home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 18, 2017

Karl Smesko

Haley Laughter

Taylor Gradinjan

Coral Gables, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Florida Gulf Coast University head coach Karl Smesko and student-athletes Haley Laughter and Taylor Gradinjan.

COACH SMESKO: Obviously a very disappointing ending. We came here with the idea that we were going to win and advance. The first half we didn't play particularly well or shoot it. We were a little rattled early.

It was a little, it was my fault it took a little long to make an adjustment versus their 1-3-1. I thought we did a better job against that later in the half and in the second half. But I couldn't be more proud of the way our kids fought back.

We started off shooting it really poor, but we just hung around and then when we start playing when we're capable of playing it was a game to literally the last second.

I'm really proud of our team, really disappointed that we don't get a chance to play again, because I like the way we're competing right now. And this is the heartbreak in March, and hopefully everybody can at least see how competitive our team is and how hard they're willing to work and how much fight they have in them.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes only.

Q. Taylor, on the last play, on the defensive end where you stood in for the charge, no call, what was your perspective on the play?
TAYLOR GRADINJAN: It's disappointing. But that's what the refs thought it was, and you gotta deal with it. We had another chance to bring it down on the other end, and we just didn't accelerate from what we had. So nothing we could do about it. It sucks, but it was a good play by their post move and you gotta deal with it.

Q. Haley, it seemed as though you guys were just waiting for that one spurt, and then it finally came, maybe on the five-point play, late in the third or something like that. How were you able to keep confidence up when nothing was falling for so long for you guys?
HALEY LAUGHTER: We came in at halftime and we kind of regrouped, and we told each other we're only down, I don't remember how many, we were down six at halftime. And we're right in this game, guys. We just gotta keep going, our shots are going to fall. We just really kept telling each other one more stop, one more stop. And if we could get that one stop then it will start going our way on the offensive end.

Q. Taylor, you seemed to be struggling a little bit from behind the arc, then you hit the big 3 to tie the game with less than 10 seconds to go. Was it something that Karl was telling you or your teammates were telling you to keep shooting the ball?
TAYLOR GRADINJAN: Absolutely. That's all I hear from Karl and my teammates is keep shooting, and if I don't shoot it when I'm open I get in trouble. But, I mean, they're going to fall. I did start out a little rough and I knew that, but I knew if I got to my finish they would fall at some point.

Q. Ladies, is the emotion more the pride in how well you guys played or the disappointment in getting that close at the end and having two very questionable calls not go your way and maybe not having a chance to keep playing?
HALEY LAUGHTER: I mean, obviously we were frustrated with how the game ended, but we can't really base the game off those last two calls. We just needed to make a couple more plays in the first half, say, when we weren't attacking as much.

I think we have been playing really well towards the end of the season and we finally hit our peak. I think that's just the most disappointing part is to have to see it end now.

Q. Haley, throughout the season you guys typically hit a lot more 3s, your percentage was a lot higher other than this game. Uncharacteristically, you hit a lot less, as a team, a lot less 3s, but even though you took the same amount that you take. What do you attest it to? Was it defense or nerves?
HALEY LAUGHTER: We were getting open shots. That wasn't the problem. I just think the first half, especially, it was just more nerves. We just needed to calm down and relax and get to our finish. I think ultimately that was it. Because we were getting open and getting the shots, just calm down.

Q. Whenever you guys average 9.7 3s made per game and then go 2-for-19 in a half, how frustrating is it considering that's a big part of your offense?
TAYLOR GRADINJAN: That's frustrating but as a shooter you have to have the shooter mentality. You're a shooter, it's going to fall. Just keep shooting.

Q. What did Coach have to say to you afterward about the level of play, obviously, but just dealing with the disappointment?
HALEY LAUGHTER: He said he was proud of us and that we did really well and that it's a disappointment that we couldn't move on when we're doing so well at this point in the season. But I mean he was just encouraging about all of it. He basically said what he started off with in here except maybe a little more personal.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Have you gotten a chance to review either of the last two plays before you came in?
COACH SMESKO: No, just what I saw on the floor.

Q. I know you were arguing pretty vehemently for the charge call. What did you see on the last play down at your end?
COACH SMESKO: Well, I mean, I don't know if I'm the best person to ask, because obviously I have my perspective, and it's not necessarily objective. So we'll have to -- usually I watch the game on the way home. But I may wait a couple of days. That's if -- my assistants will want to see it right away and make a judgment.

But we were in a position to win the game. It was a tight game. I don't think you can ever blame a call for one call or two calls, because there's a thousand plays within a game. So it was a well-officiated game with the little bit of a controversial ending.

Q. Karl, seeing you emotional occasionally after seasons end in tough ways. Is that the same sentiment here? Is that all of it? Or is it partly the way that it ended make it even harder to accept?
COACH SMESKO: The way it ended makes it tougher, for sure. But you never want any season to end. And for me I was okay, maybe a little irritated, when I went into the locker room. But then when you see all the kids that worked so hard for so long and they're all crying, you don't have a heart if it doesn't get to you.

Q. You said in the first half that it took you a little longer to adjust to the 1-3-1 than it possibly should have. What were you doing in the second half that made the offense click a little better?
COACH SMESKO: We were having a kid behind the zone be more active, cutting into gaps. And then where we placed our shooters based on how they were playing, you know, they kind of sagged off our non-shooters to take away our shooters in the 1-3-1, so we had to move where they were.

And it took like four or five minutes of that 1-3-1 and you saw we had a number of turnovers right in a row until we made the adjustment. So that was something that I wish we would have -- that's something that we have in our arsenal and we should have went to it a little bit quicker.

Q. To play for you guys always has to require a level of resolve to go up against bigger teams all the time. As much as they were struggling with the shots and as physical as Miami is, where would you equate the degree of resolve the girls showed today with what you've seen with your program?
COACH SMESKO: This team has fought as hard as any I've had today. To be behind against a top-20 team on the road and you could see a little bit of frustration on our kids' faces when shots weren't falling. To come back from that and realize that they were capable of coming back and capable of winning the game and essentially taking it to the end against a great team. So I got no calms with our competitiveness or how we responded to adversity. I'm very proud of our players.

Q. Going against taller players, two drives in a row there in the fourth, China went right at their 6'3" player. Could you talk about her mentality, how she just showed no fear going against somebody that much bigger than her?
COACH SMESKO: We thought China had the best matchup at the end of the game. We kept going to it and creating space, having her drive the shooter's gap. And then we had some cuts just in case she was cut off, so she'd have somebody to pass it to.

But give her a lot of credit. Early in the game she maybe forced a couple of shots and then at the end of the game she got to the rim. She absorbed contact. We were hoping maybe to get some and-ones on those situations.

But to finish over a kid of that size and the way China used her body to create an angle to shoot, it was really impressive.

Q. You've seen them both, obviously. What do you think Trish can do against Miami on Monday night?
COACH SMESKO: Well, I'm not surprised Quinnipiac moved on at all. We've played them three straight years, and I know Marquette is really good. Won the Big East. But Quinnipiac is a really good team with really good players and they're not that quite as big a mismatch inside as we were today.

They're big kids, they're strong and physical and they can score. So I expect Quinnipiac to play really well. They'll still be underdogs playing here in this arena, and Miami's a great team. But it's good to see a mid-major do so well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297