April 2, 2006
Brenda Frese: I'll tell you, all season long this team has played with a chip on their shoulder and I really felt like they have had to fight for respect every step of the way.
I'll tell you, they got a lot of believers after tonight and the performance they put on. And just a tremendous game, obviously from both teams. But for this team, to be able to hold North Carolina to 70 points, that was our game plan to be able to hold them in the 70's. Just to be able to keep our poise and our composure throughout a 40 minute game. I'll tell you, it's just a tremendous team win to be able to continue to keep taking steps with this team and they just keep taking us for a heck of a ride. And I think you can see by now what makes this team and this group just so special.
DEBBIE BYRNE: Go to your questions for the players first.
Q. Talk about the job that Larkins did inside and what you guys did to neutralize their inside.
Crystal Langhorne: She's a great player and I think she just was getting inside position and the until the second half we tried to contain her and have somebody help out on Atkinson and help double on her.
Laura Harper: She's just, like, really hard to guard. She was getting good position, making really good post moves. She had a really good game. We tried to contain her and try to force her to take jump shots as best as possible.
Q. Shay, what was the game plan defensively on Latta and can you talk about the job you did with her?
Shay Doron: The game plan was to keep her in front of us at all times. She's very quick obviously and we wanted to make sure we contested every one of her shots and get the ball out of her hands as much as possible. We doubled on the top screen there and we made sure that she wasn't going to beat us on that play she beat Purdue on.
So we just were trying to get the ball out of her hands as much as possible and get her to take contested shots.
Q. Crystal, the pace seemed so frantic for both teams in the first half, was there any thought of saying, let's slow down and kind of collect ourselves?
Crystal Langhorne: We had a lot of turnovers and our coaches were telling to us relax and we were telling each other to relax. Because North Carolina speeds you up and we just wanted to take our time and take care of the ball.
Q. Have you guys taken any inspiration from being the lone 2 seed from Baylor's run last year, do you think about that at all?
Crystal Langhorne: Our coach has said that. She says a lot that Baylor was a 2 seed last year and they won it all and we can do the same.
Q. You guys had like two rebounds in the first eight minutes and the coaches kind of called you out on that. Crystal, Laura, was there something you did to get the advantage back in the paint there?
Laura Harper: Well, this whole time preparing, it's been stressing rebounding and it was a little disappointing to hear such statistics from the coaches. I think we just kind of buckled down and said, we have to rebound in order to win this game and we want to win, so that's what we did.
Q. Laura, what got into you and when did you think that this might be your night?
Laura Harper: Just from the beginning. I could feel that I was like Carolina has so many weapons and so do we, I just wanted to play confidently and have fun out there and that's what I did. I just had fun.
Q. Shay, can you talk about the shot you hit with like a minute left, the pull up jumper from the free throw line?
Shay Doron: I had that same opportunity the first half and I kind of read it wrong and tried to give it to Crystal, and it was a turnover. And at half time the coaches were like, "That's your shot. It goes in every time, so shoot that with confidence." And it was the same play. They didn't step up on me and I shot it and it just went in. So I was just playing what they gave me. So that was about it.
Q. Shay, I wanted to get your thoughts when Latta went down with the knee injury, how concerned were you that she would be able to come back and how effective do you think she was coming back off that? Was she able to cut as well? Was she as effective as she was in previous meetings that you faced?
Shay Doron: Yeah, honestly I didn't really see it affect her at all when she got back on the court. I was kind of hoping she would get back on there. Because I didn't want any excuses later. So we're glad she got back up and she's a great player and I'm glad she did play. And she had a good game, but we played such a great team defense and we came out on top.
Q. Shay, can you talk about your confidence level coming into this. You hadn't had a particularly great shooting performance so far in the tournament and then made some big shots down the stretch. Can you talk about your confidence there.
Shay Doron: Coach B tells me that I shot about ten million shots in my career. So I can score, I know I can score, and when I shoot it, I can't think at all, I just have to shoot because it just comes naturally. And when I do just shoot it and not think about anything, that's when it goes in. So I just got to keep my mind blank and just take what's given to me.
DEBBIE BYRNE: Ladies, we're going to release you back to your locker room now. Thank you very much. We'll go back for questions to the coach.
