At the start of each new season every year, coaches bleed optimism. This year was no different for the 14 Big Ten women’s basketball head coaches who talked with reporters, including the MSR, during the league’s first-ever Women’s Basketball Week last month. The following, in the order of appearance on the conference call, are the coaches’ season prospectus — in 50 words or less.
“Siera Thompson is our coach on the floor. They [the players] really count on her.”
– Michigan’s Kim Barnes Arico on the 5-7 senior guard.
“We have a veteran team — a great group coming back.” – Iowa’s Lisa Bluder
“We are definitely ready.” – Maryland’s Brenda Frese
“It is new for everybody – like 16 freshmen [on the team].” – Wisconsin’s Jonathan Tsipis, in his first year.
“You are not going to fix it with one person.” – Michigan State’s Suzy Merchant on replacing graduated star Aerial Powers, who completed her WNBA rookie season.
“I am excited about the talent on this team.” – Penn State’s Coquese Washington
“We got to rebound. We are very, very little.” – Purdue’s Sharon Versyp
“We are looking for balance and not any one player.” – Minnesota’s Marlene Stollings
“We are all freshmen out there learning.” – Nebraska’s Amy Williams, in her first year.
“We are trying to blend in the new [players]” with the returnees – Northwestern’s Joe McKeown
“My first two years it was a coach-driven program. Now it’s a player-driven program.” – Indiana’s Teri Moren, in her third year.
“If you don’t have depth and the right people out there, that affects your energy.” – Ohio State’s Kevin McGuff
“We’re hoping the freshmen from last year take a bigger stage” this year – Illinois’ Matt Bollant
“I don’t have a pat answer.” – Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer
If you know Stringer, who’s never at a loss of words, the legendary coach had much more to say. She spoke for nearly 20 minutes, more than twice the time her fellow conference coaches spent on the conference call. We will devote an entire space for her comments in a later report.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.