The WKU women’s basketball team improved to 3-0 and 1-0 in Sun Belt Conference play Monday night with a 62-56 win over Florida International.
I’ll have plenty more to come on the game, but here are coach Michelle Clark-Heard’s postgame comments. She also talked about 6-foot-4-inch 2013 signee Ruta Savickaite for the first time since the center made her commitment to WKU official.
Winning first three games: “If you all had told me we’d be 1-0 in the Sun Belt and 3-0 on the season, I don’t know what I would have said to that. But I’ve got an unbelievable group that is resilient and plays hard all the time. It’s a fun group to coach right now.”
On how team overcame poor shooting, getting outrebounded: “Our Mad Dog (defense) – our three-quarter court – worked. We only turned the ball over 11 times, which is a low for us this year. I talked to them about dribble penetration, getting to the basket, being able to put the ball on the floor, and we went to the free-throw line 23 times. That adds up to what we missed out on with the rebounding.”
On forcing 21 turnovers, including 15 steals: “They’ve really bought into our Mad Dog. They know that’s our bread and butter. They know we’re going to have to do different things to be in the position we were in tonight. … They just have fun doing it, and defense is hard.”
On the offense: “Offensively, they have some freedom. When we run motion, they have some freedom. Sometimes, we take a couple of bad shots here and there, but I talk to them, and they stick big shots. They nail them.”
Alexis Govan playing with more freedom: “When I got the job, that was one thing I looked at. I reviewed film, and Alexis has a ton of talent. She’s got one of the quickest first steps I’ve seen on a young lady, so what we did as a staff is sit down and see what was going to be an advantage for us. As you all see, the motion is hard to guard if you get a lot of movement out of it. Alexis really loves it because she has freedom. I’m trying to get her to concentrate now on shooting her pull-up … because she’s really good at driving and getting to the basket.
“I think it’s helped her get more loose. We talked a lot when I first got here about that she felt uptight last year, not knowing when and how to score. I think this freed her up some.”
Chastity Gooch having six steals: “I talked to her about defense, and how I needed her to step it up just a little bit for me on defense to add to everything else, because she’s given me a lot. She’s given me everything, but I asked her to take the opportunity to focus a little more on defense.”
Micah Jones making 5 of 5 free throws down the stretch: “Micah is so steady. To be a freshman and be able to put the ball in her hands with the things she can do, I’m very fortunate. She’s a great player. She’s tough.”
More on 3-0 start: “As hard as this group has tried to buy into this system, myself and my staff, I’m not surprised. Not surprised with how hard they play. I think a lot of the stuff is going to take care of itself.”
On holding FIU’s Coley to 12 points: “Our goal was to be able to limit her touches and also not let her go on a spree. … Our kids bought into it. Our biggest thing was that we were trying to keep fresh legs on her so we could stay up on her defensively and just give her one shot.”
Confidence from 3-0 start: “I think it’s incredible for our team, because those returners are huge for our freshmen. You have people like Alexis – Alexis Govan does not want to lose, and she talks to those freshmen all the time. That’s the greatest thing. That’s the thing that I was really excited and impressed with when I got here, because they were hungry to learn and hungry to figure out how they could get this thing turned around.”
On signing of Savickaite: “You see those big ones out there that we just had to guard? Ruta’s going to add a lot because she’s a legit 6-3, 6-4. She’s very smart and very skilled. She’s not your typical international player. Sometimes they like to play more on the perimeter. She can face up, but she likes to get down in the post and mix it up.”