March 7, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll open up with general comments from Coach Sharon Versyp then we'll go to the student athletes for questions.
COACH VERSYP: You know, whenever you come in and play that second game, for us, I think we weren't as anxious as we were when you play that very first game.
I thought our kids were very focused. We knew that Wisconsin was going to give us everything possible, a team like that that's playing great right now. Alyssa Karel was just taking them on her back, was willing them to win. The first half was a very tough half and the second half I thought we did a good job defensively, locked them down. We put [Lakisha] Freeman on Alyssa Karel and our post players and everybody just kind of fed off of one another and I thought we played great team defense.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. FahKara, how important was the last three minutes of the first half to get you into halftime with a lead, and did you feel like you had that momentum?
FAHKARA MALONE: It was very important for us. We needed that momentum. We just needed to get some stops at the end of the half because our defense wasn't doing anything for the first 17 minutes. And Coach just kept telling us to cut the lead, cut the lead and try to get up as much as we could before the halftime, and that's what we did.
Q. Lindsay, talk about the first few minutes there. You had a couple of nice plays that sort of sparked the offense and gave you that little bit of cushion?
LINDSAY WISDOM HYLTON: Talking about the second half? Yeah, we came out of the locker room, were going on a run. High energy. Wanted to keep feeding off of that and we wanted to get the ball inside, get an inside out game going. And Danielle Campbelll and myself were trying to dominate inside and we were able to get some good looks, and then we were able to kick it out to our guards and they were able to knock down the shot later on.
So it was a good job of getting the ball inside and out and moving the ball around.
Q. Lindsay, I think you had 10 points total in the first two games against them. And then you had that in the first half tonight. Was that an inspiration, or did they treat you differently?
LINDSAY WISDOM HYLTON: Yeah, I think this game they weren't as physical. They weren't doubling as much as they did the last two games we played them. I felt like the last two times they were a lot more physical. And I felt I was double teamed and triple teamed, and I guess this time they were trying to take a new approach going one on one then doubling later on in the game.
I think that was sort of the difference, and it's tournament time. People step up and it's a do or die type situation. So you want to come out and play hard for your team.
Q. FahKara, seemed like each of you had your own mini run within the run. In the second half Lindsay came out and scored a couple of baskets. And Danielle had 7 of 9 and then you scored three baskets in a row. Were you just going in the flow of the offense and you all found something that would work?
FAHKARA MALONE: I think the biggest thing was our transition. I know most of my buckets were in transition.
And then we were just able to push the ball and then isolate the post on one on one down low, and once it's one on one with any of our posts, then they can handle that. And that's what they did today.
Q. FahKara, are you taller than Rae Lin D'Alie?
FAHKARA MALONE: I think we're the same height. We're both listed as 5'3". I think it's pretty much the same, we're both pretty close to the floor, that's all I know.
Q. Lindsay, did you feel like if you kept going to Danielle she could eventually get something going inside? Because struggled through the first 25 minutes but seemed to really turn it on in the second half.
LINDSAY WISDOM HYLTON: I think Danielle, she's a great player. And once she's able to get the ball deep inside and make a quick couple of moves and she found her rhythm. I think she was doing good with that. We kept feeding her the ball. She was hot and being aggressive and attacking. And that's what we needed her to do. And she started doing that later on in the game, and I think early on she needed to do that more.
Q. Lindsay, just to be back in the championship game again?
LINDSAY WISDOM HYLTON: It's a great feeling. I can't be more proud of this group right here and I'm so excited to go out my senior year and just get to the championship game, and we're going to play our best and hopefully we can get a three peat.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.
Questions for Coach Versyp.
Q. Coach, did you see something different out of your team tonight from the ability to put points together in quick fashion?
COACH VERSYP: I've been waiting for it. No. I mean, I feel our last eight games, I just feel so confident with this group. I mean, they're just really playing off of one another.
And yesterday was a very tough battle. It was a great basketball game and then be able to come out here and get that offense flowing and be able to lock down and play some defense with that.
I think that's been a big key for us. And it was great to they went one on one and Danielle was really attacking the basket, doing some things, one on one with Lindsay down low.
