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December 17, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
COACH ROSE:Â First, we're excited to be here representing our university and our conference.Â And know that we have our work cut out for us with a great opponent.
But we're thrilled to have the opportunity to be here.
Q.Â Micha, can you talk about your relationship with Edgar Miraku a little bit and what that's meant to you over the years.
MICHA HANCOCK:Â He coached me, coached my sister first and I was in the gym hitting the ball against the wall and he would randomly ask me, Do you want to play?Â And I would say, Why not.
I've known him for a really long time.Â He played.Â So he had a lot of insight for me.Â Great guy.Â See him as like a second dad.Â He's really matured my game at a young age and pushed me to be my best.
And he did a lot for me.Â He was patient.Â He just pushed me to be a really good player and skill‑wise, and I learned from him I couldn't be mean anymore.
When I was 14 I was very impatient with other girls and trying to help them mature and not like isolate myself, and I think that was really important for me to learn early.Â And couldn't be more grateful.
Q.Â Coach, Micha wins MVP last year at Nationals when you win as a team, and now senior year, Oklahoma City, just all the pressure that I could imagine is on her.Â Have you sensed any of that?Â Is she uniquely qualified to maybe handle it where some people wouldn't be able to?
COACH ROSE:Â I mean, I think what Micha is, first and foremost, is a really competitive young person.Â So I think she has the ability to separate the noise from the opportunity to really go out and compete and do the things she does well.
I know she probably had some heavy burdens with thinking about trying to getting this team's back here from the leadership role that she had at the setting position.
But being uniquely qualified, I don't know if anyone is ever really qualified to do something that.Â I think you look at it in hindsight, how do they handle the various distractions.Â But to this point I think she's doing great.
Q.Â Nia, what do you draw from the match you played at Stanford?Â And you had to figure inevitably you might see them again.
NIA GRANT:Â Right.Â I think when we went there, we learned that they came ready to play.Â We just had to stay consistent and worry about everything going on on our side, and that's all that we could control at the end of the day.
COACH ROSE:Â I wasn't discouraged when we went there based on the fact that we had graduated 10 years of All‑American in the three players that graduated.
So my concern going into the match was the sort of damage that Stanford could have done to us that could have impacted our psyche for the balance of the season.Â But I thought we competed really well.Â The match was a good match.Â And what impact did that do from then to now, two separate teams.
Our lineup is significantly different.Â If you watch them play, if you were to compare how they played earlier to now, they're playing with great confidence.Â They have the best winning percentage in the country this year.Â They're really fast.Â They're strong at every position.Â It's probably been a long time since we came in as an underdog in the Final Four.Â But someone has to.
And we're going to do our best to compete as well as we can come tomorrow.
Q.Â Micha, going along with my first question, something Edgar said when I talked to him this week was that you desire to be challenged and that he needed to challenge you consistently.Â Was that something that need to be challenged something that came along as you understood your talent, or is that something you kind of had all throughout your life?
MICHA HANCOCK:Â Yeah, I mean, there were times I had a couple of coaches and they let me do what I wanted and it wasn't as challenging as I wanted to be because I wanted to get better in the gym.Â Otherwise I feel like I'm wasting my time.
So I think having Edgar as a coach and showing what he showed me was something I looked for after high school.Â And that's kind of where I found, what I found here.Â So having that challenge and knowing that you can always do better is something that I look to find.
Q.Â Coach, Stanford was not invincible.Â They lost before a really big crowd up in Seattle to Washington.Â What did you learn from that match about Stanford and how they can be beaten?
COACH ROSE:Â Well, I don't know.Â I thought‑‑ I voted Stanford No. 1 every poll throughout the season.Â The loss to Washington, for those that have lost at Washington, it's an indication that, A, Washington's very good.Â And we knew that having played them last year in the NCAA Finals, final weekend.
What do you learn from a team when they lose and come back and win the rest of their matches is that it's one bump along the way.Â Again, they've got the top winning percentage in the country.
So I think the bigger question is what did they learn and how did they handle it.Â Not ‑‑ I'm an outsider, I don't really know, I just think they're playing a lot better than they played earlier, now that‑‑ when we played them earlier, you know, Lutz was just coming back from an injury that she must have incurred first or second week of the year so she wasn't playing a full‑time role.Â But right now they're getting mad numbers out of the middle.
But I think losing at Washington maybe prepares them for situations like that.Â John would be far better prepared to talk about it.Â I know how it is to play Washington with a huge partisan crowd, and it's a real challenge.Â And I just think in my mind those were the top two teams throughout the season.
So that was a match that was the last match of the Pac‑12 schedule.Â So you had all year for everybody to get excited about the prospects of how that's going to be.Â But they didn't have much turnaround time because as soon as it was over they've won four matches as the other three teams that are here this weekend.
Q.Â Russ, you like competing against John?Â And could you talk about some of the history?Â Because you guys have had an inordinate amount of epic matches going back to Pacific and through Stanford.
COACH ROSE:Â I like John.Â We're good friends.Â You never like the downside of beating one of your friends but you also hold your head high when you know it's a great match.Â And I had the same relationship with Don Shaw who preceded John at Stanford.
So we had a really long streak.Â I don't remember the number of it.Â But it started when we lost to Stanford and it went for a few years and ended when we lost to Stanford again.Â As I told them there was no person or program that if I was going to lose, that's the team that was comfortable with that happening.
