Notes on Dave Shondell's Press Conference Monday 9/26/2022

DocRon

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Really a great presser by Dave as he talked about many things including a little bit about Taylor Trammel and his coaching philosophy for going on the road. I love how Dave thinks and speaks. (I could not sleep tonight so I did this. I hope you enjoy it even if you saw the press conference as I think some things Dave says need to be dwelled upon.)
_______________________

Dave’s Statement
  • I want to make everyone aware that Danielle Cuttino and Annie Drews were both selected to the USA team that is playing in the World Championships that are going on right now in the Netherlands. They won their first match and they play Canada. [my note- they swept Canada with Annie Drews being the second high scorer with 14 pts]
  • It is no surprise for Annie to make the team coming off her being on the Gold Medal Olympic team but a tremendous accomplishment for Danielle to make it.
  • They are the two opposites on the team..
  • Great weekend for our VB team - I'm equally proud of what we did at Iowa yesterday as what we did Friday.
  • I know a lot of people thought going to Iowa would be a walk-in-the-park but after doing this for 20 yrs I could promise you that there was nothing easy about going to Iowa.
  • Jim Barnes, their new coach, has a totally different team with a totally different attitude.
  • I think Iowa is going to become a “player” in our league.
  • I was so proud of our team because we weren’t exactly 100% - you never are.
  • But 16 hrs before the match we found out that we weren’t going to have Maddie Schermerhorn - our starting libero.
  • We knew that Megan Renner was sketchy after an injury [concussion] the week before. She did not play on Friday.
  • It is kind of a tough act to go in there on the road without your starting setter and your starting libero in the Big Ten.
  • Fortunately Megan could play a little bit and it was nice to have her back. She did a nice job.
  • We kinda ran a two setter offense in that match and that worked out pretty well.
  • On Friday we had a great crowd and that had to be considered a monumental upset to knock of Minnesota who then turned around last night and swept Wisconsin.
  • It was a good confidence-building weekend for our team which you can never have enough of those.
  • Now this week we will go to Illinois (2-0 in conference) and play at Huff Hall
  • They have beaten both Maryland and Northwestern which are capable of being in the NCAA tournament as is Illinois.
  • And we are here for a matinee match on Sunday against Rutgers.

  • Q: Talk about Schermerhorn’s injury.
  • A: “You know about as much as I do.” I have not gotten a report so far today.

  • Q: Talk about going on the road to Iowa.
  • A: I can promise you anytime you go on the road in the Big Ten it is a challenge, especially if it is the first time some of these players have been on the road in the Big Ten.
  • We had a lot of first-timers going on the road and they were key players
  • We had to make some adjustments.Hornung had to play libero and she was fantastic. She was also fantastic Friday night playing middle back and I was hesitant to move her from where she was playing really well at middle back to left back where the libero usually plays. It is two different positions - like short stop and second base. They look similar but they are not. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with it.
  • We made that move because she had earned that opportunity - she asked for that opportunity. And she was great - it was one of the reasons we were able to survive.
  • Another thing was Emma Ellis. I wanted to give Maddy Chinn a chance to start because she was starting and then hurt her ankle and was out for 3 matches. She played a little in the previous match (Minnesota) and I wanted to give her that start and she played really well (against Iowa) in the 1st set but then got a little “stale” and we made the change to Emma Ellis and she had like 8 kills in maybe 13 swings [actually 9 kills in 13 attacks].

  • Q: Do you think that Eva Hudson - even though she had 19 kills - going to her first Big Ten Road game had an impact on her game?
  • A: Well what we know is that Eva is going to be double teamed. There will be 4 hands in her face all the time which for a lot of people would really blow their minds. But one of the best things she does is to use that to her advantage. That is a real blessing that she is so good at hitting the ball off their hands. Eva had another good match. 19 kills in a Big Ten match is nothing to sneeze at.
  • She will continue to learn what it is like to be a go-to player in this league. Does it bother me that a freshman is our go-to player? No because she is that good. It would be silly to not set her the ball as often as we do.
  • But I think it was a little more balanced on Sunday. The numbers were better with the middle and the right side both getting balls.

  • Q: For Illinois, what does it mean that their setter (Diana Brown) is also the leader in digs?
  • A: Brown is unusual in that she plays such good defense. A lot of setters are so preoccupied in being a good setter that they are not as focused in playing D. Some are. Every once in awhile you will find a player who is a great athlete and plays low and focuses on getting the digs. It is rare when you see a setter who does both.
  • Diana Brown has been around for a long time and she is a complete player. I would love to have our setters dig a lot of balls as well.

  • Q; I got an email last week asking why Taylor Trammel is not here and I thought that is a question best asked to Taylor, but to get players like Clayton and Balensiefer who have started many matches in their careers, just how valuable is that?
  • A: First we wouldn’t be 11-1 without either one of them. Secondly, they are bring this tremendous behavior, maturity and confidence and they are outspoken in a good way to help our other players get better. They bring exactly what we needed.
  • Our team is not a young team. We have a lot of practice experience but not a lot of game experience. So then you take two players who have started every match of their career and they’re going into your 5th year and come into your gym and they’re willing to take, potentially, a sideline role - that is so valuable.
  • If Hannah Clayton was not playing she would still be a great leader. But she has ended up playing a lot.
  • Grace Balensiefer has not played a lot. Prior to this weekend she played in the match against Tennessee but that was about it. Against Bradley one of the coaches said “Get Grace in.” But i told Grace, “You are not a mop-up player. We are going to play you when you are going to help us win. Not when we are up 24-12.” She gets that.
  • That’s the maturity you have to have. I wish all our players had their maturity but they’re not 5th year players. But those two have made a big difference in this team.

