pointMike Hebert Quotes from 2004 Media Day
"We have been going at it now since Aug. 11th. I have been very happy with the performance of the team up to this point. We have six seniors so we are a veteran team. We are going to have lots of leadership. We are not going to fold under pressure. We are going to be very solid. We have some question marks we are working on, but I like the way the team looks right now. We are going to be a little short in hitting power across the net. We are not going to be strong at every position, but we will be terrific defensively. Ball control is the name of the game. You have to create opportunities to score points. If you can't handle the ball accurately you can't score. I think we will be very good in that department."
(About expectations of the season)
"I can't speak for outside expectations. We are ranked high in the preseason poll. We can't control that, but it is great recognition for the program to be ranked that high.
In terms of internal expectations, this group is the most focused group we have had in my eight years in Minnesota. I think that is primarily due to the seniors who have been through a lot in the careers at Minnesota. They have been very successful, but have had lots of ups and downs. I think they are extremely prepared mentally to take on whatever challenge we may face. That is the good news. The bad news is again we have one of the toughest schedules in the country ahead of us. I think this group is ready for that. Our expectations are to be certainly in contention for the Big Ten title. We would also like to at least make it to the NCAA Regionals since we are hosting one of the regional finals this year. It would be nice to able to play in our regional in front of our fans."
(On team's reaction to preseason ranking)
"Last year we were ranked No. 6 and we struggled the first couple weeks of season. I think our players spent a lot of time last year thinking about being highly regarded. So much so that they did not play well. This year no one has even talked about our preseason ranking, which is a good sign. I think they have been through that, suffered through the ill effects of focusing on external expectations and this year they are just talking about primarily what they will do on the court."
(On Trisha Bratford and Erin Martin shouldering the offensive burden with Cassie having graduated)
"Yes the big question mark is we have everyone coming back except our First-Team All-American, and that usually spells challenge. I think a couple things have to happen to pick up slack. One is both Tree and Erin Martin will have to post bigger numbers. They are going to get more sets, and they are going to have to be more clever and terminal in their attacking. The other thing is our middle attack will have to be better this year.
We will also start off the season playing a 6-2, which is a different alignment. There are very few teams in the nation that play that. That means we will have two setters on the court at all times. They will set in the back row and attack in the front row. Usually teams play with 5-1 alignment. Our two setters, Lindsey Taatjes and Kelly Bowman, are going to have to deliver some offense from the right side when they are in the front row. That is going to be brand new to us and those two players. We have some question marks, but we have handled it well so far in practice."
(On a possible learning curve with the new offense)
"I believe the learning curve will be reflected in how well the middle attacking comes along and how well the two setters attack the ball from the right side when they are in the front row. If that turns out to be successful, meaning the offensive efficiency numbers are pretty good there, I don't think there will be much of a learning curve."
(On any new players or players that have developed during the offseason) "The player we look to now to take the offensive lead for us is probably Erin Martin. She will be a senior, and in practice so far she has been dominating. She is doing some things offensively that I have never seen her do before. If she can maintain that level she will probably be our go-to player on the outside. Kelly Bowman will step into a starting role. She was a backup setter last year who did not get much court time. This year not only will she set, but she will attack. She is a very good player. There won't have to be much of a transition team-wise for her to enter the starting lineup. She just knows how to play the game. Other then that everyone else is returning from last season. The one new player who may make an impact for us is Jessy Jones. She has a tremendous upside and is extremely competitive. Her greatest skill is blocking, but she can also provide offense from the middle-hitting position. We have another new player from Florida in Dee Jackson. She is probably going to be best athlete in floor, but she is very inexperienced at this point in the sport of volleyball. She was a track star in high school. She walked into the gym on the first day and touched 10-6. She has extraordinary leaping ability and once she learns the game she will be an outstanding player, but she is a good year or two away from doing that. "
(On how team will respond to high expectations)
"This team has a terrific bond and an ability to stick to a course and not veer off it. They have been amazing in practice. They are able to push and coach each other without any feelings being hurt. This team has embraced the universal accountability principle that we have been preaching for a long time. There on each other to make sure everyone has good practices and solid performances out of everybody. They always come with a positive energy. This team has done a better job of that then any team I have coached at Minnesota. I like that about them. There internal expectations are high. They want to have a chance to win the Big Ten and be able to host the NCAA Regionals here in December."
(On replacing a First-Team All-American)
"The typical answer is you don't and that is the answer I will give. Not only was Cassie (Busse) a First-Team All-American on the court, but she was a First-Team All-American academically. She was a phenomenal player, a phenomenal leader and a great person. We have to develop new leadership on the team. We have to develop a different style of offense. Last year she was basically our eraser. If we did not pass the ball well or something went wrong we would just jack the ball up to her whether she was front or back row and she would get us out of trouble. We have to find new people to do that. I think our offense will have to be much more balanced this year from left to right and in the middle. Last year we were saturated on the right side where she played and in the middle back position with her in the back row. Opponents knew where the ball was going. We knew where the ball was going. Defenses were keyed to stop her and they still couldn't. I don't think we have anyone like that right now. So we are going to have to depend on better ball control and a more diversified approach to hitting the ball."
(On avoiding repeating last year's early struggles)
"The team has dedicated itself to not repeating last year's early struggles. Our work is cut out for us. We play in a very difficult opening tournament (the NACWAA Tournament). Our pre-conference tournament schedule is very tough. Last year we were ranked as having the second-toughest schedule in the country behind Arizona. This year I would imagine we will be top three again with the RPI of our opponents. I don't think we will have the same type of start as last year. We could lose, but we won't play as poorly as last year. This group is much more motivated to get off to a good start this year."
(On how the Big Ten shapes up this season)
"I have been in the Big Ten 25 years and this is by far the most even I have seen the conference heading into a season. I don't know who will emerge, but when the Big Ten rankings come out I would imagine would be in the top three. Most people believe seven or eight teams could win the conference. It sounds like a replay of football coaches talking about the conference."