So we've had some great matches and it's not personal.Â We go on the golf course, he beats me by 10 or 15 strokes that would be more personal.Â But I am smart enough to know to get the 10 or 15 up front.
Q.Â Micha, two questions, first of all, can you talk about the development of your serve, even taking you back to the genesis of that?Â And on a later note can you talk about the development of your dad's beard?
MICHA HANCOCK:Â As far as I know, that just grows.Â He doesn't really tame it.Â I think people see that.Â But my serve, it's something I learned from my sister, my mom.Â I watched a lot of the mechanics of people doing it well and then I would just rep it.
There were a lot of bad days in the gym, a lot of good days.Â I remember the first day I actually learned how to serve up to the net.Â And so just a lot of reps.Â The toss.Â The speed, the approach.Â Aiming deep in the court.Â Positive talk.Â We talk about that all the time.
Not going back to the inline thinking I've got to keep this ball in because then you miss your serve.Â So just a lot of reps and managing the ball when it's not where I want it as a toss is basically what goes on back there.
Q.Â Coach, two‑part question.Â One, how much are coaches like yourself consulted when the NCAA's considering future Final Four sites?
COACH ROSE:Â The question is about when they're doing the Final Four sites?
Q.Â When they're considering Final Four sites for the future.
COACH ROSE:Â I can't comment on coaches across the board.Â I was on the volleyball committee 30 years ago.Â And it was a process that people submitted bids and the committee looked at the various bids at the various times.Â But that was a time when regionals were at the higher seeds.
So I think I'm sure there's some sort of interaction and communication with the AVCA and the coaches group talking with the committee.Â But they don't solicit information.Â Nor do I feel I should be involved in making those conversations either.Â I'm comfortable at the various NGBs making those decisions.
Q.Â So it's safe to say you haven't been consulted in recent years on that then?
COACH ROSE:Â Safe to say I'm comfortable with the procedure as it exists.
Q.Â Let me ask you this:Â What are your thoughts about playing in cities that are truly neutral like Oklahoma City, Louisville, or Kansas City, or having a team in potentially partisan sites like Seattle or Omaha?
COACH ROSE:Â I would say no one is better prepared to have that answer because we played Washington last year in Washington and we played Nebraska in Omaha the year they beat Washington.Â And as a coach, I look at it as the committee does the best they can to separate the top teams and provide a fair tournament and both teams advanced because they earned it on the court.
There's some advantages, if you have a regional, host a first round and have a regional and maybe you have the Final Four, where in theory you might play all six of your matches in the same state, whether that's Washington or as maybe has happened with Nebraska.
But there's something to be said for having to beat the best teams on the road in their facility with a great crowd.
So I think it's important we have big crowds.Â I think it's important that we try and expose a lot of people to the game across the country.Â And I'm just happy that Penn State supports the program well enough that we can be relevant and get a chance to be in those matches.
Q.Â The FIVB has started doing video review in world championships, men and women.Â Any thoughts on whether conferences are in a position now like the Big Ten or the Pac‑12 to experiment with that now that so many matches are televised?
COACH ROSE:Â I was with the U.S.A. Men this summer with the World League and saw it set up and saw it in motion.
And the first day it was working, and the second night it wasn't working.Â Now, if you ask me how valid was it and accurate, I thought it was great.Â I think the officials are all trying to make the right call, and it's more important that the call is correct than it is that it's a territorial situation where the official says I'm right, you're wrong, and then later all of us look at video and say, well, that wasn't an accurate call.
And the problem is in rally score, so many matches come down to one or two key plays that really come into play.Â And I look at it as probably over the course of a career, and I've been coaching 40 years, they probably balance out.Â You've had X that went your way and X that didn't go your way.
The problem is I remember the ones that didn't go our way because I'm paid by my university and I care about Penn State.Â The officials are paid to be neutral and they can't hold a grudge when some coach reminds them that they're not doing a very good job.
So there is kind of a problem that exists with that interaction, but I think the technology is there.Â I think the cost is probably going to be prohibitive.Â But there's a reason that they're doing it at the highest level in the world and I think it's based on the speed of the game and the fact that they really want the calls to be correct.
Officials, all professional sports they have the chance to look at the replay and we had a football game earlier in the year that was very similar where everybody saw it but the official.
So you have 100,000 people in the stadium that look up and see it and they go, well, obviously the ball's on the ground, but the officials were looking at a different video, and that video, it wasn't conclusive.Â It's an interesting term, conclusive.
Q.Â Is it because the matches are televised that either the Pac‑12 or Big Ten is in a position to experiment with it, because those two conferences already televise?
COACH ROSE:Â Well, they have a lot of cameras, but if you've seen the actual setup and how many cameras and how everything is set up, there's a lot of technology really that went into play.Â Karch is here.Â He'll be a much better person to answer that question, just because I'm sure they've experimented and experienced how it works, the good and the bad of it.
But at the end of the day if it's about making the right call, we would all want the right call.
Q.Â Micha, have you been looking forward to the Final Four being here in Oklahoma City all season, and could you have possibly come up with a better way to end your career, provided of course you win the next two games?
MICHA HANCOCK:Â Yeah, you know when I found out it was here I was like, no way, it's my senior year and nothing more to get back here, have a chance to compete for the championship.
But a lot of distractions.Â I've had a lot of questions about that.Â It's one game at a time for me and my team, see what we can do.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports