March 7, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by University of New Mexico head coach Don Flanagan and student athletes Dionne Marsh and Katie Montgomery. Coach, if you want to begin with some general comments on the game.
COACH FLANAGAN: Started out very well. We don't normally start out that well. I thought that the beginning of the game was excellent for us, hit our shots early.
Our game plan was to make sure we didn't give them anything in transition, take care of the ball in the back court, not give them any turnovers where they could score in transition, make 'em work on offense.
Brandi Kimble did a great job defending Sequoia Holmes. Kind of took her out of the game. Kind of defended her nose to nose wherever she goes, and that definitely helped. They got a little bit frustrated from that.
Then we ran our offense quite well, shot a high percentage in the first half. Then we did it again in the second half. So we put together back to back halves and put together a whole game that I thought maybe was our best game of the season.
I was real happy with the effort. We're happy to play Wyoming on Friday.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q: Can you talk about coming into this game how much was it on your minds? You were 2 16 here against them previously, and what happened last time you played them, was that on your minds at all?
Katie Montgomery: I think so a little bit. I think we were real motivated. We knew we didn't play particularly well last time or last week when we were here. We kind of had the game, kind of let it slip through our hands. We wanted to come out hard and play hard. We wanted to come out intense from the very beginning and match their intensity and match how hard they were going to work. I thought we did a great job. We hit some shots early and that gave us some confidence.
Q: How important was that defensive play early on?
Katie Montgomery: Defensively I thought we helped each other really well. Like coach said, Brandi did a great job on Sequoia Holmes, not giving her too many touches. We were just helping a lot. We were talking a lot and that helped us out.
I mean, defense has been strong for us all season. If we can play that kind of defense, I think we can win some games.
Q: Dionne, you were pretty confident before the game about welcoming a chance to play them again. What was it about you wanting to have the rematch, wanting this game even though you lost to them a week earlier?
Dionne Marsh: It was a lot of motivation for us, especially some of the older girls, because we got knocked out by them in the first round last year. Our last game playing against them we lost, so there was a lot of motivation for that.
We had something to prove. The girls, we talked about it before the game. We knew we weren't going to lose.
Q: Dionne, how much easier was it inside without Shamela Hampton in there? What do you think was the big difference from last week's lost to them?
Dionne Marsh: I think the big difference between this week and last week is we practiced against pressure a lot in practice. That was one thing that kind of hurt us last game when we played them. Her post presence is very good. For their team last time we played them, she was very strong, very physical. That helped us out a little bit.
Our post players, we did a good job today helping, basically rebounding, do all the little things. We have a little room to improve obviously. Hopefully we can practice tomorrow and get ready for Wyoming on Friday.
Q: Both players, would you look ahead to Wyoming. What do you think of the match up? What is going to be the key?
Katie Montgomery: Wyoming, I mean, they're a tough team obviously. They're one of the top five in the conference. We all kind of have the same record. Everybody's kind of beaten everybody. We just got to make sure they're a great three point shooting team. We have to make sure we keep that away from them.
They're a team that works incredibly hard. We're going to have to match their intensity, their hard work, come out hard against them. Hopefully we will get a quick start like we did today and that will help a lot.
Q: Can you talk about Valerie's play?
Dionne Marsh: Val did very well. She helps us a lot. She's 6'6". Against a lot of teams, that's a good height for us, especially in this conference. All you have to do is just keep throwing it in to her. She's pretty good about finishing. She's got good hands. Hopefully she'll continue to help us throughout the tournament.
Q: Katie, you guys just blew a team out of the gym. There were thousands of fans here from New Mexico. Does this feel like New Mexico's tournament to lose right now?
Katie Montgomery: I don't know. Obviously it's kind of nice having a couple thousand fans cheering for you. I mean, it was a very good atmosphere out there for us. I think, you know, probably a few more will be coming once the weekend comes around.
You know, we just got to make sure we come out and not really than you know, we can't really focus on how many fans we have. We got to come out, play hard, play smart, play together. If we play like a team we did today, we're going to be hard to beat.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, ladies. We'll let you go. Questions now for Coach Flanagan.
