'We are simply a lot further along in the process this year'

'We are simply a lot further along in the process this year'

Q: From the standpoint of the whole program, what are the biggest strides you've seen in the last four months?

A: "We understand what we are trying to do from a culture standpoint and what it takes to win. The team is finding its identity. You can see it in how they're practicing. There is a different focus and intensity. Those are important strides in moving this program forward."

Q: How is recruiting different for this upcoming class than your first class at Illinois?

A: "We are simply a lot farther along in the process this year. We have a better understanding of our needs. The relationship-building with high school and AAU coaches has paid dividends. We are very pleased with our 2018 class and want to build on that as we move forward."

Q: What is your recruiting pitch to upcoming players in the Class of 2019, 2020 and beyond?

A: "We're don't have a pitch. We're not trying to sell anything. We are who we are here at Illinois, and we're excited to be building something very special. Our players and recruits have a unique opportunity to be part of Illinois women's basketball history. These are special players and people who I know Illini Nation will never forget. There's so much that the University of Illinois has to offer beyond the basketball court. It is important to build our program the right way. We will make sure they know that being a part of our program means being part of something that's going to be talked about for years and years to come. Our goal is for this program to continue to get better every year, so kids we are recruiting know they have an opportunity to be part of the group that turned things around."

Q: How much does it help having a veteran core, with players like Alex Wittinger, Cece Rice, Brandi Beasley and more, returning next season?

A: "One thing we're seeing in practice this summer is their leadership and understanding of what we're trying to do in drills. They are great teammates, too. The head coach is not the only teacher in the gym; veteran players become the teachers and help talk through the drills. They help make things in practice go faster and run more smoothly. I have already heard them talking about their goals for this year. They want to make a difference."

Q: What was the biggest learning curve for you in your first year?

A: "I don't know if it's a learning curve, but I knew that recruiting would be a big task. In our first year, I couldn't build relationships as fast as I wanted. Right now, we are able to do that. We're able to meet coaches, people in our community, alumni and members of the entire Illini nation. Some things just take time, if you want them to be real and meaningful. If you want to build quality relationships, you have to start right away, but they do take a little time."