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Bowling Green-Michigan State postgame quotes


March 20, 2010


Postgame Quotes: Bowling Green State vs. Michigan State

Bowling Green State

Head Coach Curt Miller

“I would like to start out by saying congratulations to Michigan State. They are a fantastic team; they were one of my sleeper teams for the final four. I have a great deal of respect for Suzy and their program. They are just so good defensively that eventually they just wear you down. Congratulations to them and their program, they played a heck of a game. As for us, I can’t begin to express how proud I am of our effort. We competed tonight; we have grown a lot during the season. We did not back down, we went toe-to-toe with a very talented team. A team that I believe has top ten talents.

Obviously the three ball can neutralize points in the paint and for most of the evening we shot the three really well and that neutralized it. What bit us in the second half was turnovers. We had nine second half turnovers and points off turn overs were a big statistic when you look at the stat sheet. Also we did a fantastic job holding them to 19% offensive rebounding in the first half. We really kept them off the offensive glass. In the second half unfortunately, they got loose on the offensive glass against us and ended up out rebounding us by nine offensive rebounds in the second half. When you give a talented team like that, that many positions, it eventually will catch up to you. We competed and I’m really proud of their performance. I think we represented our program well as well as our university. I’m just glad that I have the opportunity to coach outstanding young women.”

(The play during the second half) “I thought the three ball neutralized how much that they could pound it at us in different positions and points in the paint. We did a lot of things well; our attacking ball screen style really hurt them in the first half. In the second half you could really see a drastic change in their ball pressure. In fact we could hear their players talking in front of our bench the entire defensive half talking about how important ball pressure was. Their intensity that they brought in the second half when going to the offensive glass really wore us down. Their bigger, stronger, faster; it’s like playing against your practice guys for two straight hours, and you hope that prepares you. The turnovers in the second half and the in ability to keep them off the offensive glass in the second half, and ultimately one of the best foul shooting teams that I ever worked with struggled tonight at the foul line. When you play them you have to play an A game and we didn’t quit play A, but we graded out pretty well in that game. We gave them everything that we could.”



(The defensive job Jasmine Thomas did on Lauren in the second half) “I thought they did a good job trying to keep a fresh body on Lauren, instead of them going with size against her they went with their quickest player. They tried to get up in her and bother her but Lauren’s numbers were still terrific. She is so unselfish, again she is not a high volume kid, she doesn’t want plays run for her every time, but she is efficient in the plays that we do run for her. Give credit where credit is due, Thomas’ speed didn’t allow us to run as many plays for her and bothered her. I think Lauren is still one of the best players in the country and she showed that our there.”

(Changes you wish you made in the second half) “We wanted this game up-tempo, some people would try to muck it up and play it really slow and keep it really low scoring. We wanted to try and score and get up and down the floor and try to create early offense instead of having to score with their defense pressure. If there was one thing I wished would have done better was to work on our zone defense. We are a horrendous zone team this year. We could’ve tried to keep them off balance and give them a different look; I would love to be able to play some zone. We just had to bear down and try to get it done with man defense. I have a whole offseason to second guess some of the decisions that I made. This is the third straight season that we ended our season against a Big Ten team, we recruit against them all of the time, and we would want one more opportunity not to end our season against a Big Ten team next year.”

(On inside, outside balance during the game) “I think we needed to have a little bit more balance with points in the paint. Our best offensive post player was in foul trouble in the first half, we wanted to try and establish Tara Breske a little bit more. We wanted to have a little bit more inside, outside balance. But it goes back to statistics, they lead the Big Ten in three point percentage defense, they do not give up a lot of three’s. For what we did in the first half was excellent execution by us and to our kids stepping up and making shots. They just do not let you shoot threes easily, and we found that out in the second half when they bear down.”

(Foul trouble with Tara and Lauren) “You see us play all of the time; we never take Lauren off the floor. When we were tied at half time and she only played 13 minutes, we were celebrating and giving Lauren a hard time by telling her she was on vacation. We felt good about where we were, but the two kids that you couldn’t have in foul trouble ended up in foul trouble. It hurt us, but it wasn’t the story of the game. I give those kids credit they found a way to play with foul trouble and never back down.”

Junior Guard Lauren Prochaska

(Can you talk about your first NCAA experience?) “It is definitely a great experience. We realize how tough it is to get into the NCAA Tournament and how tough your games are going to be once you get there and how tough the teams are going to be that you will have to play. It’s a great starting point for us to start getting ready for next year. It’s just a great experience that we got the opportunity to come here and compete.”

(How much did their size wear you guys down?) “They are a huge team and very physical. We were obviously at a size disadvantage in the paint. They really tried to take advantage of that by posting up their post players as well as their guards tried to get us into foul trouble and get easy baskets. We battled and competed as hard as we could but eventually it just wore us down.”

