March 1, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by Michigan head coach Kevin Borseth, as well as players Courtney Boylan, Rachel Sheffer, and Kate Thompson.
Coach, if you'd like to start with a few opening comments?
COACH BORSETH: A great win. Illinois has a great team. I thought our kids came out ready to play from the start. The first half determined [it] for us, kind of set the tone for the game. I think everything else followed.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes?
Q. Courtney, you were about to burst out into smiles there with one minute left in the first half. You had win No. 20 for you guys. What does it mean for you?
COURTNEY BOYLAN: Oh, it's huge. Not just win No. 20, but win No. 1 in the Big Ten Tournament. That's what's most important right now. That's what we're most focused on for now. It's awesome. Great team win.
Q. I think you picked up your second foul pretty early and had to sit a lot in the first half. What does it feel like to sit on the bench when your team is obviously coming apart and still held their own in the first half?
COURTNEY BOYLAN: Yeah, they did a wonderful job when I came out. Like you said, I picked up two fouls early. But seems like every game someone new steps up. So I wasn't even worried. I just cheered my team on, and they did great.
Q. Rachel, Coach mentioned the first half set the tone. What do you think you guys did really well in the first half to enable you to do that and how did you maintain it?
RACHEL SHEFFER: I think we just attacked the block and the lane, and Karisma got in foul trouble and just helped us out, just having her presence off the court really got us going, because she's a great player. And I think just going at them and not relying on the 3 really helped us.
Q. Rachel, they didn't shoot particularly well in the first half. Is that their shooting or your defense?
RACHEL SHEFFER: I mean, I'm not really sure. But, I mean, we did play hard. They missed shots. It happens. But we did play well together on defense.
Q. Kate, after what happened last year here, you lost the first round and then things went really awry after that. How much was that on your minds coming into this game, just to get past this game and get the 20th win and to have an opportunity to do more?
KATE THOMPSON: I mean, we're just taking every game one at a time. And like this was a big win for us. And like Courtney said, first game in the Big Ten Tournament, it feels good to have this win.
Q. Kate, you obviously came off the bench, I don't know the final stats, you scored 14 or 15. Talk about what that bench what it feels to come off the bench and do that for Michigan.
KATE THOMPSON: Just knowing my teammates have confidence in me. The whole bench, when we come off, like our whole bench was really productive this game.
Q. About the bench, when it helps?
COURTNEY BOYLAN: It's great. We have supreme confidence in our bench, especially Kate. We know when she comes in she'll knock down a 3 or get a stop on defense. They've been doing that for us all year, so no different this game.
Q. Courtney, when she comes off the bench, are you looking for her specifically, like 3 points?
COURTNEY BOYLAN: I wouldn't say specifically looking for her. I mean, yes, she's a wonderful shooter, so we're going to find her whenever we can. But our offense is by committee. And so we all have a little piece of the puzzle, and some nights is our night, some nights it isn't, but we do everything by committee.
Q. In the paint they out-rebounded, and Coach always says rebounding isn't always the final step, but were you getting kind of frustrated down there when they're getting the second and third chance opportunities?
RACHEL SHEFFER: Yes, it's frustrating. But credit to them. They crashed the boards really hard. That's what kept them in the game. They scored most of their points on offensive rebounds, second and third tries, and credit goes to them for crashing the boards. We just know we have to step it up for tomorrow.
Q. They didn't shoot particularly well. Were you relieved the second and third opportunities were not going in?
RACHEL SHEFFER: It was just the flow of the game, just gotta stay focused on that and go on what they're doing and what they're not and just capitalize on that.
Q. Courtney, Kate mentioned one game at a time. The next game at a time is going to be Ohio State. You guys have had very good success against them the last two years. What do you have to do to play a third game against them?
COURTNEY BOYLAN: I don't know yet. I guess we'll find that out today. But you're right; recently we have had success against them. We beat them earlier in the year, so you know they're going to come out extremely hard.
And we're going to be prepared for that. But we'll get ready for Ohio State today.
Q. How do you guys obviously you guys played in November straight games, so how well prepared are you for these straight two games?
