we need to have a low-post presence. As small as we are, our post players have to understand that you’re not going to shoot over Jessica Davenport, you’re going to have to move her. And whether we move her off the block or we work on countermoves and drive at her, there’s different ways that we can counter her as well.”
Lisa, why do you think they’ve taken that, Ohio State’s taken that next step up then? Is it just the addition of these, the people you mentioned, or is Davenport that much better?
“Well, Jessica last year against us, she came off the bench for 13 and 11, I believe, over there, and from our game on was starting. She played obviously this summer, over the summer, on national teams and certainly has earned that right. Jessica is a great post player, good size, 6-5. I mean, you can't teach 6-5. And this child can move. She’s very dangerous on the block. That’s why we’re going to have to get in front of her, limit her touches, and by doing that we'll have to apply some pressure.
“I thought against Cleveland State we made Cleveland State uncomfortable because we caused them to turn the ball over. We’re going to have to be innovative in full- and half-court pressure to limit Jessica’s touches, but also be very aware because they’re very, very good in transition as well. They can break you down half court, and, you know, just you look at some of their scores and they didn’t score, then all of a sudden, boom, they go on a 20-0 run. We have to stop those runs.
“Our game here last year, I thought, was even. It was our last home game of the season. We got down 15-zip and then from there on we played even. We can’t allow that to happen. If it’s three timeouts before one of those runs is halted, then that’s what we’ll do. But once again, I’ll say that our team will respect everyone we play. We cannot be and will not be afraid of Ohio State. We’ll fear no one, but we’ll play as hard as we can.”