Ohio State-Illinois Quotes
March 6, 2009
OHIO STATE QUOTES
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Jim Foster and the student athletes. Are you going to decline your opening statement like you usually do? Okay. So we'll go straight to the student athletes. Raise your hand and we'll get a mic to you.
Q. Jantel, the start of this game you guys hit the first of your 10 shots. How focused were you guys for this game and how good were you at the beginning? Is this one of your better starts to a game this season?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think so. I think we came out and we reversed the ball well and there was open shots and everybody was knocking them down.
Q. You lost to these guys last year. Did you want to make a statement is there any kind of a statement in this game that you're a better team than you were a year ago, Jantel?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Definitely. I think we came out and we knew we had lost to them last year. And we knew it was our chance to get some get tough against them because we lost to them last year and I think we came out extremely focused and ready to play.
Q. Brittany, I think I looked you up. I don't think you even scored in this game last year. How much more prepared and in what ways were you more prepared to help this team than you were a year ago?
BRITTANY JOHNSON: I think I'm more confident and my teammates are confident to me which allows them to pass me the ball and hit the shot.
But I think that last year from this year I overlooked my shot. I didn't look for my shot. And this year I think I just need to step up and hit shots.
Q. Sam, you weren't even here last year. How much were you guys pushing to get this game, and it's the kind of transition game you got it in, and how much easier does it make it for you guys to play when you can go out and run?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: What was the question again?
Q. You guys got the run of this game. Illinois is hard to run against. How much focus was there on getting out and running in this game and how much of a difference did it make for you in getting your offense going early?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Well, every game you want to run. So it's just like it's like an every game thing that we want to push the tempo and run.
And today I think the wings ran real well and we were flowing well. We just got some fast breaks and everyone was being aggressive, and just bringing energy which was what the game plan was.
Q. Jantel, again, in this game with them you didn't feel sorry for them, I guess, in this game is what I want to ask you, that you just kind of kept your foot on their necks in the game. Is that something that this team might be better at doing this year than you were last year?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Can you say it again?
Q. Basically you guys never let up in this game. Are you better at not letting up on somebody this year just because you've got a big lead?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Yeah, we've been focusing on that, just playing a being a 40 minute team instead of being a 20 minute team. We showed today we came out for two hard halves and showed we can be a team to play 40 minutes straight pushing the ball up tempo and just having fun.
Q. Jantel, was it safe to say that it was nice to have Star Allen out there this year, I guess that's a big help?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Definitely. I think Star is a huge help. I think she comes and she brings a lot of energy, and she plays extremely hard and she's fun to play with in the post, and the high low game is like we have a good chemistry on the floor.
And you can always depend on somebody to be in that rebounding position and other post positions, post up and score and rebound and everything you look for in a post player.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.
Questions for Coach Foster.
Q. Jim, just the opening of this game, how good were you in the opening of this game? How did you like the way you opened this game, and just how focused were they?
COACH FOSTER: I think any time you go on a run of the amount of shots we made in a row and percentage of shooting, sometimes that makes you very nervous, because you know it's going to change.
No one continues to play at that pace and that tempo. But what gave me a comfortable feeling was how hard we were playing on the defensive end of the floor, and we were just really digging and getting after it so that even when we hit it a little low offensively the balls are not dropping quite as often as it was early.
They're not making shots, and the shots they did make they had to work very hard to get them. So I liked our defense as much as I liked our offense in terms of the start of the game.
Q. Coach, you seem to be able to spread the minutes around in the first half quite a bit, you sat Sammy quite a bit and also Shavelle Little. What allowed you to do that and what was the thinking behind that?
COACH FOSTER: Sammy got too fast, and we're not going to put her out there with too fast in the half, we're going to sit her. And Maria came in and did a good job and everybody was out there, continued the ball movement and the defensive intensity. So we didn't pay a price for that.
Q. Coach, the 10 for 10 to start, maybe you've seen something like that before. Put that in perspective, because kept looking up and everything kept dropping.
COACH FOSTER: Sometimes that's the way it is and, again, what I enjoyed more than that was us starting people, because you know that you're not going to make every shot you take in the course of the game.
And if you're going up and down and you're exchanging baskets, your quick start could come back to hurt you. But the defense was of such a level that I wasn't concerned in that vein.
Q. A follow on that, is that even better in the last two or three weeks, that the defensive intensity (indiscernible) like Iowa, has that gotten better with this group?
