March 5, 2010
Ohio State Quotes
THE MODERATOR: We'll go straight to the student athletes for questions, please. Raise your hands and we'll get a microphone to you.
Q. Jantel, it seems like every time you play Illinois it's a really physical type game. Was this just a typical Ohio State Illinois basketball game, and how did you guys wind up winning it?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think in the beginning, in the first half, I think we were rushing a little bit, as far as me in the post, and I think I wasn't getting as deep as I should have.
And it was physical. And once we made the adjustment with me getting lower and getting deeper in the lane, I think that it turned around a little bit.
Q. Sam, there was a point when you guys were up by 15. I think somebody had a 3 pointer, I think, then they came back with a real significant run and cut it under 10 finally. How did you guys respond to that? What enabled you to respond to that and ultimately
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Just stayed poised. We got the ball inside that one time when Jantel had a good steal. I think just stay poised and stay calm, and I just think like it's going to be running, we have to contain them. It's about us containing them and staying poised.
Q. Again, Jantel, the tournament is basically I mean, you want to get to the next tournament. But I think you said you wanted to step it up in this tournament defensively. How do you think your defense played in this particular game?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think our defense was really good. I think our zone was tight. I think everybody was rotating well. I think Shavy came in, played ferocious defense and gave us a spark on defense.
Basically was on the same page, we were moving. Everybody was finding the open spots. There was maybe a couple of breakdowns and I think for the most part tonight this is the tone we need to set for defense and we can get better for the next game.
Q. Were you ever worried in this game when they were making their comeback and why wouldn't you have been if you weren't worried?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: I mean, I don't really think like I wasn't worried. I just go play. Like I said, it was just about staying calm and just getting the win any way possible.
Q. It seems like deja vu too with Shavy (Shavelle Little) at the end of the game when she made the steal at the end that basically sealed the game, put the game away. But could you see that setting up? Could you see what was about to happen?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: We went to man, so I kind of figured like if the girls were going to cross in front of her she was going to get it. I'm real confident with her whenever we go man. Even in the zone, her pressure when she stays down and just stays in front of her, pressure is really good.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.
Questions for Coach Foster.
Q. Overall, it was a solid defensive game, don't you think?
COACH FOSTER: Yes.
Q. But overall how would you say things went?
COACH FOSTER: I think Sam said it; it's a game of runs. When they made that last run and they were coming at us, and I think when we switched out of zone and went man, we did it very, very aggressively and soundly.
And I think that's what you're looking for at this time of the season. I thought the zone did some really good stuff for us. I don't think they were expecting us to play it. And it sort of disrupted their continuity. And when we went man, we were in great position, great communication, and did the right things.
And then offensively, the games are some days you're going to make a lot of shots, some days you're not. And you know they're very good defensive team. They're a very good basketball team.
You've got a First Team All Big Ten player, and you've got an All Defensive First Team Player, and you've got a player on the Freshman All Five Rookie Team. Come on, they've got players. They're good.
Q. You touched on it a little bit, but could you talk about your use of the zone and why you felt like that was an effective strategy to use today?
COACH FOSTER: Well, I learned that in the SEC when I was at Vanderbilt and I didn't have a very quick team. I found that it to be to our advantage if athletes were standing still.
Q. With Jantel, you took her out a little here and there in the first half. Was that a physical thing or just another slowdown?
COACH FOSTER: No, no, just get a little rest. I did it around the timeouts, so you sit her down a little bit, and then you know that the timeout is going to be two minutes. She might get a five minute blow by doing it that way. And that was all I was doing was buying her some time.
Q. What was your strategy defensively against Jenna Smith? Looked like they had maybe just a little trouble getting the ball to her today than they did yesterday?
COACH FOSTER: Don't let her breathe. I mean, she's very talented. She's got she's got a like a 15 over league game. It looks you're just always surprised. She's always coming at you with something else, looks like she's played the Game 100 years.
Q. You mentioned it, but athletically where is Illinois? Are they one of the better athletic teams?
COACH FOSTER: I think defensively they can move their feet. They get out after you. I mean, Simpson, Simpson's terrific. Jenna is Jenna, and the people they have in the wings. They're long and they're quick, and I think our kids do a pretty good job not turning the ball over. You look down, a ten turnover game, this stage of the season, you'll take that. It means you're getting shots.
Q. Seemed like Brittany had good energy at both ends, kept shooting, stayed aggressive. Did you like what you saw from her today?
COACH FOSTER: What I liked from Brittany in the first half was her weak side rebounding. Thought she did a great job sealing off. Sometimes you worry about rebounding in the zone. But I thought she did a great job.
Q. There came a point in the game when they weren't making the run. You brought in Andrea and Shavy and Maria, your seniors. I think Andrea
COACH FOSTER: Andrea scored.
Q. And Shavy
COACH FOSTER: Shavy made me nervous. And the one time she started to penetrate the zone, I sat her down, calmed her down and put her back in. And I think she did a great job.
Maria is steady.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with an opening statement from Coach Law, then we'll take questions from the student athletes.
COACH LAW: I think in the first half we dug a hole. We didn't play very confident in the first half. But once we settled down, we started executing and doing the little things.
And I give a lot of credit to Ohio State. There were those loose balls that we should have gotten that we didn't get. And some of those are turnovers and those were one of those things we kept turning the ball over and they capitalized on those turnovers.
You look at those stats, that's what sticks out most in my mind. They capitalized 18 points off of our turnovers.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes, please.
Q. Jenna, talk about that run from like nine minutes to four minutes, and I guess how hard is it to sustain a run against a team like Ohio State and what were you thinking during that run? Were you really feeling like momentum?
JENNA SMITH: We all just stayed positive. We knew that we could score easily, just move the ball and play team ball.
We had all the confidence in the world in each other. Then all of our teammates we were positive and we knew that we could get some balls to get us back in the game.
Q. Jenna, it's been a quest especially among the seniors to get this program to the NCAA tournament. Has the realization had it you yet and can you verbalize how it feels to not be able to get to that what you guys have worked so hard?
JENNA SMITH: I can't describe how it feels. It just hurts to know that we haven't been there. But we did what we could all four years.
Q. Lacey, talk about those last couple of minutes. You guys looked like you were ready to make a run yet you had a couple of shots to cut it to four points. Talk about just those last couple of minutes and I guess what went on?
LACEY SIMPSON: Honestly, I am proud of that last part we were in there. We didn't give up. We kept pushing and pushing and swinging. Somebody gets up on you like that you can automatically give in and not do anything.
But we kept fighting and kept fighting. Unfortunately, we got the loss. But it eases my mind to know that we went out fighting.
Q. Lacey, on that subject, do you feel like you guys have set an example for the younger ones going forward the way you guys have played, particularly in these Big Ten tournaments, the way you guys have fought?
LACEY SIMPSON: I truly hope so. I truly hope that I've set the example, not just in games, but practice. Where it matters the most. I always try to lead by example. Try to work hard. Hopefully I think it has paid off, especially these last couple of practices. They're getting there.
So I'm pretty sure Coach Law and this team will be successful in the years to come. I just know they will.
Q. Lacey, talk about how different this team is to this time last year. You came out against Ohio State and you guys got blown out. Can you just talk about how that last little fight, did that show something different about this team from the last season?
LACEY SIMPSON: I said it before. Since Coach Law's come here, I definitely think this program is on the rise. This year all this talent, our season doesn't predict how the future is going to be.
This is definitely an up and coming program. Illini will be an elite program. Coach Law and the recruiting class that's coming in, I truly believe it's going to be a good program.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach.
Q. Ohio State with the zone defense, was that kind of a change up for you guys? How did you feel you handled the zone they played?
COACH LAW: Not at all. They played zone against us the last two times. They just extended it. They didn't do the tandem 2 3 and try to do the 2 2 1, and back into the 2 3. Actually I was like, wow, my guards can be settled.
The last two games we won we played Indiana they played a zone. We played Purdue, they played the zone. Northwestern, they played the zone. I was like, wow, they're actually sitting back and they're not extending it.
So we worked on the extended part of it most of the last couple of days. But it's just that right now the first half I was like, okay, we know what we're looking for. We know what we've got to do. I think we were sort of unsure, a little timid, and I just, I don't know we were talking about it at half. And once we settled down, the second half you start seeing us execute and get the shots we knew we wanted to get in the first half.
I was a little surprised that he went back in just a regular 2 3.
Q. Coach, aside from Jantel and it looks like Brittany Johnson, they didn't really shoot the ball all that well, if you look at their numbers. Your thoughts on your defense today in terms of keeping you in the game?
COACH LAW: That was one of the things that did keep us in the game. I think for the first half, if we would have dictated it a little more, we wouldn't have dug a hole. We went in the half down 12, something like that.
We made some changes. We knew the key people that we knew Jantel was going to get her points, but we just wanted to limit her touches.
And then we went into a little match up zone and tried a 1 2. We threw some things at them. Our defense, it was sound, but it was like in the first half we didn't look to attack and we didn't look to get to the free throw line. That's what I stressed to my team.
When we're getting to the free throw line more than our opponents, we win. When we're settling for 3 point shots, we're not a very good team, because we're not a 3 point shooting team.
But defensively I thought we were sound. And especially in the second half.
Q. Talk about a couple of those turnovers down the stretch. Shavelle Little had a couple of steals, talk about her?
COACH LAW: Shavelle Little is I've said it before, the first they played us, she had eight steals. She was a one woman press. But I think knowing she's a great defender, I think in the back of our minds some of my guards start thinking about it too much.
She got that crucial right at the half, and it was unfortunate. And when I look at the turnovers, that's been the main thing I've been stressing to my team for the last month is that we gotta take better care of the ball on forced turnovers. And those were forced. She forced those in the end.
But we had a lot of unforced turnovers. And that's where you see 18 points from Ohio State. So those are the things that we just need to work on, getting better at taking care of the basketball.
Q. Could you just put into perspective what Jenna Smith has meant to your program?
COACH LAW: A blessing. She's a phenomenal player. But most importantly she's a phenomenal person. I know that she's going to be extremely successful in the years to come. Every day I keep seeing her grow in different areas, on the basketball court, off the court.
What she's done the first time I came in here she bought into all my philosophies and what I was looking for from her. It's a lot to ask someone their freshman year. She doesn't get many touches. She gets them off of offensive rebounding. Now I want you to go into scoring double doubles, getting double doubles, and you being the centerpiece of the program. She embraced it.
And I thank God daily I had an opportunity to coach Jenna as well as Lacey. And she's definitely been just a blessing to have.
Q. How has Karisma Penn developed over the years?
COACH LAW: She's come into her own. I think as a freshman she plays extremely well. She's still growing and has a lot of growing to do. But I think one thing I can say about Karisma Penn is she has no fear. She may make a mistake, but she'll come back on the defensive end and either get a blocked shot or a steal.
I think she's developing under Jenna. She's been paying attention to a lot of things that Jenna has been teaching her. I think in the future she'll be pretty good.
Q. Can we safely assume that you would accept a WNIT bid?
COACH LAW: If I get invited, yes. I think for I don't think my team is ready to stop. We don't want to end on a note like this. And personally for me, you know, it's not about me, it's about my young people that I have coming back. Also about getting some more experience. And just continuing to compete.
So if the opportunity comes, we'll probably take it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.