We wanted to build that interior. Jodi Howell hits her first 3 and it takes the stress off of everybody and we put that on her every game. And we just have to make runs like that. We gotta have different players that can step up and score in bunches.
Q. Sharon, after just having several games earlier in the year without FahKara, can you just talk about the impact she brings to the game, both on offense and defense?
COACH VERSYP: First of all, FahKara is our tremendous leader. She's our vocal leader. She's our Energizer Bunny. She's the voice on the court. So her energy level just intensifies and everybody plays off of her.
So we did a great job during the time she was hurt. She got hurt in the Michigan State game and that was in overtime. And we gathered ourselves, beat Texas that next game back, and went on a 7 2 win/loss streak. And everybody just stepped up. And it was good for FahKara. She sat down. It was humbling. She saw how different people do different jobs, and I think she's really now defensively she's the key.
She gets us going and everybody else steps up. When you have a point guard like that and offensively she's so quick and she understands, she knows exactly what I want.
And that's a big key. When you have a point guard that's plays for you for three years, they pretty much know exactly what the coach wants.
Q. Was there a particular message to Danielle, because she sort of went from not being able to hold on to the ball to all of a sudden being dominant there for that five minute stretch?
COACH VERSYP: No, I think with some players, you have to be very positive. FahKara, I can really pare down, which I did tonight, the light switch went on and she went on a terror. With Danielle it's empowering her and being really positive with her. And when she gets that you can tell when she's going to knock down a shot and take over a game. With Danielle, she wants to do the best she can for her team. When she's out there smiling and being happy, then good things happen.
Q. I think you're undefeated in three years at Purdue in this tournament. Is there some key to getting your team each year to be able to play its best at this time of year?
COACH VERSYP: You know, no one has the magic method. But I just really feel you need to peak at the right time. Hopefully us coaches were doing the right team; some people peak too soon, everybody wants to win every game. I think some losses really help you.
We really work on the mental side a lot. Everybody worries about Xs and Os, and we definitely, I think, are a very good X and O coaching staff, there's no question.
But the mental side of empowering young kids, understanding their role, accepting it and being able to perform in that. Right now it's all about being positive with your teammates. And I think our journey that we have from the beginning of the year, all the way with team building and what we do and how we come together in March, hopefully we'll continue to do that always. But it's not an easy job.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: We will open up for general comments from Coach Lisa Stone, and then we'll go to the student athletes for questions.
COACH STONE: I couldn't be prouder of the Wisconsin Badger women's basketball team. For the second time in school history we reached the semifinals and we left it on the court. We gave it everything we could. And Purdue is a very good team. They're experienced. They have five seniors. They've won seven Big Ten championships.
Players, their senior class has been in the Elite 8. And the experience that our team faced in this tournament and our representation, we did something that nobody thought we could do, to even get this far. And we fought right to the very end. And I couldn't be more proud of this team.
We've done well, and we're going to play some more yet this year. And with one senior, we'll be back and hopefully in this same position next year, to advance to yet another game.
But I'm very proud of our team. We played three games in three days, and we battled, and we left it on the court. And I think our identity is the way we play basketball at Wisconsin I think everybody knows. And, again, I'm very proud of this team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Alyssa, what was different about Purdue's defense in the second half?
ALYSSA KAREL: You know, it's hard to say. I think on the offensive side we were kind of we weren't moving as much. They kind of got us kind of packed in, so we weren't spread out as much. And I think that was ultimately what kind of hurt us, was the fact we really couldn't get a lot of motion going on offense.
We couldn't get ball movement. We couldn't reverse the ball. They were fortunate to take quick shots, which was hurting us.
Q. Rae Lin, you got up 6 at the end of the first half. How much did the 7 0 spurt by them maybe take some momentum away from you?
RAE LIN D'ALIE: Credit to them. They did a great job closing out the second half. They just went on a run and took the lead going into halftime, and we really stressed coming out strong the second half.
And we got a stop right away. And Teah Gant went down and tried to go for the layup and they came down and started scoring. I think they just knocked down some really tough shots. We were contesting, and they were just hitting buckets.
Q. Tara, how much of a handful were Danielle Campbell and Lindsay Wisdom Hylton tonight inside?
TARA STEINBAUER: Absolutely we give all the credit to Purdue. They fought a very good match against us, but definitely they found some success down low as far as their posts were concerned.
