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March 31, 2019
Oregon-88, Mississippi State-84
THE MODERATOR: With us now, Mississippi State.
Coach, congratulations on a great season and a hard-fought game, very entertaining contest. We'll begin with your opening statement.
VIC SCHAEFER: First of all, just congratulations to Oregon. I thought they were really special today. They're going to go on a journey that they haven't been on before. We've been on it a couple times. It's going to be a really special week for them.
For us, man, I just can't be prouder of my team today. You talk about competitive, tough. I just thought my team just fought tooth and nail today in a really hostile environment. Credit to the community, for the people that came out supporting women's basketball. A great crowd out there today. It's great for our game.
I just thought my team was just phenomenal. I mean, I couldn't be prouder of them for how hard they played, how hard they fought against a really good team. I've watched a ton of film. I've not seen them make that many threes in a while. They made shots today. You got to take your hat off to them. When you make shots in a big game like that, you got to tip your hat to them.
For us, really thankful for Anriel and Jordan, who transferred to us. Could have gone anywhere. Believed in our program. Wanted to be a part of it. Trusted us. Their families entrusted us with them. Of course, Jazz and T have been with us, along with Zion, all four years. Jazzmun 13 assists, no turnovers today, 13 points. It's what she's doing now. I mean, she has just continued to develop and develop and develop. I've never seen a point guard in four years develop as much as she has.
Of course, Teaira, I can say the same thing about her. I told her when I walked in there, four years ago up in Connecticut, we got beat in the Sweet 16. That's the last time we've ever come in from a post-season and not be headed to the Final Four. That was not a good day.
But I walked in that day, Teaira McCowan might have been the only one that competed that day when we got beat by UConn. To see her growth and development over the past four years, even into today, I mean, you can see it. I see it. Man, she's going to be an unbelievable pro and have a tremendous career. I'm just so proud of her.
She made this whole team, these two, all four of them, they've impacted my life in an unbelievable way. Made me a better coach, husband, better father. I'm just so thankful for them.
When Jordan came to us, just how humble she was. She was a McDonald's All-American coming out of high school. She just wanted to be somewhere, she said, I just want to be part of a team and a family. Nothing about minutes. Nothing about starting. Just want to be part of a family.
Anriel, very similar. But wanted to win championships. Coach, I've never won a championship. I want to win championships. I want you to develop my game, help get me to where I want to go to.
For us, my staff, that team in there is hurting. I am just really proud of them. I told them, they've impacted a community and a university unlike anything I've ever seen. We could all go through life and not have the opportunity nor the impact that these kids have had on a place like Mississippi State. It is a very special place. The impact that these kids have had, like I said, it's unlike anything I've seen.
We'll move on. Again, congratulations to Kelly and his staff and that team. We know what that feels like. We'll go back to work.
THE MODERATOR: Open it up at this time to questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Jazz and Jordan, when they were packing things in on T and Anriel, y'all had to hit some shots. How did you feel like you were able to get things going offensively especially when they went on that spurt?
JAZZMUN HOLMES: We just knew they were going to sag on T. Whenever I got an open look, I took it. Coach told me, Whenever you get the open look, take it, so I did.
JORDAN DANBERRY: Same as what Jazz said. We just knew we had to knock down those shots, play through Teaira, just make 'em.
Q. Teaira, you've lost in the last game of the season twice. How does this feeling compare to the times you lost in those games?
TEAIRA McCOWAN: A loss is a loss, you know. It doesn't feel good. But I'm proud of my team, my coaching staff we got this far. We had a great season. Nothing to hang our heads on. Yeah, it hurts, but we'll be okay.
Q. Anriel, I was wondering if you could give an oversight the difference between the game earlier this year and then the game tonight. Did Oregon do anything differently than what they did in that first game? How did you guys have to adjust?
ANRIEL HOWARD: I believe that the first game they hurt us a lot on the pick'n roll. I think that we adjusted, we did good. We defended the pick'n roll much better this time. They found another option, which were the open shooters, and they were knocking down shots.
Q. Jazzmun and Anriel, can you talk a little bit about the challenges of guarding Sabrina man-to-man.
JAZZMUN HOLMES: She's a great player. We did all we could. I mean, she's good, so... Hats off to her.
ANRIEL HOWARD: What Jazz said.
Q. Teaira and Anriel, coach talked about this a little bit. When you think back to this game, how much are you going to remember the challenge of having to come to Oregon, trying to beat the Ducks on their second home turf?
ANRIEL HOWARD: I mean, it's not easy. We lost both times. But I do think that we played harder the second time. The first time was on their court. They had that advantage. But this time they still had a lot of their fans here.
TEAIRA McCOWAN: Like coach said, they shot the ball great. They had great ball movement. Whenever we took away one thing, they were kicking out to shooters. They weren't recovering. That was the challenge. We didn't guard the line.
Q. Anriel, you've talked multiple times about wanting to come to Mississippi State to win a national championship. Obviously you fall a little short of that goal. Overall, what are your feelings on what you were able to accomplish this year?
ANRIEL HOWARD: (Tearing up.)
THE MODERATOR: Let's come back to that.
Q. Teaira, how are you feeling after that collision at the end of the third quarter? Holding your rib maybe.
TEAIRA McCOWAN: It hurt a little bit. I went down. She fell. I fell on her knee. I got hit in the ribs. I'll be okay.
VIC SCHAEFER: Just going back to Anriel. I've been doing this 34 years y'all. Every day, smile. Every day, motor is 120%. Every day, competing. What she brought to our program... Could have gone anywhere in the country.
She's a great kid. Her mom, her family have done an unbelievable job with her. Just an unbelievable competitor. She's not done playing, trust me.
What she brings, the energy and the effort she brings, y'all, I promise y'all never seen anything like it on a consistent basis every day. Again, she came to a place where she was a great rebounder. She came to a place that had the best rebounder in the country, who has the best rebounder in the history of the NCAA tournament. That's the confidence that this kid has. That's the giver that she is. She knew that number may suffer, that's not about me. Let me see if I can help her with those numbers and see if we can win a championship together.
That's what needs to be said about Anriel Howard. She is a tremendous young lady and an unbelievable competitor. I mean, motor is off the chart.
ANRIEL HOWARD: I think I can try to answer now. Thank you.
Everything that coach said is all accurate. I came here to win championships. I got two. It's a wonderful feeling. I never had a championship in basketball, not at any level.
Just to be able to get a feeling of that with these group of girls and this coaching staff and the community and the fans, all of that, is something that is undescribable. It's definitely a blessing. I'm just really grateful for the opportunity that the coaches gave me and the girls for welcoming me and the community, like I said. It's just been awesome.
I just want to say thank you to everybody. So thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies, thank you so much. Congratulations on a very impressive season.
We will continue with questions for Coach Schaefer.
Q. You said yesterday you're a big note-taker. Looked like you were taking some notes. What jumped out to you on the stat sheet as you're trying to immediately process the game?
VIC SCHAEFER: Yeah, I mean, 13 out of 26 from the three-point line. You turn those into twos, you know, you win the game. We were trying. We made notes at halftime. They made eight, I think, at half. We knocked that down to five in the second half.
First thing that jumps off is 13 assists, no turnovers in an Elite 8 game. I'm never getting off my soapbox about that kid. What an injustice to have an award and she's not one of the top five in the country. That's a joke.
They shot it really well. I don't know that I've ever been in a game where we turned it over six times and we didn't win. I've never had that happen in 34 years in coaching. But we only forced them into eight.
I got six kids that shot 47% or better. But, you know, at the end of the day, y'all, it's on me because we got to guard better. Obviously I didn't have them in the right position to do that. I pride myself on being a pretty good defensive coach. I gave up 88 points tonight. You're not supposed to win those, quite frankly.
I'm disappointed in myself that it didn't happen for us. I'll go back, I'll watch the film, and I'll get better. I'll learn. But these kids, they did everything they could do. I mean, I couldn't be prouder of them. They fought their guts out today in a really difficult arena against a really good team, so...
No particular stat other than my point guard had 13 and zero. I don't think I've ever had that either.
Q. I'm not trying to get you in trouble with this question, but the game seemed to be called differently in the third quarter. Was that something you felt? Do you think you guys struggled to adjust to that?
VIC SCHAEFER: There's a one-word answer here, I'm just trying to figure out if it's yes or no. Can we draw a poll, see what everybody thinks?
I don't know. Obviously it was one quarter. In the fourth quarter, we had four fouls before we got into the bonus with 50-some seconds left.
I don't know. I'm all into the game, so at that moment I'm just trying to coach my kids. That was part of my notes, in our first game, we got into a little bit of a foul situation with them. That was part of my message today. I read them part of my notes going into the game. One of them was, Hey, got to play harder defensively, got to do a better job in help, and we got to clean it up, we got to be clean.
I'm going to be clean, and I'm done.
Q. We can talk all we want about home-court advantage, but we're not on the floor making decisions. Was there anything you can remember about the game that you feel might have gone a different way if this were a true neutral site?
VIC SCHAEFER: You know, I just think -- I know where our game is, to answer your question. I get it. It was a great environment. Our kids, we've been in that environment a bunch. We played on the road in the Southeastern Conference. I just thought a great environment. I was proud to be a coach in that game today, be a part of an industry, women's basketball.
Here is the thing. We probably could have played it somewhere else and been on a completely neutral floor and played in front of a thousand people. Do we want that or do we want to play in that environment today?
You know what, I liked playing out there today. I think my kids liked playing out there today. It was a great environment. You know what, I have no clue what the outcome would have been playing in front of a thousand. But I know what it was today. And again, I'm aware of that. That's my responsibility, I'm the head coach.
My kids fought their guts out. I could not be prouder of a team to play the way they played today.
Q. When you have an opponent that's knocking down threes at the rate that Oregon was, what were some things you tried defensively to stop that?
VIC SCHAEFER: We talked about it at halftime. We got to chase them off the line. So you start chasing them off the line, now you take your help out of there on the roll, on the pick'n roll stuff.
So, again, I think Sabrina made some really tough shots tonight. Obviously she's a heck of a player. But I thought she made some really tough shots at the shot clock. That's what great players do. They're going to make shots when your team needs it. I thought she was really, really hard to guard.
I'm just telling you, we got two pretty good defensive players, by the way, at Mississippi State. They guard. They did a heck of a job, did the best they could. Sometimes you got to pat them on the back and move to the other end, say, Hey, great shot. I think that's where you were today.
That kid made some great shots today. When they make shots like that, y'all, and we were very similar to that way last year with our four shooters around the perimeter, T inside, we were hard to guard. They're hard to guard when you do that.
Again, I watched I can't tell you how many films. They've been a little bit -- haven't shot it as well lately, up until today.
Q. The way they passed the ball, the way they space, you were pretty hard on yourself about the way you defended them, but they're pretty difficult.
VIC SCHAEFER: No, they are. Again, I think for us, I know y'all haven't seen us a lot up here, but we really pride ourselves on ball pressure, denying one pass away, not letting somebody run their pretty offense, making one-handed passes, things like that.
I don't think that we did that a lot today. But they're really good, you're right. They're really good. When you're involved in pick'n roll all night long, I mean, you really got to do a good job. It's not just the two people. When we work on pick'n roll defense, it's not a two-man game. You got three people in help. That's what people don't get.
I go to clinics, they're talking about pick'n roll, you want to jam them, you want to ice them, you want to edge. When I work on pick'n roll defense, I'm working on my help, too. It's not just two people. You got to have a third person locked in and running help, locked in on that roll and locked in on your shooter.
Again, give them credit. They're really good at what they do. They made shots. We contested a bunch of 'em. Some of 'em not so much, but we were high end on a lot of 'em. Sabrina made a couple of them, I don't know how she got it off. They ain't touching anything, so you pat them on the back, move to the other end because they made a tough shot.
Q. In the second half, Oregon was virtually triple-teaming Teaira. That's brutal for anybody. Having said that, do you think you got the ball to her? Did you find enough ways to get the ball to her in the second half?
VIC SCHAEFER: Yeah, I mean, we scored 84 points. If I'd have known that coming into tonight, I'd have said, I'll take it. I think our offense was adequate tonight. We just didn't guard. That's what I walk out of here -- again as a defensive coach, I'll kick myself still I'm standing back up here a year from now.
T got some good looks. She got 10 shots off. She was seven out of eight at the free-throw line. When you're doubled and tripled and they're laying on you, where you can't literally move, and when you do, it could possibly be an offensive foul, that's difficult. Then you got to play through her. That's where the kid has grown and matured so much. We play through her a lot.
She had two assists tonight. Just did a good job. We missed some shots where she passed it to us first half. I think we got it to her quite a bit. She finished a lot. Again, you're right, it's hard down there when you got a campfire built around you.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you so much. Congratulations on a great season.
VIC SCHAEFER: Appreciate everybody being here today. Again, praise the Lord and go Dogs.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports