March 6, 2011
MODERATOR: We will skip the opening statement from the coach and go straight to questions for the student athletes.
Q. Samantha, at the very end you threw the ball over to Jantel (Lavender). Was that like a little sign of respect: Here, you dribble this one out, you finish this one? Or?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: I didn't think of it, but I just passed it.
Q. What's going through your head at the end, Jantel? You've had a remarkable run here, three MOPs and three titles. And, like you said yesterday, you got good reason to like this town. Put it into words what it's meant to you.
JANTEL LAVENDER: I just think it's fun winning for my teammates, and especially this year with where we came from and how people just kind of gave up on our team and we just kind of all stuck together, and that's what makes us feel that much better.
And, I don't know, I think we played great tonight. We great defense and we played great team basketball. It makes it that much better just coming from where we were. Tonight was fun.
Q. Sammy, you kind of lost the last nine minutes of yesterday's game and then you came out very aggressively in this game. Did you feel like you really needed do that in this game just to re establish yourself?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Well, it was just how the game was. I was getting -- I had a lane -- every night's different for me. Some nights, people are hot and I got to find them. In the first half I was having my way and having open lanes. So it's just what the game brings.
Q. You guarded Lucas for a lot of the game, and she's basically 1 for 10 and 0 for 6 from 3, but what were you guys supposed to do with her and how did it work?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Just lock and trail. She's a really good shooter with a quick release, so it was lock and trail. I mean, it did a lock and trail and then lock her up, or let her go off. We can't have her go off in a championship game.
Q. Jantel, this might be unfair, but do you think this might be the most balanced of the three Ohio State teams that's won the title, maybe the best of the three?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think it's the most talented team as far as different looks that we had. I think we have a lot of different things to look at on our perimeter, like Sammy with her ball handling and her ability to shoot the 3s, Brittany, Tayler's ability to drive the ball. It's just that we have a lot of different looks, and I just would say more talented I guess.
Q. Samantha, can you talk about your team's confidence level coming off this nine game win streak now entering the tournament? Where do you stand in terms of confidence?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: We're very confident. We've been moving the ball good. But we don't forget where we was a month ago. All we have is each other, and I think we realize that now and we play for each other.
Q. Samantha, it seemed like when you were out there especially in the second half there was a stretch for about three or four minutes that you looked kind of like the Phoenix Suns out there; there was a lot of fastbreak and there was a three pass sequence. Can you just talk about how that felt just to be kind of in that role as a team?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: I think when we play good defense and rebound the ball, we could run. Jantel runs the floor the best, so getting her layups, having Brittany spot up, and everyone is unselfish to the point where they'll look for each other, make the extra pass and get good shots.
So when we're in transition, we really like to be in transition, but it all starts from our defense.
Q. Jantel, 13 9 about four weeks ago, and here you are nine wins in a row. How far do you feel like you've come and what -- how many ways?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think we've come a long way as a team mentally with toughness wise. I just think we came together and tonight in this tournament we proved that we are a good team and we can, you know, contend with any team in the country and NCAA caliber teams.
And, I don't know, I just think we really, like, know who we are now, and I think we're playing like that. We can have situations come up and, you know, get through them and still be able to play a good game. And it doesn't matter what's thrown at us, because we've dealt with adversity at the beginning of the season, and I think that made us a lot tougher.
And it's shown these last nine games that, I don't know, we are a good team. I don't know what to say. I'm just so excited about the win. I don't know. It's just a lot of things that we've overcome as a team, and I'm just excited that we can get through those things and play still.
Q. I'm kind of curious, Jantel, studying all your numbers and all these incredible stats and I feel like years from now I'm going to get into debate with somebody about some of the greatest players ever seen and your name should come up first, and again we can go on and on about all the things you've done, but it really doesn't matter; it's just winning, right?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Definitely. I'm a team player. And like I said to someone out there, it's just I would trade in any MVP or any Player of the Year for my teammates to win, for us to get a championship, for us to win big games.
And, I don't know, I just really enjoyed this part of it, the championship and the (indiscernible). It can never get old.
Q. Jantel, can you talk about just being here in the past and how much that experience played into being able to come out here and be calm and competitive early?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I definitely think our experience here has helped us win this game tonight. Penn State, they're a great team and I think it's like their first time coming -- I mean being in a championship in a couple years.
I think our -- us having that experience in the last three years just, deal with three games in three days and be able to know how to ice, know what we need to do in order to be ready for the game.
It just really -- I don't know. It's just a difference with being able to -- with being there as opposed to not being there, having that toughness and knowing that, overcoming it mentally I would say.
Q. Jantel, did Samantha give you the heads up on the piggyback ride? Did she warn you she was going to do that?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: That's a tradition. We did that all three years.
Q. You've done it all three years? Have you really? Serious?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Yeah.
Q. Here? Same spot, probably. But you remember that, huh?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Yeah.
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Yeah.
Q. And you don't stay there that long, though; it's like you don't want her to throw her back out
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: She's thrown me around a little bit.
