March 29, 2001
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
Q. Growing up in Indiana, I'm sure you've heard more than enough about boys basketball, all the Hoosier hysteria. What does it mean for you to be in this position, two teams from Indiana in this tournament and now it is the women at the forefront, as opposed to the men?
KELLY KOMARA: I think it speaks volumes for Indiana basketball, I think, to have two teams from the same state in the Final Four really contribute to how much Indiana basketball has come along in the last few years and I think it is a tremendous thing for Indiana basketball.
KATIE DOUGLAS: I think, just echo what Kelly said, it's just a great tradition that Indiana has. It's a true example this week how Notre Dame and Purdue are in the Final Four, to show you what kind of tradition that we've had the past couple hundred years in Indiana and, it is something special; until you experience it, a lot of people don't know about it.
Q. Camille, you girls got knocked out in the second round to Oklahoma, what kind of motivation did you have going into this season?
CAMILLE COOPER: We just had a sense of urgency. To lose at home, and so early, was something that the veterans definitely learned from, so we wanted to communicate it with the entire team, just going out and playing hard, because each game could be your last.
Q. A lot of people in the country really didn't know what to think of Jackie Stiles because she was never on TV. Did you have an impression of her before, planning for her; what do you think of her now?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: No question. We happened to see her on film this year and the past and a lot of things I've read about her in the past, a thousand shots a day, all of the things she does. Certainly, her work ethic, that's just second to no one that I've ever heard about. It just shows, the many hours away with practice, how that pays dividends. Certainly her drive and enthusiasm for the game, she is really special.
Q. Katie, could you talk about feeling winning the award, and could you discuss the difficulty of playing through all of the adversity of the last few years?
KATIE DOUGLAS: It was a tremendous honor to receive the award last night. It's truly the most special award I receive, and as far as adversity, I'm just here to play basketball this weekend, and, you know, I just want to focus on Southwest Missouri State.
Q. The fact that you are playing Southwest Missouri State, and it is their home state, and so much has been made of that, and even Notre Dame has got a prominent player who is from St. Louis, do you feel in a way that Purdue is kind of overlooked in this Final Four in terms of fan reaction and hype? Obviously, you didn't sneak into this thing, you're a very high seed, but you probably are not getting the aclaim and the hype that some of the others are here because of the local connections?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: You know, I think all season long, you know, last night someone did tell me do we feel like that, that we snuck in the back door. Not really. You walk in the locker room, we had a sign that says "Meet Me In St. Louis." That's been our goal from day one. Our entire year we have had some up-and-downs, a lot of adversity in the past and I think this team just believes that we can do anything we want to do. And we have expected the unexpected. Everyone expects us to be the unexexpected but not us. As far as the attention and accolades, we are all just laid back and blue-collar about it. They can focus on whatever they want. We are not satisfied just coming to St. Louis. We want to win.
Q. Position by position, how well do you think you guys match up with Southwest Missouri State?
KELLY KOMARA: Well, I think we match up with them very well. I think that, you know, obviously Southwest Missouri State is a great team, but I feel that Purdue is a great team also. I think it's going to be a war. I think it's two teams that play very, very hard, it's just going to be back and forth back and forth. Whoever wants it more is going to win this game, I think.
Q. Could you just talk about your impressions of Jackie from your USA Basketball experiences?
KATIE DOUGLAS: I don't have fond memories, because Jackie gave me a head butt which resulted in six stitches when I played with her, but Jackie is a phenomenal player. She has gotten better over the years, since I in the past played with her, I think it was three years ago out in USA. She is a tremendous scorer, but a lot of people overlook the other things that she does and she's just a complete player. Obviously we are not going to be able to stop her. Just going to have to try to contain her.