COURTNEY BOYLAN: We played you mean, just for the tournament style?
COURTNEY BOYLAN: We played a tournament over Thanksgiving, Paradise Jam, three games over three days. We had a lot of success there, so I think we can do the same thing here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Going back to the one game at a time, but after last year, how large was it just to get this one out of the way?
COACH BORSETH: You know what, last year we beat Illinois twice during the year. We beat them the last game of the year and then turned around three days later and played them again. And they played extremely well, with a lot of confidence when the game started.
And to get this one under your belt is good. And I thought our kids were ready for that. I don't know if it was in the back of their mind, but it's there. In fact, Illinois has played so well in this tournament, the last two years, so you know that looms on you as well.
I thought our kids focused on us. That was the biggest thing. We didn't ever talk about that. We just focused on us.
Q. I know that you don't like to talk about the refs, but you and both coaches seemed to be you know, like foul calls?
COACH BORSETH: Everybody wants more. As coaches we're never happy. I don't think any coach really sits down and tells you he's happy with everything. We're trying to do everything to help our team win. Our officials in this league are extremely confident. They're good. Their integrity is high. Everything about our conference officials is very good.
You go back during the course of the game, you think it's a foul. You go look at the videotape, and it wasn't. You thought it was a travel, you go back to the videotape, and it wasn't.
As a coach, you're trying to find everything during the course of the game to help you. You're also trying to help and remind them. But they do a fantastic job.
Q. Was there a difference in the rebounding effort in the first half and second? First half they were missing very badly, so they got long rebounds. In the second half were they getting or fighting for rebounds?
COACH BORSETH: I'll tell you what, you go back on videotapes and you look, and when you're blocking out a bigger kid who is leaning against you and pushing underneath, makes a whole lot of difference.
There's a lot of contact on defense. Karisma Penn is a great athlete. And Adrienne GodBold. That's where the rebounds came from, those two kids. They just jumped right over, moved us out of the way, jumped in and grabbed them.
Very hard to deal with. Kendra Seto came in. I inserted Kendra because we felt she could rebound. Sure enough, Kenny gets in and pulls two rebounds down right off the bat.
Always an area of concern. I think it's always an area of concern because Penn and GodBold, they're good athletes and they've got a nose for the ball.
Q. Kendra and obviously Jenny Ryan, were two big defensive players in the second half, how did they step it up and try to keep Illinois off the boards?
COACH BORSETH: Kenny got two rebounds immediately. Immediately Kenny got two rebounds. Lobbed a couple in late and Jenny knocked it out of their hands. Those two kids have that ability.
It's a game of chess in and out offense and defense. I think every coach does that. We try to utilize that as much as we could.
Q. What does reaching 20 wins mean? Obviously winning one in the Tournament's important, but the number 20?
COACH BORSETH: That's something you always shoot for. I think that's I don't know that is the number, I don't know that is the magic number, it's not, but it's a good number. Better than 19. Better than 18 which we had last year. But the big win, the first win in this tournament for us is just absolutely huge to put us on the right track. Get our confidence back.
Q. Coach, you've got Ohio State. You've beat them three straight times. What's the difference? What stands out in those games? What's made the difference that you've been able to win those three games?
COACH BORSETH: That was then; this is now. Scouting reports tell them a lot and tell us a lot, obviously.
And the second half of that game was a lot closer than met the eye. They battled right back to within like two or three points and down the stretch we were able to hit a couple of baskets here and there to secure a win.
But they're a great team. They're well coached. They've got two players that are All First Team Big Ten. They're a handful for anybody that has to play them. We have a great deal of respect for them, and we'll have to come with our best effort in this game.
Q. You seem to methodically feed the post. Did you spot a weakness there throughout the game?
COACH BORSETH: No. I don't know. I always felt it was a little easier to get closer to the basket and shoot it than from the outside. You've got to get some form of penetration, dribble it in there or pass it in there. Those are your two choices.
People play behind you in the post, generally sagged off. They don't give you much of a choice to dribble in there because they're all packed in the paint. So you've got to throw it at them.
