March 5, 2011
MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Maggie, can you just talk about your day today in the run that you put together late in the second half to really put things away?
MAGGIE LUCAS: You know, it was kind of an up and down game. There was a lot of runs. You've got to hand it to Illinois. They really they never held their heads down, got to give it to them on that. But the run, I think we just stuck together when it got hard. We could have hung our heads when they came back on us, but we just stuck together even more, got some stops, and that led to our offense.
Q. Julia, could you talk about the day you had free throw line? You took 12 free throws, hit all of them. And the free throw discrepancy, you guys shot twice the free throws that Illinois did. That looked like a huge part of this game. Can you talk about that a little bit.
JULIA TROGELE: I think we were just being aggressive going to the basket and knowing that, you know, we were going to get fouled, and we took advantage of that, made our free throws. I've never been to the free throw line this many times, but I'm glad that the refs are finally calling some fouls for me. Just kidding.
It was just being aggressive, going you know, going to the basket and making sure that when we did get to the line that we finished and kind of hurt them on the line.
Q. They're not going to do it anymore now that you said that. You know that, right?
JULIA TROGELE: No, they will.
Q. Julia, props to the other team maybe from you guys. Are you allowed to admit that you didn't expect to be facing Illinois in the semifinal here?
JULIA TROGELE: Honestly, I wasn't surprised. I think they really had nothing to lose and I think that they came in to the Big Ten Tournament just like any other Big Ten team. This conference is extremely competitive, so I think that any team on any given night can win.
So I don't I wasn't really surprised, I was, you know, happy for them, but I knew that we were going to take care of that.
Q. This is for Maggie. What on the floor occurred in the last ten minutes that enabled you guys to put them away? Were they just getting tired? You guys just feel it? Or what happened out there? What was the big thing that occurred?
MAGGIE LUCAS: One of the things I noticed when I was out there was our bigs were just cleaning up the rebounds and making it really hard for Illinois' guards when they would drive to the basket. I mean, they were influencing so many shots and then getting the rebounds and getting out to the guards on the run.
So I think it had a lot to do with our post players just taking care of it, rebounding the ball so well.
Q. Maggie, Illinois actually took the lead there in the second half and you guys came back. It really seemed like that one three that you hit kind of turned the tide a little bit. Can you speak to that a little bit?
MAGGIE LUCAS: I can never say it's just one play in a game. So many factors go into a win. I'm glad the shot went in, but that didn't get the win for us.
Q. Julia, the veteran of the team, can you describe what halftime was like when they made that big push, got back into the game, what was the mindset like at halftime and how were you able to come back in the second half?
JULIA TROGELE: The mindset at halftime, of course we were pretty disappointed in ourselves for letting them get back in the game, but I think we knew they were going to make a run or two, so it was kind of like we were just encouraging each other. And we knew that we had to come out in the second half.
We're usually a second half team, so I think that that plays to our advantage. And we weren't really discouraged, we knew that we just needed to take care of businesses and play our game. And be up, really. We couldn't let them get any uncontested shots, any second chance opportunities from rebounds.
So, like Maggie said, I think our post really cleaned up the board and we created some turnovers and that sparked our offense.
Q. For either of the players, Illinois was a team that hadn't trailed yet in the tournament up until this game. How important was it to get an early lead and build that question early on?
JULIA TROGELE: I think it's important, but the thing is we wanted to really extend the lead and we kind of let them come back in the game. But, like you said, it builds a lot of confidence. And I think that it shows you that for them, for example, they weren't ever down, so and they got those two wins against Wisconsin and Michigan. So for us it was the same thing. We knew that we could win the game having such a significant lead.
Q. For both you, I can't ask you what you were doing 15 years ago, but you do understand the significance of 1996, don't you?
JULIA TROGELE: Yes. That was the last time we were in the Big Ten Tournament championship.
Q. And you won it.
JULIA TROGELE: Oh, we won it? Okay.
Q. Might bring that up
JULIA TROGELE: Coquese said that we were already giving her gray hairs back then, even though we weren't even committed then.
But, yes, I think it's really significant for us. And I think that this just shows like for the whole season we worked extremely hard and we think that we deserve to be in this game and we want to go home with a title.
