March 5, 2010
Michigan State Quotes
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll begin with an opening comment from Coach Merchant.
COACH MERCHANT: I thought after a slow defensive start for us, I thought Michigan did a really good job of coming out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm on the offensive end. I think we just kind of caught us off guard. Maybe that extra day of prep, I don't know, we weren't used to the rhythm of it.
To their credit, I thought they really gave it to us out of the gates. And really liked our composure. I didn't feel we were in a good offensive flow at all ever in the first half.
And so to our credit, we found a way to come out on top at halftime, and mostly it was because of our defense.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. We'll take questions for the student athletes.
Q. Aisha, is this one of those games you're just happy to come out with a win, not sort of how you played but happy to get the first game over with?
AISHA JEFFERSON: No, this is a ugly game, and all year we've been finding ways to make it work and dealing with the situations with Allyssa not being in there. We had a couple of situations where I was guarding the 5 and Kalisha was guarding the 5. We've never been in a situation like that.
I give us credit for us figuring it out. We always find a way. Not the most ideal way to win the game, but a W is a W. And we're not satisfied, but we definitely are happy that we won.
Q. Kalisha, could you sense them getting frustrated with your defense in the second half?
KALISHA KEANE: I don't really feel like they're a team that gets too frustrated. I think they really have a good concept of their motion, cutting, and they do a good job of shooting the basketball also.
So I think it just came down to our team focusing on defensive rebounding and really getting after it on the boards because we were down in the first half, and we came out on top in the second half.
Q. Kalisha, what was it like not playing with Allyssa in there, and also with Brittney being out in foul trouble? How did that affect the team's rhythm?
KALISHA KEANE: I think it really showed our poise offensively, and defensively I think Lauren Aitch came in and had great minutes for us, playing really hard defense, showed we can play multiple positions at all levels.
And I think Brittney also being in foul trouble we had the opportunity for other people to step up, like Jasmine Thomas hit some big shots for us down the stretch. It shows the depth we have offensively and defensively, and hats off to them.
Q. Aisha, with all of your ailments, how do you get ready to play a game back to back?
AISHA JEFFERSON: Just all year we've been doing a good job. Coach Merchant has been doing a good job of just keeping things in moderation for me.
I mean, I know pretty much the Big Ten pretty well since I've been here for five years. So the physical play isn't as important as getting ready mentally.
But a lot of rest and ice and prayer.
KALISHA KEANE: And drugs.
Q. Kalisha, you scored your 1000th career point tonight. What does that mean to you?
KALISHA KEANE: Wow, no, I had no idea. That's exciting, I guess. It's a great milestone to overcome. I'm just glad we won, to be honest. If I didn't score the 1,000 today but we got the W, I'd be as smiley as I am right now.
That's sweet, but I'd rather have the W anyway.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach Merchant.
Q. In terms of the lineups you had to play, is this one of the more weirder games you've coached here?
COACH MERCHANT: Yes, but I think that's where our depth came in. It wasn't like Lauren never played out there. The difference was she had to play a little longer.
What I felt good about is even with Allyssa being out of the mix at that point, nobody played over 30 minutes today. So I still was a little conscious of that with Brittney getting in foul trouble, Jasmine having to play a little bit more. She played well offensively, had a couple of turnovers and got rattled a little bit, as freshmen can. She scored the ball well for us and rebounded it and played good defense. I thought she got some good experience for us.
But it's definitely different not to have our normal rotations out there. But to the kids' credit, I thought they didn't allow that to get out of whack in terms of their composure.
Q. Are you going to have Allyssa tomorrow yet? Do you know yet?
COACH MERCHANT: We don't know yet. We're going to wait and see. Good thing is we have over 24 hours to get her back. We don't play until tomorrow at 5:00. She had a back spasm. It started Wednesday, and so she did practice, but tonight when Krista Phillips made a move and kind of hooked her a little bit, it obviously ignited that a little bit. But she was feeling pretty good, and then it just got a little flared up on her.
Q. Will it change your preparation any or your game planning?
COACH MERCHANT: You know, we're just going to we have to see who we're going to play, certainly. And we just gotta find a way to get it done. We do have a lot of kids with experience. And Lauren Aitch is one of them. She's been tremendous for us all year. She brings a lot of passion and enthusiasm and offensive rebounding.
So I feel confident about our ability no matter what the situation is.
Q. This seemed a little bit like the game at Michigan the second half where they didn't score much. What was it about your defense in the second half?
COACH MERCHANT: We played it. I mean, I just to me, I think our field goal percent defense is really good. We really get after people. We challenge shots. I was disappointed in the first half how many easy looks they got.
Then when we decided to get the job done and turn it up, we communicated better. We evaded screens. We jumped to the ball. Reynolds right out of the gate had six quick points. I was like, You gotta be kidding me.
Then we tightened up and that was pretty much that, she hit one more after that. I thought our perimeter defense and the ability to contain one on one was really big.
Couple that with it was pretty much even at halftime. I think we were up 1 on rebounding and ended up really getting after them on the boards. I thought that was big. I think that was something that they couldn't they just couldn't match. So we kept harping on that. I knew that was a big focus for them. He called a couple of timeouts just because we got an offensive rebound. I knew that was big at both ends for us. I thought we did a nice job.
Q. Suzy, the one possession Cetera had, two offensive rebounds and then had the putback on the second one and defensive rebound on the other end, did you think that was kind of a game changing series for both teams?
COACH MERCHANT: It was a backbreaker for sure. They needed possession of the ball. We were able to run some clock off, certainly. And one thing that Cetera has is early in the year when we were struggling a little bit Lykendra is a very good rebounder, everybody knows that, but she doesn't always go.
