Oct. 13, 2011
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois women’s basketball head coach Missy Tiber addressed the media at Thursday’s media day, previewing the Salukis’ 2011-12 season.
Tiber’s Opening Remarks
“I stand in front of you today pretty excited about the 2011-2012 SIU women’s basketball program. I’m very pleased with the things I’m witnessing in practice on a daily basis. Our speed and athleticism and skill set is definitely cranked up a notch from my previous two seasons in Carbondale.
“We are still extremely young with only one junior and one senior on the entire roster. I will say, our sophomore class is much improved. I am very proud of the effort they put in this summer and this fall to prepare them for this season. Our freshman class is very talented and they are pushing our upper classmen on a daily basis. I like our competitiveness.
“I like how hard we are working, though I think we could work harder. With our youth, we must work hard every single possession in order to be successful each and every game and to accomplish some goals we are going to put in place this year.
“I am pleased to announce that Brooke (LeMar) is the lone captain of our basketball program this year. I couldn’t be more happy in the transformation I have witnessed in Brooke over the course of the last four months. If there has been any kid in a program over the course of a year that has probably been yelled at and had the coach chewed on more than any kid in my career, it has been Brooke. I couldn’t be happier for the player that she is now. She doesn’t miss shots in practice. She is being a great leader. She is working unbelievably hard. She is down in weight about 15 pounds from where we started a year ago, and she is making everyone around her better, which is what we expect out of our point guard play.
Q: What area do you feel the team has made the biggest improvement from last season?
“Lots of balls going through the basket. There are always shooters in every program. We have a lot more makers. When we have 15 minute scrimmage sessions, we are putting some points up on the board, and I like to see that. That is very conducive to the style of play that I like to run. To be able to get up and down. We have the athletes to do it. We have transition, spot-up three-point shooters and I think we have very god point guard play at this point.”
Q: With the four starters back, are there any or all of those positions up for grabs?
“At this stage, I haven’t named any starters. All of our spots are open. I like our competitiveness. They are going after each other every day and trying to make each other better and our team better.”
Q: What did the sophomore class learn last year about winning and what it takes to win?
“I think the biggest thing that they learned was how much they didn’t work hard last summer — the summer before their true freshman year. We came to a point in the season where if we would have worked harder earlier, we could have probably gotten a little bit better throughout the course of last year. We made it through that stage, and now there are not too many times in practice where I’m asking for more effort out of that sophomore class. They are really getting after it.”
Q: Are you satisfied that your rebounding will be good enough that you’ll be able to run it up and down?
“I am a little bit concerned with the rebounding. We had a preseason open gym injury to Dyana Pierre, a 6-2 post player that in my mindset would have had every opportunity to be a potential starter in our program. She blew out her knee and will redshirt this year. She is an unbelievable athlete and we will miss her. But I think we have great rebounding ability from the guard position — something we have not had since I have been here with our speed and athleticism from those positions. I like our ability to go get the basketball. We may not be rebounding as many as I would like up by the rim, but I think we can run down loose balls and be athletic in that area.”
Q: How about defense?
“Defensively, I think we are in a better mindset. Our defensive intensity has been getting to the stage that we need it to get to. It is not there yet. I like their willingness to learn. I think we can force teams to take difficult shots. That is always my philosophy — we want to guard against layups and guard against the 3-point line. That will be our focus on the defensive end of the court.”
Q: Are you changing anything up?
“Not really. The biggest thing that has changed is the type of players we’ll be able to put on the court.”
Q: How have your new assistants fit into the program?
“Adrianne Harlow returns in her 11th year with me and will continue to be our head assistant. I am very excited about our two new assistants. Terry Nooner is the first male on my staff that I have had. He has been great for us. The girls are really responding well to him. He has been working with our bigs. He was a great player at Kansas under Roy Williams and he brings a lot of great insight into our practices daily. Stephanie Butler has also been a great addition. She won a state championship with her high school team in North Carolina. She’ll be really direct in our defensive assignments. To round it out, we have graduate assistant Shantae Shank. I can’t speak any more highly of that kid. She was with me as a freshman when we took over at Tusculum and in her four years, she helped us build that program from the doormats to championships. What a fitting year to have her as we are trying to do that in year three here at SIU.”
Q: Could you talk about the challenge of your schedule?
“I like our schedule. It’s a good mix. I like the opportunities for us to be very competitive in the first non-conference part of the schedule. Of course we end it right before the Christmas break at DePaul. You are talking about a top 20 program from a year ago. There are teams in there I feel are very beatable for us. I feel it will be a challenging schedule because we have one more game on the road than at home. We’ll prepare with our scrimmage and our exhibition. I’m excited to see where we’re at. Until you suit up and have a scrimmage or game, you really never know.”
Q: What are you hopes for Alexus (Patterson) this season?
“I love that kid. Each day she is getting better. She missed her summer workouts, so she has been a little bit behind. But she is now down over 25 pounds just in the fall so far. She is working unbelievably hard. She is fun. People are going to look at her and think she can’t play, but the kid has bounce in her. She plays very hard and she may be one of the most knowledgeable basketball players that we have on our team. She very much understands how to play the game.”
Q: How do you feel with CiCi Shannon coming back as one of the country’s best blockers?
“CiCi has improved. She is working really hard. That has never been an issue with CiCi. Our challenges with her daily is trying to get her to be smarter, to keep her on the floor more. Now we are at a little bit more of a disadvantage. We only have two five-spot players. If we get into a foul situation with that, we are going to have to go small and it will put us at a disadvantage. She has worked really hard on her hook shots and a counter move to that hook shot. She has worked hard at an elbow jump shot as well.”
Q: You have a highly-touted freshman class. What are you expectations of them in their first year?
“You are going to have high expectations for freshmen. In our practice sessions, one day they look like world beaters, the next day they look like a bunch of freshmen running around out there. They are a fun group. I like the excitement that they are bringing to our program. I like their desire to want to come here and help us get this women’s basketball program turned around. They understand the tradition that is here. Flat out, they want to win championships and they want to play in NCAA Tournaments.”
Q: Could you talk about the league. Who do you think is going to be the favorite this year?
“I really think Missouri State has to be the favorite. They have six or seven seniors back. You are going to be tough to beat when you have six or seven experienced players like that on the court. I think Wichita is continuing to improve. I like their athleticism and the things they do. Illinois State will be interesting to see. They lost pretty much five starters. With their new coach bringing in her players, it will be interesting to see what they bring to the court. It’s going to be exciting.”