March 31, 2001
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
Q. Katie, how close did you come to not playing this year and was there a point where you decided to just go on?
KATIE DOUGLAS: I don't know if I can actually say how close I was. But I'm just glad to be back. My teammates have supported me throughout the year, and just glad to be playing in the National Championship game.
Q. Katie and Camille, could you each talk about the keys to the game?
KATIE DOUGLAS: Obviously, we need to box out and play big on the boards like we did last night, take care of the ball. Last time we played Notre Dame we had about 26 turnovers, so that will be key, and limiting Riley and Ratay is also going to be big for us, and Ivey, but I think if, you know, we play our game, you know, we have a good chance of winning.
CAMILLE COOPER: I know it's going to be a total team defensive effort. We really have to focus on shutting them down, just playing with a lot of composure. I think both teams are going to make a lot of runs and it is going to be a fun game to watch. Just have to play with a lot of poise and know that our run will sustain.
Q. Shereka, it's a defensive question. Isn't your defensive assignment as a team almost the opposite of the last game because Notre Dame is so balanced and everybody in their starting lineup takes about the same number of shots?
SHEREKA WRIGHT: Well, like I said, it was a team effort last night. We want to have the same kind of effort tomorrow night against Notre Dame. You know, we played great team defense and we need to continue to keep playing it.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about your decision to attend Purdue? What was it that made you feel like that's where you should go?
SHEREKA WRIGHT: When I came for my visit, it was the last visit. I was really tired. I really didn't want to do much, but the team -- I really liked the team concept. They wanted to win a National Championship. I know I was going to a good place academically, and it was close to home. I just really had that gut feeling that this was the place for me to be.
Q. When Kristy came in, you were having to get used to another coaching change, just like Stephanie and Ukari did a couple years ago. What was her emphasis coming in? Did she try to change a lot? What did you have to get used to when she came in?
CAMILLE COOPER: Well, I think the system changed a little bit. But Kristy remained with the same philosophy, of taking care of each other and loving our teammates and players. She showed a lot of support for us on and off the court and it was obvious from the start, with all of the changes we've been through. So I think the philosophy of believing in each other and playing hard for each other has stayed the same despite different system changes.
Q. Everyone knows that you always seem to step up your game against Notre Dame, I guess even go back to the Indiana Kentucky All-Star Game when you faced Ruth Riley. Talk about the head-to-head matchup with her and why you seem to elevate your game against her?
CAMILLE COOPER: I don't know, I don't want too talk about it too much -- it might give me a little trouble. But definitely motivated. Ruth is a very talented center. She is heralded as the best in the nation so that is definitely a challenge to me. I have to go out there and defend her and try to play well against her. I guess we have a little history. We were recruited by a lot of the same people and I've had to go out against her a lot of times, so this is my last, and I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge.
Q. Katie, I'm curious how long it took, or if it did take a while, for some chemistry to take place between the players who are left over from the Championship team and the talented class of freshman you had coming in?
KATIE DOUGLAS: Obviously it is hard, any time you bring in five freshmen, very talented freshmen and try to blend them with the veteran players. I think we've been working on that all year, on and off the court. We've taken some etiquette classes and just done a lot of stuff off the court that a lot of teams might think is silly, but really taught us respect in one another. You know, we are at a different level socially, but we respect one another, and I think that we are playing the best team basketball right now at this point in the season.
Q. Notre Dame hit 8 of 11 3-pointers and at times this team has struggled to defend the 3 and how important is to put a hand in their face when shooting the 3?
KELLY KOMARA: They are both excellent shooters and can shoot the 3 at any time. It's extremely hard to shoot over somebody, especially with Katie's size. It's hard to shoot over somebody with a hand in your face, but they are tremendous shooters and I think we just have to go out there and really put a hand in their face and really contest them.
Q. So any of you, what did you learn in etiquette classes? And was it directed at teammates, at opponents, referees, coaches?
SHEREKA WRIGHT: I didn't learn anything. I didn't like the food. (Laughter). I already knew how to eat already.
KELLY KOMARA: We were extremely hungry.
KATIE DOUGLAS: It was etiquette about how to eat at a formal setting, formal dinner. Helpful for our young players when we go out to dinners and banquets in public and want to eat proper. (Laughs).
Q. There are six Indiana All-Stars in the game tomorrow. Does that mean anything to you guys personally or the state?
KELLY KOMARA: I think it is a tremendous compliment to the State of Indiana to have so many players from Indiana. You know, it's a wonderful thing. You know, Indiana basketball has always had great tradition, so I think it is going to be excellent out there with all of us.
KATIE DOUGLAS: I guess just what Kelly said. It's going to be a good feeling to have an all-Indiana National Championship game, just not only Indiana All-Star, but two teams from Indiana. I think that speaks volumes of Indiana basketball and the tradition that, you know, Indiana has in basketball. And as far as the All-Stars, it's going to be good, and I played with Ruth on the All-Star Team, so it's going to be good to see some of those players. It's just going to be a complete battle.
Q. Which team is more representative of Indiana? Who should Indiana love more?
KATIE DOUGLAS: IU? (Laughter) Since, I mean, they are Indiana University.
CAMILLE COOPER: It's just a tough rivalry. I guess we should not pick one of them, but we definitely have our favorite.
Q. Continuing with that, I think you have five players from Indiana; Notre Dame has one. So in effect, does more pride kick in? Do you feel like you have more on the line, strictly from the Indiana angle?
KATIE DOUGLAS: I think pride is just on the line right now, because I know we wanted to go out in early January and prove we are the -- who the best team in the state was and obviously we came up short-ended on that one, and the stakes are a lot bigger this time. It's not necessarily five players. It's going on all of our players wanting to go out and it's just a matter of pride and going out and winning.
Q. For the players from Indiana, and also for Camille, talk about recruitment for Notre Dame, was there a lot of interest on your part to go to Notre Dame?
CAMILLE COOPER: I don't know, we knew the Notre Dame program, we have a fine tradition, and Coach McGraw has really done a lot to bring them up. They were definitely recruiting, some of them, and we were interested, but I'm happy with my decision to come to Purdue. To be in the same state and play against them is a huge challenge and rivalry for us.
KATIE DOUGLAS: I think, you know, like Camille said being all of us from Indiana were probably recruited by Notre Dame, and, you know, they have done a great job of bringing their program up to the level of being a really national powerhouse in women's basketball. But, I know I'm happy that I chose Purdue because I'm getting the opportunity to play in two National Championship games.
Q. For any of the upperclassmen, could you talk about the state of the Purdue program, being in the national title Game 2 times in three years, a lot of programs cannot say that, do you deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Connecticut and Tennessee, and how do you see your program as compared to the elite of college basketball?
KELLY KOMARA: I think we have always felt we are in the elite of college basketball. I think if you are in a program and you don't feel like you are in the elite, then there's something wrong with you. I think Purdue has come a long way, and the reason we have come a long way is we surround ourselves with good people. Everybody in our program is just high-class and just very into the program. I think when you have people that are committed to the program, you are going to have a committed team.
Q. I bet you would say that Big-10 basketball got you ready for this game?
KATIE DOUGLAS: I think so. Big-10 is extremely physical, as is the BIG EAST, but I think, you know, playing in the Big-10 is -- but in the NCAA Tournament, it's a lot more physical and they let you a play a little more. So hopefully, we can use our Big-10 physically, use it to our advantage.
Q. Back when you guys played Notre Dame before, the freshmen had not stepped into the roles that they are fulfilling now; how important is it for you and everybody off the bench to step up and play well in this final game?
SHEREKA WRIGHT: It is definitely important. Like I said, it is going to be a team effort in this game tomorrow, just to step up and play. I think everybody, Shalicia, off the bench has really stepped up off our team and contributing any way we can and we just want to continue to do it.
Q. Coach Curry seemed to be calm and collected over on the sidelines during the game. Is that how it is in the huddles? Is that how she is?
KELLY KOMARA: Definitely. I think Coach Curry is extremely calm at times. You know this is only her second year with us, so for her to get her point across, I think sometimes she reaches out of that calmness and tries to get our attention with a few things. But other than that, you know Coach Curry really knows how to reach us, and we just want to play for Coach.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how important the depth has been for you guys, especially in this late stretch, and in particular, with the amount of freshman you have, they have really provided, I guess, that depth that has come together for you?
CAMILLE COOPER: I think depth has been key for us, especially throughout this tournament. We can go to our bench and really not lose anything, offensively or defensively. I think that's something we may have missed last year, and we really credit all of the players coming off the bench, especially our freshmen, for stepping up, making big plays, whether they are scoring or rebounding. They are a huge spark off the bench. Really helps us keep our composure and not affecting us and playing hard for 40 minutes.
Q. What were you doing a year ago, and could you possibly imagine starting as a freshman in the national title game?
SHALICIA HURNS: Well, a year ago, I was probably crying at this time. I think I never won a post game in high school basketball, probably the most unselfish player I knew but I wanted my team to come in and respect me and come in here playing, knowing my role, I can't even imagine being here after the year I had last year. It's incredible.
SHEREKA WRIGHT: I don't know what I was doing a year ago. I probably was sitting there watching it on TV, dreaming about playing in the National Championship. Never thought I would be here, but it's happening. It's just a dream come true.
Q. Can you talk about how nice it was to see Mary Jo play yesterday, and do you think she will be able to actually come in and play minutes in the championship game?
KATIE DOUGLAS: It was awesome to see Mary Jo play. I know it has been a big toll on her this tournament, especially, because it's not many times that we go to the Final Four and get into the National Championship game. Our freshman year -- her freshman year when we were in the Final Four and in the National Championship and winning it, she was sidelined with a broken foot. That was tough for her, and her starting out this season and going down, and then starting out so well and going down has been hard on her. But just to see her come in and that smile on her face and having that confidence to come in and play was huge for us. Just talking about her coming in tomorrow and playing minutes, it's going to be totally up to the coaches and to Mary Jo; if she feels that she can come in and be a spark for us, we'd love to have her out there for us.
Q. How well do you know Ruth Riley, and what's she like and how important is it to shut her down in this game?
KATIE DOUGLAS: I've been playing against Ruth for many years, in AU basketball, and we played together in Indiana All-Stars. But, you know, Ruth is a very quiet person, but she's very dominant inside. We're not going to be able to shut her down just like we were not able to shut Jackie Stiles down, but hopefully we can wear her out and throw a lot of defensive people at her. You know, she's going to get her points, but we just don't want her to be a huge factor and we've just got to limit her touches.
Q. Have any of you heard from Stephanie or Ukari? Have they given you any messages?
KELLY KOMARA: Who? (Laughs).
CAMILLE COOPER: We can always look up in the stands. Even at our home games and throughout the tournament, they have followed us, and it's just great to see them. They still support this program. They were so instrumental while they were here, great leaders and examples for us. We see them, they ask us for tickets, we talk to them in our rooms. Our friendship and relationship extend, even though they are not playing with us.
Q. Did you ever watch the movie Hoosiers and does it have any impact on what's going to happen tomorrow?
KELLY KOMARA: I actually just bought it on DVD. So it's one of my favorite movies of all time, behind Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. I think that goes to Indiana basketball and the underdog coming up. We have always felt like the underdog in this tournament, so we are hopefully going to come out and have the same outcome as the movie.
Q. So often, we hear about coaches creating chemistry and bringing teams together and all that, but what does it say about the players in this program for the last four, five, six years, that you have been able to absorb the coaching changes and come out and be successful no matter who is running the bench?
KATIE DOUGLAS: I think it is just a tremendous credit to the people, No. 1, that we have brought in, stars as far as the coaches, and then the players. We recruit good people first before players. I think if the players coming in, with all of the adversity and all of the changes that we've had, we really stuck with one another and believed in the program and believed in one another and that together we could accomplish what we were dreaming of and that's another National Championship. It's a credit to both the staff and the players.
Q. How long did it take before either of you really felt comfortable this year -- and what does your team have to do this time against Notre Dame versus the first time?
SHALICIA HURNS: Well, I think when we first came here, it was an instant connection. I think the seniors were great in leading, just showing us that we could come in and be a big factor. I think none of them felt threatened by us coming in and they all showed love to us. I think it was an instant impact. I don't think I ever felt nervous around them because they are such great leaders on and off the court.
SHEREKA WRIGHT: I was kind of scared at first. I'm not going to lie about it -- (laughs). No, I love them to death. I think, really, they helped me get used to the rotation and the transition from high school to college, just to really step up and play. I think, you know, against Notre Dame this time we really have to step up and play, more of a team effort than it was the first time we played against them.
Q. Does a second National Championship solidify the Purdue program in the history books as that much more special? Is there something that a second one does that the first one, as nice as it was, just couldn't do?
KATIE DOUGLAS: Well, we don't have that second National Championship yet, so -- but I think it would, you know, leave a mark on our program and maybe establish us somewhat even more so, because I think in the '99 year, even though we were the No. 1 seed, we were still the underdog. You know, this year we were the No. 3 seed and we are still the underdog. I think if the outcome did come out that way and we won two National Championships, it would be two and three years. So obviously you have to look at Purdue as putting themselves in one of those powerhouse programs, as a Connecticut or a Tennessee or a Notre Dame. You know, definitely we think we deserve the respect, but we're not unhappy. We kind of enjoy the underdog role.
Q. The last few games you guys have been saying, "This could be our last game and we've got to go out and do well." For Katie and Camille, this will be your last collegiate game. Just how much do you want to make the most out of it?
CAMILLE COOPER: Well, we definitely have a sense of urgency, and I haven't really thought about it being our last game. Such a big game, and a way to end your career, just having an opportunity to play in the National Championship, I think we'll go out and hopefully play a lot harder and play hard for each other because it is our last opportunity together.
KATIE DOUGLAS: I think, you know, we're going to do whatever it takes in order to put our team in a position to win. I know if there is a loose ball, I'm going to go after it with everything I've got; because you can't hold anything back, because this is your last 40 minutes. But at the same time, I'm probably going to be more relaxed, because, you know, the first time when we got here, I was very nervous. And this time, it's my last game, and I want to go out and enjoy it.
Q. You said you were a little bit scared at first. Did any of that have to do with the fact that when you watched Kelly and Katie on TV, they are always screaming? And do you enjoy that fired-up emotional style, I guess?
SHEREKA WRIGHT: Well, I don't really like anybody yelling at me, really. But, you know, when they do yell, it is in a good way; it is in a loving way. It's encouraging. You know, it really helps for them to communicate with me and with everybody else. You just can't ask for nobody better than those two to be yelling at you.
End of FastScripts....