Sun Belt Media Day Press Conference Quotes - Rick Insell

Blue Raiders picked to finish second in East Division

October 20, 2010 · Athletic Communications

NEW ORLEANS -- Middle Tennessee head women's basketball coach Rick Insell spoke with the media Wednesday morning as part of the annual Sun Belt Media Day Press Conferences.

On the progress of team in the early preseason:
It has been exciting so far. We have 15 ladies on the roster and 11 are freshman and sophomores, so you can imagine what the practices have looked like. We started our first practice by holding up a basketball and saying, "This is a basketball."
The team I have got is young and exciting. Right now neither the coaching staff nor myself know who would be starting. Anne Marie (Lanning) will be one candidate and Emily (Queen) if she is healthy, will probably be starting as well.

On Emily Queen's recovery from a season ending knee injury last season:
Her knee seems healthy. They are doing an MRI on Wednesday to make sure everything is fine. She has practiced and she has looked good. She is strong. She stayed in the strength and conditioning room with Matt Riley since she went down. She is a strong and impressive player you hope you have on the floor because players gravitate toward her.
It is a wait-and-see situation because you do not want to bring her back before she is healthy. When she is healthy, she will definitely make us a better basketball team.

On Anne Marie Lanning entering her senior season:
We hope Anne Marie plays the same role she has played before. She is the glue that holds us together. She makes big shots and is the best passer we have. If she gets her feet set, she is one of the best pure shooters in the conference. We hope she does the same things.
She can play at the one, two or three. We have even played her at the four before. She has so much basketball IQ and is such a great young lady to coach, we are really going to miss her. She has some good players around her right now. If she comes out and plays the way she can play, she is going to make those other players around her better just because she is in the game.

On coaching freshmen:
We are giving them all a lot of repetitions right now. Thank goodness we have a couple of exhibition games where we can look at those players under exhibition situations and evaluate what we have got. About all you can do with a team like we have right now is to work on your offensive and defensive strategies and mash them together and hope you can get through the early part of your season with some confidence.
We have a challenging schedule again. With the schedule we have and a young team, you are walking a very thin line. If you win some of those games you are supposed to win, you are really going to improve your confidence, but if you lose enough of them, it can hurt you. The staff and I are being patient with them right now. Hopefully in the early games, we can pull an upset of two and take it from there.

On the new assistant coaches:
They are doing well. We hired Alex Fuller who won three state championships in the state of Tennessee and then won two national championships at the University of Tennessee while playing for Coach Summit. We brought her in to work with the posts.
Lynn Burkey, we hired him from Shelbyville Central High School. He had been in the game for about 35 years and is extremely knowledge. You do not see that around any program.
Kim Clark was brought in from Gardner-Webb. She has been in the game her whole life. Her dad, Rick Reeves, has coached from Cumberland to Southern Miss and now Gardner-Webb.
Mariska Harris was brought in to be our director of basketball operations. She has coached high school in the state of Tennessee.
By bringing those young coaches in with the experience and enthusiasm, they have injected these things into our program. We lost some great people, but have also brought great people in behind those coaches.

On putting together a difficult/strong non-conference schedule:
It was a lot easier this year. When we lost our four seniors, everyone was calling in to play us. Scheduling has been easier this past year. What we try to do is get a three or four-year contract with these schools.
We have always played a difficult non-conference schedule from day one since I first got here. Chris Massaro has put me in charge of the program. We brought in Maryland, the defending national champion (in 2006), and we have played Tennessee every year I have been here. We feel like these games get us ready for conference. That is a situation that can get you in trouble with your job if you do not win some of those games. But it gets us ready for conference and gets us ready for the NCAA Tournament. Our goal is to take this program and this conference as deep in the NCAA Tournament as we can.

On a player on the current roster stepping into the superstar role such as Givens, Holt or Clark:
Alysha Clark was a great player and led the nation in scoring two years in a row, but you have to remember she had three 1,000-point scorers around her. Anne Marie Lanning may be a 1,000-point scorer this year, so that would make four. Although she averaged 28 to 30 points a game, we were still scoring 80 points a game as a team. I do not see this team scoring that many points. I would like to be sitting here thinking we could. But I do not see this team scoring that many points for the year.
We have some good young players right now. We have a little more length and a little more lateral quickness that we had in the past. I do not know about the toughness. The exhibition games will answer some question there for us, but I am really concerned about our toughness.

On what the new freshman class brings to the team:
They just look like basketball players. They are longer and lanky with good lateral quickness. They have good verticals. When a player comes out of their high school program, they are usually the leading scorer, then they get to the college level and they are just the same as everyone else. They are all searching for their own identities, as well as us searching for the identity of this team.

On implementing a new practice schedule:
You get 40 days to get 30 practices in. We were able to give the kids the weekends off and we are able to have the weekend off too. Once you start play, there will be no weekends off. It helps out in that it gives us the opportunity to work things out. I like it.

On the team relying on defense to create opportunities:
We think we have got to become a better transition team. We are placing a lot of emphasis on the defensive end and taking the turnover and moving the ball from our defensive end.
We are going to press. We are not going to change our system. We will continue to press 94 feet. We will press everybody and hope we can get some points out of that. We are a little bit longer and we are a little bit quicker.
Our basketball IQ is not where it was. The group I just lost, I could not measure their basketball IQ. The way they pass and get the ball to the open player was unbelievable. The group I have got now has the quickness and ability. Hopefully, we can score more off our press than we have in the past.

On non-starters playing more than in past seasons:
You have got to be able to trust your players. When it gets down to the end of the year, I have to be able to trust them to do what we want them to do. In the past I have been criticized for not playing as many people off the bench. I do see us playing the bench a little more. We have four or five players who can play the four that could also be moved into the five. Some of them can also play the three. And when Emily (Queen) comes back you just add that many more things you can do at the two, three, four and five positions with her. We are going to run the same system, but we are going to be able to use some of those players we have not used in the past.

On who will step into the role of leading rebounder with the loss of Alysha Clark:
Alysha averaged almost double figures in rebounds last year. She really had a knack for the basketball. I do not see that type of player, but I do see us bringing in more rebounds from our one and two positions than we did last year. We have changed our strategies a little. I would hope we can rebound as well as we did last year. But that has yet to be seen because we have not taken the floor yet. I do not see anyone coming in and grabbing nine or 10 rebounds a night. I hope we will have two or three ladies that will come in grab six or seven rebounds a night.

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