March 10, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Mountain West Conference champion University of New Mexico, head coach Don Flanagan, student athletes Dionne Marsh, Katie Montgomery and Julie Briody. Coach, if you want to start with some opening remarks on the game.
COACH FLANAGAN: First of all, congratulations to BYU. Terrific team. Played an outstanding game. They have an excellent coaching staff and an excellent group of young athletes, so congratulations to them.
It was such an evenly matched game that I wasn't sure who was going to win about four minutes left to go, and then all of a sudden we separated in a hurry. But I thought it was a great game to watch. I'm sure our athletes will tell you it was a great game to be involved in.
I don't know what determined the outcome. I think it was maybe both teams were tired. It's a tough grind to play three games in four days. Every team that we played was a physical team. We got pressed in the first game. We ran over at least 500 screens against Wyoming, then play a team like BYU that's another screening team, it's very, very difficult, these players.
Somehow about four minutes left to go they found a way to win this game. So I'm very proud of their effort. I'm very proud of the game that they played today.
THE MODERATOR: Questions now directed to the student athletes.
Q: Dionne, can you talk about how important it was when Kubik fouled out there with five minutes to go? Did you expect the tide to turn that much as it did in the final five minutes?
Dionne Marsh: Not necessarily. I mean, they have good post players. They're very strong. They kind of outsize us. That was one of the difficult things.
Coach had been saying the whole game, Drive to the basket, get them to foul you. I just tried to do that a little bit more, be more conscious of it in the last few minutes.
Q: Dionne, can you say what came out of you when you drew your fourth foul? You looked frustrated. After that you scored 13 of or 20 points.
Dionne Marsh: Yeah, I guess I was just a little frustrated. I'm undersized. I just thought I was just trying to work hard basically on defense. I mean, just working hard. The refs just called it the way they did. You just have to play the game how they're calling it.
Q: You came out kind of slow, not really into the flow early. Was that just the result of having played three games in four days, fatigue setting in?
Katie Montgomery: I think so. I mean, like coach said, it's kind of tough, difficult to play three games in four days just physically, especially against the teams we played against. They're real physical teams. A lot of our girls are playing major minutes.
But, I mean, you have so much adrenaline going on out there and stuff that you just kind of got to fight through it. I thought we did a particularly good job the last five minutes of coming together and playing hard. They were tired, too. We just took it at 'em.
Q: The first half you struggled from the outside but kept on shooting. Do you feel like if you keep on shooting you'll work through the slumps, shots will fall?
Katie Montgomery: Oh, yeah. I mean, I just got to keep shooting. That's what everybody was telling me. My teammates were hitting shots. I didn't particularly need to hit those shots. Julie, Brandi, Dionne, people were hitting shots in the first half. That's when you got to try to get them the ball.
I mean, I just thought we had a great team effort the whole game. I took the shots when I was open. Luckily some of them fell in the second half.
Q: You've been saying for a while now that you didn't want to be the senior class that didn't get to the NCAA tournament. Now that you've gotten there, how does it feel?
Julie Briody: I mean, that was our whole goal coming into the tournament, was that, you know, we weren't just happy to be here, we wanted to make sure we won the tournament. So there was no doubt whether we were going to be in the NCAA tournament.
I think just by the way that we played in the first two games, people saw that we were for real, we were determined, we wanted to win this game. Like they were saying, everybody was tired during this game, but we gave it all we had because we knew that if we won, we were going to get an automatic bid to the tournament.
Katie Montgomery: Just kind of what Julie said. I think we came down here on our first game Wednesday and I think we kind of wanted to prove something. We got out the first round last year. That kind of left a bad taste in our mouth.
We wanted to come out, we were real motivated, real determined. We knew if we played hard, we played together, we'd be able to win this tournament. That's what we did.
I mean, obviously we want to go to the NCAA tournament. That's our goal. But I think winning the conference championship, you know, is just as big a goal. You know, that's what you want to do from the very beginning of the season.
We've been able to do that the three out of the four years we've been here. It's a good feeling. It's good that the younger kids got to experience that young so hopefully they'll keep that tradition going.
Q: After BYU went on that run and took the lead in the second half, how much of the fact that that happened to you in the Wyoming game, do you think that helped?
Julie Briody: I mean, we just knew we just needed to calm down, bring back our focus that we had before. I thought that's what we did. During the timeouts we were just talking about making sure we stayed together. BYU's a great team. We knew they were going to go on their runs.
I thought we did a great job of withstanding those runs and was able to pull out in the end.
Q: Having won so many games now, 12 of 13, how much confidence does that give you going into the NCAA tournament?
Katie Montgomery: I think that gives us a lot of confidence. I think we're playing real well right now. We're playing the best we have all season. I think just the last three games obviously the last 13, however many games we've won in a row, we turned it around.
We didn't start the conference season off the way we wanted to. I think we've been determined since that point. I think it just gives us a lot of confidence. People have been playing well. Brandi had a great tournament. Timi has been playing great defense. We got some younger kids in there in the first few games. I think everybody's, you know, real determined and we're playing well together and real excited.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, ladies. You three can go. Congratulations. Questions now for Coach Flanagan.
Q: After the Wyoming game you talked about how maybe this wasn't your most gifted physical team, but you said the effort was there. Does that make this conference tournament championship more special maybe?
COACH FLANAGAN: Well, they're all pretty special, to tell you the truth. No, not really. What I really admired about this group of players was even when we had early on in the conference we had some problems, and we overcame those. They always worked hard. I mean, we had games where it was very disappointing. We lost a one point game to Utah at home. It was a very disappointing game. The next day our players came to practice, worked hard.
They remind me of just a blue collar team. It didn't matter what had happened the day prior, they were going to come to work, work hard, try to improve, and it paid off. It paid off at the end of the year right now in the conference championship.
I'm really proud of what they did and how they approached improving.
Q: You held Dani Wright to five points, six boards. Was that in your game plan originally? In your view, what did you do to limit her?
COACH FLANAGAN: She missed a few easy shots, which is unlike her. She normally hits those shots. They're very focused on getting the ball inside. I used several different players, but I never thought anybody was really stopping her because she got a lot of offensive rebounds. I'm not sure, some them might have been missed shots of her own.
I don't know how. I mean, it was just a team effort. We rotated people on her. Tried not to give her a deep hand. By "deep hand" I mean catch the ball over her shoulder, catch it towards the basket. She's very good at that. If you let her catch it in front of you, she's not quite as good.
If you can move her off the block just a little bit she's not quite as effective, but she's very difficult to move off the block.
We just used a lot of players and tried our hardest to stop the pass from getting inside. You saw late in the game Dionne did a great job with Riley, because Riley also is another player that's big like that and can get the ball inside and be effective. Dionne was denying that pass inside pretty effectively.
Q: Did you think Dionne became more aggressive after her fourth foul?
COACH FLANAGAN: Yeah. You know, I hate to do this, but Dionne plays better when she's mad. She got mad at her fourth foul. I don't think she thought that she got fouled. As soon as she got mad, she got motivated.
When they made their run, we talked that we weren't being aggressive enough offensively. A lot of times what you can do is one team gets the momentum and they get very, very aggressive, and they keep with their confidence, they're attacking you, and pretty soon you're not attacking anybody. So we turned that around with some talk about attacking back at them.
When Dionne started to do that, she got people in foul trouble. Then she hit her free throws, which sometimes she doesn't do, but she did it this time.
COACH FLANAGAN: Yes, we are going to the NCAA tournament (smiling).
Q: At what point in the season did you feel the team had this kind of toughness and ability to turn things around?
COACH FLANAGAN: Yesterday. Honestly, you know, I mean, there was a period of time when I wasn't really sure. I wasn't sure we were going to the NIT, never mind the NCAA tournament. We struggled a little bit with this team.
As I said before, we have a different kind of personnel. We don't have the normal personnel that I've had in the past. So we had some uniqueness about this team. That uniqueness learned to play well together. I think that's what created the team that you saw today.
Q: I voted for Brandi for MVP. She didn't even make the all tournament team. Katie, too. Is that kind of the definition of this team, the way they pulled together?
COACH FLANAGAN: I said to Brandi afterwards, we talked in the locker room, I said, If there was a defensive MVP, you were it. She did a terrific job. She defended the toughest player on every team. She did a great job. None of those kids she guarded were easy guards. She did a great job. She got beat up a little bit and bounced right back and came back in and played good defense again.
I thought Katie's play and poise right down the stretch late, we tried to get a little ball screen with Dionne and Katie because I felt those two were the keys for us to score, clear the other side, then Katie drove a couple times, got layups, then Dionne got the ball inside on a roll a couple times and scored or got fouled. Those two players played particularly well.