(Can you talk about the job that Thomas did on you?) “She is a great defender. She was up on me all night and was making it very tough for me to get open. She is a great defender and I did what I could to get the ball or to draw fouls on her as best as I could.”

(What has this experience taught you about your team coming into class next year?) “We’ve learned so much from our senior class this year. They have taught us so much about what it takes and how much work it takes to get to this point. We just have to take what they have given us and teach that to the underclassmen and try to step up and be leaders just as our seniors were this year.”

(About the importance of the start of the game) “I think we played a great first half. We were not going to back down once we stepped out on the floor. They took an early 8-0 lead but we were not going to let the game get away from us that early. We really battled and challenged ourselves to come back and compete because we knew that we could. I think when we got back into the game we knew we could do it and we just played very hard.”

Junior Guard Tracy Pontius

(Can you talk about your first NCAA experience?) “I think it’s a great experience for us. It all started for us with our foreign tour in Costa Rica. This is what we dreamed of, getting to the NCAA Tournament. I think it was great to just get here and know what it’s like to be here.”

(On team fatigue) “We like to play up-tempo. They just battled with us up and down and the tired factor just hit us at the end at the free throw line. I think it’s just mental toughness more than anything.”

(What has this experience taught you about your team coming into class next year?) “Our senior class had a lot of leadership and they passed the torch down to us and we need to become more vocal leaders on and off the court. They taught us a lot.”

(Could you see a difference in Michigan State’s defense in the second half?) “They definitely came out and pressured us on and off of the ball. I think their coach let them have it a halftime, that’s why they came out so aggressive.”

Michigan State University Post Game Quotes

Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant

“It’s survival and advancement time. Obviously to be in the advance portion is a positive against a very feisty bowling green team. I thought they played as good as I’ve seen them play in the first half against us. They shot the ball extremely well as you saw. We had to make an adjustment and halftime and plead with our kids to make them put it on the floor a little more. 24 of their 36 points came from the arc. You don’t want to trade threes for twos, and that’s kind of what we were doing in the first half. We worked really hard. I thought we did a lot of good things. They just answered pretty well so give them credit. I also want to give our kids credit for that second half adjustment and being more aggressive out there and making plays when we needed them especially on the defensive end.”

(On Using Jasmine Thomas in the Second Half) “We rotated a lot of kids. I thought Cetera, Lykendra, Brittney, and Jas were four kids who I thought were athletic enough. Jas might not have the length but I think her quickness makes up for that. She’s a little guard, but she has a wingspan on her that many people don’t realize. I felt like athletically she was a good match up. They got away fro us in the first half. I was just proud of our kids. It’s one thing to change how you defend the screen or make an adjustment physically that way. It’s another thing to kind of will yourself ot get in people’s faces and have trust in your teammates that when you put it on the floor they’re going to rotate and be there for you. The fact that they had sixteen three point attempts in the first half and only six in the second, shows up a little bit about our team’s heart and toughness. I think two of them were the last minute or so when they were just trying to get a three point shot up to get back in it. I was proud of how we defended the arc in the second half.”

(On Aisha Thomas’ Status Physically After 5yrs of Basketball) “She’s our heart and soul. That’s a kid that probably shouldn’t be playing at times with some of the things that she’s had to deal with. The thing that she brings this team besides talent is her toughness. On every single one of us on this team understand what she’s going through. How can you feel bad about a sprained ankle or some minor issue when she’s like bone on bone and throwing up? She really gives a gift to this team. It’s more than just points and rebounds.”

(On Defending the Three Point Shot) “It was getting in their space more than anything. As we got tired, it gave them space on the ball screen instead of being in their space. When we would show and go under, we were late to the party. Early on I thought we were really good about being in their space, so now it’s just a quick up and under. If you back off the screen is deeper. Now you’re going almost mid lane-line to try to get back out there. I thought that was one minor detail we talked about. More importantly, we have to high hands and want them to put it on the floor. There’s a lot of tape of Bowling Green. When they get to the lane line, they break the foul line and they are going to shoot no matter what. Very rarely are they going to kick it. Their team knows that, so it’s a great opportunity to offensive rebound. It’s a great opportunity for them to get a foul. We’ve been working on that for four days. We know they’re going to throw that shot up. We don’t want to put them on the foul line, and we want to get good help side rotation and make tough shots over us. That was a big difference there. I think Brittney kind of alluded to it. When we didn’t foul them, they kind of shot crazy shots. We were able to defensive rebound. I thought that’s where we started to open them up a little bit. We really made them get to the lane line, throw up a shot, and defensive rebound it.”

