March 3, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Nebraska head coach Connie Yori as well as student athletes Kaitlyn Burke and Jordan Hooper. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH YORI: We're excited about tomorrow and having an opportunity to win a conference championship, and particularly because this is our first year in the Big Ten.
I think it magnifies that. And our kids were really tough today. And I think we're a very well conditioned team and I've said that all year. And I think mentally we have a pretty good toughness about us.
But we've been a team that's gotten down numerous times this year and has made comebacks. So getting down early in the game I don't think scared us, and we've been there. And our kids stayed composed and stayed poised. Credit to them.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Ohio State is a lot bigger team than you guys, yet you guys outrebounded them by seven in the game. Including 20 offensive rebounds. Talk about your guys' grit in the paint today?
JORDAN HOOPER: That was one of our focus to outrebound them. To make energy, get energy for our team. Offensive rebounds so we focused on that, that was one of our keys to the game.
Q. For Kaitlyn: Explain yourself.
KAITLYN BURKE: Well, I give a lot of credit to all my teammates. They set screens to get me open, which allowed open shots. And there was a lot of people they were guarding Jordan and Lindsey and Emily really hard. And that allowed some openings for me, and I was able to get open shots and open looks.
Q. Jordan, I think I had you charted for 2 for 21 to start the game, and then in back to back possessions Kaitlyn hit two short jumpers, and I think you might have hit a 3. How big was it that she did that for you guys?
JORDAN HOOPER: It was game changing. Her hitting those points gave us all confidence. And we just talked in the huddles every time. She's like our shots will go in. Hers went in, so that gave us confidence. So it was huge.
Q. You really kind of got mine, but you seem to be standing around maybe a little bit star struck the first couple of minutes. Was it just kind of a new environment, you were pushed out on the perimeter and not doing a whole lot?
JORDAN HOOPER: Yeah, I don't know if I was star struck. Maybe I just wasn't being as aggressive as I usually was. But I guess as the game wore on I got a little more yeah, we probably just weren't being as aggressive as we should have been. We were kind of maybe in a daze from yesterday a little bit. But we snapped out of that and came back.
Q. Kaitlyn, they came out really, really fast, really, really pushing, and basically I guess you like to play that way. So when you guys got into it, I guess, you showed them you could more than answer, right?
KAITLYN BURKE: Yeah, they're a team that likes to push the ball and so are we. We had to make sure we got back on defense and stopped their transition, and we just wanted to push the ball ourselves on offense.
Q. Kaitlyn, what did Brandi Jeffery do for you guys in the first half, kind of rally?
KAITLYN BURKE: Brandi played awesome tonight. She's such a spark player for us, she was pressuring the ball really hard. Hit open shots, too. So she was attacking on offense as well as defense, and she played so awesome tonight and we're just really proud of her.
That's the thing about us, we're an entire team, and everyone comes in and contributes in different ways, and she really gave us that spark offensively and defensively.
Q. Kaitlyn, how special is it to walk off the court at the end of the game and see Layne )Reeves) and Harleen (Sidhu) and be able to give them a memory like this even though their careers came up short due to injuries?
KAITLYN BURKE: They're the seniors on our team. We're all playing for them, too, as well. And, like I said earlier, we're just a team and we want to play for each other and also play for the University of Nebraska.
Q. Kaitlyn, Jordan kind of talked about the rebounding, but you and Lindsay were really having to post up against much larger opponents there in the first half. Talk about that. And then you guys being able to shoot from the outside, how much did that help pull them way from the paint?
KAITLYN BURKE: They're a bigger team. We had to box out. We weren't doing that early on. Coach reminded us: Hey, we've got to box them out. So I think that was big for us as well.
Q. Jordan, your first season, it ends 13 18, tough loss to Iowa State in the Big 12, and now you're 24 7 playing for the Big Ten Championship tomorrow. How does it feel?
JORDAN HOOPER: It feels really great to be on this team. I almost said it, but I didn't. But it feels awesome to be a part of this. And just making history, I guess.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Questions for Coach.
Q. Coach, Emily had gotten 24 against them the last two times. Were you expecting them to shut her down and then open up?
COACH YORI: Yeah, they guarded us differently. They matched differently. The first two times we played them they put a big kid on Emily, exclusively. And she had a matchup advantage.
This time they mixed different kids on her and she didn't have as much of an advantage. But what they did essentially they guarded three of our players.
And they chose to guard Lindsey hard and Jordan and Emily hard. And that enabled other kids to have looks. That's why Kaitlyn had the game she had. And somebody had to step up and make shots.
And they were really focused on three kids. And they wanted to take those three kids away. And we feel like Hailie did some good things and Brandi came in and gave us good minutes. And kind of got us going in the first half.
And then Kaitlyn had the big game. So somebody had to do something for us to win, other than those three that they focused on.
Q. Before the tournament, you guys struggled shooting from the field for a while. Were you worried at the beginning of the game when you were 2 for 21 or whatever it was?
COACH YORI: Well, that's been the nature of our season. I mean, when we shoot it well enough, we're good enough defensively. We feel like we can compete at a fairly high level.
And our struggles have primarily been on the offensive end this year, during the stretch where we didn't win we couldn't get to 50 hardly because we did not shoot the ball well.
And we were in an offensive slump. And we have played better offensively here lately, and I think that we're sound enough defensively that we not to say we're going to stop on every possession, but we work hard enough defensively that if we play well enough on offense to make some shots, I think we're a tough out in some ways.
Q. How much fun, how exciting is it to coach so much good young talent, and is there a poise to it although they're young?
COACH YORI: Yeah, it's been really kind of an amazing year. Going into the year, you know, we thought maybe we would have Harleen Sidhu, one of our seniors, and now she's not really played for us all year. And Adrianna Maurer, a kid we counted on playing the post for us, has been hurt most of the season. And she was experienced, she was a sophomore, but we knew we were really, really young. And our kids have grown up a lot. They've learned a lot.
We went on a foreign trip in August, primarily because we wanted to gain some experience for those kids and get some practice time and get an opportunity to teach them the things we want to teach them.
So we have made great strides. And our young kids have made great strides.
So we have a bright future. And we're probably over-exceeding I think the expectation this year, but I think our kids have a lot of toughness. And we are probably more of a mentally tough team than I would have expected for such a young team.
Q. At the highest level that this team can play, where does that relate to all the other teams you've coached?
COACH YORI: Well, we were pretty good two years ago. That's the best team I've coached. We were the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. And we were a veteran team. And we were really good at every position. So that's the best team I've ever coached.
We had I don't remember what year it was I can't remember, Kelsey Griffin's sophomore year, I think. And we had a really good team that year, too. And so, I mean, this is probably comparable to that team. And so this is one of the best teams I've coached, but had other good teams as well, but it's definitely not the best team I've coached.
Q. No matter who you play tomorrow, what's the condition of your team do you think?
COACH YORI: Well, every day we wake up in the morning in this tournament and we're like, okay, who can walk today.
And Emily Cady is playing with a torn cartilage in her knee. I don't know how much tougher she can get. And she's trying to play through it. This morning she woke up, and she couldn't move her leg. She got it worked on by the training staff, and she was able to go. I don't know how many minutes she played; sure seemed like a lot.
We are not the healthiest team, but there are a lot of teams not healthy at this stage. But it is hard to play four games in four days, and particularly because we play full court defense.
If we were a zone team, a team that didn't put as much effort into the defensive end, it might be easier. We're not going to change things now, unless we want to put a 2 3 zone in in the hotel tonight. Probably won't do that.
Q. What did you do defensively against Prahalis when she was driving every Ohio State possession?
COACH YORI: They're a ball screen team. You have to defend their ball screens. We tried to mix up what we did. They took advantage of our switches early in the game and that's where they got their low block touches. As the game got on, we switched our defense. And it's a little bit more of a containment.
And I thought I mean, she's just really good. She's going to get the ball in transition. And she's so fast and she's so good with the ball. I mean, you can swarm four people around her and that doesn't mean you're going to stop her.
So you gotta get there and hopefully get in front of her a little bit and do the best you can, hope she missed.
Q. You guys closed out the first half on a big run, but just how important was it to open up the second half with another big run? You guys went on a 12 2 run I believe to open up the second half.
COACH YORI: Well, you want to play well coming out of halftime. And we did that. So nothing magical about that. Just our kids were focused and they came out ready and we hit some shots.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Ohio State head coach Jim Foster, as well as student athletes Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis.
COACH FOSTER: I congratulate Nebraska. I thought they played very well. I thought they handled the beginning of the game, kept their heads about them and kept plodding away. Executed the way they needed to execute. I think they played a terrific game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Sam, you guys started out like on fire. But you were up 24 11, then the wheels came off. In your mind what happened in that period of time?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Well, we fouled and then they just hit shots. Like they're hot. Weren't guarding them very well. And they got hot, and they were hitting everything.
Q. Tayler, did anything change for you guys defensively in that time, in that period of time, the last five and a half minutes of the first half?
TAYLER HILL: What do you mean did anything change?
Q. Defensively they were popping up a little bit better, weren't they, or were they running their offense better, I guess?
TAYLER HILL: No. We were just missing defensive assignments.
Q. Sam, this is the first loss for anyone on the team in the Big Ten. Is this a particularly tough one to swallow?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Yes.
Q. Tayler, what are you thinking I guess in terms of the next thing in line is the NCAA tournament. How do you recover from what just happened?