It was a physical battle all game, and I think that myself, Lin Zastrow, Ashley Thomas, Anya Covington, we all did a good job being physical with them. And it fell where it did. But I think we did a very good job overall.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies, thank you. Questions for Coach Stone.
Q. This is your third game in three days. Did you feel like your team kind of started to wear down a little bit in the second half?
COACH STONE: There's three right outside that door figuring you were going to ask me that question. She said, "Coach, we ran out of gas."
You don't want to admit that. But it is our third game in three days. We went through a physical battle with Michigan State yesterday. But we're a team that doesn't make excuses. And we don't take anything away from Purdue.
They're very, very good. And you mentioned the lead. Three minutes to go I think in the first half and they got out in transition. We turned it over. And they out transitioned and made some big plays to end the half. The pendulum started switching their way.
We come out in the second half to start the second half, only down 1. Feeling pretty good about it. Made some adjustments. Tried to figure out how to keep the ball out of Lindsay Wisdom Hylton's hands. She's amazing.
She's a first round draft pick in my opinion. She's a very good player. We wanted to be more physical, keep the ball out of her hands.
Then we made the adjustment to stay off 15 a little more and try to clog the lane more. Ended up being transition basketball.
We came out in the second half, got a stop right away. Teah mentioned, got out on a break. She makes or gets a fouled, gets a free throw, breaks the ice early; but instead it may have been a seven minute somewhere in there, a field goal. And we were struggling. And they were scoring. At one point the stat sheet that came by the sideline, they were shooting 74% in the second half. It was transition defense, one on one containment in that second half that we pride ourselves in and we got back on our heels in that second half.
But, again, we have nothing to hang our heads about, because we fought tooth and nail right to the very end against a very good team.
Q. Wisdom Hylton and Campbell really didn't score a lot in the first two games against you. Coming into tonight, were you more concentrated on maybe the perimeter, because Howell did a lot of damage against you in the first two games?
COACH STONE: Howell, Rayburn and Malone, all three of them, and that was one of our keys, was transition defense, to get into 25 and 00, make sure you're on all three of them.
For the most part in the first half we did. Actually at one time we had three people on Rayburn. As soon as she came into the game, it came down to the floor in the first half. Lindsay was wide open. That wasn't the game plan, but the players had in their mind to make sure we didn't give Brittany an open look.
I can't say enough about this young team. With one senior on the team, they're locking and focussed and their heart and intensity is going to benefit us yet this year and in the future.
Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about how FahKara Malone hurt you in the second half, scoreless in the first half, double 13, pushed it up a little bit?
COACH STONE: She's the quarterback of that team. She's a special player. And you've got two 5'3" point guards out there defying all doubters that little people can't play.
Both of them can. Both Rae Lin and FahKara are great point guards. They're fun to watch, a good match up. But when she gets rolling, when she's moving, she's hard to stop. She's hard to contain, frankly.
She handles the ball both right and left. She got loose on a couple of 3 point shots. But we were digging in. Their posts were beating us inside, and so we started to choke in a little more, they'd pass that ball right out and got FahKara going a little bit. Her best game is when they're in transition. And that's when Purdue is at their best, they can run you wide. They have Wisdom Hylton and Campbell coming down the middle and do some damage on the inside. Their outside game is very good. They're a very good team.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the depth this year in the Big Ten? It seems to matter, the record of the teams seems to matter, the venues, seems like for the most part the games are not that out of reach. So can you expand on that a little bit?
COACH STONE: What's happened is from top to bottom our league has gotten better. From top to bottom our league has done a great job in out of conference scheduling. Our RPI and strength of schedule has improved.
The teams are better. It's exciting for the future because the league is pretty young for the most part. I mean, I know that there's five seniors I mentioned from Purdue but their recruiting class is pretty special.
When you look at Iowa that's going to be playing, they've got some seniors. But they've got some nice players. But the bottom line, overall I think the conference is young. It's exciting. And we want as many teams playing post season as possible to keep that recognized.
And I think there's a lot of teams deserving, and I think the better we do in out of conference puts us in a position to have more teams in the NCAA tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.