Q. Has she really? Not too heavy, is she?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Not at all.
MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. We'll open it up for questions for the coach.
Q. I'm sorry, Coach, I'm overly sentimental, but I just feel like you need to -- I'd love to have a statement on just being able to watch her play the last three years.
COACH FOSTER: I've said this before: I'm not going to talk about that until the legacy is complete. Yeah. So call me in about five weeks. Okay?
Yeah, great player, I love having her, but people -- it's not done yet. And I don't like to -- the resumé is not finished. But then call me and we'll have a long talk.
Q. Does this feel like kind of a long -- like three different seasons really and does it seem like what happened in the middle of it is like a long time ago now?
COACH FOSTER: Another lifetime. Yeah. Long time ago. But it's -- we are who we are, and we are a byproduct of our experiences and we had a lot of them and we grew up a lot.
Q. I wonder what was going through your mind here. You've got the last minute or two to -- you know it's coming. I mean, what went through your mind as you knew they were going to soak it up and celebrate this?
COACH FOSTER: I just wanted to get the seniors on the floor together and let them play together at the end. They came in together, accomplished a lot together in this tournament, and wanted them to have that experience of being together.
Q. Coach, could you maybe talk about what Jantel and Sam brought today in particular? Really seemed like this was a much smoother flowing team on offense than we've seen in the past two days. Can you kind of get into that a little bit?
COACH FOSTER: I might have to debate you on that. I mean, I think we had some pretty good offensive performances in this tournament. Different. Different every night. Brittany with her 3s against Iowa last night. If a certain play works, I'm not going to show you that we have 15 of them. We're going to keep running that until you guard it.
So last night was Jantel, and today -- you know, you used the Phoenix Suns analogy, and I think you probably offended Sammy a little bit. She would much prefer you be referring to her as a Laker. Well, the Lakers are champions and she loves Kobe.
Q. Can you talk about how this championship is different from the last two, or is it at all?
COACH FOSTER: To be quite frank, last year was sort of -- was more a relief, you know, the feeling of relief because we had -- we're not who we are this year. This year walking into this tournament I thought we were really playing well, I thought we were focused, I thought we were together, I thought the ball moved extremely well and that we really understood how important the defensive aspect was for us.
So I would say this -- this was the best team of the last three, and I think how we won this I think is a reflection of that.
Q. Coach, can you please talk about your senior class and how they've developed as young adults? Not basketball players but how they've
COACH FOSTER: Well, they've all grown up tremendously and understand and fit into their roles. I don't think there's -- if there's going to be one person that sort of reflects that class, everybody looks at Jantel, and why wouldn't you? I mean, the numbers. And Brittany and Al, but Sarah Schulze is a kid that is playing on one leg. And to watch her effort, her attitude, her -- it's inspirational to everyone, let alone her teammates, and it sort of typifies and identifies that class.
Q. The way Penn State plays and 70 points is a pretty good number for you defensively?
COACH FOSTER: Yeah. Yeah. Real good. It's a possession game. You know, I heard the announcer speculating whether or not it would be wise for us to run with them. And if you look at Sammy's motor, maybe we should take their analysts' credentials away from them. Why would you run with her?
Q. Coach, looking at this win, a lot of people are talking about how things are much different for you. How are they different, and what are the constants throughout?
COACH FOSTER: Well, they're different because we are handling our business, they're different because we've -- we understand the value of helping from a defensive point of view, and we understand a scouting report and what our assignments are within the framework of it. We understand that when we move the ball around the floor we're a very talented team and a difficult team to defend. But I think more than anything we have better understanding of who we are as people, and we had to figure some stuff out.
Q. Is it fun to watch your offense go when Sammy gets rolling like that and just finding people and finishing?
COACH FOSTER: Yeah, everybody -- you have to pick your poison and how are you going to guard us, you know. Last night it was, okay, we're going to play Lavender, single coverage. Okay. And everybody's on board. We like that. And, oh, we're going to double team you. Okay. Well, we like that. We'll adjust.
And then tonight we're going to extend on Johnson and we're going to space the floor a little bit and we're going to open up the middle. All right. We like that.
So we're going to just play. We're going to figure out what it is you're trying to do, take away what it is we like to do and then we'll adjust and try to create opportunities for the player that -- you know, from Friday night, Brittany taking 14 3s to Saturday Jantel taking 20 shots to today having 23, 23, 17. Whatever it takes.
MODERATOR: Any more questions for the coach? Thanks, Coach, for joining us, and congratulations.
COACH FOSTER: Thank you.
MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Washington to make an opening statement and we will open the floor for questions for the student athletes.
COACH WASHINGTON: Congratulations definitely is in order to Ohio State. I thought they played a pretty good game and certainly they're going to be a team that can go in the NCAA tournament and have a fantastic run when they're clicking on all cylinders like they were today. They're a tough team to compete with.
And really proud of our team, the fight that we showed and the competitive spirit that we brought to the game.
MODERATOR: Now open it up for questions for the student athletes.