I can tell you Cetera a couple times on the bench is like, Why isn't she rebounding? I'm like, You know how you remedy that? You rebound it. Seems like ever since I've said that to her, and I know Coach Shane said that to her on the bench, she's been a terror on the boards, really fighting to get offensive rebounds.
So when we do bring Lykendra out, we're not losing anything. And if we play them together, now you have options in different ways.
Cetera has been nothing but tremendous for us in terms of her hustle plays, defensively she's really she loves to play that end of the floor. And that's what we needed is to defend and rebound.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
MODERATOR: We'll begin with an opening comment from Coach Borseth.
COACH BORSETH: I'd like to begin by saying the beginning of the year they picked us to finish 11th in the conference. Last. We didn't. We finished tied for sixth, which was pretty good. In our eyes obviously we'd like to finish a little bit better.
I thought overall our kids played better today. We stole the ball ten times. We only allowed them six assists. Turned them over 17 times. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay with them on the glass. I think that was probably the story. The tale of the tape. But it certainly wasn't lack of effort on our kids' part. I'm very proud of them.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. We'll take questions for the student athletes.
Q. Carmen, they seemed to contest every shot and make it tough for you guys to get open. Did you see it that way too?
CARMEN REYNOLDS: I mean, yeah, they're a good defensive team and they're always contesting shots. And me in particular being a shooter, like everyone knows that.
But I don't think it was any different from any other game.
Q. KP, even without Allyssa out there in the second half, how were they able to dominate the boards? Especially offensively.
KRISTA PHILLIPS: I think they're just a good rebounding team in general. I think that was kind of one of the things we wanted to do well. I think in the second half we didn't do as good a job as taking care of the rebounds. And I think that's I think you can tell from the session, I think that's part of the reason why we kind of lost hold of it in the second half.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach.
Q. Kevin, you guys didn't shoot well again in the second half. Is it their defense or just missing shots?
COACH BORSETH: Well, I gotta go back and look. I looked at the last game. We got a lot better shots in that game. We didn't play very well I thought. We got some really good looks. We got some good looks down around the basket. It's critical to score on that basket. We had some good opportunities down there to score it. We just never made any of them.
I think you have to be able to make some of those. It's a little tougher to get to the rim obviously because they really got the gaps shrunk and they're a lot bigger than we are, a lot more physical. They played good defense but they're physical. You try to get open and they bump.
They're in you the whole while. It's body to body. It's a very physical game in the Big Ten. I think that's probably got a lot to do with it. Modify some of our movement, perhaps. But they're a pretty strong team. Physical.
Q. Kevin, did you change your offensive strategy at all when DeHaan was out?
COACH BORSETH: I don't know. Again, I go back to that first game and I looked at the shots that we're capable of getting. Kalisha Keane is a heck of a difference. Let's face it. It's 10 2 and they insert her in the game and it turns the game around.
She's a pretty good player in this league. Very good player in this league. I'm surprised that she's not in the first five personally. She's one of my kids, I thought one of the best players. But that was really their answer for us is her. She's a really good player.
We moved the ball freely. We got the shots we wanted to get until she got in here, then she tightened things up physically on us.
I don't know that we were really, you go back and watch videotape, the way we watch it and you look at it, you'd be surprised sometimes the really good looks you get. And I think sometimes you get frustrated and you want to get better looks than the good looks you're getting. Does that make sense? Because you're not making the ones you got. So I think it's a combination of two things.
Again, it's down low. We didn't get it down low enough. We didn't score it down low enough, certainly. And I think that was something we want to be able to do.
So we didn't change a lot. We tried a couple ball screen things. We tried a couple double screen things that we thought was effective. And we didn't hit any shots on them.
Q. Is that a matter of confidence that your players lacked?
COACH BORSETH: No, they're a pretty good team. You've got to give them credit.
Q. But when you said you get a good shot, you're looking for a better one, is that confidence?
COACH BORSETH: You know what, we took a couple of shots in the first half really early that we shouldn't have taken. We took some really quick shots. Probably five or six shots that we took really early in transition that we probably shouldn't have taken. We make them, we look good. But we just took them a little too early.
Those five shots are ten points. We come away with nothing. So you gotta give kids freedom to do things. I don't know if it was a confidence thing. Some of it is because the defense was pretty good. Some of it is because you just don't get enough of them. Some of them because it's not in rhythm, it's a whole combination of things. But they're a pretty good team.
Q. What do you think now about your post season chances, NCAA, WNIT?
COACH BORSETH: I don't know that NCAA is an option. Obviously we'd like to be able to do that. I think I'd really like to play somebody outside our conference. I think anybody in our conference would like to.
I think we're realistic to look at a WNIT bid, obviously. Post season play is pretty critical as we build our program. I think our two programs are in different stages. And we're trying to get our program to get us to the middle of the pack, and then just be that one player away from vaulting ourselves to the top, because Larry, Michael, Magic, LeBron, you get one of those kids in your program and all of a sudden you've got a good, solid base of kids around that. You can vault.
We think we've got the right kids in. We've got kids that want to be at our university. We think we've got kids that can make things happen in the meantime. And chances of playing the post season for us I'm hoping are good. We want a chance to play. Two teams, we told our kids at the end of the year only two teams get to finish their last game of the win.
If they let us in the NCAA we'd like to be able to do that. Realistically being able to do it, you know, I'm an optimist, but I'm a realist at the same time. But going the other direction, I think we've got as good a chance as anybody. I think our kids are well schooled and I think they're hungry, and I'm very proud of them.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.