Q. How you doing? Did you want to substitute more freely tonight? Seems like it was a more frantic pace and you didn't substitute at all. They all played an average of 33 minutes.
Brenda Frese: Yeah, I thought that it would have been nice to we got into some early foul trouble. It really, we had to adjust coaching wise when we had Shay and Ashley and Jade in a lot of early foul trouble. So again, we would like to be able to get everybody involved to be able to use everyone on this team who has gotten us here.
Q. If someone had told you before the game that your point guard would have two assists and 12 turnovers, would you be surprised that you won? And I wonder why at some point you had Shay bring the ball up and it seemed more effective, and then you went back to Toliver, I wonder what your thinking was on that?
Brenda Frese: Absolutely. When you look at the turnover stats to see that we won the game with 26 turnovers and our leader at the point having 12 of those turnovers, but that's just because obviously how aggressive they played; they're in your shorts the entire game for 40 minutes. That's why we adjusted with Shay and putting her at the point to be able to relieve some of those minutes from Toliver. But again, we didn't feel like we could go too many minutes with Shay at the point. Just because Shay, you know, Toliver's been the one handling it for us all season long.
Q. It seemed like a game for big players today and less so for the guards, how come?
Brenda Frese: That's what was working. It was who could stop who and obviously they were getting a lot of easy looks in the paint. Larkins really was extremely aggressive, but to be able to have the X factor from our end with Harper and Crystal Langhorne really did a tremendous job. And I think that's what make this is team so special is they understand whatever is working in terms of a game plan, we're going to ride and we're going to go with it.
Q. Towards that end, I think the conventional wisdom was that you and North Carolina wanted to run. In hindsight it seemed like that you really wanted to turn them into a jump shooting team or did you?
Brenda Frese: Absolutely. We wanted to try to turn them this into a jump shooting team as much as possible. And we also wanted them to have to take difficult shots. We wanted Ivory, we knew she was going to score her points, but we wanted her to have to take some difficult shots under pressure. Just have to work for every little thing that they were going to get.
Q. What was one thing that you wanted to do differently defensively from the first two times, maybe something they hadn't seen out of you?
Brenda Frese: We definitely did mix it up this game from before. We actually doubled Larkins any time she caught the ball in the paint. We doubled off of Atkinson. That was something that we were looking at just to be able to frustrate her. I thought we did a tremendous job at times getting that double team, getting some calls with the jump ball. And then we wanted to double some on ball screens that they were we saw that screen up top was a screen that had really given Ivory a lot of easy looks going to the basket. Sometimes we got it, sometimes we didn't. But we knew what we wanted to do in terms of executing it out.
Q. You had a pretty private conversation with Kristi Toliver. I guess it was about 12 minutes or so into the first half, what did you guys talk about? You seemed pretty aggressive with her.
Brenda Frese: You know, just to keep her head up. Sometimes she wears her emotions on her sleeve in terms of showing her frustration. I wasn't going to let her show her frustration in this game.
She did a tremendous job. The pressure that she faced for 40 minutes bringing the ball up the floor, and I just wanted to stay firm with her in the sense so she didn't allow herself to get frustrated and stay firm and in terms of her believing in herself and her abilities, because she's such a great player.
Q. Could you kind of go into this No. 2 trying harder thing and how many times have you brought it up to your players that a 2 seed can come in and win this thing?
Brenda Frese: Actually I only brought it up today at shoot around. I heard that actually from the announcers over to the side that actually from our SID Natalie had gotten it from the announcers that the last 2 seed, the last two years the No. 2 seed has won the national championship.
Q. Coach, not to take anything away from the rest of the players, but it seemed like it was to some degree a one woman show for them and could you talk about your balanced scoring and how much that helped you tonight versus North Carolina's sort of one option?
Brenda Frese: Yeah, I thought that obviously Erlana played a tremendous game. She really, I think they went with the game plan in terms of you ride that out. She was getting some great looks, was being aggressive on the glass, but it was nice to be able to see from our end to have that balanced scoring when things would break down. We had so many options. That's what this team has done all season long, is just continue to stay and be unselfish.