March 8, 2014
THE MODERATOR: We'll get a statement from coach and then go to the student athletes.
COACH BLUDER: I'm thrilled for our team. Ohio State has played extremely well. Ameryst is so hard to defend. She is playing tremendous, but really, their whole team has played so well in this tournament. Again, just feel great about the victory. I thought our kids were really mentally tough down the stretch. Thei's basket was incredible. I think she just willed that thing in.
I think the whole Iowa fan base willed that ball in. Defense held the last few seconds, the last minute there, and very, very glad that we survived this one.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Take me through that shot. Did you heave it up there, or did you know the whole time that it was money.
THEAIRRA TAYLOR: Good question. Well, I saw the opening, but I didn't know if I had the touch to kiss it off the glass the right way, but luckily I did.
Q. Ally, you guys built a 10 point lead and Ohio State kept coming back, but they never took the lead, what does that tell you about your team?
ALLY DISTERHOFT: Obviously, great teams make runs and that was a game of runs, but I think that out there we really showed our resilience, we stuck together as a group and down the stretch we all made plays, whether it was Thei out there hitting those two free throws at the end, everybody stepped up on the offensive and defensive end.
Q. Melissa, there was a point in the second half and Ameryst was close posting up and scoring off you guys and then basically she stopped. She couldn't do it any more. How do you stop her?
MELISSA DIXON: We just stayed together as a team, we got back to playing team defense and staying together and making sure that we had each other's help.
Q. Melissa, what was going through your head as you stepped to the line for the final two free throws?
MELISSA DIXON: We practice our free throws in practice in that situation, so I didn't regret being in that position. In my head I knew that when I got to the line I would make them.
Q. For any of the three players, have you ever played any games where there were two charge calls overturned and went back the other way in a game like this happened today?
THEAIRRA TAYLOR: Absolutely not. It kept us all on our toes. We had at least 30 seconds to find out what the final call was going to be.
ALLY DISTERHOFT: I agree with everything Tierra just said.
Q. For any of you, have you had a chance to talk to Kathryn after the game? I don't know what the situation was before if you guys expected her to play or anything, but just if you got a chance to talk to her afterwards.
ALLY DISTERHOFT: We didn't know for sure with her it was kind of touch and go. But, obviously, Kathryn coming in and playing those minutes and doing a good job hitting with the pressure was awesome. And afterwards we were all so excited for her and if you would have been in that locker room you would have been pretty happy too.
Q. Tierra, what does it mean for you and for this team to be in the position now to play for a championship tomorrow?
THEAIRRA TAYLOR: It's an amazing feeling. I can't think of a better script or a better team to be going to the championship with. I think we deserved it, we work hard, we played team basketball, we play the game the way it's supposed to be played and we're all excited to play tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you, ladies. We'll take questions for coach.
Q. Logic had one point and four fouls and I thought she played an excellent game. Talk about the stuff that she does without the ball and in that kind of taking charge and that kind of thing. Talking about Samantha.
COACH BLUDER: Nine assists and one turnover. Sam has never been about being about herself. It is all about, I will do whatever it takes for our team to win this game. I don't have to score a point, it doesn't matter. And I think when you truly have that feeling, I mean, some people can say that, she lives it. You need a rebound? Fine, I'll rebound. I don't need to score, I don't need my name in the paper, I'll do whatever it takes. And that's I think her performance out there.
She's our floor general, she leads us, she didn't have her shots today so she didn't force it. Some kids get in that situation and they will start forcing shots because oh my gosh I haven't scored yet. I have to do something.
Q. Take us through on that Disterhoft charge and reversed call back to the block. What did you see from your perspective?
COACH BLUDER: It was the other way around. I thought they called the block and then they called the charge at the end. Yeah. Obviously they went to monitor, they looked at it, so they got it right. I thought that Ally would go to the free throw line. I mean, I think we were celebrating that she went in there and took it and I think she took a hard foul, but obviously, she didn't.
Q. I asked the kids and they gave me the coach speak, but how did you stop Alston from getting inside, because she was hurting you for awhile?
COACH BLUDER: She was hurting us a lot and it was just her drives to the basket were so strong and, um, we started having to switch every single thing.
I mean at the beginning of the game we were only going to switch through ball screens and we just had to switch every pitch, every handoff, every single thing and try to keep her in front of us. And that was really the adjustment that we made. I thought that when we went back to the zone, that also mixing it up a little bit was good and trying to keep her out of the paint all day. We shifted our zone personnel around as well. Never done that all year long and did it tonight for the first time. Never practiced it even. Crazy. I know.
Q. Theairra had a couple highlight reel plays, is her will to win kind of what's pushing this team so far in this tournament?
COACH BLUDER: I think she's playing great basketball right now, she has so much confidence going to the rim, she's having fun, she's putting no pressure on herself. This team, again, they love her so much, they want to win for her so badly, and they celebrate so much when she has a move like -- I mean she provides me with a lot of wow moments and I love those.
Q. I think you addressed this with the zone changes, but did you have to approach defending this team differently than maybe the one you played 10 days ago, based on what they did the last two days?
COACH BLUDER: Oh, yeah. Being aware of their 3 point shooting was totally different how we prepared for them this time. What they have done in this tournament was amazing. But it did catch up a little bit today and they only made like one in the second half and three for the game.
Q. Was the officiating at all a distraction in this game?
COACH BLUDER: I don't think we let it be a distraction. And I think again, that it kind of goes back to the mentality of our kids. You certainly can get -- you can let it get into your mind and start worrying about things or your focus becomes that instead of the next play, and I thought our players did a really good job.
Even that last stretch where Ally -- that call, they just talked about playing great D. They didn't talk at all about the situation of the charge, they just talked about all we need is one rebound. One rebound. That was all.
Q. Is Kastanek going to be another game time decision?
COACH BLUDER: Most likely. We'll look at her tonight and see how it goes.
Q. Seems like you talk about this every game, but how good was Ally today, especially in this type of situation that she was in?
COACH BLUDER: Not playing like a freshman, is she. She's playing like a seasoned player. She is playing with authority out there. She is not scared and not backing down to anybody.
It's just so much fun to see. It's so much fun to see her development, her confidence grow, her rebounds at the end, you mean she was one that was grabbing those defensive boards at the end when we had to have them. So not afraid to take the ball to the hoop, I'm thrilled with how shes playing right now.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.
COACH BLUDER: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions from the student athletes.
COACH MCGUFF: It was a really hard fought game. I think both teams played well, and I'm really proud of our players for the effort they put forth today and through this whole tournament.
We had several opportunities in the second half where we could have went away, but we kept fighting and we gave ourselves a chance at the end. And a couple things didn't go our way and but very, very proud of this group, especially our seniors. Any time you take over a job, the thing you wish for most is you inherit great kids. And we have some wonderful young women in this program and it was a real pleasure to coach them this year.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student athletes, please.
Q. Martina, the last shot you got, can you talk us through the play. Were you the first option? Did it just go to you, did you think you had it in there?
MARTINA ELLERBE: The original play broke down a little bit. And Ameryst drove the ball and then coach said if you get it, shoot it. And I got it and I shot it. I wanted it to go in, of course.
Q. For both of you, have you guys you really shot the three well in the first two rounds and it wasn't really there as much in this game, but did they defend you differently or talk about the three being off the third game the third day.
CAIT CRAFT: I think that they knew that we had a lot of three point shooters, so they extended their zone and they left the middle a little bit more open. But shots aren't going to fall every day, so it's not an excuse, you just have to find a way to adjust to that.
MARTINA ELLERBE: I would say that we adjusted pretty well and I think we stayed very aggressive. But to our credit I think that we put ourselves in a good position at the end of the game, so, but things just didn't really go our way.
Q. In those last several minutes, Martina, you're a senior, Darryce is a senior and you each made huge plays to get back tight in the game. But the emotions of those last few minutes, did you think you were going to get over the hump and just how was it to play in a game like that?
MARTINA ELLERBE: Of course we always think that we're going to go over the hump. I think that just, as a competitor, you never think that you're going to lose, you always want to win. I think that everyone on the team thought that we were going to win. We kept fighting. So I would never say that we didn't think we were going to win.
Q. Darryce was really big down the stretch, made a lot of plays. It was great to see her really kind of impose her will at times in the game.
MARTINA ELLERBE: Yeah, I'm so proud of her. We both have come such a long way and at the end it was like really gutsy.
Q. Cait, I asked the Iowa players this as well, but have you ever played in a game where there were two charging calls that were overturned and turned into like a three point play?
CAIT CRAFT: I don't think I have. Iowa knew that we were going to take it to the basket and we knew we were. It was a matter of beating each other to the spot. The charge at the end, I was fortunate enough to be there and see that my teammate needed my help. But I don't think I've ever been in a game where it's been overturned like that, no. But the officials are going to do what they're going to do. And I think the officials did a good job of taking their time and figuring out what they were going to call.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll take questions for coach.
Q. Is this tournament something that really to build on for next year and for years to come the way these kids kind of responded?
COACH MCGUFF: I think so. What I think we can take away from that is I think we took significant steps in just consistently playing hard and imposing our will on the game.
Also, I think you saw a little more glimpses of how we want to be from a style standpoint. We were very aggressive, we were up tempo, and those are all things that, the direction that we want to move towards and the type of kids that we're recruiting.
Q. Did you think that they played with a lot of confidence all three days?
COACH MCGUFF: Yeah, that was the key. We came out, we were confident, we were ready, we were focused, we were excited to play, we were excited for each other and I think that certainly had a significant impact on our play.
Q. Coach Bluder said that she played a defense that she had never played kind of before to keep Ameryst out of the lane. But how much did the fourth foul hurt her offense over the last several minutes?
COACH MCGUFF: Yeah, it did hurt for sure. When she picked up her fourth foul I think she was a little more hesitant trying to get to the basket. And one of the things, I think overall today, although we shot 51 percent, we weren't as good at being aggressive to generate open shots.
Like yesterday we made every shot, but they were all open too. And they were open because our execution and aggressive play was great. We didn't have as much of that today. So we got good shots, but we got better shots the first two games than we got today.
Q. Is that because it was the third game in three days?
COACH MCGUFF: Yeah, with what we're trying to do from a style standpoint and as aggressively as we want them to play and got them to play, it certainly caught up to us a little bit. But to Iowa's credit they were playing the same thing, third game in three days and they really battled through it. So yeah, both teams played really, really hard. They made a couple more plays at the end and that was the difference.
Q. Was there any sense even before you left that you would be seeing this kind of performance from them or is it impossible to predict?
COACH MCGUFF: It's hard to predict, but we just wanted to do the best that we could to prepare in a manner that would get us ready for Northwestern. And we did that. And then coming into the Penn State game we wanted to make sure that we took our best shot at them. And we did that. And then today we wanted to be focused and prepared and we were and we just kind of came up a little bit short.
Q. Talk about playing with confidence, is that almost kind of the secret, is that a really important thing that can be hard to really get a team to do as you go forward?
COACH MCGUFF: It is. Part of, one of the things we battled this year a little bit is with Martina, Cait, even Darryce to some degree, Amy, although they were upperclassmen, they're almost like freshmen, because they never really had a role before. And so like people who have never had to consistently do that, we were a little up and down. And so if they had a bad game, it could lead to two or three in a row, because they had never really experienced that.
And so, but I think that here at the end you kind of saw us put it together a little bit more, where everybody played with a sense of confidence and it really worked for us. It's disappointing to lose this game, because we had a real chance. But it was a great game and both teams played really hard.
Q. What did you want for the last play?
COACH MCGUFF: Well, we had, the first thing we were looking at it is in action to get Darryce the ball around the basket. She had really come alive down the stretch and was playing hard, getting great position, finishing. So that was the first thing.
I actually think she was open, but it's something that Cait was a little bit -- you know, rightfully so, trying to make sure we didn't turn it over. I think she could have thrown it, but. And then we had like an action after that, kind of that offense we run and we got a great look. And I'm glad that we got a chance at a three and a chance to win the game and did a great job of drawing two. And they were probably smart stopping her, because she was on her way trying to get to the rim and they stopped her. And she threw a great pass to Martina and she stepped into it and had a wide open look and it didn't go in. And I think the thing you hope for most as a coach is that you get a chance. We got a chance, but it didn't go in.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.
COACH MCGUFF: Thank you.