Q: Can you talk about the motivation factor from the previous meeting?
COACH FLANAGAN: It probably helped. You know, this is our fourth straight athletic team. UNLV we played just a week ago. I think we had some flaws in our game against some quickness and some athleticism and some pressure. I thought we did a good job resolving those problems.
It was evident today that we were more patient. We were calmer. We showed more poise against a team that is quite athletic and puts a lot of pressure on you.
Now we've got to play Wyoming, who doesn't do that at all. So the conference is divided with teams that play halfcourt and teams that pressure you full court. We just had all three of those teams that pressure you in a row full court. I think we grew accustomed to it and figured out how to beat that pressure.
Now we got to figure out how to beat that halfcourt set in running an effective offense.
Q: You had 14 steals, forced 23 turnovers. Was the defense more of a key this game than scoring over 60 like it is in your usual games?
COACH FLANAGAN: Well, defense has always been important to us. We're one of the top teams actually in the nation I guess point wise. It's always important to us. We felt like Sequoia Holmes was the key. She really had an effective game against us last time we played. She's very difficult to stop. She jumps over guards. So we tried to take the ball out of her hands and not let her get very many catches. That seemed to be quite effective.
Once she couldn't quite get her shot off she got a little bit frustrated and other players had to step up and score. And that definitely was one of the reasons why we were successful.
Q: Valerie averages like five minutes a game. Do you normally put her in in the first half, or is that strictly to go against UNLV's 6'6" center there, Stickler?
COACH FLANAGAN: It was fun to watch those two play anyway. I thought that would be a nice match up for the fans, so I figured I'd put them both in at the same time of (smiling). If she put her in, we put our big kid in.
Actually Val has been making some advances in practice. I think that's the main reason why I gave her a chance. Then, of course, she goes in and she starts playing pretty well, and I'm not taking her out when she's playing pretty well. But in practice, we've been working very hard on her focusing in practice and working harder in practice.
She's got a great deal of talent. This game I gave her a chance and she showed, after good practices, that she could play with some discipline. She was listening, she was focused. I was very happy with her success today.
So I put her in the first half, had good minutes. Put her back in the second half. If she keeps playing like that, I'm not holding anybody out of a game if they can have a game like that obviously. But the key for us is practice hard, practice with focus, and then we'll get you some time in the game. And she showed that lately. Then she had a chance, and she sure made the most of that chance.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, coach.
COACH FLANAGAN: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by UNLV head coach Regina Miller, student athletes Kameca Simmons and Sequoia Holmes.
Coach, if you want to begin with some opening remarks on the game.
COACH MILLER: Well, New Mexico, I thought, came out firing on all cylinders. They jumped on us right away from the beginning of the game, hit a lot of shots out the gate. We were not able to finish some plays offensively. Got down early.
But I thought we were okay at that point. You know, like I say, I think they hit their first five out of six shots. All we needed to do was turn up our defense and try to make some plays offensively. But they continued to do that for 40 minutes.
It was difficult because I felt like we never really got in the fight today.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q: Sequoia, what do you think was the big difference in today's game as opposed to when you beat them last week?
SEQUOIA HOLMES: I think our defensive intensity wasn't as good as it was the day we played them here at home in the Cox. I also didn't think we made plays well offensively.
Q: It seems like you girls couldn't get into any offensive rhythm today. Could you talk about that? What was the biggest issue today?
KAMECA SIMMONS: Seems like we couldn't really get into a rhythm with our offense. We kind of really didn't set and use our screens to get each other open and to get shots, to get easy shots. So that kind of had a lot to do with our offense not going well.
We didn't get the shots that we needed. We didn't finish baskets. We didn't get and use set new screens. That's a big part of our offense. That's how we get most of our shots out of our main offense, so we didn't execute that well.
Q: Kameca, probably not the game you wanted to finish your career on. Could you reflect on your feelings about your career coming to an end today with this game.
