March 8, 2006
Coach Don Flanagan: First off, I thought UNLV played an excellent game, exploited our weaknesses, put full court pressure on us. And I thought they kind of wore us down a little bit. Even though it did wear us down, we got to even, then we got a little bit of a lead with just a little bit of time left to go. Then all of a sudden, we just didn't complete the game. I thought one of the things that really hurt us was offensive rebounding. When they got an offensive rebound, they scored off of it. Many times we defended well right down to the end of the clock. They missed the shot. They got the offensive rebound, then they finished a shot. I thought that really hurt us because we worked real hard on defense. I thought we could have blocked out a little bit better. We certainly didn't shoot very well from the three. I think that really hurt us.
Question: Abbie or Dionne, when did you feel like the game started to get away from you?
Dionne Marsh: Uhm, like coach said, they really just exploited our weaknesses. Blocking out was a little difficult for us today. That's one thing with this kind of team you need to do. They may not always make their first shot, but they crash the boards hard which shows they give tremendous effort. I think that's what kept us from coming back, was just the blocking out. That happened like late in the game. Everybody's just got to focus. It happens to everyone. We just have to take it and learn from it.
Question: Is it better to have gotten a different seed and not come in? You talk about focus. Maybe you're used to not coming in and being so sharp at the beginning. UNLV is a team you would think you would see later in the tournament. Did that have any play in that?
Dionne Marsh: No, not really, because we've played everyone in this conference before. We've gone over that. We've had scouting reports. We've heard it over and over and over again what every single team does. You have to be ready to play everyone. You can't say we want to play this one person first to get momentum going. That's what you have to do as a team, take responsibility and capitalize on the things you need to capitalize on.
Question: Abbie, could you talk about the disappointment. You're used to coming in here and rolling out of here with three victories.
Abbie Letz: It's very disappointing. But it's something that happens. It happened to us today. Yeah, it hurts. It's going to hurt for the rest of the day. We know tomorrow's a new day. We've got to keep our heads up and hope the NCAA realizes what we did in the preconference schedule and in the conference and picks us.
Question: Do you think it's going to hurt your chances with the tournament?
Abbie Letz: Well, I mean, I don't think it's a positive on our resume for the selection committee. But you never know. You don't know what they're looking for this year. You don't know who has the automatic bids already and who has at large bids taken up; just have to see.
Question: They had four players in double figures. How hard is it to defend a team like that?
Coach Don Flanagan: The last time we played them, they shot over 50%. In the first half they shoot 52 or 53%. I don't know what they finished with. It seems like they shoot a very high percentage against us. Throughout the season, they didn't do that. I think most of that is a result of their second shot, not necessarily their first shot. One of the things I worried most about was their offense breaking down and then them driving and hurting us with a drive, or them shooting and hurting us with an offensive rebound. We only had two players that were in double figures. I thought the only player that was really attacking their defense, well, Abbie was trying to, was Dionne and Abbie. Those two players were attacking the defense. The rest of our players were settling for 22, 23 foot three point shots. I thought we had to be more aggressive. It showed at their free throw line. We only went to the free throw line, I think we shot two free throws. You only shoot two free throws, that means either they're not seeing the fouls or you're not creating fouling situations by attacking the defense.
Question: On the defense side of the ball, it seemed like they were flying around, getting to all your passes, creating havoc. Do you think they came out with higher energy today?
Coach Don Flanagan: Well, you know, I thought they tired actually. But you're right, they did give I mean, their effort was very aggressive. I did think they were tired. In retrospect, I think I should have called a timeout when we drew it even. Then Dionne fouled out and she was our main player that was scoring. I kind of lost an offensive weapon. I lost somebody that was actually attacking their defense. That put us in a difficult position. We had to derive our scoring from moving the ball. We couldn't just get it into one player. So when we did that, we had opportunities, but we just missed those opportunities. But they were the better team today. I thought they were the better team. They were more aggressive. When you look at the statistics, it was pretty darn close in every statistic. I thought they out rebounded the heck out of us, but they really didn't. It was 13 12. But the ones they got, the rebounds they got, the O boards they got, they really converted. They would get that rebound and then make a second shot from a high percentage shot. That's something that we didn't do. When we got the rebound, we threw it back out and we couldn't get a clean shot.
Question: What kind of seed do you think you might get? Are you even going to worry about that between now and Monday?
