WKU’s Heard talks Louisiana-Monroe game, MTSU’s league departure

We met with WKU women’s basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard today to mainly talk about Thursday’s conference road game at Louisiana-Monroe, but we also discussed Middle Tennessee’s departure for Conference USA and future scheduling.

Heard’s thoughts are below.

But first, I also wanted to share a link to an ESPN story on MTSU forward Ebony Rowe published today. It sheds light on a story I’ve heard for quite some time, which is that WKU let the standout from Lexington slip away during her recruitment.

Rowe wanted to attend WKU like both of her parents, but she was put in a holding pattern, while the Lady Tops pursued Louisville transfer Janae Howard, who eventually left the program prematurely. While WKU and Rowe waited, MTSU coach Rick Insell “arranged a home visit and was in his car heading north within a matter of days to close the deal.”

It’s also just a very good story on a good player and person. Worth a read.

MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD, coach

On MTSU’s departure: “I’m happy for them. Everybody and every school has to do what’s best for their program and their university. I’m happy for Middle, and I’m excited where we’re at – getting ready to play two road games in the conference.”

State of Sun Belt: “I’m very confident in Dr. Ransdell and Todd Stewart. I know we’re going to do whatever is best for Western Kentucky University. I’m excited for the people that we’re going to be playing each and every day.”

Importance of having buzzed-about games, like MTSU: “I think it’s important in every program. That’s something, as I talked about in the beginning, that we’ll hopefully do. (Louisville coach) Jeff Walz and myself have talked, and hopefully the University of Louisville will be in here next year. Every year, that’s important. When we sit down and try to schedule, we know fans think about those big-name schools and BCS schools. We’re going to schedule those. Western Kentucky is known for its fans and support, so we’re going to make sure we bring people into Diddle Arena that people want to see.”

On Kendall Noble, who will be re-evaluated Monday with a leg injury: “Hopefully, we’ll get good news, and we’ll get her back. Don’t know if it’ll be for the Vanderbilt game, but she’ll be re-evaluated. But from talking to her and the trainer, she’s feeling a lot better, and I’m looking forward to getting her back as soon as I can.”

Moving on from Illinois State loss: “The girls have been working hard, and we’ve been looking forward to actually getting a chance to get out there and prove ourselves again – that we do take defense seriously. We’ve been working on it a lot.”

Dealing with first loss: “I tried to make sure that we talked about the things that hurt us in that game and the good things that we did. We’re looking forward to going into two conference games. It’ll be on the road and it’s a challenge, but Illinois State let us know that we have to guard to be successful.”

On Louisiana-Monroe: “They get up and down the floor. We’re going to have to get back in defensive transition, which we struggled with a couple of times in the Illinois State game. Those are things we’ve been focusing on. They have some guards that are very good and some posts players that are good. I want us to get better. I want us to get better in this game so that we’ll keep improving in conference play. I know a lot of people look at their record and see they’re 1-4, but they’re putting up some good numbers and pushing the ball.”

Starting strong: “We have a chance right now, that if we go on the road and take care of business, we could be 3-0 in the conference. It’s really important for us to know that focus.”

On newcomers not knowing about recent struggles as much: “The players that came here and signed here aren’t oblivious to the things that happened here and the past. We talk about making a change, and that’s where the ‘On the Rise’ and other things we talk about come from.”

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