KAMECA SIMMONS: Well, I never looked at it coming to an end from this game here. I don't know, I just wish that if I could change and turn back the hands of time that, you know, I could have been healthy enough to be here for my team when they needed me most in the beginning of the season so it could have just carried over right now.
I'm just, you know, overall I wish I could have been here for my team. Injuries limited me. And tonight it was just an overall I felt like I tried, but I didn't give enough effort.
Q: Sequoia, No. 41 was face guarding you. Did that kind of make it hard for you to get into any kind of rhythm offensively?
SEQUOIA HOLMES: Well, Brandi Kimble is a good defender. She's about my same height. She's long. It's hard to get open when you got somebody face guarding you. Like Kameca said, we needed to set new screens. I felt like it would have been easier for me to get open had we done that better.
But I feel like if you got somebody at that athleticism, it's going to bother you somewhat. So, I mean, she did a good job.
Q: Were you bothered at all or did it surprise you at all that it was kind of as if new Mexico had the home court advantage with all their fans here? Almost like an away game?
KAMECA SIMMONS: The way I looked at it, all I saw was red in the stands, so it kind of took effect that that could have been our fans. So it kind of really didn't bother us. Personally for me it didn't bother me. Kind of just looked at it like they were our fans.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach Miller.
Q: Could you sum up the season now that it's over, how it went for you, the season as a whole.
COACH MILLER: Did you say evaluate the season?
Q: Sum it up, how it went for you.
COACH MILLER: About five games ago we kind of had a little mini season. Our goal was to have seven games. We were going to take one at a time. I thought we were well on our way to reaching our goal when we pulled off four wins in a row.
This was the fifth game. If we could have gotten two more it would have been a great season, considering that we've dealt with quite a bit of adversity this season. Physically, as Kameca alluded to earlier, with some of the injuries earlier. A lot of the returning players that we expected to be contributors really didn't start out with this team.
The positive for us is, if you noticed tonight on the court, at the end of the game I had all freshmen, sophomores and Sequoia Holmes. Basically that's what we played the majority of this season with.
Overall I guess I'm really proud of this team from the standpoint of being a young team, the leadership, basically has been in our freshman/sophomore class, our junior class some with Sequoia Holmes. We were at a point where we could have gave in when we lost four games in a row during the middle of conference play.
We dug our heels in the dirt and we won four games. So that showed me that this team is well on our way to developing into becoming a very competitive team with any of our teams in the league, with the returning players we have.
You know, I look at it, no one likes to lose. You learn a lot from losing. This is the most we've lost since I've been here. Sometimes you have to sacrifice to get to where you want to be. For us this season obviously has been in the win/loss record. I think that certainly can turn around in a year.
It's kind of interesting. I look at the year that even our men's team, they were left out of the post season tournament last year. Over the summer they made sure they worked real hard to get themselves in a position that they're having a great year. So that's certainly some incentive for the Lady Rebels.
Q: Do you think the result would have been different if you had Shamela Hampton in there today? How much of a factor was that?
COACH MILLER: I'm huge at not using excuses because we always look to make adjustments. But I will have to admit not having Shamela in the middle did make a difference. It changed a lot of what we like to do and what we have done. She is a post player that's played a lot of minutes.
That's another young player on this team that went from playing very little to 35 minutes a game. So I felt like we made a pretty good adjustment fairly quickly to go over and beat Colorado State. But then to come back and I mean, New Mexico's got depth. They shoot the three, spread you out with the three point shot, then they have Dionne Marsh in the middle. You have to pay attention to her.
Our goal today was to try to defend that three well, as well as we could, and not give up the give up the two a little bit, but not uncontested. Today we gave up a lot of uncontested everything.
Again, not having Shamela in the middle, it was probably too big of an adjustment not having her to play against players like Marsh and some of the depth they have on their team in the post. Having to move Sequoia from a guard spot into the post area, you know, we were just really undersized. We played three guards and two forwards most of the time.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH MILLER: Thanks, guys.