Coach Don Flanagan: First of all, we have to be invited. That's not a given. I think, personally, we've done enough, played a good enough preconference schedule, then done well enough throughout the year, and we played many times in the top 25. I think when you look at how the NCAA derives those participants, they measure how many teams you played in the top 25, how you did against them, how many teams you played in the top 50, how many teams you played in the top hundred. With that being their formula, I don't think we're going to miss the NCAA. I think we're going to be in. But at the same time it depends on who wins this tournament. It depends on how they feel about us, you know, what they know about us. I'm hoping they know a bit about us and they know a bit about our history because traditionally we've been pretty strong. We've gone four years in a row. I'm hoping to make it five.
Question: You had some players get knocked around. Do you think the physical nature of the game rattled some of your players?
Coach Don Flanagan: We lift weights, too. All year long we've kind of been banged up. I think that alone was hurt us a bit in our aggressiveness. I know I've pulled back in practice. We have some aggressive drills that I just threw out the window. I don't do them any more. For the last month, I've thrown all the aggressive drills that I have out just because I have too many people that are walking around or limping around or with injuries. So consequently, I don't do it any more. Usually this time of the year, we're playing really physical with one another to get ourselves ready. I think that hurt us a little bit because this was a very physical team. They appeared to be a much stronger team than us I thought, too. Yes, I agree with that.
Coach Regina Miller: I'm really proud of the lady Rebels this afternoon and the efforts we put on the floor. Our goal was to really guard the three point line. New Mexico is an outstanding three point shooting team. We knew they would stretch our defense. We wanted to try to take some chances with difficult on Marsh inside. She certainly made some plays. I'd rather give up a two contested over a three. That's a little less. I thought we did an excellent job overall of guarding the three point line. We made some plays down the stretch. New Mexico made a run at us in the second half, took the lead by one. I was hoping that was their run for the game 'cause we really stepped it up at that point. Our defensive intensity really paid off. We got some deflections and steals, were able to get out on the open court, finish the game.
Question: Sheena, could you take a moment and talk about Faye Muller? She had a couple huge rebounds, which both resulted in baskets.
Sheena Moore: Faye is able to use her size with her height. She's long and she's skinny. She's able to use her height and weight to get around. Most people who try to box her out, it's hard to make contact with her because she's light on her feet. Got a couple rebounds, tipped it out, a couple important tips. She was just solid for us today.
Question: Sherry, they hit a three pointer about five and a half minutes left, which gave them a two point lead. You didn't allow a field goal the rest of the way. What was the difference, the key to your defense down the stretch?
Sherry McCracklin: Well, when they hit that three, that personally was my man. We went to a timeout. My coach was like, "That's it for them, they're getting no more threes. If anything, they need to earn it." We took that to heart and just said, "If we lose this game, we're going to lose it on our own. No threes, nothing easy." We just took everything to heart and said, "We're not going to let them hit any more shots on us."
Question: People on press row referred to this as an upset. Do you think of it as an upset?
Sherry McCracklin: Personally, I don't, even though they are a ranked team. We just beat them last week. We knew coming into this game, there was going to be a lot of intense (sic). They're ballers, just like we're ballers. They're players, just like we're players. We don't look at them as rank teams or nothing like that. We just look at them as another team we need to go out and beat. That's why I don't consider this an upset.
Sheena Moore: Technically, if you want to look at it from that standpoint, they're ranked above us. It would be an upset from that standpoint. But, of course, now we didn't look at it that way. They're a team. We just beat 'em, what, last week. We knew we could beat 'em. We just had to come out and play this game. We knew that this tournament, everybody starts out with a clean slate. It doesn't matter what you did before. One loss and you're gone. It doesn't really matter what record or what you were ranked before.
Question: Sheena, because you guys did beat them so recently, did that give you either more confidence or some better ideas of what you could do against them coming into this game?
Sheena Moore: Yeah. Since we played them so recently, we knew exactly what to expect. We had confidence going in since we had won the last game against them. Yeah, we just came in with a lot of confidence and ready to play, ready to beat 'em.
Question: About Faye, a lot of times players can make a presence on a stat sheet, sometimes they don't. She finished with seven rebounds today. What a performance she gave you at key times.
Coach Regina Miller: I thought Faye came up huge at that point. I went with her in the second half. I didn't start her at the beginning of the game. But I thought she was playing well enough that I needed to stick with her, and it paid off. Faye is an outstanding rebounder. She has a nose for the ball. She does a nice job anticipating where the shot might come off. She's probably our best overall rebounder, Sherry is probably our most aggressive rebounder. It really helped us today.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions?
Coach Regina Miller: You're too easy on me. THE MODERATOR: Thanks, coach.
Coach Regina Miller: I'd like to make one last comment. I know we talk about rankings and so on. New Mexico is an outstanding program. They have an outstanding team, an outstanding program. For our program, it was a great win for us today because, as I said, they worked all year to get to the point that they're at. Obviously they'll continue to play into post season. It's just a matter of their seeding.