I thought Julie Briody played well. But, you're right, we kind of shared the limelight.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, coach. Congratulations.
COACH FLANAGAN: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Brigham Young University head coach Jeff Judkins and student athletes Mallary Gillespie and Lauren Riley.
Coach, if you want to just begin with some general comments on the game, please.
COACH JUDKINS: I got to give a lot of credit to New Mexico. They played a real physical game tonight. They made the plays down the stretch when they had to. I think Marsh hit some big baskets when they needed it. We had some opportunities and just didn't quite seem to get it done.
I'm really proud of my team. We've had a hard week, a week that has been challenging. We got down early in this game and we fought back like I knew this team would. We just couldn't make the plays that we had to make. Where we have in the past, we just couldn't do it. But I'm really proud of them, the hard work they've gone through.
You know, I told them in the locker room, I've been here I think four out of the six years. I've won one and lost three, but maybe I'm getting experienced, hopefully it will turn around.
We're excited about the rest of the season and what we need to do. My job will be to get these young ladies' heads up and realize they've had a great season, a great conference. We're just building from our program. So I'm really happy for them.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach. Questions for the student athletes.
Q: Can you talk about the disappointment of this one? We saw some tears on the bench. How are you going to turn that around into motivation going into the NCAAs?
MALLARY GILLESPIE: Turning that around, we didn't play the best game. We came out in the first half really flat, started slow. We just didn't have the best game. So if we can turn that into the NCAAs coming up next weekend, play better, we'll go farther. Like we didn't play our best game, so next week we're going to have to play better.
You know, we can. We just started out flat, kind of shot ourselves in the foot. But we got it in this next week.
LAUREN RILEY: For me, I guess just any time you lose, it just gives you motivation to get back going, get better, work harder and come back with a win next time. That's our next goal.
Q: Why did the tide turn so much when Dani fouled out?
MALLARY GILLESPIE: Having your best player foul out gives the other team a lot of momentum. That's basically what it did. It got her her fifth foul. Marsh was going to the line, got the free throws. We got a technical right there. Gave them two more free throws. Just a lot of things didn't go our way right there, so they were able to build off that. LAUREN RILEY: She said it (smiling).
Q: Can you talk about the first half shooting? Was that a case of nerves or was it their defense?
MALLARY GILLESPIE: Yeah, no, a little bit of both. Came out, you know I don't know, I came out flat, I came out slow. It hurt the team. It hurt my shooting, it hurt the team.
I tried to pick it back up that second half and get 'em in there. I should have been there first half doing that, so...
Q: Lauren, it seemed like when Katie Montgomery was driving down low, seemed like there was some sort of miscommunication when she was going to the hoop. Talk about that.
LAUREN RILEY: Yeah, that was probably all my fault. I mean, I should have I should have stuck with it, but I guess from the previous two baskets with Marsh, I was just thinking in my head, Stay on Marsh.
That was one of those stupid mental mistakes during, you know, crunch time.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies, you can go. Thank you. Questions for Coach Judkins.
Q: You said it's been a tough week. How so?
COACH JUDKINS: Well, you know, we had an emotional game right before the tournament against Utah. We beat them. We go to TCU, travel. We'd been on the road forever, then come back, then go back on the road. Kubik hurts her ankle. I have another girl that hurts her ankle. I've got kids that are just mentally tired right now.
Tell you the truth, I am, too. It's been a long season. I've watched so much game film in the last three days, I'm sick of watching film. I think that happens to you at this time of the year. It just gets that way.
You know, we just have to do a better job as a team because next year we're going to be in this spot again hopefully, be able to learn from that.
I had three seniors been through a lot with me. To see them leaving, this is their last tournament, was hard. It's been one of those times. I don't know what we can do better as a team when this situation happens. I know yesterday I was the happiest man in the world sitting up here. Now I'm the saddest man. That's what happens in sport. That's what makes it so challenging.
Q: You know you're in the NCAA tournament, obviously. This game, this loss, how important is it in terms of next week, getting a seed in the tournament?
COACH JUDKINS: I don't think the players ever see that. I think the coaches and the media and the administration see the seeding part. I think there's three girls on my team that have been to the NCAA tournament, then the girls of course last year.
They haven't really been there enough to know the seeding, how important it is to really go somewhere in the tournament.