COACH FOSTER: Yeah, I think we're playing more with a sense of desperation. I think teams that really, really get after it defensively understand the season could end at a moment's notice at this time of year, and we don't want that to happen.
Q. As we move ahead to the semifinals now, there will be four teams playing for position in the upcoming NCAA tournament. I know you talked last week a little bit about the respect that the Big Ten gets. As we move forward, how would you compare the talent in the Big Ten top to bottom compared to other major conferences?
COACH FOSTER: I think that's a question that Joe McKeown (Northwestern) and Kevin Borseth (Michigan) could answer better as people walking into this league and having had a discussion with Joe the other day. His comments were that the league is a heck of a lot better than his perception of it outside of it.
And I think when you get inside, it's a very physical league. Very physical league and probably the most physical in the country. And it's almost a relief to get out of it when you get into the post season if you're playing on all cylinders.
And I think there are some teams that are playing very well for this time of year. And it probably hasn't happened in a few years in this league. And I think the fact that you had to fight every night, the fact that Northwestern and Michigan, when you play against them, especially at their place, you're in for a war that night, and you just have to get to play 40 minutes. I don't think that's necessarily been the case in this league.
When I was in the SEC, I thought that always helped us, when we went into the NCAA tournament. There was a fear of you losing any time you play in the SEC. I think that's starting to evolve in this league. And you might not see it in terms of records. But the league is better.
Coaching certainly is better. And the competition, I think, is going to make better teams in the post season.
Q. Coach, could you please comment on Brittany Johnson's offense tonight and what she gives you?
COACH FOSTER: I was more pleased with Brittany's defense, to be quite frank. Brittany makes shots. Brittany's been making shots. And if you look at the numbers that she's put up in the Big Ten as adverse to her season numbers, you'll see a significant jump.
What Brittany has learned how to do is learn to play hard, as has Alison Jackson. And a lot of times players coming out of high school don't understand the intensity necessary at this level. And especially on the perimeter.
Post players, they get a quicker blip, because if you don't understand it quickly, you just get the heck beat out of you. But the perimeter, it's more subtle, and I think last year when we got tweaked with injuries, they didn't understand the intensity level.
This year, when we got tweaked with injuries, they were more than ready, and they play hard every day, and as a result we're a better basketball team.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take an opening statement from Coach Law, and then we'll go to the student athletes. Coach.
COACH LAW: I give a lot of credit to Ohio State. First five minutes of the game they dictated. They pressured the ball. And they got after it. And we dug a hole early in the first half, and we just took the cover, I think my team came back in the second half playing a bit more poised and dictating on defense.
We ended up playing 34 to 24 in the second half, but it was a little bit too late.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes, please.
Q. Lacey, do you feel like you guys came out a bit tentative or intimidated today, especially with the younger players?
LACEY SIMPSON: I definitely think we came out with a more fear mindset. Ohio State, they came out ready to play and they were hitting shots and ours wasn't falling.
Q. Jenna, what did you tell your younger teammates about playing on this stage before the game, about how they should come out, I guess?
JENNA SMITH: I mean, we just come out every game ready to play. Coach has a saying: Don't blink, don't back down. That's the way you have to look at it. You have to come out and play.
It wasn't any special speech or anything we told them special. Just don't be nervous. We played Ohio State twice. We knew them and they knew us. It was just you have to bring your A game today.
Q. Jenna, what was kind of happening in the locker room at halftime? What was going on?
JENNA SMITH: I think all of us were getting angry. We were getting blown out by halftime. It was just embarrassing. That's the first thing that coach said at halftime, it was embarrassing, getting blown out at halftime.
A lot of us were angry. We knew we needed to play better in the second half to get back into the game. I think a lot of us were just more fired up than when we came out in the beginning of the game.
Q. Jenna, I know the loss is still fresh, but the future of this program looks pretty bright. How soon will you be able to look forward and start focusing on what's ahead next year for this program?
JENNA SMITH: I mean, it is a tough loss. And I wish we would have gone out a better way. You always do have to look for it. We were just talking about how we've grown as a team, gotten closer. Our freshmen have grown.
Lacey and I will be seniors next year. We'll have to lead the way. We have a big freshman class coming in. Our sophomores, they've been here a year. We don't lose anybody that has played in the Big Ten tournament, that has played with us in the last games. And that's what's going to help us in the long run.
We have to think positive and just stick together as a team and work hard. Basketball players are made in the spring and summer, like coach said. And we just have to work together.