We didn't play all these games during the season, battle this hard, to not take it home.
Q. Maggie, you're not going to get off the hook that easy. You got a chance to do something you haven't done in 15 years tomorrow. Maybe you won't dwell on it, but it's got to mean something.
MAGGIE LUCAS: I mean, it means a lot being in a championship game. So many teams want to be in our shoes right now. So we have to bring a 40 minute game tomorrow. We can't have any comebacks like we let just happen there.
So we have to bring 40 minutes of mental focus tomorrow.
MODERATOR: Thank you. That will do it for the student athletes. Now we'll open it up to questions for Coach Washington.
Q. Coach, when you went in the locker room at halftime, they had made that big run. How much maturity did the team show in the second half that maybe you hadn't seen in the past?
COACH WASHINGTON: Maturity? Wow. Interesting choice of words. Maturity. Well, we've been a second half team for most of the season. We usually play a little bit better the second half. Sometimes it takes us the first half to kind of get a feel for the game and how it's being played and what we need to do and sometimes for them just to settle down and get in the game and not play with so much emotional you know, up in the air, being up in the air emotionally.
But, you know, I felt like we played better the second half, and I encouraged them to do that.
Q. (Off microphone)?
COACH WASHINGTON: Uh huh. Encouraged.
Q. Is there anything in particular that you said in the locker room after they came back, got it to two, or anything that you can repeat here?
COACH WASHINGTON: Well, now, my mom is here. I'm very civilized when my mom is around.
Honestly, what we talked about was really two things offensively we weren't executing. We weren't really running any offense. And sometimes, you know, we want to play up tempo, we want to play fast, and we're good at that.
But there are times when we're playing fast without a purpose. And we did that late in the first half. We were playing fast without a purpose. Our shot selection, it wasn't bad, but sometimes we weren't getting the best shot that we could have got on a possession. We talked about the need to balance playing fast with executing offensively once they got back in and had us running and had us running offense against their set defense. We needed to be smarter and play with more intelligence.
And also defensively we kind of got a little lazy when we got a lead. We were pretty aggressive in the zone to start the half, and then we kind of got a lead and we got a little bit of complacent, so to speak, and so we really talked about having more energy on the defensive end of the floor and slowing down a little bit and executing on the offensive end of the floor, and I thought we did a better job of that the second half
Q. Coach, kind of following up on that, again, ten minutes to go, all of a sudden your team started playing a lot better. Was there a fundamental change you made defensively or offensively or was it just your team started playing better?
COACH WASHINGTON: We switched from zone to man to man, and I thought we got a little bit more aggressive. We got some steals, got some stops, got some rebounds and got going in transition. So I thought the switch from zone to man really helped our aggressiveness and our intensity on the defensive end of the floor.
Q. Seemed like the other big advantage you had in this game was bench points. You outscored them 33 to 18. Can you talk about the importance of that both today and looking forward to tomorrow?
COACH WASHINGTON: Well, I like our bench and I think we have people that can come off the bench and come into the game and impact us in a lot of ways. Certainly Maggie does it from a scoring perspective. But the game isn't just about offense, and I thought our bench came in, Talia and Ariel and Renee Womack, and they gave us and Marisa, all of those guys came in and gave us some good minutes. Especially defensively.
And in the first half we were able to be rested for the second half and play our starters a little more the second half and have energy to finish the game.
Q. The significance of the 15 years since the school has won this, will you mention it? Will you dwell on it? Will it be a source of pregame speech? I've heard both sides of how to fire a team up for a game and whether you want to dwell on it a lot or not.
COACH WASHINGTON: We're really proud of our history. And we talked about the fact that we've won Big Ten championships in the past, not in terms of a drought, but in terms of just the strong legacy that this program has carried over the years. We've been a program that has had a lot of success in conference tournament play. We've had a lost success in regular season play. We've had a lot of success in NCAA Tournament play. And we're just happy that we're in a position now to add to that legacy.
MODERATOR: Coach, congratulations.
MODERATOR: Coach, if you'd like to give an opening statement, then we'll open it up for questions for the student athletes.