Hopefully some of these young kids will understand that and realize when you get to this stage of the season, you've had a great season, just to move it up a little more, just step up one more. Kind of like climbing a mountain: you're almost to the top, you can get there, you can see the whole valley, or you can just stay one more step. That's what I got to get my team to try to understand.
Q: Talk about the play of Shawnee Slade. I know earlier in the year you wanted her to look for her shot. She had 16 points against New Mexico at New Mexico. To come here and play like she did, talk about how impressed you were with her play.
COACH JUDKINS: I think the way you saw Shawnee tonight is the way I see her every day in practice. Shawnee's biggest issue with her game right now is not her athletic ability or being coached or working hard, it's the mental part of the game. She has to mentally get in the game and do what she did tonight: be aggressive offensively.
I think she has flashes of it. You see it. For some reason against New Mexico, I don't know if it's matchups, I don't know if it's because it's always a big game and she enjoys that, she seems to just rise to the occasion.
Hopefully next season she'll have games like this on a regular basis. I think she can do that for our team. But she had a great game tonight. She started off slow. I pulled her out and just went over to her and said, Shawnee, you just got to relax. Go out there, let the game come. She came out in the second half, I thought played really well for us.
Q: On the technical foul, obviously you lose Dani, they get two free throws. Those were missed. What other impact do you feel that little swing had on the game?
COACH JUDKINS: First of all, that foul went on Kubik, that fouls her out, that was Marsh fouling Kubik. She had four fouls also, might have been a different situation. Referees said one of my players said something to the other official.
I told the ref, You don't know that girl like I know her. She wouldn't say that. He said that she said something not in the best of language. Gave her a technical. She missed both of them, so that happening didn't hurt us as bad. I think losing Kubik hurt us more than the technical.
Sometimes a technical can fire your team up. I kind of thought when that happened maybe it would. But it kind of backfired a little bit.
But you got to give them some credit. They ran their stuff. Marsh, she finished. I hope someday in the women's game they'll get rid of flops, get rid of that, because the NBA doesn't do that, the men don't do that. I'd like to see our game be more like that. But they make great plays.
Montgomery is a very smart player. She knows what she needs to do for the team. The two man game you were talking about earlier, we defended it pretty well until right at the end. Then we just kind of slipped a little bit. That's what you got to give them a lot of credit for that.
Q: What do you think your seed will be next week?
COACH JUDKINS: I hope not eighth and ninth. If that's the case, I'd like to be 11th. I think 11th is a great seed. We have a chance done well when they have that number. Seems like when I look at the tournament, one Mountain West team is always 11th. They probably have us slotted in there.
Hopefully we'll be able to get that. I knew if we won today, we'd have a pretty good opportunity of maybe getting a little higher seed in the tournament.
You got to play somebody. You got to go out and do it. Doesn't really make a difference. We just got to go out and have a great week of practice, be ready to go.
Q: You talked about yesterday the team that executed best would win. Both teams struggled out of the gate. Did they pick up their execution? Is that what happened?
COACH JUDKINS: I think the first half first five minutes, both teams struggled. We just I don't know, seemed like we were just out in left field the first 15 minutes of the game. We missed a lot of easy shots. We didn't finish when we had it. They came in and Briody hit a couple of baskets, got them going. Then, you know, we had spurts the first half.
The second half I thought we played a lot better. Mallary looked for her shot better. She let it come more. But for some reason Kubik just didn't get the ball where she normally gets it. You got to give New Mexico credit for that. Their post defense was a lot better. I don't know if we get it into her like we should have early in the game. Kubik for some reason has a better second half than first half. Try to tell her she needs to be aggressive the first half, but she worries about fouls. We shot 20% in the first half, which we usually don't. We're a better shooting team than that.
Q: What was it when Kubik fouled out, did the teammates miss her leadership? Were they rattled by her departure?
COACH JUDKINS: I don't know if they were rattled because Kubik's fouled out of a lot of games this year. I think the way she fouled out, the way the ref called it, the crucial part of the game, just maybe that was upsetting to them.
I don't know. I think it was a lot of combinations of things. Usually this team, when somebody fouls out, your best player, sometimes this team the whole season kind of got closer together and just kind of buckled it up. I thought we'd be fine. Riley was playing well today.
I thought, you know, we're all right. I had Riley rested. We came down and just didn't execute, turned it over a couple times when we shouldn't have. Just can't do that against a good team.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, coach. Good luck next week.
COACH JUDKINS: Thank you very much.