Q. If you could talk about what it was like for you to take over Purdue a few years ago, coming off of a National Championship. Did you feel that you had to put your own identity and stamp on the program or just leave things as they were more or less?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: Certainly, you know, I felt privileged, No. 1. I think certainly everyone asked, you know, do you feel the pressure this, that and the other. The pressure comes from within. Just always expected to be the best. The biggest thing I did was just went in there and tried to be myself. I think you have to give these kids a lot of credit because they have been through so much change and here comes some more change. I think the styles as far as people wanting to have fun, the enthusiasm I think, as far as the head coaches; the systems, when Dale brought hers from Lousiana Tech. And here I come with some Louisiana Tech background. I think it hopefully made the transition a little easier. And I also looked at it if it's not broke, don't fix it. It was pretty -- there was a lot of good things in place. Certainly, we were fortunate to be able to go out and sign the great class last year that has really helped add and give us some more depth. We have combined a lot of the old with the new and tried to make the most of it.
Q. You used the term "special" to describe Jackie Stiles. Skill-wise what makes her so and how would you compare her to the all-time greats of women's basketball?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: I think what makes her special, No. 1, is just how hard she works. She moves so well with the basketball, she reads screens, she plays both ends of the floor, she is extremely quick. I mean, you know, I'm not sure there are words to describe her. She is incredibly special. As I say, it is great for our game. You know, I'm not sure if I've ever seen anyone that can score like she can score, and -- (inaudible) -- Rookie of the Year, Katie Douglas every day, and those are also great players in their own way. So the thing about it is, she's truly special, and I'm not sure how you describe her. Can we stop her? No one has stopped her. We're going to try.
Q. Don't want to pry too much about a sensitive subject but could you talk about what Katie has had to go through, and maybe discuss her strength and how her strength has maybe spread to the rest of the team, helped the rest of the team?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: I think the biggest thing is that, you know, it's been an extremely difficult thing for her, and for our entire basketball family. But we have all tried to support her, be there for her. But if I had one word to describe Katie Douglas, she is just a soldier. She continues to persevere. Not only does she continue to give her team strength. Sometimes things may get rough on the court and things may not be going our way but we can all look at Katie and say if she can overcome what she's had overcome, we can handle this 40 minutes of basketball. If my little girl grows up to be like Katie and the rest my kids, we'll be okay. She has been blessed in a lot of ways to have such a wonderful family. We just want to take care of her. She's just special. It's no question, it's incredible what the team has been through to get to this point. I'm so happy for Katie Douglas and our seniors because they have been through it.
Q. What is your game plan for dealing with Jackie?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: I'm not going to give you my game plan. (Laughter). But I will tell you that, you know, I think the thing that everyone gets focused on is Jackie, Jackie, Jackie. I mean Southwest Missouri came because they have a great team and they have people around her that play within themselves. I think if you focus too much on Jackie that you are in for a long night. She is going to get hers. Certainly, we would love to hold her under her average. Are we going to be able to do that; we're not sure. We're going to roll up our sleeves and play great team defense. That's why we are in St. Louis, because of great team defense.
Q. There's been a lot of talk that Notre Dame/Connecticut semifinal might really be the title game. Can you just give your reaction to that thought?
KATIE DOUGLAS: I mean, it's totally -- it was totally up to the NCAA selection committee and I think it is exciting that there's another rematch, and as far as that should be the Championship game, that's just how the ball bounces. I know both of those teams are great teams and they are going to battle one another and it's going to come out to the team who wants it the most and wants to be in the National Championship game.
Q. In the regional Final, Katie didn't score a whole lot until late in the game. Can you talk a little bit about what qualities she brings out on the floor besides scoring, maybe her leadership or some of the intangible things she does for you?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: Well, there's no question that she does so many things for us, I think that sometimes go unrecognized. And when the basketball is in her hands, good things happen. I think that, you know, really her numbers may be down this year, but you have to understand she's playing less minutes because we are deeper; and second, she's taking five less shots a game. That may have changed a little, but it's made our team better. They are dribbling, shooting, rebounding, defending tons better. I was on her a little bit for her defense and it's gotten so much better. The thing about her is she does so many things for us besides just scoring. When it's time to score, we need a big bucket, I can guarantee she's going to get that for us. She did a great job of coming out and being the aggressor in the regional final, attacking the basket, distributing and getting to the foul line for us.
Q. You lost to Iowa in that Big-10 tournament Final, was that like a turning point in what got you girls this far?
KELLY KOMARA: I don't know if I would say a turning point but definitely something we wanted to come out to the NCAA Tournament and just put in the back of our minds. I think when you lose a game like that, you know, when you come to an NCAA, you just want to roll, roll with the flow. We were playing so well, to lose the Championship game was just a blow to us. We just rolled up our sleeves and started working harder.
Q. Do you have any feeling on whether this event is ready to move to a larger venue? I know Coach McGraw mentioned that she certainly could not accommodate their ticket demands. Southwest Missouri is not even close and probably a similar problem with Purdue. Do you feel any feeling one way or the other?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: I'm not one to complain or anything like that or the negative. I think we have to focus on the positive and what we do have. But certainly I know that we could have sold -- I'm not sure how many times the tickets we have. We draw very well at home and have a tremendous fan support. Sure, we would have loved to have had more tickets, no question. Definitely, wish it was big -- now that we are here and have a chance to have a lot of folks in the stands.
Q. On the men's end of the bracket, a team like Gonzaga gets to the Sweet 16 and everyone is saying, oh, Cinderella, and then you have a team like Southwest Missouri from a mid-level Conference getting to the Final Four. What does that say about the possibilities in the women's game and is it a good thing for the women's game?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: I don't think there's any question it is a good thing for the women's game. We just came from a regional where Xavier just had a great run and is a very good basketball. I think not only when you see those situations like an Xavier, upsetting a Tennessee, you see a situation with Southwest Missouri getting here, to a certain extent, we are a little bit of an underdog, too. I think it is great for the parity. The game is incredible as far as the parity, the direction we are headed with that. We have better players. I think it's a very healthy thing. I think it is a very good thing and I'm excited about the parity.
Q. How much of an advantage is it that your team played in and won the '99 National Championship?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: No question. It's a huge advantage. Six young ladies on our team that are toting a National Championship ring, two other people on our staffs, other people have been to two Final Fours. We are definitely going to draw up on our experiences. The biggest thing I told the kids is there are four teams in America having a chance to practice. And we are one of them. We are going to enjoy the experience. And I think everyone that is part of your program understands that we are not just satisfied with getting here. We are going to draw up on all of our experiences.
Q. Can you talk about your relationship with Katie and how you kind of helped each other through situations? And then secondly talk about your experience at Purdue and how it might relate to, say, your high school experience? I believe you won the title as a sophomore in high school and then as a senior out her, you are following that pattern?
CAMILLE COOPER: To talk about Katie she is a great friend on and off the court. I was blessed to come in with a very good class. Katie is a good example, as far as a scholar/athlete. We went through a lot of ups and downs. We have seen a lot of adversity, but we have stuck together and that's what makes it senior class special. As far as my experiences at Purdue, I consider myself extremely blessed. It seems like every four years, I win a championship, I mean with Figgs, but she's not here. It's just a great accomplishment to make it to the Final Four. I want to draw on those experiences and try to come out here and win.
Q. Could you just talk about the anticipated matchup on the inside with both Cooper and Shalicia?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: Definitely, you know, I think we are going to try to use as we always do, our first option is to go inside. We just feel like that, again we are not going to go away from what has working and been successful for us. We are definitely anticipating to come out and be aggressive and get the basketball inside. We have done that all year, so, that's nothing new.
CAMILLE COOPER: That's one thing we have focused on, getting the ball inside early; whether it's to the post, guards, penetrating, we think we will go inside first to open up our outside shots.
Q. Game planning for Jackie Stiles, as you said, don't forget the rest of the team. Do the Lady Bears remind you of any other team you've played this year?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: You know what, I think to a certain extent, far as their very similar in personnel and style to a little bit of the University of Iowa. I also feel like that Xavier really prepared us, because they do such a great job in transition, and really when you look at those two, they are very similar with their personnel, post players, being able to step out and hit the 3, especially the four, just a lot of things they do, the back screens, the player screens, shuffle cuts. We feel like we have really drawn on those two experiences. It is kind of ironic that we were able to prepare just recently for Xavier. So hopefully it is going to be a blessing in disguise for us.
Q. Kelly, now that you have had a few days to work out at point guard -- Birmingham you were thrown in there one day off going down, do you feel like you are more prepared now having to play point guard, having a few days to work on that?
KELLY KOMARA: I played point guard all four years in high school. Last year in Purdue I had the point guard position. You know, I've played point guard all my life. It's nothing new to me, but when you've played the 2-guard all year and then you get thrown in the 1 -- and in our team, we are so interchangeable, with Katie, myself and Erika. It is usually if one person gets a rebound, everybody else sprints, so it is not that big of a deal.
Q. How far away does that '99 championship team seem, and can you make any comparisons between the emotions you were feeling between then and now seems like you've been through a lot?
CAMILLE COOPER: I think that team was very special. It seemed like awhile ago. It's hard to look back on and when we have so much ahead of us. I guess one quality that both teams share is both teams were very close. We have both seen a lot of adversity and we stuck together. So, that's a common quality that we have. I don't know, as far as feelings, we are just excited to be here. Definitely, we want to draw on our experience and just go out and play hard for each other.
Q. I don't mean for you to answer this in an arrogant sort of way, but are there times in a game where you want the ball in your hands or you feel the responsibility to sort of make something happen?
KATIE DOUGLAS: I mean, I'm the type of person, I guess, and the player that wants the ball, but, you know, I know that I have four other players out there who are just as capable of me of hitting the big shot. Throughout my career, I guess I have been looked upon as the one to make a big play at the end but I know if somebody comes out and traps me, I know I have four other players that are capable of doing the same thing that I do.
Q. Rick Patino said that to win a National Championship you have to have two All-Americans. Do you think that's true?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: Well, I think it certainly helps. (Laughter). But, you know I think that definitely great teams win championships. We are very blessed to have two great seniors and then a great supporting cast around them that play within themselves and understand their roles. I think it takes great teams. But I don't disagree with that.
Q. Can you describe the difference being a senior in the Final Four, as opposed to being a sophomore; and you were a role player a couple years ago and the different approach you guys have this year?
CAMILLE COOPER: I guess we were just very excited. I mean, each game could be your last. You always say that during the tournament, but it really hits home. We just want to go out and have fun. We want to end our careers here at Purdue going out on top. So it is a huge opportunity that we hope to take advantage of.
KATIE DOUGLAS: Like Camille said, I think this year we realized the sense of urgency we have to play with, especially in the NCAA Tournament. It was great feeling our sophomore years, to go out on top, but we knew that we were going to be able to put on another Purdue jersey, so we had that comfort. But this year, it is something special. You never know; we talk about it every time we talk about it before we go on to the floor, you never know in the NCAA Tournament when your last game is. So you have to play your 40 minutes like it is your last 40 minutes. So, that's special. I know I like the feeling, and I'm sure Camille did, going out on top our sophomore years and we'd like to continue that tradition.
Q. Have you seen Jackie on tape before this?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: Yes.
Q. So you were familiar with her?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: Yes. Definitely. Certainly the things you here hear about her during the years, you want to watch, if you have a chance to do that while you're preparing.
Q. You've been here as an assistant coach in the Final Four. What do you draw from that experience?
COACH KRISTY CURRY: Well, you know, I certainly had the chance to work for one of masters of the game, and just everything from travel, everything from eating, everything from, you know, having two practices, everything from shoot around, everything. I've tried to draw up on that, how we want to schedule our day. I think to a certain extent, it has really helped me. I feel very calm and relaxed because I feel like I'm prepared. I feel like, you know, I've been in this situation before, and to learn from someone that's been very successful.
End of FastScripts....