So that was the option that they give us. So we just took advantage of that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Illinois head coach Jolette Law and Lydia McCully and Adrienne GodBold.
Coach, if you would like to start with opening comments.
COACH LAW: Give a lot of credit to Michigan. They set the tone the first half, and we dug a hole for ourselves. We played better the second half, but the deficit was too great to cut.
Give a lot of credit to Michigan.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. You guys were at a pretty big deficit throughout the entire game. Lydia, what were your game plans trying to work back into it?
LYDIA MCCULLY: Whenever you're down, I think as a player you want to try to get everything back right away. But we've been in [that] situation multiple times before, so you know something has to kind of ease back into the game.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to do that today.
Q. Adrienne, you got in foul trouble pretty quickly in the first half. What did you do on the bench to try to keep your teammates moving and keep them up when things were going bad?
ADRIENNE GODBOLD: The best thing I could do is be more vocal and positive, try to keep everybody's heads in the game. Us being down, it was harder. But we tried. We tried.
Q. Both of you guys were in foul trouble. What was that like watching a big game like this sometimes from the bench?
LYDIA MCCULLY: For me, I'm not really used to being in foul trouble. So I think I was really frustrated from the bench. But at the same time a lot of the fouls I had weren't the smartest fouls. So I really don't have anybody to blame but myself.
ADRIENNE GODBOLD: It was harder watching the game from the bench first half because I haven't been on the bench in a couple of games. So staying positive helped the team. And the fouls that I got were [bad]. I was just trying to crash on the boards. I was kind of disappointed in myself.
Q. Lydia, I know this is your last game. Can you talk about the growth you've seen from this team from last year to the end of this year?
LYDIA MCCULLY: I don't even think from last year to this year I think the program overall has changed.
I can't express the feeling of what I feel like now, having a family, as opposed to when I first walked in. I think there's nothing but hope for this team next year because seeing the growth that we did have, I just know that they can go to levels we haven't reached yet.
This is a great team. This is a great program. And one day we will be at the top.
Q. Adrienne, Coach always talks about the little things, rebounding and turnovers. Where do you feel you guys fell short on, or was it just you weren't hitting on the offensive end?
ADRIENNE GODBOLD: Our shots weren't falling, but I'm not quite sure what we fell short of today. I would say we did have a lack of focus in the first half. That's where we dug a hole for ourselves, and it was hard for us to get out. I think it was focus, mainly, for now.
Q. Lydia, can you talk about your emotions right now after playing your final game?
LYDIA MCCULLY: I wanted it bad for the team, more than I wanted it for myself. But it's hard, that last game. We lost. I'm going to miss them.
ADRIENNE GODBOLD: I don't think words can express right now, honestly. I don't have much to say.
Q. You guys came out and you had like five straight points in the beginning of the second half, but Michigan kept scoring, their shots kept falling. What did you want to do on defense to try to get them to miss their shots?
LYDIA MCCULLY: Defensively, it wasn't even usually for us it's communication. There were loose balls on the floor. They were on the floor; we weren't on the floor.
We had mental lapses at times that were crucial in the game, especially coming out of the first. Like I said, we dug ourselves a hole. Whenever you dig yourself a hole, it's tough to get out of it.
Q. On a consecutive possession, you guys would have second and third rebounds. You guys were really hitting the glass hard. What does that do for your guys' mentality, in terms of knowing those boards were coming your way?
ADRIENNE GODBOLD: In the first half we noticed that we were able to crash and get offensive rebounds. But it gave us energy, getting the awards and the putbacks, helped us with the energy in the game. Pumped us up a little bit, but it wasn't enough.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
Q. Coach, I know that Karisma Penn had two fouls going down into the first half. Did you ever think about, when the deficit was growing up, putting them back in the first half?
COACH LAW: I thought about it. But I know from experience, especially with Karisma, over the course of the year, putting her back in the game I would rather use her in the second half than put her back and jeopardize her picking up a third.
