March 8, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Purdue coach Sharon Versyp, along with KK Houser, Drey Mingo and Sam Ostarello. Coach?
COACH VERSYP: Well, we know the first game you play in a tournament you need to get through hesitation and, you know, play through the game and the first half and I thought Wisconsin obviously played a very good basketball game. They did a great job yesterday, and today they broke us down off the dribble quite a bit. We tried to go to zone and they did the same thing.
We got our game plan back together at halftime and we executed what we needed to do.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Questions for the student-athletes?
Q. KK, can you talk about picking them up full court like you did, especially in the second half and how you were able to slow them down and wear them out?
KK HOUSER: Yeah, I decided to pick 'em up, be aggressive, and I think it worked. We were trying to get the ball out of 35's [Jacki Gulczynski] hands, so I think we did a successful job at pressuring them.
Q. Drey, they only had two field goals for about 10 minutes, did the defense intensity allow you guys to get going offensively? And help you get going?
DREY MINGO: Definitely, that's a staple for our team getting stops and kinda getting our offense started.
SAM OSTARELLO: Piggy-backing off what Drey said, anytime we increase our intensity and get layups the other way that bodes well for our team.
Q. KK, I know Dee Dee [Williams] guarded her well but can you talk about [Morgan] Paige and how you limited her ability to score? What have you done well in the two games?
KK HOUSER: Dee Dee is the best defender on our team so we can have her lock down, that's what Dee Dee did and whoever switched off on her we wanted to keep the ball out of her hands, she is a great guard, she can take off the dribble, and take the three, and keeping the ball out of her hands was our main goal and Dee Dee did a great job on her.
Q. Sam, talk about the job that April [Wilson] and Taylor [Manuel] did, freshmen in their first tournament experience.
SAM OSTARELLO: As freshmen they have no fear. I think we have seen that all year. They stepped up and hit big shots and they understand it right now, and that's huge for our team and that's I just can't wait to see their growth through the tournament. Like I said, they're fearless and that's awesome.
Q. KK, the shots that April [Wilson] hit in the second half, the three three-pointers in a 10 minute span, how big were those to give you a cushion that Wisconsin couldn't come back from?
KK HOUSER: Huge and that's April's role. She just comes in and hits big shots for us, and she is a smooth player.
When they sag off and she is wide open and knocks down threes, that gives us a boost so they were really big for us.
Q. Just looking ahead to tomorrow, Drey, you get Nebraska. Prepare for overtime, I guess, with people, but another shot at them and as you move on in this tournament?
DREY MINGO: I think it will be a great game, always fun to play against Nebraska, and looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Players, you can head back. Questions for the Coach?
Q. April [Wilson] and Taylor [Manuel], if they had any tournament nerves they were not there but throughout history you have had freshmen step up in these situations, they did well today, didn't they?
COACH VERSYP: Absolutely, did a great job on Courtney [Moses] early not getting some shots and we talked about April being open a lot and she can knock down the three just like anybody else on our team and she did it effectively so the second half when I had the three small guards in, all of them could shoot the three and everybody could take it to the hole and I told April to bend her knees and knock down the shot.
For her to score more for us was big and she won a state championship, she loves tournament time, you can see a different gleam in her eye. And Taylor is Taylor, just knows how to play, she understands the game. Sometimes she is too unselfish, quit passing the ball just score every time you get the ball down low, we had a scare, she tweaked her ankle a little bit, glad she was able to come back in.
Q. Sharon, what did you do the second half to prevent Wisconsin from getting in the game in the second half?
COACH VERSYP: Played defense, got that going again and we changed the tempo, started full court pressing at a certain time, didn't want to do that too early, but we started doing that and they got the ball into an offensive set with only two seconds, so trying to keep it out of 5 [Morgan Paige] and 35's [Jacki Gulczynski] hands, and we did that effectively.
They didn't respond as well because of our pressure and that throws people out of sync.
Q. Sharon, the way Wisconsin pushed you for most of the game today, and they're an 11 seed, does that lend to the evolution of the conference as a whole in the RPI rankings? You've been around the Big Ten a long time. Is this one of the strongest years you've seen in the last five to eight years?
COACH VERSYP: I believe so. I keep saying that every year and every year it gets tougher, and we have new coaches come in, different blood, different style of recruiting and different style of the game, so I think that has improved immensely.
