Quotes from Thursday's practice [Nov. 1, 2012]
Nov. 1, 2012
Head Coach Jerritt Elliott
On Molly McCage's performance at TCU and his team executing offensively: Molly's very talented. We're getting comfortable with a 5-1 [scheme] after a few months of playing it and we know that we have to make a concerted effort to make her get involved in the offense. We're practicing that every day. What we're doing in practice is now carrying over into the matches. Statistically, everything that we're trying to do as a staff is showing up on the stat sheet for us to be successful. Our hitting numbers have gone up, our efficiency has gone up and we're getting more balance, which we need to be successful in the NCAA Tournament.
On gaining balance on offense: We have to. You need to use all sides of the net. Early on, we were relying so heavily on our outside hitters. We need to keep teams more off balance. By doing this, our kill percentage has gone up. Keeping teams off balance has really opened things up for our left-side hitters. It has really opened up our offense. With a young team and a lot of players that haven't been in the thick of it for many years at this level, it takes time and patience. That's what we've been doing. We feel good about where we're going.
On how his team deals with fatigue: It's something that we've been working on since the spring. It's not something that you just try to focus on at this point. We will focus on it, but it's something that we've talked about in terms of the process that we go through matches and how we prepare. Our staff is doing a good job of getting them rest. We won't go full practice today. We'll show them some film. We'll make it crisp and clean and get them some confidence. But more importantly, we'll get them some rest physically and mentally at this point.
On comparing the last six games of the regular season to the NCAA Tournament: Last night, we talked about it. We had six matches remaining. The NCAA Tournament takes six to win, so we've started a little mini-tournament [at TCU]. That was a first round opponent. [Kansas State] is very similar to a second round opponent. Right now, they're 15 or 16 in the RPI and that's something we could match up with at that point. It gives us a good run-through. It gives us a little more motivation. It lets them focus on what they need to do. We need to keep improving. We can still improve a lot over the next month. Our players know that. I'm really proud of the way they're going through preparing this season. They've been a lot of fun to coach. I'm excited for the direction that they're heading.
On what he expects from Kansas State: Playing at home is huge. We encourage all the fans to come out and pack Gregory Gym. We need them to be here to support us. Kansas State is very well coached. They're very disciplined. They're pretty methodical in what they do. They're not going to change a lot of things they've been doing over the years. They're playing about seven or eight players total. They're very efficient at what they do. We're going to have a battle. We were down 24-21 in the second game [at Kansas State earlier this season] and we were able to fight and win that. We know what we need to do, but more importantly, were going to need to show up mentally and physically to come up with a victory.
Junior libero Sarah Palmer
After her team's slow start at TCU, on what sparked their comeback: I think we just had to be more patient and more calm with each other. We were kind of thinking that we had to change everything all at once instead of one point at a time. We were down maybe two or three points and we'd still freak out. We just kept reminding each other to do our routines. We know how to do this and we're fine. Eventually we picked up on that and got things rolling.
On whether fatigue is a factor as her team plays three matches in six days: Yeah, we are tired, but this is just a process. [Head Coach] Jerritt [Elliott] is making this six game stretch out to be the NCAA Tournament. [We're taking it] one game at time, just focusing mentally and working hard every day. As long as our practices are good quality, he may or may not end practice early, so that's what we try to focus on--working very hard and being productive in practice so we can get that rest that we really need.
On what drives her team to maintain intensity: It's just that we want to stay on top of every team. We want to be able to play at a high level and be very competitive in every game. We keep reminding each other that we need to do the little things in order to be great on the court. The little things in practice we really try to focus on so it will show in game time that we know what we're doing. We know how to do that at a high level.
On expectations for Friday's game against Kansas State: We expect a really good game. Kansas State is ranked in the Top 20 [nationally] and they're always going to come out with their "A" game against us. Being at home, it's going to be a home court advantage for us, but they're going to come out swinging. They're not going to give up. That's just good for us so we can compete really well.
On how her team's strengths have transformed this season: In the beginning of the season, we relied mostly on our outsides. Jerritt's been keying in on that. We need to spread our offense out. We've done a really good job of that the past couple of weeks--giving it to the middles like Khat Bell and Molly [McCage], just moving the ball around with Sha'Dare McNeal. It's been really good for us. It's keeping the other team's blockers on their toes and faking them out. It's really good because we'll get the kills. They'll never know who it's going to go to. It's really nice. We're just really good at our chemistry and working together and knowing who to toss to when we're in trouble. We know what to do in the crunch times. We're calm and able to perform together.
Freshman middle blocker Molly McCage
On what sparked her team's comeback against TCU: Each time out, our coaches would calm us down because I felt like we were a little frantic from the vibes in the gym. There were a lot of fans there and a lot of pressure. That kind of shook us up a bit. But our coaches and captains calmed us down. We just got back into the groove of things and went back to normal.
On how she keeps fatigue from setting in after three games in six days: You just have to keep going, honestly. We have to be smart when we come home from practice. We need to get a nap in. Thankfully, I live on campus, so I always have time to get a nap in. [We're trying to] take care of schoolwork during study hall [instead of] watching TV or something, which is tempting. Getting sleep and taking care of your body is really important.
On whether Jerritt Elliott offers advice in practice on how to beat fatigue: He doesn't really say it. He might cut short practice short a little bit. He just manages practice well and makes sure that we don't overuse our bodies. He does drills that aren't taking as much a toll on our bodies. He's really smart about that.
On Friday's opponent Kansas State: I'm sure they'll be really fired up. They were fired up last time in their home gym and they had a lot of fans. It was crazy, but I feel like we handled that well.
On maintaining momentum and finishing out the regular season undefeated: We just have one focus. We need to get through this conference play and we all have the same goal. [It helps] having that team camaraderie--we really are pushing together and hoping to come out with a win.
On her team spreading out and finding balance on offense: I hope it's working well. We have great outsides, obviously. The blockers are just going to camp out on the outside. As a middle, I want to be able to support my team and provide for my team. The middles are finally taking responsibility, including myself. It's more distributed. Hopefully that will benefit the team.