Jerritt Elliott press conference quotes [Sept. 24, 2012]
Sept. 24, 2012
On match against Oklahoma: It was our first match at home for the Big 12. First and foremost I want to thank all our fans that came out, great crowd, our biggest crowd of the year. It made a big impact on the way that our team performed, and when we have that it's a big boost for our players, they love playing, and it's great obviously for our recruiting. I just want to continue to encourage people to come out and be a part of it. It's a great team, has a lot of athleticism, and it's a great event for the price so please keep coming out. For me the biggest thing we're looking at is we're trying to formulate a lineup to get some consistency and some balance, and being able to hit the numbers that we've been trying to hit. We've gone to a 5-1 and we feel pretty good with that at this point. The things we're looking for is balance in our lineup. We were able to get more of that. We got Sha'Dare more involved. I just thought we were really consistent and played within ourselves the entire night. I felt like we hadn't done that in the last 2 or 3 weekends in terms of just being patient with our game, the numbers showed that, and we played at a very high level and performed very well so it was great. Sha`Dare being a part of our offense is critical, she played exceptionally well both offensively and defensively. It was her best blocking night probably of her career here. She picked some great spots, was low and tight, and did some nice things for us which allowed us to go on some runs. That was a big part of that, and it was the first time that we had both left sides kind of running on all cylinders as well, so that was a big key component of our success.
On daily expectations of the team: I think as a coach sometimes we have unrealistic expectations, and when we have the talented gym like we do, we expect them to see them playing at their best every single day at practice and every single night when they perform. I forget sometimes how young they are, but we're pushing the envelope with them. Going into the match we didn't know what we would get because we hadn't played enough to see how it's going to go, but I was very pleased with the way they went about preparing themselves for the match. They had a great meeting the day before, their serve and pass was very good, and they were focused in terms of every aspect of being mentally prepared which is key in this conference to be good, and we'll have to do that again tomorrow night against Baylor. The lineup we knew could be good, and Hannah (Allison) has been a big part of that. She's matured a lot, I'm very comfortable with where she's at, and the way she's leading, kind of understanding how to run the offense better and making some good choices for us.
On switching to 5-1 offensive system: We got into school which added a lot for all of our freshman, but (the switch) wasn't based on that it was based on trying to find more balance. We have to able to attack more. With the lineup that we had we weren't getting enough transition swings on the right, we weren't getting enough swings out of the backcourt to be able to balance and prevent that. The development of Haley Eckerman out of the backcourt is a big key to that and so we've known that. The great thing about having all that talent is it gives you lots of options, but it gives you a very short time to kind of figure out what is the best lineup in terms of how to go about the process. We've been setting that hard as a staff, we've been trying to figure it out, and looking a lot at how they perform in the matches. You can see things in practice that look good, but when they perform in matches is one of the times when you are going to learn that. We're trying to formulate some way we can win the conference, also have a chance to be a Final Four team, and contend for a national championship again. It's not just about putting out a line up every night just that can win early on, it's trying to figure out how players perform and giving them some opportunities in different scenarios to see how that goes and with our sport unfortunately we only have 13 to 15 days of practice before the first game's rolling and the way that we scheduled it made that game difficult on us because we played such tough competition we have very little time to kind of make some adjustments with our team's systems.
On Haley Eckerman: Haley is a phenomenal player, the national freshman of the year last year, but she has a lot of special tools. She's starting to really increase her range as an attacker; she's working the ball, working the sides of the court, and taking good swings but also taking patient swings, having a secondary game, understanding how to do that is really key to be a great left side hitter. Her game is really developing in that area and now we're throwing her a little bit more in the backcourt because she doesn't have a lot of backcourt experience. She's done a nice job with that, her defense is improving, we still have some touches that we'd like to improve on a little bit, but that'll take some time. We'd like to be able to get her to be a six rotation player at some point as well, but again we've got to minimize how much responsibility we put on them each year when we're trying to grow them. Right now I think we've got a good amount on her plate, she's trained those systems in practice, but her overall game continues to improve and it's nice to see.
On adjusting to conference schedule: Today is a little bit quicker of a turnaround because we play tomorrow due of TV responsibilities, but I'm really big in terms of our routines so things won't change too much in terms of how we go about the process. Today we will go and do a walkthrough and maybe watch some film tonight, give an itinerary exactly what we're doing for the day tomorrow, and have it scheduled like we normally do on road trips so nothing will really change on that, and it will give us an opportunity to go play in more of a chaotic environment because we've been at home a lot and we've got to get used to playing in some different gyms. This will be a good opportunity not only for us to do that, but just to get away from campus a little bit too.
On Baylor team: They're a good team that's been streaky, but they can play at a high level. They took a game on Iowa State, they've beaten Cal, our conference has some good wins. At home, teams play a lot more comfortable, we've always had to battle up there in recent years, and it's an in-state rivalry that we take a lot of pride in as do they. For us, it's still about playing on our side of that. We're focusing on the other team in terms of what they're doing, but again for me with so many young players, it's trying to get our routines good, be methodical about the way we go about our process, not put too much stock into every play, just be great at every play and try to win that point and then get back to our routines and when we do that we're really good. So for me, how we play the game is our key, we've had lots of errors in terms of serve receiving, hitting, serving, nets, those numbers are correlating into us struggling at times. When we keep those at a minimum like we did on Saturday night, we were 12% total errors in that match and it's tough to beat us in those areas. It's teaching this team the art of the game a little bit more, being a bit more patient with their physicality, and then also trying to implement more offensive weapons at different sides of the net.