She and Adrienne and Karisma are a vital part of our defensive scheme. And I know that they were going to continue to attack them. And I didn't want to take that chance. I wanted to trust my other players on the bench.
Q. Did you try anything different defensively when Boylan picked up her second foul in the first half?
COACH LAW: I did. When they brought Jordan in, we decided to back off a little bit, and we doubled down a little bit. We weren't supposed to double team and trap; we were supposed to dig. And Kate Thompson hit some crucial 3's.
So some of the things we were supposed to do, like Lydia mentioned, there were some mental lapses; instead of turning our backs to the shooter, we were supposed to just help a little bit because we knew Jordan wasn't a 3 point threat. But some of our players lost track of their man by trying to help down low on the post.
Q. Players like Thompson, and they come off the bench, so how do you prepare for those bench players that, you know, score like 13, 14 points?
COACH LAW: We prepare for every person on this team. We do a thorough scouting report. And Kate Thompson, seemed like every time we played them she always comes up big, hitting big shots.
So she was no stranger to us. That's why it was no surprise that we actually turned our backs and lost sight of her.
But it's unfortunate; you don't really want the bench players to come in and have big games. But give her credit she came in found some crucial shots and hit the wide open shots when they were there for her.
Q. What did you tell your team when the lead, when they were starting to thresh the lead and shots weren't falling for you offensively?
COACH LAW: Just stay focused. Stay composed. Stay confident. And we have another half. Right now we have to chip away. And we have to make sure we can't turn the ball over.
We have to be calm and execute. And there were times we had wide open shots. But some of the people that were open weren't confident enough to hit the shots. But my job as a coach was to try to bring confidence into each of the players and let them know that time, situation, score. Continue to get stops and let's be confident enough to knock down the shots that would eventually fall.
Q. Obviously you guys didn't get as far as you did last season. But do you think this team has improved?
COACH LAW: Totally different. I think this year we played one of the toughest the toughest non conference schedule in the country. And even in the Big Ten. So I'm looking at how close we were with some of the top ranked teams. And last year our schedule wasn't as tough, but this year it was a very [tough one], probably, I think, one of the top-five schedules in the country.
So when I watched the growth of my team and seeing how much we developed and how much better we've gotten, I'm encouraged.
Q. You're only losing a few players; you have to be positive looking forward. You have McGee coming back and hopefully Kersten [Magrum] can stay healthy. Do you feel you have a lot to look forward to next season?
COACH LAW: I do. Centrese McGee, she was a starter last year. And Kersten, in out of the lineup, dealing with a concussion. If we can stay healthy, have everyone coming back, and we have some incoming freshmen that will be here as well. This freshman class has gained a lot of good experience. So looking forward to next year, and I think the future looks bright.
Q. Coach, you guys played Michigan the very first team of the Big Ten season. You beat them last year in the tournament. They were the 3 seed and you were 11. You went on to beat the likes of Michigan State and Ohio State. Did you have confidence knowing you could beat this team?
COACH LAW: Definitely. We came in knowing that we've just got to be the best team on this day. And unfortunately, you know, we weren't the best team on this day. And every time we step on the court we feel that we have an opportunity to win.
So we came into this game 40 minutes, ready to play. And it's just unfortunate that our shots wouldn't fall. We dug a hole for ourselves and came up on the short end.
Q. Can you talk about the emotions of this game, last game with Lydia, Macie, and Eboni Mitchell?
COACH LAW: I was in the locker room trying to hold back tears, because Lydia McCully, Lana Rukavina, Macie Blinn and Eboni Mitchell really set the tone for this team, the culture of this team.
Every one of the freshmen, they were in there crying, like you guys, each one of you gave yourself to help us out.
And this year and with the senior class leaving, it feels like a family, the Illini family. And it's special. I'm going to miss Lydia McCully and Macie Blinn and I'm going to miss Lana Rukavina and Eboni Mitchell a great deal.
Although some of them may not have played, but it's the little things that they did that most people don't see. They helped me to change the culture to being back with that fighting mentality and that team chemistry concept.
And I give a lot of credit to that senior class, because they really, in my mind, left that legacy.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.