You have seen No. 12 knock off No. 1, 11 knock off No. 2 or 3, 11 knock off No. 6, and you're seeing the parity. Any given day anything can happen, and it's huge right now and when you add Rutgers and Maryland in another year or two, it's really going to escalate.
Q. Thoughts on tomorrow? Playing Nebraska? What do you expect?
COACH VERSYP: I expect an up-tempo game. They want to run as much as they can.
I really feel that Lindsey Moore is the key to that team right now. When we played them, we did a great job of trying to maintain our tempo, but I think she has been the key why they have won so many games in a row. She knows how to manage the clock, she is a senior point guard, she knows how much time to take off the clock and she knows who the go to players are and she knocks down the shot.
I think they have more depth than they had last year. They have guards that can come in and "D" you up, and [Jordan] Hooper her and Moore are the keys to their team, but they have more than just those two.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: We have Wisconsin joining us. Coach Kelsey, Tessa Cichy, Tiera Stephen and Jacki Gulczynski. Coach, opening thoughts?
COACH KELSEY: I'm proud of my team, they played hard, we had some adversity on us the whole year. But I thought the kids stepped up and answered the call when they were called to play a lot of minutes. I know Tessa [Cichy] did and certainly others that were playing the whole year persevered; I know Tiera [Stephen] was tired at the end but they left it all on the court, and they can be proud of that.
I told them don't cry, get mad. Come back better than you left and that will say how much you care and how much you want to be better, and I'm sure they will do that. We're proud of 'em.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes?
Q. Can you talk about how tired you were after playing forty minutes last night?
TESSA CICHY: Yes, we all played forty minutes. I got winded there at the end, got a little banged up, and I came out for a few minutes but tried to fight through it.
Q. Jacki with Cassie [Rochel] out how was the post play for you?
JACKI GULCZYNSKI: I thought our guards did a great job of stepping up and having to guard Drey [Mingo] and all the big post players, and I thought we did a great job of helping and limit their post play.
Q. Tessa, you started the last two games at the Big Ten Tournament. Can you talk about what it felt like to start, and the career-high points and rebounds, how you did that?
TESSA CICHY: We were shorthanded, like Coach Bobbie [Kelsey] said, and I thought I needed to step up for Tiera [Stephen] and my teammates. Obviously this was our last game so I thought that was important.
With the points and rebounds, I just did what I felt I needed to do, so I didn't even realize I had that many. I just kind of did what I tried to do all the time, worked hard and tried to get others open and if that gets me open, I guess I'm lucky.
Q. Ladies, for any of you, you had such a nice showing in the tournament, what will you take away from this Big Ten Tournament?
TIERA STEPHEN: Um, at the end of the day I don't even know I got nine teammates, I'm not sure, but one thing I will take away from this year, me being the senior, I'm the only one leaving, I'm proud of every single one of 'em, from the best, from Morgan [Paige] to whoever didn't see the floor, the bench was more excited than we were on the court, and that's one thing, at the end of the day, I'm not sure if any team in the Big Ten can overlook us.
They know we are going to fight. We lost to Nebraska by two, Northwestern by two, we're in every game, and maybe except for the first Penn State game, and we came back and beat them. So at the end of the day one thing I will take away is the heart and the fight my teammates have.
Q. Tiera, can you talk about playing in the game, especially walking off the court with a minute and a half left?
TIERA STEPHEN: It hasn't hit me yet, so I'm not sure how to answer that question but at the end of the day I'm blessed to have the opportunity to play for Wisconsin. It's been a long five years, I wouldn't trade my teammates or my coaches, I wouldn't trade this opportunity for nothing, it's a blessing, so, yes, I'm upset and sad in the career but like I said I'm blessed.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach Kelsey?
Q. Bobbie, could you tell with the players that they were running out of steam there late in the second half?
COACH KELSEY: When you have big bodies on the other side, it's hard when you don't, with Cassie [Rochel] in there, some of the fouls that were called on her were questionable, to say the least. That's all I can say about that.
She was out of the game and she felt bad about it, and a lot of pressure on Tiera [Stephen] and Tessa [Cichy]. Some players you can play around but no one can play the point like Tiera Stephen, and we don't have another 6 4 Cassie sitting over there, so those two are really not expendable, so to speak. No one is, but you can fill in and help where you can, but Cassie is a big part of what we do and the tone was set from the jump ball and that's unfortunate that she had to experience that.
But, again, she will use this as a motivation for her to come back and maybe average a double-double, she is capable of that, and she will have players around her that can help her, and take some of the pressure off.
Q. What about Tessa [Cichy] starting these last two games, how is she going to fit in there?
COACH KELSEY: Tessa is a gamer, whether she starts, plays, or doesn't, you don't know. Some kids you can see in their faces but her and Morgan [Paige], you wouldn't know if they were having a good day or bad day, they have those personalities and Tessa is a "gamer". She is a tough, tough cookie. She will guard anybody. She just thinks she can, sometimes like that little train if you think you can, you can; you will make it up the mountain. Tessa, we have had to put her on [Jordan] Hooper, and Nebraska and these girls are six and seven inches taller than this girl, but she will put her body in there, hustle and make plays and she is a coach's dream because she has a great attitude, she doesn't get down on herself, because she is a confident young lady, just very confident.
Q. Can you talk about a very difficult season with only nine players since mid December, How that's kinda worn on the team but also finally talking about next year, the players you will have back and also adding.
COACH KELSEY: This year was tough, and without the bodies you have to work with what you have. All year I have had to fool myself, too, into understanding that you can't worry about what you don't have you have to focus on what you do have. We did that and we tried to help the players do that, because the players can get down when they see people getting hurt, they're like, 'oh, no, what are we going to do?' We are going to play our game. We are going to go out there and fight, and we are going to make adjustments as coaches, we will help you do what we need you to do, and you will be just fine, and you can see it manifested itself throughout this whole season, really, being without Taylor [Wurtz], and AnnMarie [Brown] goes down, Michala Johnson, she is a transfer and can't play, and Nicole [Bauman] getting mono, but a lot of people have injuries. You can't get down, you have to pick yourself up and keep moving.
Just those players I mentioned are coming back down, next year, Taylor, Michala and AnnMarie along with the freshman coming in. We're going to have some big bodies next year, bang people around and not get banged all the time.
I'm looking for big things from these returners. You never know what freshmen are going to do; they're hit or miss. But I told them in the locker room, come back better than you left here, if you don't come back better that's telling me you don't love it enough. If you do, that tells me you love the game and you're going to come back better. Tiera [Stephen] did that, she came back aggressive. We need her to do that. I said, you can't "like" basketball, you got to "love" it. If you don't love it you're never going to get good at it.
Q. Bobbie, the Big Ten, what's it like to play in day in and day out, and then the national picture?
COACH KELSEY: Big Ten is tough to play in, everybody is pretty skilled. You play a "tight" team every night, which helps us tremendously, because our league, it's about seven teams last year and I know we will probably get six or seven in this year, and that's a testament to the play, to the competitiveness of the league.
On a national level I think we're up there with the other BCS conferences. I've been in a lot of these leagues, all but probably the Big 12; ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and now the Big Ten, and every conference is different, but in a good way, different, and when these teams meet up, it's a battle. And I want Purdue and all the other teams in the NCAA to do well, because it's going to help our conference, considering all the realignment that's going on and all the shuffling that's going to go on. They are capable to represent the Big Ten and do well, and we need 'em to get past that first round. That will be very, very helpful, so no pressure, Purdue, Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, go out there and get it done and I know they will.
Q. Coach, what about your free throw shooting? I think it was a tournament record.
COACH KELSEY: I hope so. That would be nice.
Q. You had tired kids going to the line, hitting free throw after free throw.
COACH KELSEY: Yeah, again, that goes to their that's a credit to the kids, we work on pressure free throws, we will do some one-and-ones, so if you miss the first you got to run, you will make it because you don't want to run. Running is a good deterrent for a lot of things and some teams aren't good free throw shooting teams this team is.
For whatever reason they don't get nervous, at least that's what I see. Yesterday you saw that, Morgan [Paige] made 10 but we made 21 so some other folks hit free throws and as Tessa [Cichy] said, if you don't hit the two before Morgan gets to the line you don't win that game, and she has never been in that situation, but the girl is confident, Morgan is confident, Cassie [Rochel] thinks she can make 'em and Tiera [Stephen] steps up there and makes em.
You have to make your free throws when it comes down to the wire, otherwise you're goin' home and somebody else is movin' on. They don't think about being tired, they just walk up there and make 'em.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach, appreciate it.