March 7, 2013
COACH ARICO: I was really proud of the way our kids came out today. I thought we were very focused and we were really sharp. I thought Indiana made a run at the end of the first half, but then we started the second half crisp and sharp again.
I thought we rebounded. I thought we shared the basketball well and ran in transition. It was a solid game for us against an Indiana team that has been playing well lately.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Nicole, did you come out looking to score a little more than before or did that just develop?
NICOLE ELMBLAD: Obviously I kind of struggled a little bit this year, but in practice, we've kind of been working since a couple of teams have just been sagging off of me and not playing me out deep.
We've been working on cuts and places I can get open and get some shots up. That's what we've been working on in practice.
Q. Nicole, can you talk about the fastbreak tonight? Seemed like you were on the receiving end of a lot of those fastbreak opportunities, and did that really energize you and get you going?
NICOLE ELMBLAD: Yeah, my teammates found me and I made some incredible passes to everybody tonight. But I think that was one of the goals of the team was to get out, run in transition, and get some easy baskets. And I think that energized the whole team.
Q. Rachel, can you talk about what Nicole's offense adds to your offense?
RACHEL SHEFFER: Yeah, just having more threats out there when we're, from the starting five and everything, they played off her. Packed it in the paint more in the past couple of games. So I think Nicole just being a threat. We have complete confidence in her to shoot the ball whenever she wants.
So just letting her know she has the confidence in herself to shoot the ball, too. And I think once we all have the confidence to do it, we can go really far.
Q. Rachel, can you compare like the aura around the team, last year on the bubble, and compare it to how you guys feel now?
RACHEL SHEFFER: I mean, it's hard to say because it's a new year and everything. But we're really just focused on just playing ourselves and March is a new season come tournament time and everything. So we're really just focused on the next game right now, which is Michigan State. So we're going to come back and prepare for that and just be ready to go for that next game.
Q. I just want to ask how it seems like in all three games against Indiana, Rachel, [Nicole] and Kate have not had, like, great shooting nights, but seems like someone such as Nicole or another player always steps up. Can you talk about just the depth of the team and how the offense seems to be like an equal opportunity offense?
RACHEL SHEFFER: I think tonight really showed the depth of our team. We had people come in off the bench scoring, contributing defensively, just knowing that we have threats all the way down our bench.
It really helps us know that we can just score with whoever out there and play defense with whoever out there.
NICOLE ELMBLAD: Yeah, we know that teams are going to target on Rachel and especially Kate. And so we worked on still setting screens for them and trying to get them the ball whenever we can, but when teams are targeting on them, other people are going to be open for slips and cuts and everything.
So just being able to step up other players, we've worked on that all year.
Q. Obviously you talk about next games, playing as it is, but what do you really take out of getting one more chance playing Michigan State, coming off the victory against them last time?
RACHEL SHEFFER: That's really the biggest key we were looking for coming into the game against Indiana, is just being able to have the opportunity to play tomorrow, and that was the biggest focus. And I think tonight we came out with a lot of energy, a lot of confidence through the bench and everything. And just being able to know we have another game tomorrow is really, really great for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Kim, did you plan that play for Kate [Thompson] right out of the half to get her going?
COACH ARICO: Yeah, we run that sometimes. And we always we try to get Rachel the ball inside. But we know if Kate's defender helps on Rachel, Kate's going to be open. And it worked out.
And I thought it was good to get Kate going, because her first two shots were in and out, and then she became really hesitant. And that's one of the things we talk about is you gotta keep shooting the ball. But sometimes her and Rachel are the same way, both of them, miss a couple shots, then they get a little hesitant. But we need them to score. So we ran it. It was either going to be Kate or Rachel that we're going to score out of that or try to score out of that play.
Q. Coach, Aulani Sinclair really struggled tonight for IU. What did you think about your team's defense on her? She did get some open looks, but overall it seemed like she was being denied the ball quite a bit.
COACH ARICO: I thought we did a great job defensively tonight. I thought we really, really did a tremendous job, whether it was zone or man knowing where she was, and as well as knowing where McGhee was. I thought we did a tremendous job on McGhee. She made some tough, tough shots in transition, pull up 3s. But then you look at her percentage, and she was 5-for-16. So we forced her to take a lot of contested shots.
But we knew that if we could do a good job on those two, we would be in good shape, because they've been really doing a great job for Indiana scoring lately. So we knew they were going to be key to us winning tonight.
Q. Could you talk about Nya's [Jordan] rebounding and assists and her total game?
COACH ARICO: Yeah, I mean, Nya is just a name that keeps coming up each and every single game because I think she's getting more and more comfortable and more and more confident. And she was everywhere rebounding in the first half. She had 10 rebounds at the half, which was incredible and it gave us a lot of our second chance opportunities and obviously helped in our lead at halftime.
But when she gets out in transition, she gives a dimension to our team we really don't have, and she was able to do that tonight. She pushed the ball. She had six assists. Golly, she had a heck of a night. And she's just a difference maker for the team because she plays a position we really don't have.