Q. This one is for Julia. I guess I'll start off you had a great game yesterday, today struggled a little bit. Can you kind of talk about that a little bit? Was it the presence of Ohio State size inside or something else?
JULIA TROGELE: I just think my shots weren't falling. Really doesn't come down to offense. I don't really think so. I think it's more of the defensive effort. We didn't really get back in transition fast enough. They got a lot of transition points. I think that, you know, we kind of played very selfish on offense at times, so something we just have to work on going into the NCAA tournament.
Q. Julia, you talked yesterday about how you just didn't want to leave without it and unfortunately you have to. I guess just want what your thoughts were walking off the court, in the locker room, talking to teammates, maybe if you don't mind the intrusion just what's going through your head?
JULIA TROGELE: I guess just disappointed that we didn't grab the opportunity and really take the chance to make a statement and take the championship. I think that I'm very proud of my teammates, how hard they fought. I think I could have contributed a lot more, but overall I'm just proud of my teammates. And there's certainly things we have to work on the next two weeks to prepare. Season's not over yet, so of course, you know, we don't want to hang our heads. We just got to work on some stuff and get back at it.
MODERATOR: Other questions for the student athletes? Thank you, ladies. And now we'll accept questions for the coach.
Q. Coach, we were talking in the beginning because the pace was so frenetic, is it three three games in three days and the first thing to go might be a little defense on both sides? I know that's no excuse, but is that part of why offense being such a high efficiency early on and the defense wasn't as for both teams, as
COACH WASHINGTON: Well, I think the game of basketball is you can sometimes great offense trumps great defense, and by no stretch am I saying we played great defense, but when you have two high powered offensive teams and you've got four, five players on the floor for each team that can make shots and make plays, something's got to give, and, you know, you get a lot of wide open looks. You got two teams that can make wide open looks, and they just made more of their shots than we did ours.
Q. Coach, as an opponent, you and Ohio State, what can you say is the biggest difference between the Buckeyes now versus the Buckeyes a couple months ago?
COACH WASHINGTON: I think they play with more intensity and particularly on the defensive end.
Q. Speaking for the Big Ten, would you like to wish Jantel (Lavender) a bon voyage, you don't deal with her anymore, a great career, but that's the last you'll probably see of her?
COACH WASHINGTON: Personally I like playing against coaching against great players. I think it makes helps you become a better coach trying to figure out how to deal with great players. So I know she's leaving, but I hope Ohio State and the rest of the conference coaches continue to recruit talented players because it makes for a better conference and it makes it more fun to play in these types of games when you're playing against some of the nation's best players.
Q. Coach, could you maybe expand a little bit on how Ohio State was able to play on offense? The stat sheet doesn't really tell you a whole lot about differences other than that Ohio State just shot really well from the floor. Can you talk about their ball movement, what they were able to do? Because there were times they were just moving it really well out there.
COACH WASHINGTON: Well, Ohio State has a lot of talent on their team, and you have to pick your poison with them. And they struggled at times this year, but it's not because of lack of talent. And once that talent is clicking on all cylinders, they're tough to guard. The first half Samantha Prahalis is having her way on the ball screen, you make the adjustment, and now Jantel Lavender is getting shots and you worry about those two, and Tayler Hill can turn around and hurt you.
They got three, four McDonald's All Americans on their team. They're a tough team to prepare for. They got talented players that can make plays. So it's really quite that simple. They've got a lot of good players, and when they're playing well, and they're making shots, they're tough to defend. They're tough to defend. And I thought we could have defended better certainly.
But the reality is I'm really proud of our team and I feel like Ohio State played like a team that has seniors and juniors who have been here before, many times before, and understood how long the game is, and our team didn't understand how long the game is and played with impatience very, very early in the game. And that impatience led to poor decision making, that impatience led to we were trying to make 10 point plays, and instead of just being patient and understanding how long the game is.
But that's the difference between a team that's been there and experienced playing in this type of game and a team that hasn't, and it's a lesson that I hope we learn because we plan on being back here. This is not the last time you'll see us here.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Alex Bentley, the year she's had and the tournament as well?
COACH WASHINGTON: She's the engine that drives our train. And when she's playing well and clicking on all cylinders, we're a much better team. I thought she came up this weekend and was pretty focused and worked hard at running the team. And I'm happy that she's able to come back to Indianapolis and have a good showing this weekend.
Q. Coach, I think you talked in Columbus about the arrival of Tayler Hill to go with Lavender and Prahalis this year, and how important is it for the next level of the NCAA Tournament to have three at the party like that?
COACH WASHINGTON: Well, I think they got four at the party at a minimum, because I don't think you can count out Brittany Johnson, and really you can talk about Ashley Adams and some of their role players. They all step up. They're very talented. They've got a lot of weapons.
So but what Tayler Hill definitely brings to them is another ball hander, another player who can create her own shot and opportunities offensively. And when she's able to do that, it takes a little bit of pressure off of Sam Prahalis and opens things up for everybody else.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.