Michelle Clark-Heard discusses Lady Toppers’ 2013-14 nonconference schedule

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team released its 2013-14 nonconference schedule earlier today, and if you missed that blog post, here’s a rundown of the slate.

I talked with coach Michelle Clark-Heard this afternoon about the Lady Tops beefing up nonconference play, including a home game against 2013 national runner-up Louisville and a road contest at Vanderbilt in the second game of the season.

Here are Heard’s thoughts:

MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD

On adding difficulty to the schedule: “Playing in the WNIT last year was great, but our ultimate goal is to get to the NCAA (tournament). As a staff, we thought we had to put ourselves in a position to have the opportunity where if something didn’t work out right, we could still possibly get an at-large bid. … We just want to get mentally prepared for the types of teams we’ll have to start facing.”

You said you needed to schedule wins last year to build the players’ confidence. Where is that confidence this year? “That’s something we’re going to have to build on. This is going to be new territory for us, but I also think we’ve always tried to talk to them about the bigger picture and where we’re trying to go. They’ve been working really hard, and they’re talking about getting prepared for what we need to do.”

On the unexpected Vanderbilt game on the schedule: “It was a contract that had basically been from the previous staff, so it was something we have to finish out. It’s always hard. That’s a very hard place to play at. We have to play them in the second game of the season. It’ll be a tough environment for our kids, but it’ll be a great experience.”

Significance of the Louisville game: “When I was here at Western, we played Louisville. It’s a game that had previously been on the schedule. I had just came from there, and Jeff (Walz) and I have a great relationship. It’s a great chance for our ladies to play against a team that was just in the national championship game. … It’ll be an emotional game for a lot of people. But I think it’ll be a great one.”
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