(If There Was a Point When MSU Took Over) “Not with Bowling Green. Probably not with anybody we’ll ever play. I felt good about our fight in the first half. We were trading threes for twos and it was a tied game, so I actually felt pretty good about where we were at. I think there was 3:16 left in the game, I said if you think a ten point lead means anything this is a team that it doesn’t mean anything to. They can hit a couple shots and be right back in it. I thought our team really responded to that. The game against Iowa State came back to us. A seven point cushion seemed like a lot back then. We carried over today by finishing and being strong in the backcourt with ball when they started to pressure us. I had to make sure we understood that a ten point meant nothing when you’re playing a team that can shoot threes.”

(On Having Only Ten Turnovers) “I really thought we made good decisions out there. That’s a team you don’t want to give it back to. They’re very hard to defend. We talked a lot about how they defended. It’s kind of an inside-out mentality. It’s really important that we read the help side defense. They really pack the paint and do a good job. We have to get them more off the screens and pass it to the wing and throw it in there. When it is on the wing, read the backside help and skip it. Then let’s re-enter and make them move a little bit and let them make a mistake. I think that carried over to the turnover situation. I thought we made some pretty good decisions there.”

(On Brittney Thomas’ Offensive and Defensive Development) “To her defense, she came off an ACL. She’s a warrior and a tough kid. There’s probably no better person to come off that type of injury than Brittney with her work ethic and they way she was going to get herself back. She was kind of rusty at the beginning of the year. Just the other day she asked our trainer if she could take the brace off. It was bothering her and getting in her way. She’s not taking it off. She may as well finish the year with it. What that says, that she’s kind of freed her mind from worrying about that kind of thing and to focus on the gifts that’s she’s been given. I do think the first half; she struggled a little bit on the offensive end. To see her come back in the second is a little bit of a maturity phase, that she hasn’t always shown the first couple of years. This year, I’ve seen where maybe she didn’t play the best the first half, but was able to come back and make shots. She took some big shots for us.”

(On Defending Lauren Prochaska) “We were disappointed. She had 19 points. I was a little disappointed in that. That’s a lot of credit to her. It’s 8 to nothing, and the next thing you know it’s 8 to 8 and she has all their points. It wasn’t like it was something they did that we were unprepared for. We were just a little bit late to the party. I was a little disappointed, but I felt that we did a much better job in the second half getting in her space and making it tough on her. There were a couple plays that they couldn’t even run to her because we switched out. One of them caused a complete turnover for us. That’s a good player. We spent a lot of energy focusing on her, and she still had 19 points.”

Junior Guard Brittney Thomas

(On What Different Defensively in the Second Half) “They were telling us the whole time we were practicing that they could shoot. We really just had to pressure them and get more deflections and let them put it on the floor. When you made them put it on the floor, I think they concentrated more on getting contact more than just trying to finish the bucket. We were just trying to put it on the floor so we could rebound it and get in transition.”

(On Guarding Lauren Prochaska) “We wanted to make he put it on the floor and apply pressure; not let her shoot threes. Be quick to get under screens so she couldn’t get any open looks. She’s a great three point shooter and a quick release, so you’re got to try to make her do things that are the lesser of two evils.”

Senior Forward Aisha Jefferson

(On Her Offensive Performance) “March Magic…this time of the year everybody is playing their best basketball. You know tonight was my night, and another night it’s going to be somebody else’s night. That’s the great thing about our team right now. Everybody is playing their best basketball right now. It definitely felt like we had an advantage on the inside. I wanted to be aggressive. They played straight up defense. We had been working a lot as post players on our three point range. That’s something I wanted to show that I could do and hopefully it will open it up for our inside players.”

(On trading three’s for Two’s) “It definitely frustrated us for a minute. We made adjustments. We were playing hard, but you don’t want to go down and trade three’s. We weren’t hitting a lot of three’s. They were 11-22. We had to get out there and make a statement in the second half and make them put it on the floor. I saw a couple of times where number 5 didn’t want to take a shot because we were always in their space. That’s the adjustment we made. You’re not always going to be able to follow through with your game plan. You have to make adjustments at times, and I think we did a great job of that.”

(On Being Sick During Pre-Game) “I’m okay. I was just feeling a little sick. I had a little stomach issue. I got a lot of Mylanta.”

(On Playing Through Injuries and Sickness) “Me and Al (Allyssa DeHaan)..She was lying on the floor because of her back, and I was puking in a trash can. We were like this is our last go-around, come on let’s go. I felt like we were in the war….shot all up in the trench trying to take it home. There’s definitely urgency for us. I don’t pay any attention to my injuries because I’ll lose focus. This time of the year everybody is banged up. Brittney’s banged up, Kalisha is banged up…I’m sure people on Bowling Green are banged up. It’s about who wants it more.”

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