  • Q: I imagine if Trammel had not departed you would have not been looking for a middle in the transfer portal?
  • A: Absolutely. Taylor Trammel is a heck of a player and we’re not happy that she is gone. But we are happy we have a solid replacement. What works out for us is that Grace will be gone after this year while Trammel had two more years to play. And that allows us to add some players in the upcoming classes. You can imagine who they might be. (Smiles)

  • Q: You mentioned Hornung. Last year you put her in to serve in a really crucial situation. She came through for you like she had ice-water in her veins. Is that the kind of player she is?
  • A: She has grown up around the game. Her mom played at IU, her dad was a really successful baseball coach at Providence and both of her older sisters were really good players at Providence and here.
  • She is not rattled by a whole lot. Right now she feels really good about herself. Last year it was a new experience and she didn’t know what to think and right now she wants to lead this team.
  • I’ve not seen many players evolve in one year like she has. To be honest we were a little surprised she didn’t contribute more last year. She was a rock star high school and club player. She was the best in the state [ranked #12 nationally]. And now we are starting to see why.

  • Q: When you train your defensive specialists do you train them in all those positions so when something like what happened this last weekend does, they can just slide over?
  • A: They have a lot of training in all those spots but once you put a line-up together they start to get segregated into those particular spots. I do feel that Ava Torrance can play middle back a little better than what Emily Brown can. Emily is more of a wing defender and Ava has a little bit more range going left and right which is what a middle back has to do.
  • Whereas the left back, which is usually the libero, is more of a take-over type player. They have to set the second ball. So there is a different skill set for all those positions. You want them to play all of them but you know that some are better equipped to play a certain spot.

  • Q: How did the younger players handle being on the road in the B1G for their first time in a tough environment?
  • A: I think it is really beneficial that Huff [Illinois] isn’t your first trip. We really try to impress on our players that every place you go you want to embrace it and feel that you are fortunate to be there. You want to find all the positives. I want our players to meet the people working there and be nice to them and to think “What a wonderful opportunity it is to play here.”
  • I got that idea from Devon Brouse, women’s golf coach at Purdue. I was talking to him about playing at the Coyote Crossing Course and how a couple of holes out there just eat me alive. I was being negative about them and Devon says “There’s your problem. You have to love each hole. In your mind you have to appreciate every single hole." That’s what he does with his team when they go to a course.
  • And that’s what I started to do with our team. You say “This is a wonderful place to play; You need to enjoy the opportunity to be here.”
  • And the other thing is to not make to big a deal about where you are. You play the game inside the same size court. Like in “Hoosiers” you measure the height of the basketball rims and it’s the same. We play inside a 30’ by 60’ court and you need to keep your mind inside that court.
  • Don’t you be worrying about what some of the clowns in the bleachers are yelling. That will happen at Huff for sure. The crowd's job is to try to distract the players. But great players feed off of that so I don’t care if they listen to that. Those are some of the things we try to help our players with when we go on the road.

  • Q: Out of necessity this weekend [against Iowa] you played a little of the 6-2. Is that something you will do going forward?
  • A: Well it was a two setter offense but technically it’s called a 5-2 because they are going in for each other and not just playing the back row. So we were playing Grace in the back row and Meg Renner in the front which makes some sense. When we played Minnesota they were not taking advantage of the smaller block as much as I was concerned they might. There are some hard-hitting cross-court hitters on Minnesota. So we tried to alighn our block so that Grace was not a big factor.
  • But when we started the Iowa match all of a sudden their hitters started to have some success because of the smaller block - Grace is 5’8 1/2” and Meg is 6’2”. Meg puts up, at least appears to put up, a bigger and better block. They had a left side hitter that was hitting about 0.400% in the first set and all of a sudden when we made that change she ended up dropping down to about 0%. That is certainly something we will always consider.

  • Q: Raven Colvin played well in the non-conference schedule up to the last match (Ball State) and then she struggled.in that match. How did you feel she performed this last weekend?
  • A: She was terrific against Minnesota and they have a 6’7’ and a 6”3” middle and a 6’4’ outsdie and 6’1’ outside that jumps out of the gym and she was really, really good defensively and following the game plan.
  • We have really mature middle blockers that have been starting for us in Clayton and Colvin. When you get in the game plan and tell them what you want them to do - not that you want them thinking all the time - they are really good at that. It is a luxury to have those two. They are the anchor of your defense. The libero is certainly the leader of your D but the middle is the anchor. It is the middle blackens who are in charge of the blocking.

  • Q: You said that sometimes great players feed off of what they hear from the crowd. Do you hear stuff? Individual stuff or stuff that makes you laugh?
  • A: Yeah. Yeah. They can’t get over the fact that some coaches don’t have any hair. That’s the first thing they will come at you with. But i haven’t had hair for a long time so it really doesn’t bother me that much. My wife tells me “It’s okay that you don’t have any hair because you have a beautiful face." That may not be true any more but at one point in time she did tell me that. (Laughs) I get a kick if they come after me - I’d rather have that then they go after the players.
  • In the Big Ten it nearly always is appropriate. Maybe there are a couple places where i have been close to asking the home facilities people to look into it but I never have.

  • Q: Even without your starting libero your passing game looked great against Minnesota and was solid against Iowa. Is that how you saw it?
  • A: Well we did have Maddie Schermerhorn against Minnesota and I thought we won the serve/pass game against them and that allowed us to have the match we did. Without the serve/pass game we had, we don’t win.
  • I’ve said all along we have 4 tremendous ball-control players in Schermerhorn, Hornung, Torrance and Brown. They are all really good. If you lose one, suddenly there is a lot of pressure on the other three because there is no one else over there on the bench. This year we have less backcourt players than we have ever had. So it was interesting to watch how that went.
  • We were playing Ava Torrance a little bit out of position for the first time this year. And she started to struggle a little bit - I think it was in the first set against Iowa - and then she regrouped and really came back strong. We have a great group.
  • We did lose the serve/pass game against Iowa. And it wasn’t because our passing was that bad but we didn’t serve tough enough. We need to focus this week, as we do every week, that we serve tough. We have to serve with more velocity and take people out of what they want to do. If that means we have to find some different people to serve, then we’ll have to do that. Across the board in the Big Ten that’s what everyone is doing - serving rockets over the net.

  • Q: Can you talk about how Grace Balensiefer stepped up against Minnesota?
  • A: Yes, she was amazing. To find out mid-week that she was going to start opening night of Big Ten play against one of the best teams in the nation, a top 5 team for sure, and that she was going to run the show - it was like Christmas came early for her. That’s why she came here. We know she delivers a great ball. Her issues have nothing to do with setting the ball.
  • The Ball State Coach, Kelli Miller Phillips, told us a couple of weeks ago that she was the best setter in the MAC. We know we have a really good setter but she has to survive blocking at the net, defensive plays and serving. She runs the team and she has the swagger to do that. But there are some things she needs to continue to improve on. Was I surprised she did as well as she die? A little bit.
  • I was surprised with he whole night on Friday. I felt we could compete with them. I felt we had it in us that we could win. But we played beyond my expectations.

  • Q: What sets this team apart from your previous teams that allowed you to start 11-1?
  • A: Every team is different. There are a lot of teams we’ve had that could be 11-1. But what is different about this team is that no one saw it coming. For right now, that’s great. We can feel good about that but we have to continue to get better. But I feel that is the one thing this team will do - we’re going to continue to get better. A lot of people will benefit from the experience and the training.
  • I keep going back to Emily Rastovski and Lourdes Myers - both redshirt freshman. No one has seen them. But they are watching real close. And they are going to be really good players in the program.
  • We got back yesterday and i talked to our team how hard it is to not allow players to play as much as they want to play. But you just can’t do that. Mike Bobinski is writing me a check (he’s not actually writing a check I don’t think) for me to win.
  • Our team is supposed to win as many as we can. So trust that I am going to put the team on the floor that is best going to allow us to win, If we get the opportunity to play people we will but this is the Big Ten Conference - the best conference for college women in the world. So you may have to wait your turn.
  • Look at Chinn and look at Ellis and look at Koch. They paid their dues and they are going to be better off because of it. They could leave but they’re still here.
 
Last edited:
Mar 17, 2022
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Really a great presser by Dave as he talked about many things including a little bit about Taylor Trammel and his coaching philosophy for going on the road. I love how Dave thinks and speaks. (I could not sleep tonight so I did this. I hope you enjoy it even if you saw the press conference as I think some things Dave says need to be dwelled upon.)
_______________________

Dave’s Statement
  • I want to make everyone aware that Danielle Cuttino and Annie Drews were both selected to the USA team that is playing in the World Championships that are going on right now in the Netherlands. They won their first match and they play Canada. [my note- they swept Canada with Annie Drews being the second high scorer with 14 pts]
  • It is no surprise for Annie to make the team coming off her being on the Gold Medal Olympic team but a tremendous accomplishment for Danielle to make it.
  • They are the two opposites on the team..
  • Great weekend for our VB team - I'm equally proud of what we did at Iowa yesterday as what we did Friday.
  • I know a lot of people thought going to Iowa would be a walk-in-the-park but after doing this for 20 yrs I could promise you that there was nothing easy about going to Iowa.
  • Jim Barnes, their new coach, has a totally different team with a totally different attitude.
  • I think Iowa is going to become a “player” in our league.
  • I was so proud of our team because we weren’t exactly 100% - you never are.
  • But 16 hrs before the match we found out that we weren’t going to have Maddie Schermerhorn - our starting libero.
  • We knew that Megan Renner was sketchy after an injury [concussion] the week before. She did not play on Friday.
  • It is kind of a tough act to go in there on the road without your starting setter and your starting libero in the Big Ten.
  • Fortunately Megan could play a little bit and it was nice to have her back. She did a nice job.
  • We kinda ran a two setter offense in that match and that worked out pretty well.
  • On Friday we had a great crowd and that had to be considered a monumental upset to knock of Minnesota who then turned around last night and swept Wisconsin.
  • It was a good confidence-building weekend for our team which you can never have enough of those.
  • Now this week we will go to Illinois (2-0 in conference) and play at Huff Hall
  • They have beaten both Maryland and Northwestern which are capable of being in the NCAA tournament as is Illinois.
  • And we are here for a matinee match on Sunday against Rutgers.

  • Q: Talk about Schermerhorn’s injury.
  • A: “You know about as much as I do.” I have not gotten a report so far today.

  • Q: Talk about going on the road to Iowa.
  • A: I can promise you anytime you go on the road in the Big Ten it is a challenge, especially if it is the first time some of these players have been on the road in the Big Ten.
  • We had a lot of first-timers going on the road and they were key players
  • We had to make some adjustments.Hornung had to play libero and she was fantastic. She was also fantastic Friday night playing middle back and I was hesitant to move her from where she was playing really well at middle back to left back where the libero usually plays. It is two different positions - like short stop and second base. They look similar but they are not. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with it.
  • We made that move because she had earned that opportunity - she asked for that opportunity. And she was great - it was one of the reasons we were able to survive.
  • Another thing was Emma Ellis. I wanted to give Maddy Chinn a chance to start because she was starting and then hurt her ankle and was out for 3 matches. She played a little in the previous match (Minnesota) and I wanted to give her that start and she played really well (against Iowa) in the 1st set but then got a little “stale” and we made the change to Emma Ellis and she had like 8 kills in maybe 13 swings [actually 9 kills in 13 attacks].

  • Q: Do you think that Eva Hudson - even though she had 19 kills - going to her first Big Ten Road game had an impact on her game?
  • A: Well what we know is that Eva is going to be double teamed. There will be 4 hands in her face all the time which for a lot of people would really blow their minds. But one of the best things she does is to use that to her advantage. That is a real blessing that she is so good at hitting the ball off their hands. Eva had another good match. 19 kills in a Big Ten match is nothing to sneeze at.
  • She will continue to learn what it is like to be a go-to player in this league. Does it bother me that a freshman is our go-to player? No because she is that good. It would be silly to not set her the ball as often as we do.
  • But I think it was a little more balanced on Sunday. The numbers were better with the middle and the right side both getting balls.

  • Q: For Illinois, what does it mean that their setter (Diana Brown) is also the leader in digs.
  • A: Brown is unusual in that she plays such good defense. A lot of setters are so preoccupied in being a good setter that they are not as focused in playing D. Some are. Every once in awhile you will find a player who is a great athlete and plays low and focuses on getting the digs. It is rare when you see a setter who does both.
  • Diana Brown has been around for a long time and she is a complete player. I would love to have our setters dig a lot of balls as well.

  • Q; I got an email last week asking why Taylor Trammel is not here and I thought that is a question best asked to Taylor, but to get players like Clayton and Balensiefer who have started many matches in their careers, just how valuable is that.
  • A: First we wouldn’t be 11-1 without either one of them. Secondly, they are bring this tremendous behavior, maturity and confidence and they are outspoken in a good way to help our other players get better. They bring exactly what we needed.
  • Our team is not a young team. We have a lot of practice experience but not a lot of game experience. So then you take two players who have started every match of their career and they’re going into your 5th year and come into your gym and they’re willing to take, potentially, a sideline role - that is so valuable.
  • If Hannah Clayton was not playing she would still be a great leader. But she has ended up playing a lot.
  • Grace Balensiefer has not played a lot. Prior to this weekend she played in the match against Tennessee but that was about it. Against Bradley one of the coaches said “Get Grace in.” But i told Grace, “You are not a mop-up player. We are going to play you when you are going to help us win. Not when we are up 24-12.” She gets that.
  • That’s the maturity you have to have. I wish all our players had their maturity but they’re not 5th year players. But those two have made a big difference in this team.

  • Q: I imagine if Trammel had not departed you would have not been looking for a middle in the transfer portal?
  • A: Absolutely. Taylor Trammel is a heck of a player and we’re not happy that she is gone. But we are happy we have a solid replacement. What works out for us is that Grace will be gone after this year while Trammel had two more years to play. And that allows us to add some players in the upcoming classes. You can imagine who they might be. (Smiles)

  • Q: You mentioned Hornung. Last year you put her in to serve in a really crucial situation. She came through for you like she had ice-water in her veins. Is that the kind of player she is?
  • A: She has grown up around the game. Her mom played at IU, her dad was a really successful baseball coach at Providence and both of her older sisters were really good players at Providence and here.
  • She is not rattled by a whole lot. Right now she feels really good about herself. Last year it was a new experience and she didn’t know what to think and right now she wants to lead this team.
  • I’ve not seen many players evolve in one year like she has. To be honest we were a little surprised she didn’t contribute more last year. She was a rock star high school and club player. She was the best in the state [ranked #12 nationally]. And now we are starting to see why.

  • Q: When you train your defensive specialists do you train them in all those positions so when something like what happened this last weekend does, they can just slide over?
  • A: They have a lot of training in all those spots but once you put a line-up together they start to get segregated into those particular spots. I do feel that Ava Torrance can play middle back a little better than what Emily Brown can. Emily is more of a wing defender and Ava has a little bit more range going left and right which is what a middle back has to do.
  • Whereas the left back, which is usually the libero, is more of a take-over type player. They have to set the second ball. So there is a different skill set for all those positions. You want them to play all of them but you know that some are better equipped to play a certain spot.

  • Q: How did the younger players handle being on the road in the B1G for their first time in a tough environment?
  • A: I think it is really beneficial that Huff [Illinois] isn’t your first trip. We really try to impress on our players that every place you go you want to embrace it and feel that you are fortunate to be there. You want to find all the positives. I want our players to meet the people working there and be nice to them and to think “What a wonderful opportunity it is to play here.”
  • I got that idea from Devon Brouse, women’s golf coach at Purdue. I was talking to him about playing at the Coyote Crossing Course and how a couple of holes out there just eat me alive. I was being negative about them and Devon says “There’s your problem. You have to love each hole. In your mind you have to appreciate every single hole." That’s what he does with his team when they go to a course.
  • And that’s what I started to do with our team. You say “This is a wonderful place to play; you need to enjoy the opportunity to be here.”
  • And the other thing is to not make to big a deal about where you are. You play the game inside the same size court. Like in “Hoosiers” you measure the height of the basketball rims and it’s the same. We play inside a 30’ by 60’ court and you need to keep your mind inside that court.
  • Don’t you be worrying about what some of the clowns in the bleachers are yelling. That will happen at Huff for sure. The crowd's job is to try to distract the players. But great players feed off of that so I don’t care if they listen to that. Those are some of the things we try to help our players with when we go on the road.

  • Q: Out of necessity this weekend [against Iowa] you played a little of the 6-2. Is that something you will do going forward?
  • A: Well it was a two setter offense but technically it’s called a 5-2 because they are going in for each other and not just playing the back row. So we were playing Grace in the back row and Meg Renner in the front which makes some sense. When we played Minnesota they were not taking advantage of the smaller block as much as I was concerned they might. There are some hard-hitting cross-court hitters on Minnesota. So we tried to alighn our block so that Grace was not a big factor.
  • But when we started the Iowa match all of a sudden their hitters started to have some success because of the smaller block - Grace is 5’8 1/2” and Meg is 6’2”. Meg puts up, at least appears to put up, a bigger and better block. They had a left side hitter that was hitting about 0.400% in the first set and all of a sudden when we made that change she ended up dropping down to about 0%. That is certainly something we will always consider.

  • Q: Raven Colvin played well in the non-conference schedule up to the last match (Ball State) and then she struggled.in that match. How did you feel she performed this last weekend?
  • A: She was terrific against Minnesota and they have a 6’7’ and a 6”3” middle and a 6’4’ outsdie and 6’1’ outside that jumps out of the gym and she was really, really good defensively and following the game plan.
  • We have really mature middle blockers that have been starting for us in Clayton and Colvin. When you get in the game plan and tell them what you want them to do - not that you want them thinking all the time - they are really good at that. It is a luxury to have those two. They are the anchor of your defense. The libero is certainly the leader of your D but the middle is the anchor. It is the middle blackens who are in charge of the blocking.

  • Q: You said that sometimes great players feed off of what they hear from the crowd. Do you hear stuff? Individual stuff or stuff that makes you laugh?
  • A: Yeah. Yeah. They can’t get over the fact that some coaches don’t have any hair. That’s the first thing they will come at you with. But i haven’t had hair for a long time so it really doesn’t bother me that much. My wife tells me “It’s okay that you don’t have any hair because you have a beautiful face." That may not be true any more but at one point in time she did tell me that. (Laughs) I get a kick if they come after me - I’d rather have that then they go after the players.
  • In the Big Ten it nearly always is appropriate. Maybe there are a couple places where i have been close to asking the home facilities people to look into it but I never have.

  • Q: Even without your starting libero your passing game looked great against Minnesota and was solid against Iowa. Is that how you saw it?
  • A: Well we did have Maddie Schermerhorn against Minnesota and I thought we won the serve/pass game against them and that allowed us to have the match we did. Without the serve/pass game we had, we don’t win.
  • I’ve said all along we have 4 tremendous ball-control players in Schermerhorn, Hornung, Torrance and Brown. They are all really good. If you lose one, suddenly there is a lot of pressure on the other three because there is no one else over there on the bench. This year we have less backcourt players than we have ever had. So it was interesting to watch how that went.
  • We were playing Ava Torrance a little bit out of position for the first time this year. And she started to struggle a little bit - I think it was in the first set against Iowa - and then she regrouped and really came back strong. We have a great group.
  • We did lose the serve/pass game against Iowa. And it wasn’t because our passing was that bad but we didn’t serve tough enough. We need to focus this week, as we do every week, that we serve tough. We have to serve with more velocity and take people our of what they want to do. If that means we have to find some different people to serve, then we’ll have to do that. Across the board in the Big Ten that’s what everyone is doing - serving rockets over the net.

  • Q: Can you talk about how Grace Balensiefer stepped up against Minnesota?
  • A: Yes, she was amazing. To find out mid-week that she was going to start opening night of Big Ten play against one of the best teams in the nation, a top 5 team for sure, and that she was going to run the show - it was like Christmas came early for her. That’s why she came here. We know she delivers a great ball. Her issues have nothing to do with setting the ball.
  • The Ball State Coach, Kelli Miller Phillips, told us a couple of weeks ago that she was the best setter in the MAC. We know we have a really good setter but she has to survive blocking at the net, defensive plays and serving. She runs the team and she has the swagger to do that. But there are some things she needs to continue to improve on. Was I surprised she did as well as she die? A little bit.
  • I was surprised with he whole night on Friday. I felt we could compete with them. I felt we had it in us that we could win. But we played beyond my expectations.

  • Q: What sets this team apart from your previous teams that allowed you to start 11-1?
  • A: Every team is different. There are a lot of teams we’ve had that could be 11-1. But what is different about this team is that no one saw it coming. For right now, that’s great. We can feel good about that but we have to continue to get better. But I feel that is the one thing this team will do - we’re going to continue to get better. A lot of people will benefit from the experience and the training.
  • I keep going back to Emily Rastovski and Lourdes Myers - both redshirt freshman. No one has seen them. But they are watching real close. And they are going to be really good players in the program.
  • We got back yesterday and i talked to our team how hard it is to not allow players to play as much as they want to play. But you just can’t do that. Mike Bobinski is writing me a check (he’s not actually writing a check I don’t think) for me to win.
  • Our team is supposed to win as many as we can. So trust that I am going to put the team on the floor that is best going to allow us to win, If we get the opportunity to play people we will but this is the Big Ten Conference - the best conference for college women in the world. So you may have to wait your turn.
  • Look at Chinn and look at Ellis and look at Koch. They paid their dues and they are going to be better off because of it. They could leave but they’re still here.
Awesome write up, thanks Doc
 

cautiouslyoptimistic

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Really a great presser by Dave as he talked about many things including a little bit about Taylor Trammel and his coaching philosophy for going on the road. I love how Dave thinks and speaks. (I could not sleep tonight so I did this. I hope you enjoy it even if you saw the press conference as I think some things Dave says need to be dwelled upon.)
_______________________

Dave’s Statement
  • I want to make everyone aware that Danielle Cuttino and Annie Drews were both selected to the USA team that is playing in the World Championships that are going on right now in the Netherlands. They won their first match and they play Canada. [my note- they swept Canada with Annie Drews being the second high scorer with 14 pts]
  • It is no surprise for Annie to make the team coming off her being on the Gold Medal Olympic team but a tremendous accomplishment for Danielle to make it.
  • They are the two opposites on the team..
  • Great weekend for our VB team - I'm equally proud of what we did at Iowa yesterday as what we did Friday.
  • I know a lot of people thought going to Iowa would be a walk-in-the-park but after doing this for 20 yrs I could promise you that there was nothing easy about going to Iowa.
  • Jim Barnes, their new coach, has a totally different team with a totally different attitude.
  • I think Iowa is going to become a “player” in our league.
  • I was so proud of our team because we weren’t exactly 100% - you never are.
  • But 16 hrs before the match we found out that we weren’t going to have Maddie Schermerhorn - our starting libero.
  • We knew that Megan Renner was sketchy after an injury [concussion] the week before. She did not play on Friday.
  • It is kind of a tough act to go in there on the road without your starting setter and your starting libero in the Big Ten.
  • Fortunately Megan could play a little bit and it was nice to have her back. She did a nice job.
  • We kinda ran a two setter offense in that match and that worked out pretty well.
  • On Friday we had a great crowd and that had to be considered a monumental upset to knock of Minnesota who then turned around last night and swept Wisconsin.
  • It was a good confidence-building weekend for our team which you can never have enough of those.
  • Now this week we will go to Illinois (2-0 in conference) and play at Huff Hall
  • They have beaten both Maryland and Northwestern which are capable of being in the NCAA tournament as is Illinois.
  • And we are here for a matinee match on Sunday against Rutgers.

  • Q: Talk about Schermerhorn’s injury.
  • A: “You know about as much as I do.” I have not gotten a report so far today.

  • Q: Talk about going on the road to Iowa.
  • A: I can promise you anytime you go on the road in the Big Ten it is a challenge, especially if it is the first time some of these players have been on the road in the Big Ten.
  • We had a lot of first-timers going on the road and they were key players
  • We had to make some adjustments.Hornung had to play libero and she was fantastic. She was also fantastic Friday night playing middle back and I was hesitant to move her from where she was playing really well at middle back to left back where the libero usually plays. It is two different positions - like short stop and second base. They look similar but they are not. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with it.
  • We made that move because she had earned that opportunity - she asked for that opportunity. And she was great - it was one of the reasons we were able to survive.
  • Another thing was Emma Ellis. I wanted to give Maddy Chinn a chance to start because she was starting and then hurt her ankle and was out for 3 matches. She played a little in the previous match (Minnesota) and I wanted to give her that start and she played really well (against Iowa) in the 1st set but then got a little “stale” and we made the change to Emma Ellis and she had like 8 kills in maybe 13 swings [actually 9 kills in 13 attacks].

  • Q: Do you think that Eva Hudson - even though she had 19 kills - going to her first Big Ten Road game had an impact on her game?
  • A: Well what we know is that Eva is going to be double teamed. There will be 4 hands in her face all the time which for a lot of people would really blow their minds. But one of the best things she does is to use that to her advantage. That is a real blessing that she is so good at hitting the ball off their hands. Eva had another good match. 19 kills in a Big Ten match is nothing to sneeze at.
  • She will continue to learn what it is like to be a go-to player in this league. Does it bother me that a freshman is our go-to player? No because she is that good. It would be silly to not set her the ball as often as we do.
  • But I think it was a little more balanced on Sunday. The numbers were better with the middle and the right side both getting balls.

  • Q: For Illinois, what does it mean that their setter (Diana Brown) is also the leader in digs?
  • A: Brown is unusual in that she plays such good defense. A lot of setters are so preoccupied in being a good setter that they are not as focused in playing D. Some are. Every once in awhile you will find a player who is a great athlete and plays low and focuses on getting the digs. It is rare when you see a setter who does both.
  • Diana Brown has been around for a long time and she is a complete player. I would love to have our setters dig a lot of balls as well.

  • Q; I got an email last week asking why Taylor Trammel is not here and I thought that is a question best asked to Taylor, but to get players like Clayton and Balensiefer who have started many matches in their careers, just how valuable is that?
  • A: First we wouldn’t be 11-1 without either one of them. Secondly, they are bring this tremendous behavior, maturity and confidence and they are outspoken in a good way to help our other players get better. They bring exactly what we needed.
  • Our team is not a young team. We have a lot of practice experience but not a lot of game experience. So then you take two players who have started every match of their career and they’re going into your 5th year and come into your gym and they’re willing to take, potentially, a sideline role - that is so valuable.
  • If Hannah Clayton was not playing she would still be a great leader. But she has ended up playing a lot.
  • Grace Balensiefer has not played a lot. Prior to this weekend she played in the match against Tennessee but that was about it. Against Bradley one of the coaches said “Get Grace in.” But i told Grace, “You are not a mop-up player. We are going to play you when you are going to help us win. Not when we are up 24-12.” She gets that.
  • That’s the maturity you have to have. I wish all our players had their maturity but they’re not 5th year players. But those two have made a big difference in this team.

  • Q: I imagine if Trammel had not departed you would have not been looking for a middle in the transfer portal?
  • A: Absolutely. Taylor Trammel is a heck of a player and we’re not happy that she is gone. But we are happy we have a solid replacement. What works out for us is that Grace will be gone after this year while Trammel had two more years to play. And that allows us to add some players in the upcoming classes. You can imagine who they might be. (Smiles)

  • Q: You mentioned Hornung. Last year you put her in to serve in a really crucial situation. She came through for you like she had ice-water in her veins. Is that the kind of player she is?
  • A: She has grown up around the game. Her mom played at IU, her dad was a really successful baseball coach at Providence and both of her older sisters were really good players at Providence and here.
  • She is not rattled by a whole lot. Right now she feels really good about herself. Last year it was a new experience and she didn’t know what to think and right now she wants to lead this team.
  • I’ve not seen many players evolve in one year like she has. To be honest we were a little surprised she didn’t contribute more last year. She was a rock star high school and club player. She was the best in the state [ranked #12 nationally]. And now we are starting to see why.

  • Q: When you train your defensive specialists do you train them in all those positions so when something like what happened this last weekend does, they can just slide over?
  • A: They have a lot of training in all those spots but once you put a line-up together they start to get segregated into those particular spots. I do feel that Ava Torrance can play middle back a little better than what Emily Brown can. Emily is more of a wing defender and Ava has a little bit more range going left and right which is what a middle back has to do.
  • Whereas the left back, which is usually the libero, is more of a take-over type player. They have to set the second ball. So there is a different skill set for all those positions. You want them to play all of them but you know that some are better equipped to play a certain spot.

  • Q: How did the younger players handle being on the road in the B1G for their first time in a tough environment?
  • A: I think it is really beneficial that Huff [Illinois] isn’t your first trip. We really try to impress on our players that every place you go you want to embrace it and feel that you are fortunate to be there. You want to find all the positives. I want our players to meet the people working there and be nice to them and to think “What a wonderful opportunity it is to play here.”
  • I got that idea from Devon Brouse, women’s golf coach at Purdue. I was talking to him about playing at the Coyote Crossing Course and how a couple of holes out there just eat me alive. I was being negative about them and Devon says “There’s your problem. You have to love each hole. In your mind you have to appreciate every single hole." That’s what he does with his team when they go to a course.
  • And that’s what I started to do with our team. You say “This is a wonderful place to play; you need to enjoy the opportunity to be here.”
  • And the other thing is to not make to big a deal about where you are. You play the game inside the same size court. Like in “Hoosiers” you measure the height of the basketball rims and it’s the same. We play inside a 30’ by 60’ court and you need to keep your mind inside that court.
  • Don’t you be worrying about what some of the clowns in the bleachers are yelling. That will happen at Huff for sure. The crowd's job is to try to distract the players. But great players feed off of that so I don’t care if they listen to that. Those are some of the things we try to help our players with when we go on the road.

  • Q: Out of necessity this weekend [against Iowa] you played a little of the 6-2. Is that something you will do going forward?
  • A: Well it was a two setter offense but technically it’s called a 5-2 because they are going in for each other and not just playing the back row. So we were playing Grace in the back row and Meg Renner in the front which makes some sense. When we played Minnesota they were not taking advantage of the smaller block as much as I was concerned they might. There are some hard-hitting cross-court hitters on Minnesota. So we tried to alighn our block so that Grace was not a big factor.
  • But when we started the Iowa match all of a sudden their hitters started to have some success because of the smaller block - Grace is 5’8 1/2” and Meg is 6’2”. Meg puts up, at least appears to put up, a bigger and better block. They had a left side hitter that was hitting about 0.400% in the first set and all of a sudden when we made that change she ended up dropping down to about 0%. That is certainly something we will always consider.

  • Q: Raven Colvin played well in the non-conference schedule up to the last match (Ball State) and then she struggled.in that match. How did you feel she performed this last weekend?
  • A: She was terrific against Minnesota and they have a 6’7’ and a 6”3” middle and a 6’4’ outsdie and 6’1’ outside that jumps out of the gym and she was really, really good defensively and following the game plan.
  • We have really mature middle blockers that have been starting for us in Clayton and Colvin. When you get in the game plan and tell them what you want them to do - not that you want them thinking all the time - they are really good at that. It is a luxury to have those two. They are the anchor of your defense. The libero is certainly the leader of your D but the middle is the anchor. It is the middle blackens who are in charge of the blocking.

  • Q: You said that sometimes great players feed off of what they hear from the crowd. Do you hear stuff? Individual stuff or stuff that makes you laugh?
  • A: Yeah. Yeah. They can’t get over the fact that some coaches don’t have any hair. That’s the first thing they will come at you with. But i haven’t had hair for a long time so it really doesn’t bother me that much. My wife tells me “It’s okay that you don’t have any hair because you have a beautiful face." That may not be true any more but at one point in time she did tell me that. (Laughs) I get a kick if they come after me - I’d rather have that then they go after the players.
  • In the Big Ten it nearly always is appropriate. Maybe there are a couple places where i have been close to asking the home facilities people to look into it but I never have.

  • Q: Even without your starting libero your passing game looked great against Minnesota and was solid against Iowa. Is that how you saw it?
  • A: Well we did have Maddie Schermerhorn against Minnesota and I thought we won the serve/pass game against them and that allowed us to have the match we did. Without the serve/pass game we had, we don’t win.
  • I’ve said all along we have 4 tremendous ball-control players in Schermerhorn, Hornung, Torrance and Brown. They are all really good. If you lose one, suddenly there is a lot of pressure on the other three because there is no one else over there on the bench. This year we have less backcourt players than we have ever had. So it was interesting to watch how that went.
  • We were playing Ava Torrance a little bit out of position for the first time this year. And she started to struggle a little bit - I think it was in the first set against Iowa - and then she regrouped and really came back strong. We have a great group.
  • We did lose the serve/pass game against Iowa. And it wasn’t because our passing was that bad but we didn’t serve tough enough. We need to focus this week, as we do every week, that we serve tough. We have to serve with more velocity and take people our of what they want to do. If that means we have to find some different people to serve, then we’ll have to do that. Across the board in the Big Ten that’s what everyone is doing - serving rockets over the net.

  • Q: Can you talk about how Grace Balensiefer stepped up against Minnesota?
  • A: Yes, she was amazing. To find out mid-week that she was going to start opening night of Big Ten play against one of the best teams in the nation, a top 5 team for sure, and that she was going to run the show - it was like Christmas came early for her. That’s why she came here. We know she delivers a great ball. Her issues have nothing to do with setting the ball.
  • The Ball State Coach, Kelli Miller Phillips, told us a couple of weeks ago that she was the best setter in the MAC. We know we have a really good setter but she has to survive blocking at the net, defensive plays and serving. She runs the team and she has the swagger to do that. But there are some things she needs to continue to improve on. Was I surprised she did as well as she die? A little bit.
  • I was surprised with he whole night on Friday. I felt we could compete with them. I felt we had it in us that we could win. But we played beyond my expectations.

  • Q: What sets this team apart from your previous teams that allowed you to start 11-1?
  • A: Every team is different. There are a lot of teams we’ve had that could be 11-1. But what is different about this team is that no one saw it coming. For right now, that’s great. We can feel good about that but we have to continue to get better. But I feel that is the one thing this team will do - we’re going to continue to get better. A lot of people will benefit from the experience and the training.
  • I keep going back to Emily Rastovski and Lourdes Myers - both redshirt freshman. No one has seen them. But they are watching real close. And they are going to be really good players in the program.
  • We got back yesterday and i talked to our team how hard it is to not allow players to play as much as they want to play. But you just can’t do that. Mike Bobinski is writing me a check (he’s not actually writing a check I don’t think) for me to win.
  • Our team is supposed to win as many as we can. So trust that I am going to put the team on the floor that is best going to allow us to win, If we get the opportunity to play people we will but this is the Big Ten Conference - the best conference for college women in the world. So you may have to wait your turn.
  • Look at Chinn and look at Ellis and look at Koch. They paid their dues and they are going to be better off because of it. They could leave but they’re still here.
I look forward to your recap of Dave's press conferences. I also listen to Dave as much as I can because he is such an honest assessor of his team and the opposition. We need to figure out a way to compensate you for your efforts, not only with these recaps, but your normal feedback during the week. :)
 
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DocRon

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I look forward to your recap of Dave's press conferences. I also listen to Dave as much as I can because he is such an honest assessor of his team and the opposition. We need to figure out a way to compensate you for your efforts, not only with these recaps, but your normal feedback during the week. :)
There is so little coach-speak in Dave’s conferences and podcasts and I love that.

And you are too kind. I do this because it gives me pleasure. Thanks.
____________________
 
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I did watch the video of his press conference (this summary is spot-on BTW, thank you) - I am always impressed by Coach Dave. He articulates his thoughts and assessments of players, teams, competion, just everything, so well. Honest, candid, but measured when he needs to be. He is a gifted coach and leader. Great follow on Twitter too.

I think Coach Painter and Coach KG are in a similar vein. Well spoken and substantive in their pressers and interviews. Wish Coach Brohm would be more like the 3 of them. 😊
 

DocRon

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I did watch the video of his press conference (this summary is spot-on BTW, thank you) - I am always impressed by Coach Dave. He articulates his thoughts and assessments of players, teams, competion, just everything, so well. Honest, candid, but measured when he needs to be. He is a gifted coach and leader. Great follow on Twitter too.

I think Coach Painter and Coach KG are in a similar vein. Well spoken and substantive in their pressers and interviews. Wish Coach Brohm would be more like the 3 of them. 😊
Mostly agree. I do find that Coach KG does more coach-speak than Coach Shondell but she will be a lot better in 20 tears, (grin). And Coach Brohm, as much as I admire him, is hopeless when it comes to saying anything of much substance in his pressers. Sigh.
________________
 

cautiouslyoptimistic

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Mostly agree. I do find that Coach KG does more coach-speak than Coach Shondell but she will be a lot better in 20 tears, (grin). And Coach Brohm, as much as I admire him, is hopeless when it comes to saying anything of much substance in his pressers. Sigh.
________________
Northwestern beat Minnesota, 3-2, in Minneapolis last night! :)