COACH MILLER: Certainly we're disappointed with our play tonight. We came into this game and had played four good games in a row and felt like we were playing our best basketball down the stretch of the season and really feel a season that we've overachieved where we doubled our win total in the Big Ten and had a very successful nonconference and increased our wins by five games this year from the program that we took over and felt a lot of momentum for the end of this season.
Unfortunately, a difficult first four or six minutes for us and we're down 12 0 and spotted them 12 0. With that said, went to halftime down 10, so found a way to outplay them the last 14 minutes of the half and felt like we got into the halftime, took a deep breath and had a chance to gather ourselves and come out and reestablish what the game plan was and thought it would still have a chance.
And unfortunately, again, the second half started very similar to the first half and they scored eight quick points out of halftime. And so if you combine the 12 0 start in the beginning and the 8 0 start in the second half, in the first four minutes of both halves, they outscored us 20 0 if you look at it that way. And because of that, it wasn't much of a game.
I'm really proud of our senior class. They did a lot of things to help create a new culture and start things in a positive direction in our tenure.
We're going to work relentlessly in recruiting to turn this program around. I haven't sat at a conference tournament and been eliminated in the first round in 10 years. So this is unusual for me to be eliminated this early, and we're going to work really, really hard.
But I'm really proud of our seniors and sorry they had to go out on that note. But they've really helped us change the culture.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Jasmine, how tough was it chasing around Kate Thompson the whole night and how did that impact you on both sides of the ball?
JASMINE McGHEE: I mean, that was just my job to play defense. And I mean, she's a good player. And she's expected to get shots off.
And my role was just to play defense and play as hard as I can. That's it.
Q. Jasmine, even after you went down 12 0 in the first half, you were able to really make a run sort of late in the first half to go into the locker room only down 10. How were you able to do that?
JASMINE McGHEE: Just playing with confidence and getting my teammates involved and just energy, maybe. I mean, we know that we were coming into a big stage and being the underdogs, we weren't expected to win either. So just being able to come out and just play with confidence, a little more confidence, just probably how we tried.
Q. Sasha, can you talk about the physical nature of the game? There's a huge battle at the post and unfortunately Michigan got the better of it. But seemed like they were really flying in for the offensive rebound. Could you talk about the battle down low?
SASHA CHAPLIN: Just playing them for the third time this season, we kind of knew that Michigan is a physical team, and they do crash the offense and defensive boards.
So when we were coming into the game, our main objective was to crash the board and attempt to crash the board more offensively and keep their post players off the glass. And they did out-rebound us and we have to go back and look at this during the summer and improve.
Q. What do you think contributed to that slow shooting start in the first half? Just seemed like everything you put up, you just couldn't get a shot to go down.
SASHA CHAPLIN: Just I think it was just the momentum and the energy and just trying to go out there and find our rhythm. It is a neutral site. And just the limited amount of time we had to shoot around kind of affected us. So just going out there and when we go out there, shoot, shoot, and shoot well in a new area. So I think that was the main problem for us.
Q. Sasha, you've been around this program for five years. To see where it started, to see where it's going, to see the small improvements, and to see the kind players that Coach Miller is recruiting, how does it make you feel for the future of Indiana?
SASHA CHAPLIN: Just the same positive and just knowing that Coach Miller and his coaching staff is out there recruiting the best players in the nation possible to bring in and establish this program.
When I came in, we had a little success there. 2009 was the last time we made it past the first round in the Big Ten tournament. And we went on a little slump. But just the improvements we made this year is a great look for Indiana's women's basketball. And that's all we're trying to do is establish this program and bring it to the national level and show everyone that Indiana is here to compete in women's basketball.
Q. Jasmine, a few times when the runs were going against you, seemed like you were the most emotional and vocal out there. Can you talk about what you were trying to do in firing up your teammates when things weren't going well?
JASMINE McGHEE: I just think I wanted to win. And me being a senior, I didn't want this to be my last year. I just know that I just tried to get my teammates going and maybe we can make a run. And unfortunately it didn't happen, but I'm just grateful for the opportunity that I've been playing here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We'll take questions for Coach Miller.
Q. Coach, it is your first season, of course. Anytime you step into a program, you're obviously going to have to build it up. But you did have some improvements this year. How do you take it to the next level next year? In other words, what expectations are you going to set for your team, for your coaching, to keep improving for next season?
COACH MILLER: Well, we certainly understand that this is a long marathon rebuilding job. And it's not going to happen overnight. And when we rebuild, we knew this year was going to be difficult. So we never put any goals in terms of win/loss record on this team, but we wanted to establish things as a hardworking team and a good chemistry team. And we did that throughout the year.
But people have to understand that we also graduate our three leading scorers, our two best defenders, our best rebounders, so we're going to have to depend on a lot of freshmen next year.
And so we want to get better, and we continue to believe that we're recruiting kids that fit our system and in the long run are going to be very talented players, but it's not going to happen overnight. And this is not a league that you win easily with freshmen.
So we are prepared to understand and dig into this journey. And our win/loss record might be worse next year, but we really feel it's headed in the right direction. And all of it starts with recruiting.
We've all, every single coach in the Big Ten is a championship coach. But we always are better with good players. And players win games.
I can't wait for [former Michigan head coach] Kevin Borseth's kids to graduate. I want those five seniors to graduate.
