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March 1, 2017

Jonathan Tsipis

Avyanna Young

Marsha Howard

Indianapolis, Indiana

Wisconsin - 61, Rutgers - 55

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Tsipis and student-athletes Avyanna Young and Marsha Howard.

COACH TSIPIS: We've talked a lot as a team since the game ended at Iowa on Sunday night about doing something that nobody in the program currently had done, and that's as you get prepared for the tournament, be able to win a first-round game. And again it may sound like a short goal, a low goal, but I think having to do something together like that culminates what we've been trying to work at all season long.

And playing a team a third time, knowing they know you well, you know them well, to be able to be at our best. And were we at our best the whole time? No, but I was really proud of our team to continue to fight and compete.

And Marsha and Avy, as I said in the locker room, started that part of an aggressiveness in the first quarter -- catching the ball in the low post, making a hard cut, having a post-to-post assist right out of the gate, I think that sets the tone for how aggressive we were in the first half.

And I thought again I know Rutgers has struggled to score. But to hold somebody to 13 points, you're working hard. And I thought we changed defenses as well. We knew we didn't rebound well in the first half.

And I think we knew, when you're in a situation, it's a win-or-go-home, that records are out the window and people will continue to play. And I thought in the second half they made an early run and we came right back at them. And we got the lead in the 20s. And again I thought we were attacking against their press to the point where we were getting baskets at the other end. And I think that part of it, they kept coming at us, and again to end the game, turned a little bit into time and score. But when we needed to have stops, we got stops.

And again we were able to do, I thought, a good job. Marsha got two fouls in the first half. When she got her third I wanted to try to get us through the third quarter so we would have her fresh for the fourth.

I was proud of the way our team came together. This isn't just the preparation for the game versus Rutgers today. This is another step in the journey all year. And I think what hopefully that you see across the country is seniors sometimes don't let you lose.

And I thought when they got it into single digits late in the fourth quarter, a huge play. Avy gets the and-one after knowing that she had made a mistake on the box out and given up a layup. She didn't put her head down. She came down to the other end, she posted up hard. She got a good post feed from one of her teammates and went up strong. But those two, their ability to finish inside against bigger players and get to the free-throw line tonight I think was the key to our aggressiveness that spread out through the whole team.

Q. Coached talked about the first time you guys have won in the Big Ten Tournament since 2010. What does that mean to you guys to be that team that's different?
AVYANNA YOUNG: It just means progression. Like we're getting better, game after game, practice after practice. Coach pushes us and supports us win or loss. So it's definitely showing that we're growing at a team.

MARSHA HOWARD: Definitely excitement. Seeing how this is my first Big Ten Tournament. So that part and then just being able to continue to fight and grow as a team.

Q. The two of you had some great high/low combinations. Is this something you guys are working on obviously in practice or is it just kind of developed over the year?
MARSHA HOWARD: We work on it a lot with our position coach, Coach Sasha, but it's also progressed over the years, us being able to work the inside, high/low, nice seals, nice dump balls, and also being able to go inside/out to our guards.

AVYANNA YOUNG: And trusting each other on knowing that we're going to see you, and when we pass it you're going to finish, we're going to dive. It's the whole process and I feel we're trusting the process and we're believing and it's showing out on the court.

Q. Avy, you struggled with free throws during your career, but these last three games you've been like ice. What's been the key to that change?
AVYANNA YOUNG: Confidence. Just knowing that I can do it, and my team, like I said before, Marsha's always, like, on your toes, Any, on your toes. Just the confidence that they believe in me. I believe in myself.

Q. When Rutgers started making the comeback in the fourth quarter, you guys didn't panic, I guess. Can you talk a little bit about the mentality that this team has?
MARSHA HOWARD: Once they started making their run we just knew we had to come together collectively and not go outside of the script that we were prepared for. To just calm down, take it slow, one pass at a time, and make the easy pass and not force anything major.

AVYANNA YOUNG: Like we didn't crumble. We didn't get rattled up when they were starting to pick up their intensity, which I feel like in the beginning of the season we would have done. And we are finishing out games now. So like I said, progression and progress.

Q. How do you think the team handled that late rally that Rutgers had?
COACH TSIPIS: I think anytime there was a stoppage and we had the whole group, I think continuing to talk to them about being aggressive and what we were able to do when we shot 13-for-22 in the second half it was a part of, there were a lot of those times off extra passes against the press. And I think that part of things you have to take through that first wave. And I'm a big believer, basketball is a game of runs, that somebody's going to make one and then you've got to be ready to make yours.

And I think trying to stay positive with that point, I think we talked to the point guards a little bit of specifically how they could move the ball, people having to come back.

I think a big part, I thought Marsha and Avy and Kendall Shaw did a really good job in pressure relief situations, whether it was flashing to the middle or as the inbounder helping our guards.

I think when they looked up the floor, they looked up the floor with confidence. And I think that part of things, again, when you're at this point in the season, you have to be a confidence-giver greater than any other time because we've seen this.

We've seen pressure. We've seen zone. We've seen matchups. We've seen man, and we've had success and pieces against it just kind of to continue to remind them. But I tell you what, the huddles were good, active discussion before I ever got in there. I think that's growth of the team of moving on.

Avy's play is a perfect example of not putting her head down. She knew she had made the mistake and she came down and it was completely behind her. And the same thing. I didn't feel like Marsha allowed the three fouls that she had collected through three quarters affect her energy and her effort in the fourth quarter defensively, meeting the ball, trying to work again of being physical.

And again that's the growth of our team. I think these two can tell you that part all, of a sudden if you get in foul troubles, there's been a wave, you can get a little bit of stage fright. I didn't see that in our team. And I think that helped get some of our kids who had never been in a Big Ten game, like Marsha, through in the third and fourth quarter playing with more confidence.

Q. You talked in the locker room about how this was a team win. Can you just talk about how these were the two double-digit scorers? You have a lot of other people contributing even if they didn't score.
A. I thought Kayla was really aggressive attacking. She got to the free-throw line early. She had six rebounds. I thought that part. I thought Chelly Marble's minutes in the third quarter were huge. She had a huge 3 on an extra pass against the pressure. She got all the way to the rim on one action. That part, Ashley Kelsick was able to put some things behind her from, foul trouble-wise and help us find people.

I think that part she finishes with two assists and no turnovers playing more in the second half. I thought one of the biggest plays of the game we had fouled on the other end, Kendall Shaw had fouled Shrita Parker at about 12 feet and reached down and she knew that part. She came back down, we trusted, we got the ball inside and she got an and-one. Small plays I think you can see the confidence in the team building.

I talked to Kendra Van Leeuwen, it's like her first time, like Marsha. That wave, no matter how many times you play Rutgers you're playing them in a different environment, that part of people continuing to come after you. And again I thought that part was huge that these guys were able to help her, that she didn't have to break the pressure her alone. You can see that confidence in her. She made two big shots -- she made a big shot and went 4-for-4 from the line. I think a lot of that was through the confidence from these two in the second half.

Q. Michigan State playing No. 6 seed. Not a great game against them when we played them earlier this season. Can you talk about what you need to do make it a better game?
COACH TSIPIS: First of all, like these guys, I have a short memory. And so the only thing I remember from that game was we didn't play our best and that was at home.

And I think that's the pride that our team has, we want that opportunity. You are going to play somebody you've already played again in the tournament. But I think that part of where we've grown as a team. And again we'll get prepared on that front. I think this is a group that just has been sponges on what's the game plan, how can we take things away, and now we have an opportunity.

And I think that's what life's all about. You don't sometimes get a second opportunity. And knowing the last time Avy is going to play against Michigan State no matter what happens tomorrow I think is really important. Because I think that sense of urgency we have felt from Avy in these last couple of weeks. And I think it's that part of knowing. Marsha knows, and we talked about again that part of we want to make sure we go out playing our best basketball and showing that growth and knowing we have a great game under our belt. And that's the big part. We know Michigan State is playing for a lot on the line.

We're excited to have another opportunity to play tomorrow to continue our season, no matter who it's against, and believe me we'll get that taken care of with the plan and how we're going to attack it.

It's exciting to be able to still go right now no matter who we're playing.


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