With the departure of three starters, head coach Joe McKeown will have to reconstruct the women’s team during the 2017-18 season. McKeown discussed the upcoming season and how this young squad will prepare for challenging Big Ten opponents.
On Nia Coffey’s legacy:
“If you're lucky, you have three or four players in your career as a coach like a Nia Coffey. You're not going to get them every year, especially one that had the whole package like she did. She graduated early, she was a first round pick … It set the bar, too, that Northwestern is a viable place if you're a McDonald's All-American. She's done great things for us. You don't replace her, you just create some opportunities for younger players.”
On who will replace last season’s talented seniors:
"You're going to see Lydia Rohde. She's one of the best student athletes at Northwestern. She's involved in everything, everyone on the team looks up to her, respects her on and off the court. [She's] probably got the best work ethic of anybody that's been in our program in years. She was a walk-on that's now a senior, her story's really compelling. She's earned everything. I think you're going to see Jordan Hamilton. Even as a freshman, she has a command, a presence about her on the court that I like. Abi Scheid [is] probably the most experienced player we've had in big games. So we're going to lean on her in a lot of ways, too."
On new gameplay and strategy:
“We're going into more of a half court power team that can play inside-out. We're going to be young, but it creates a lot of opportunities for our new players. Our new players are talented, so you've got to get them into the fire. It's an interesting transition from watching us fly up and down the courts, shoot threes, really be aggressive defensively, to being a more half-court power basketball team."
On starting lineups:
"Changes every week. We're getting closer, we have some scrimmages coming up, we have an exhibition game. That will start separating some people. We're starting to get healthy, we had some people out. We're seeing people at full speed, at what they can do during drills.”
On utilizing the first-years:
"[They're] probably going to be thrown into the fire sometimes. You're going to lean on them; they've got to be like sophomores sometimes, or juniors. All our players got to play a year up this year. I think Jordan [Hamilton] and Lindsey Pulliam have been in a lot of big positions in high school, they've played a lot of basketball. They're fearless. I don't think they care that, if they have the ball late in a game and it's a big ten team, to them it might like beating their high school rival.”
On challenges of the B1G:
“I can't name a team in our league that doesn't have somebody 6-foot-4 [or] 6-foot-5 that they get the ball to, that can guard. It's going to be a challenge for us to score inside – it's going to be a challenge.”