TAYLER HILL: As a team, starting with myself as one of the leaders on the team, we have to get back to where we were at the beginning of the season. We played together as a team. We reversed the ball. It's not like that now. We need to figure out a way to get it back there.
Q. You haven't shot well for a while. What's been going on there, Sammy?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: We're not getting good shots. So we're trying to make hard shots, cuz, I don't know, you just gotta get back on track.
Q. Tayler, were you at all surprised that somebody can meet your pace the way Nebraska met your pace and basically pull away from you?
TAYLER HILL: I don't really think it's about meeting the pace. I just think we need to make better decisions, starting with myself in the back court. Make sure transition to defense. I think that hurt us tonight. Then our offense, we were transitioning on defense, rushing on defense, and just rushing on offense.
How we played; it's not how Nebraska played, really.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Again, you guys came out with a lot of energy, and you were messing them up and you could have been maybe a little more ahead than you were because the shots weren't falling early. Was there anything significant that changed in the last five minutes of that half to open things up?
COACH FOSTER: Two things. First of all, you can say the shots weren't falling. I would question the quality of the shots, okay.
I think we played at a very hectic pace. Defensively, I thought we were engaged and aggressive in making a lot of good decisions.
The two things that I think happened where I think we committed three very bad fouls, and they now are going to the foul line. When they are struggling to score points. I think it could have been extended by not losing our discipline. I think we lost our discipline.
When you're that energetic, you've got to be disciplined. You've got to be in the right place at the right time. And then I think when we started to commit the fouls, I think we backed off our pressure. And they could run their offense much more efficiently, because the pressure that was causing them a lot of problems early was not as significant.
And a couple of them were young fouls, young players. And a couple of them were veterans that should know better.
But you have to play with your head. You can never lose your head. And I don't think we had it today, had a head. I think we just played at a frantic pace.
We had energy. We had energy. But not the kind of energy that leads to good offensive play.
Q. How much of that hectic play is a credit to the Nebraska defense?
COACH FOSTER: I would credit their defense if I thought it was their defense. I think we rushed and took low percentage/high difficulty kind of shots. With a lot of patience, one of the strengths of this team is the patience on offense. And we didn't play with that.
And when you hurry like that against a team that's as potent as they are, it causes you problems. There's nothing they were doing to make us play fast. We were just playing fast.
Q. How do you get refocused now in the next couple of weeks?
COACH FOSTER: I think that's kind of easy. You've got time to take a few days off and we will show them a lot of film when we were playing very well and what we were doing, what made us a good basketball team at that point. You have time to take a deep breath right now and to refocus.
And you get out of league play. You get out of the same officials, the same sites. The same venues. It's sort of an opportunity to go out there and challenge yourself with another venue.
Q. Coach always said basically that she thought you were trying to take three people away from them, and that's why Burke kind of stepped up.
COACH FOSTER: I think she played a very good game. She played like a senior who wanted played with a lot of poise. And I think her poise and her decision making helped them a lot.
And I thought we were doing a very good job on those three players. But to her credit she stepped up.
Q. You've lost like three of the last I don't know, lost a few now. Have you thought at all about the NCAA seeding and where you might have dropped to?
COACH FOSTER: No. Just thinking 1985 and Villanova's men basketball team finishes the season 17 10 and didn't think were going to get into the tournament and figured out a way to win six games in a row.
You just get ready for what's next. You don't labor and spend time in negative areas. You figure it out and you challenge young people to figure it out. We'll provide a lot of information that will help them engage.
Q. Did you like Raven was kind of a bright spot there, especially in the second half.
COACH FOSTER: I liked Raven the last three weeks. I think a light bulb went on. She's practiced better. She's become more focused, more disciplined, the things that take a while to understand coming out of high school and coming out of a league where you're looking Columbus Dispatch sometimes and you see like 108 12 scores. If that's the league you're playing in, learning how to play serious basketball and play every possession like it matters, it's not something you snap your fingers and do.
So for her to figure that out in her freshman year I think bodes well for her basketball future.
Q. Do you feel like through the course of the season a lot of your role players are pretty young? Do you feel like there's been some ups and downs with her included?
COACH FOSTER: Are you asking me if young people have ups and downs? Yes, we were no different than most. And you learn from that. I'll give Beach some credit in that she has learned to sustain energy for longer periods of time. Starting to do some things she couldn't do a month ago. So I think those young people are learning and understanding what their job is.
Q. The technical foul in the first half, what happened and how much did that hurt?
COACH FOSTER: Well, I think Sammy, on a possession, was hit in the face. And she got angry. There's no call. And I'm sure she said something she shouldn't have. I don't know what she said. But it was in anger we were running a play, and she threw the ball inexplicitly to Ashley when she was supposed to dribble off her and make a play.
I asked her why, and she said: I got hit in the face. And I think that was shortly before the technical. That's all I could I'll see if there's more to it when I'm looking at the film.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.