Oct. 31, 2013
CHICAGO - Indiana head women's basketball coach Curt Miller, along with sixth-year senior Sasha Chaplin, took part in the annual Big Ten Basketball Media Day on Thursday, Oct. 31, in Chicago.
Miller and Chaplin met with the media and had photo shoots, while Miller gave a season preview at the annual press conference.
Curt Miller Press Conference Transcript
"Good morning, excited about year two. We had a lot of milestones we accomplished in year one despite not being exactly where this program is headed. We are one of two programs in the Big Ten with less than 50% of our scoring coming back, so we're the youngest and inexperienced teams in the league and in the country. Eight out of 13 players entering this season are in their first year with our program at Indiana. With that is excitement. Sometimes it's not bad to be naive and have a bunch of young
kids. They don't know how good the Big Ten is; they don't understand where we're being picked or the expectations on us. So our motto this year is to exceed expectations. We continue to want to build our culture not only on the court but behind the scenes and have one of the hardest working programs in the Big Ten, have great chemistry in the locker room as we continue to build our team on and off the court. Excited about the freshmen class, coming in as a highly-ranked class, despite only being on the job a couple of months when we signed that class. 62 of our 79 points came from first-year players so they're going to get a lot of playing time. We will deal with the highs and lows of being an inexperienced team this year and look forward to getting better each and every day."
Q. Coach, you took your prior team to the Sweet 16 and you had 16 seniors on that
class, that how you believe in building a program?
"You're referring to our run at Bowling Green of eight straight championships and through our tenure we had an opportunity to sign a big recruiting class in 2003. We ultimately built around that 2003 recruiting class and before they graduated we advanced to the Sweet 16 and had obviously one of the premiere mid-major programs in the country. We once again had to sign a big recruiting class in 2007 and built around that class and continued to win championship after championship, so I wasn't afraid of a big class. Ironically we come into Indiana and walked into a situation with low numbers. I inherited a program with only nine scholarship players, so our first recruiting class needed to be big so we did bring in six freshmen this year and they will be the foundation for our program the next few years and we hope that class ends up as good as some of the classes we had at the mid-major level. But they're not the only class and we're excited about future recruiting, obviously I have to wait a few more weeks to talk specifics about our future of recruiting but I'm not afraid to build around a big class and we had success at the mid-major level.
Q. Coach, who among the freshman, first year players is sticking out who is hitting the court dribbling of your kids?
"You know, really impressed coming out of our exhibition game with our young backcourt. We have a dynamic young point guard out of Kentucky named Larryn Brooks. Our fans won't forget her. She plays with an incredible hair-do that's red, so she is the talk of our town right now. First player from the state of Kentucky to come up and play for Indiana women's basketball in 19 years, so we're excited about her. Also Taylor Agler, the daughter of Brian Agler from the Seattle Storm, understands how to play, feisty, can play the 1 and 2. Both of those guards played well in our exhibition game and are going to be staples in the game for years to come. Believer in guard play and the Big Ten has had great guard play and recent WNBA drafts, a the lot of young point guards going into the WNBA out of the Big Ten and we're going to continue to improve the guard play throughout our time. Jenn Anderson a 6-3 freshman, got injured in our exhibition game, we will see how long she is out and we gotta stay away from injuries. We're young and inexperienced so we need all the healthy bodies we can have.
Q. Coach, you talked about 62 of the 79 points were scored by first-year players. Obviously first-year players are going to have to play a big role on the team this year. What do you expect from returning starters such as Nicole Bell and Sasha Chaplin.
"Sasha is that is a sixth-year senior and today is her birthday, joins me at media
day, probably the 'oldest' women's basketball player in the conference. When she looks at the freshman class and realizes that she is six years older than them, she can help share the journey of what it's going to be like in college, live every day to its fullest and give what you got because you every know when injuries are going to hurt your career and give you red-shirt seasons. So she can get up and down the floor and scores well with her back to the basket. We have six post players, hopefully Jenn is not out very long. We have six post players so we can continue to try and find each and every night who is hot and the best match-up for that game.
Nicole Bell is just a great leader, a tiny point guard that we could barely take off the floor last year because of our depth and numbers and even though we have dynamic numbers in guards her leadership and experience is going to be needed throughout the season."
Q. Wanted to get your take on some of the rule emphasis. It's been a topic of
conversation. Also with the 10-second backcourt rule and in addition, getting away from neutral sites in regional competition in the NCAA Tournament.
"First, I've been a part of National Rules Committee, enjoyed my time on the committee so was intimately involved in decisions that affected the game throughout my career. I believe we all agree that the physicality was getting to the point in women's basketball which some nights it looked like a street fight and not a
basketball game. I'm excited about moving in the direction of trying to have more freedom of movement and giving the offense a little more credit and a little more advantage. We were one of the few sports a couple of years ago that were making rules that benefited defense while all sports were trying to benefit the offense.
So I like the change and I think we're going to go through growing pains, maybe early in the season or maybe all the season there will be a lot of fouls and our fan base and loyal following is going to have to understand that there is a 'shift' right now in the women's game. In the long run, I think it's going to be great because our game has so much skill but unfortunately lately it had become a street fight at some of the games. I'm excited if it's called consistently throughout the season to see where our game is by the end of the year and going into the future. All the rule changes, including NCAA Tournament opportunities, how we're looking at the NCAA Tournament for women's basketball is all very, very smart thinking and thinking outside of the box that will continue to grow the game. Our game is "flat toed" in terms of attendance and support and we want to look for ways to continue to grow our women's basketball."