Q. Coach, in the first half you called three timeouts in the first 12 minutes. What were you saying to your team during that Michigan run to try to slow them down?
COACH MILLER: Well, we used different tactics in those three timeouts. We were challenging them to play harder and to get our energy level up and to not back down.
We understand that we lack offensive fire power, and if we dug ourselves that kind of hole, we were going to be in trouble. And so we challenged the energy level. We challenged the confidence level. And Michigan doesn't surprise you. You know what they're going to do, and they're going to make some shots.
And unfortunately, Lonnie [Aulani Sinclair] looked fatigued tonight and couldn't get her legs underneath us. Linda [Rubene's] really under the weather and sick. And those two seniors who have been a huge part of what we do are 1-for-16 combined, and we don't have the offensive fire power off the bench.
So we're just kind of willing them at the time with three timeouts just trying to stay in it in case we could catch a run and catch a flurry of good play. But disappointing start for us, certainly. It didn't help us throughout the evening.
Q. Can you kind of talk about it almost seems like a repeat from the first two games, shut down Kate Thompson and [Rachel] Sheffer is limited, but then somebody steps up. Nya [Jordan] was a nemesis again tonight, 13 boards, and then out of nowhere came Nicole Elmblad. So could you talk about how Michigan throws those other players at you?
COACH MILLER: Well, I want to first say that even though Jasmine McGhee did not not only didn't win the defensive player of the year award, didn't make the defensive team, and there's not a better defender in this league.
She chases around Kate Thompson with very little help all three games that we played them, and she very rarely scored in all three games.
And Jas did that to the best players on every team all year long. She doesn't get a lot of credit for it because we don't win a lot of games and we're not a big steal team and play a hokey defense. We're a pretty packed line and pretty conservative, so she doesn't get a lot of credit.
But first, Jasmine was once again tremendous on Kate Thompson. She gave up one basket to her tonight, and it was the first play of the second half. The other basket she got was not against her.
With that said, Nya Jordan has hurt us as a versatile, active post player that can hurt you on the outside and off the dribble. And we tried to scheme a little differently for her and she still contributed.
Now, Nicole should have come play for me at Bowling Green, but we didn't quite get to the finish line with her. So I love Nicole Elmblad, but we insulted her tonight and tried to make her the star of the game and helped off to help with the struggles that we had in the first two games with Sheffer and Nya Jordan and Sam Arnold, and we were going to make her score baskets.
Not only did she score some points, but by playing off of it, she got a lot of free running lanes open to rebounding. And Nicole really hurt us with her offensive rebounding. And as a kid, one of the kids that I'd love to recruit through the years, I'm really happy for her, disappointed that she had such a great game, but my staff, who recruited her very hard to Bowling Green, is a huge fan and she had a great game tonight.
Q. Coach, throughout the season you talked about how the offense really relies on Aulani [Sinclair], to see the kind of game she has, only four points. How do you feel after that kind of performance?
COACH MILLER: Well, you could see all night she didn't have her legs. Her shot was very flat tonight. Almost every single miss was short. And she depends on she's not great off the dribble. And so she didn't go create her own shots. She's gotta make those shots and everything was short.
And for what she's meant to this program and the 31 point performance that she had against Iowa just recently, and she's nearly scored 500 points this year for us and in the top 10 in the league in scoring. It's tough to see a senior end her career like that.
But we'll forget about this one and remember that she'll graduate as one of the premier shooters in Indiana women's basketball history. And her career should be celebrated. She had a great career.
Q. Can you just talk about the heart of Jasmine McGhee tonight, to sort of try to will the team to victory?
COACH MILLER: You know, Jasmine tried to bring everyone with her emotion with her. Now, when you struggle, you also get into that mode where you try to do too much.
And as hard and as passionate that Jasmine tried to get her teammates to come on, we can do this and we believed we had a good game plan coming into tonight, there were stretches that that passion she tried too hard. And she tried to do too much, which unfortunately got us out of rhythm sometimes even more.
And you can't fault her for that, because she was trying the best she could to get her fellow seniors and her teammates to come with her with a passion that she was playing with. But we were in quicksand all night. And as soon as we were doing one thing, we just couldn't get ourselves out of quicksand. And as we put a Band Aid on one problem, another thing sprung open. It's unfortunate.
But going to miss that senior class, and Jasmine's one of those.
Q. Can you talk about, seemed like at the beginning the team was just flat and then they went on that run. What changed between those two stretches of play and why was Michigan able to just seemingly out hustle your team at the beginning of both halves?
COACH MILLER: You know, I wish I could put my finger on that. As a coach, you just don't understand sometimes. We've had really important starts. And we talked about the cannon effect tonight, which we always talk about. And Michigan had more determination and more fire in the beginning, and we challenged our kids early. And why that happened, the late start, kind of a dreary venue, I have no idea. I can only speculate.
I don't know why we didn't have more energy in the beginning. But it's unfortunate, that start, it dug us a hole. And you know, we don't have that kind of fire power, and that creates major problems and now you're panicked and you're playing a little outside of yourself because you're trying to scramble back too fast and get it all back at once.