COACH LAW: I just want to say that I'm so proud of my kids. In my eyes they're winners. A long time ago they could have given up, but they didn't. They came in here and they fought and they gave me everything they had, and I'm glad to say the future at the University of Illinois looks real bright. I've got these two young ladies next to me, and the other eight is in the locker room. So I'm extremely proud to be their coach.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. We'll now open it up for the student athlete questions.
Q. Can you talk about defending Maggie, what you were trying to do and what it's like trying to defend her whether she's driving or along the perimeter?
ADRIENNE GODBOLD: No disrespect, but I just felt like I was able to guard her and I would be able to stop her. And her dribbling skills weren't where they need to be, I guess. And I'm allowed to stop her on the perimeter and on driving, like, all of it. I just knew I would be able stop her.
Q. Karisma? Is that how you say it?
KARISMA PENN: Uh huh.
Q. I didn't want to mispronounce it for the people taking the quotes. I'm kind of curious how an athlete doesn't let the losing mentality creep in. You guys had enough negativity this year. You didn't come to town and play like it. I mean, I'm thinking could you speak to how you guys kept going and how maybe two games here meant as much as anything this year to you guys?
KARISMA PENN: We just never got down on ourselves. I think we lost five games this season in the last couple seconds. So we always knew we were one or two plays away from just getting the win. So we just never got down on ourselves. And when the Big Ten Tournament started it's kind of like part three of the season. So it was a whole new beginning for us.
Q. Adrienne, it seemed like as the game was going along, especially cutting it the way you did at the half with a two point game at the half, can you talk a little bit about kind of bringing it back and what the mood was going into the locker room?
ADRIENNE GODBOLD: We just had to pretty much hold the ropes. We knew Karisma was on the bench in foul trouble so we just did what we had to do, get stops and execute on offense, and it was just I was the one that was doing it. So hold the ropes. And we did a pretty good job as a team.
Q. You two might not know this. We're used to seeing Jolette on Saturday and Sundays around here, so kind of tradition. I'm wondering, you're going to take way these two games, you're going to think about them, you're going to say we can build off this. Really, seriously, Karisma, what do you thinking you take from two days where I think you probably surprised everybody but yourself?
KARISMA PENN: Like you said, we didn't surprise ourselves, and I think that's the biggest thing. I don't know if the belief in ourselves was there every game this season. But just these past two days I can say everybody believed. And going forward, we have everybody returning.
So as long as we have confidence in ourselves, we just keep it up and get better, I don't think anything can stop us next year. We just really have to look at what we just did the last two days, and there's no reason why we should have been 9-22 this year.
Q. Karisma, can you talk about how much of a difference it made that you guys played an extra game whereas Penn State had a bye in the first round?
KARISMA PENN: I don't know because I've never had a bye on the first round so I couldn't really speak on how that feels.
Q. Karisma, what actually happened on the floor in the last ten minutes of the game where they were able to pull away? Were they quicker? Were they playing better? Did they switch defenses on you? What happened out there?
KARISMA PENN: I think there were a few questionable calls there, and when that happens the momentum kind of switched. I think the momentum kind of switched to their favor a lot. And I just don't think that it was called evenly on both ends, so it was kind of getting to the point where we were getting frustrated, and I think sometimes frustration just creeps up on you. And I think that's most of what happened towards the end. It kind of got away from us.
Q. Karisma, following up on that, the free throw discrepancy was pretty significant. They shot 30, you only shot 15. Would you say that was more of a style of play type thing, or what was it that had you guys struggling to get to the foul line?
KARISMA PENN: No, I don't think it was style of play because they shoot threes. So they got to the line 30 times and we got 15 times. I think that's I mean, the numbers speak for themselves. That's crazy.
MODERATOR: Any more questions for the student athletes? Thanks, ladies, if you want to head back to your locker room.
All right. We'll open it up for questions for the coach.
Q. Same questions earlier, Coach. How did the losing mentality not creep in with these guys this year? Because you had to worry about it.
COACH LAW: I did. But I was a leader. You know, I had to make sure that they always saw I had to get the positive at all times and always keep them focused on the positives. We were very young, teaching them, keep motivating them, keeping their spirits up in spite of the defeat.
So I just kept telling them stay the course, we gotta just take the positive out of every game. If we carve out two minutes, if we carve out 10.5 seconds, if we do the little things. So every year every day I was just coming up with a lot of creative things to just keep them focused on the long term goals. And I look at the record, and I've told a lot of people, I've told the press in Champaign, I've released them from the record. I'm just trying to right now to get the better.
I have a very young team. A lot of them did play, a lot of them didn't have a lot of experience, and we had a lot to learn. And I just think that this test this year was our storm. So it won't be long. So I'm looking at the future and I feel very confident.
Q. Coach, all season long you and the players have been saying that you were really close to getting over that hump and really being a good team. Do you feel like this tournament run kind of proved you guys right in a way?
COACH LAW: I always knew what we had, and I know I saw a lot in them a long time ago. But I think finally they realized how good they could be if we all buy into all the little things and everyone played their role and if we follow the game plan.
I told them from day one, October 15, the season is going to come down all the little things. Don't think about the big picture and the score. It's going to come down to the little things. I think we learned in these last two days, they finally saw themselves, you know, wow, if we would have done this all year long. I went, yeah, I was trying to tell you.
But it's great that I have them all coming back, and I feel that this experience really will they'll now know what it takes to be to go to that next step to go to the finals and what you have to do during the course of Chapter 1 and 2 to be able to perform in Chapter 3.
Q. The little things bearing down, it seemed like you guys at the end of that first half you went on I believe it was a 15 2 run, closed the gap to two going into the half when that three hit the buzzer, and it really seemed like the building was behind you guys. Can you talk about what kind of maturity it shows that they were able take that first punch and keep on going?
COACH LAW: I told them I knew that Penn State great team. Like I said, a great team. Well coached. They have different weapons, and I have the utmost respect for them. I just said they made a run and we could have in the past probably would have dropped our heads and got really frustrated. But Karisma was on the bench and there were other people that stepped up and held the rope. We always say let's hold the rope, hold the rope.
And I was very proud of how we responded. Went in the locker room, I just told them the first five minutes of the second half is going to be crucial and they're going to make another run and we've just got to make sure we are focused and we're poised.
And once we got through that and then I'm not trying to disregard what Karisma said, but it was they got really frustrated after a while because there were some calls being made. But that's another thing. You can't let a tough player, you can't let officials, you can't let anything, the crowd, you can't let anything rattle you. And that's another growing step that we're getting to. So I charge that to being young and not knowing.
So no excuses. Right now I just think the last ten minutes, to answer your question, Penn State just went to another level and I think we sort of, you know they took advantage of our mistakes.
Q. Coach, you had four players in double figures. I've been kind of watching your team from afar, and I kept seeing Karisma Penn scoring all the points. Was this a major step for you watching four players in double figures? And did you that all tournament, I think.
COACH LAW: It was a major step for us because I've been asking for it all year. And I've been trying to build confidence in each one of my players. That is, not just Karisma; we need to be a total team and everybody needed to do their part.
And I just think that, you know, Monday before we got here I just needed more from them. I need all of you, everybody, whatever you can give, give it.
I think they all embraced it and started just, you know, playing and, now they're starting this weekend we start knowing what the offense is, we knew the second cuts, third cuts, third options, fourth options. During the course of the season, it was option number one, let's get it to Karisma and let's stay in and watch her.
But I think we've grown up a lot and now we're moving forward. I think it will be positive.
Q. Going back to those final ten minutes, I know I asked Karisma this, how much do you think fatigue played a factor into the final ten minutes, being that you guys have played an extra game as compared to Penn State who had a bye?
COACH LAW: I would say personally I think a couple miscues on defense. I would say some of it was fatigue. A lot of it had been frustration. Then going to your bench and everybody got to be ready.
So I just think that, you know, some of my kids that's why I was calling a time out. I was trying to use my time out wisely. You call one and then, no, we're going to go to media.
There was a couple times Penn State start capitalizing. I had to burn one because I knew we were just not communicating and not as sharp as we were before. So I think it played a little part in it.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.