Feb. 8, 2012
COACH BLUDER: Well, I'm sure everybody wants to know how Jaime is doing. She had her surgery yesterday. Everything went well. Everything was as expected inside there, so she's now on the road to recovery, and hopefully we'll have her back for the beginning of next year. That is the hope.
Getting ready for a big week, two home games. Playing Minnesota and Michigan State at home. Minnesota, their record, I think, again, is deceiving. They're 4 7 in this conference. One of those wins is against Ohio State, so that obviously has our attention. They are a team that is playing very well right now. I feel like they're playing hard. I believe they have the Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten starting for them at point guard. Rachel Banham is shooting over 50% from three point range in Big Ten play. She's their leading scorer. To come in as a freshman and put up the kind of numbers she's doing is absolutely amazing. She's having a great freshman year. Kiara Buford is a senior that's provided an experience for them. She's their off guard, their second leading scorer. Can post up, can penetrate, can shoot the three. Just a very talented player that's really been a starter since she came to Minnesota four years ago. They're big. They're 6'5." Off the bench, they're 6'7", so we have that to contend with as well. They have a really nice team. It's kind of ironic that two of their players are teammates, former high school teammates of two of our players. Kionna Kellogg played at Ames with Trisha Nesbitt, and Kiara Buford played at St. Paul Central with Theairra Taylor. So that's kind of an unusual aspect to this game.
But the Pink Game always means a little bit more to us. Hope that we can help bring awareness to breast cancer and survivors and raise some money for the Holden Cancer Center. $2 of every admission will go to the Holden Cancer Center. So it's an important game for our players in that we feel like we can make a difference through this game and through our play on the floor. Then the Sunday game against Michigan State is our Go Red for Women game. I don't own any red, so I doubt I'll be wearing any. I guess I have this pair of glasses, so that's about it. I'm not a red person, and don't like any school that has any red in it. So that one's a little tougher for me, but we're really thankful Midwest One Bank purchased a lot of tickets 2,500 tickets to give away this week for that game.
Q. Can you talk about Kalli and Virginia. Kalli's close and Virginia had a little setback? COACH BLUDER: Virginia's out this week. Her headaches returned. So they're holding her out. And Kalli is day by day with Kalli. She has a sore leg muscle, and so that's keeping her out of play. Q. Was it any sort of shot with Virginia?
COACH BLUDER: We didn't see anything, but she thinks she might have, but we haven't seen anything on film or when it happened or anything like that.
Q. Is there a guarantee that Jaime will come back for next season, or is there a chance she'd redshirt?
COACH BLUDER: Right now, that's not in our plan. It's obviously a possibility because she does have the extra year, we could use. But right now the plan is for her to come back next year.
Q. Did you have any talks with Melissa about playing within herself before that game?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, Melissa's fearless. She's a shooter. For her to come out in that Indiana game, her third Big Ten game, she's a freshman, starting, and to perform that well, I'm really obviously extremely happy with her performance. I'm sure she'll be identified a little bit now. She's not going to catch anybody by surprise. She's a kid that just loves to shoot the ball and plays hard all the time and doesn't think about it a whole lot, I think sometimes that's good. I think players overthink a lot of things.
Q. Nothing like having Kamille and Samantha in there, they're such good ball handlers. They can't really double her.
COACH BLUDER: Oh, no. I don't think you'll see people double teaming her. The college game is hard to double anybody on the perimeter, really.
Q. Coach, being that you got the two wins on the road last week and now you have two at home. How important is this two game stretch?
COACH BLUDER: This week is really important for us. If we want to make a move into the Big Ten standings, the top part of the Big Ten standings, home games are very important. We have five games remaining. Three of those are at home. So we think we can shake up the standings a little bit through this week.
Q. What about Trisha? Is she a hundred percent? Is she pretty close?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, I think Trisha's at a hundred percent right now, yeah.
Q. Do you rely on her for point or two or can she play both?
COACH BLUDER: She can play both for us. She'll be able to play both.
Q. What was the wave of emotions on your way home from Madison to going to Bloomington? Did you go through the stages of denial and shock and all that stuff? How did you get through that?
COACH BLUDER: I tell you, it wasn't a celebratory bus in one bit. Here we have a really good win over a good Wisconsin team on the road. Not one person was excited about that victory. It really took away from Sam Logic's great game and going back to her home area. She had about a hundred fans there. That was unfortunate. But at the same time, all of our thoughts are with Jaime at that point. So it was a pretty somber bus ride home. It really, I don't think any of us have gotten over it yet to be quite honest. I think it was a very draining week to try to get ready for Indiana and go back on the road right away to play Indiana on the road. I think it will be good for our team to come home. We'll be able to use the enthusiasm of our fans and playing at home. That can mean a lot right now with our bench getting smaller and smaller, and players having to play more minutes, being able to play at home in the comforts of Carver mean a lot. I don't know if Jaime will be able to be there tomorrow night for us. But I imagine she'll try to be there by Sunday. I think that would be good for our players to have her at least part of the bench.
Q. Did you talk to the team at all before she went back to Indiana?
COACH BLUDER: Yes, she came to practice on Friday.
Q. Have you looked at all at how you train or how you weight train or anything, or is it just one bad luck case after another with these ACLs?
COACH BLUDER: I seem to think it's one bad luck case after another. We've been through like four strength coaches since I've been here. So I don't think it's anything to do with the training. We've played on different floors. Our floors are good here. I just really think that we've had different doctors doing surgeries. So I think it's a little bit of bad luck.
Q. In about half a year before you're in the new practice facility. Can you talk about the advantages you've been able to see since you've gotten to use that?
COACH BLUDER: It's not only advantage for us, it seems like it has advantages for a lot of sports. They're putting a lot of events into Carver now where we're shifting our practice to the practice center, which is good. I think for gymnastics and such to be in Carver and we have a place to go now. We have a place to practice when we get displaced like that. So that's been very good for us. You don't have to plan around the men's shootaround times and that sort of thing when they're playing at home. You can still have your full practice amount of time. So that's been great being in the practice facility.
Q. When did you know you might have something special with Melissa? Was it the start of fall practice for the trip?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, right away, the kid came in and she was willing to put the ball up without hesitation. I knew that from watching her play that she was going to be a shooter. She had that mentality. She had the long range and the quick shot release. But what I've been most impressed with is her defense that she's gotten her here. I didn't realize how physical she could be on defense and how good of a job she could do on the defensive end. So that's been my most pleasant surprise with Melissa.
Q. What did she fall in love with here? She had a soft spot for other places and she was willing to take a grey shirt here initially?
COACH BLUDER: I think she loved the school. She had friends that were coming here that had come here in the past and enjoyed it. She obviously knew Sam and Sam was coming here. I just think sometimes recruiting is based most of the time on relationships and I think we had a good relationship built. She was persistent in the recruiting effort though. When the scholarship became open in November, when Kiah decided to go to Connecticut, we immediately offered it to Melissa because we knew she was a very good player and would want to have her on our team and rewarded her with that scholarship, even though she was willing to come here as a gray shirt.