Q. Lacey, as you look at this, do you guys carry some momentum into next year coming off of a couple of wins here before tonight? Is there momentum going into next year now?
LACEY SIMPSON: Of course. Every time you have a loss like this, you always have it in the back of your head. We know we have some things to work on. We're just going to take these whatever breaks we get and get back to work.
And we work out everything we do, we're going to remember this. And we're going to feed off of it for next year.
Q. Lacey, kind of a rough shooting night for yourself and a bunch of your teammates. Was this more of a defense of Ohio State, or was it just not falling tonight?
LACEY SIMPSON: The shots just wasn't falling. I don't think it really had anything to do with Ohio State's defense. We got going a little bit better in the second half. I guess the first half wasn't our half.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Continue with Coach Law.
Q. Coach, can you talk about kind of the intimidation factor a little bit and what you told, especially, your younger players before the game about that?
COACH LAW: Just before the game, it's like right now, this is it. It's just no time to get scared or no time to blink. Just you have to look Ohio State toe to toe. They're the champions of the Big Ten, and just go out and play. I never try to talk about the NCAAs and all that stuff because I have a young group.
But right now, it's 40 minutes. And treat this as a championship game. We win, we go on. We lose, we go home. Just look at them: Just play free. We have nothing to lose, everything to gain because we've done it all.
Q. There wasn't intimidation factor, especially in the beginning with that start?
COACH LAW: I just think that Ohio State was the aggressors. They came out, they pressured. They got up on my guard, Shavelle, a little. It was hard for us to get into our offensive sets. And I just think that once we turned the ball over a couple times and our shots weren't falling, we didn't do anything on defense.
The most important thing that I was really upset is we weren't talking or communicating on defense like we were yesterday. And I just think that some of my freshmen were a little nervous.
Q. Last year's successes and the win over Ohio State, did that kind of have a negative impact maybe this year, kind of gave them something to shoot for on you a little bit?
COACH LAW: I'm sure. In the back of their minds it's like we're not going to let what happened last year happen to us this year. They came out focused. And, again, I give a lot of credit to them. They came out and they dictated. They wanted it. And I just think that last year, in the back of my mind, if you lose as a first seed, you're not going to let that happen again.
And, again, just like tonight, after we go back and I watch them again, just getting my team charged right now for we know how this felt. We don't like losing in the second round. We want to make sure we focus on what we need to do. And the positive is that everybody's coming back. Keep them uplifted so that when the newcomers come in they'll be able to share this experience with them.
Q. How much more difficult is Ohio State to stop when people like Allen and Johnson have their games going like they did especially in the first half?
COACH LAW: I just think when I look at the stat sheet, and I look at Star Allen, and Brittany Johnson is the one really got going early. And you know Jenna Smith and you can look at Jenna and Jantel Lavender pretty much X'd each other out. Star Allen and Lacey Simpson.
But the key factor was, Johnson came in, started doing her damage. She was perfect from the field. She got going. When she got going, it's hard to stop them inside. Their inside was their inside. And I knew she was a great player. But she came out, she was perfect from the field. She couldn't miss.
Q. Talk about the decision with Lacey and the starting lineup after yesterday's game and how is Whitney Toone healthwise?
COACH LAW: Whitney, she's day to day. She has fluid on her knee. With Whitney playing, I wanted to keep the pressure off of Whitney. Whitney played extremely well. She was comfortable coming off the bench. Didn't want to lose Macie, because Macie is an integral part of our offense as well. But just right now had to go with my gut, go with Macie Blinn and see how it goes and bring Whitney in off the bench.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what you said to your game what you said to them after the game, maybe what you're going to talk to them after this?
COACH LAW: I told them pretty much right now, we lost the game. It was unfortunate. If we played the first half like we played the second half, it would have been a different story. But the most important thing is I've seen I don't look at the record. I know that this team has grown. We've gotten better, and I gave each one of them different things, different areas that I've seen growth.
And the positive is just don't think about what happened this year, take all the positives so that we can build on it next year. This is going to be the nucleus of my team.
And right now those, we look at 10 and 21. I know the season wasn't a 10 and 21 season. Because my young people, my freshmen, they did get better. Lydia McCully got better as a point guard, confidence later in the season. Macie Blinn was very confident. She became a confident shooter. Whitney Toone came in and played some key minutes the last couple of games.
I'm just encouraged that next year they're going to be better. They're going to be a year older. And they've logged a lot of minutes. And the experience they had this year will definitely carry over into next year.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.