April 2, 2005
DEBBIE BYRNE: Coach Chatman, we'll start with you, please, for an opening statement.
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: I guess I'll start with stating the obvious but I think it can't go without mentioning we're ecstatic to be here, like any Coach. But first and foremost, I think for us, we're fortunate enough that we have been able to hang our hats on the defensive end of the floor. Thinking back I had more questions asked about the previous match-up with Baylor than I had asked about anything. This is what we have taken from the previous match-up: Nothing and everything. And my point in that is that Baylor was an extremely talented team in November, and with the leadership of Kim and her go-to players, obviously it starts with their post tandem, there's so much more to the method of their madness. It obviously starts with Sophia and Blackmon, but there's complimentary players surrounding them from the point to the shooters; Niemann coming off the bench. For us it's going to take a tremendous defensive effort if we are to be victorious. And I go back to our previous outing with Duke. It was nice to see our kids go down by 12 and not panic and hang their hats on the defense end of the floor and go to work on the boards and to lead to us a victory. Thanks.
DEBBIE BYRNE: We're going with questions for the student-athletes first. Please, give me a high sign.
Q. For Temeka, I would like to ask now that the team has gotten back here, you truly made it your goal to get back here this year. Will the experience of the Final Four be a little bit easier? Do you have some better ideas of what to expect and how to especially prepare for the semifinal games?
TEMEKA JOHNSON: I think we will compare, we were preparing for the games different than we would have prepared any other year. I think it's all the excitement of everything else away from basketball has kind of sunk in and we're settled with that part. But as far as us comparing everything, it doesn't change, we have always prepared the same for every basketball game that we have played.
Q. Temeka, how different are you all from the game in November? What are some of your strengths now maybe compared to then and things like that?
TEMEKA JOHNSON: We have grown even more as a team, as individuals, Sylvia is no longer a freshman anymore. Next to her name there is the "FR, but to us she's grown so much that she's really not a freshman. All our other freshmen are no longer freshmen. They're a part of our season and we're all pretty much on the same page. We have grown collectively as a whole and learned a lot from each other.
Q. Temeka, could you just talk about Sylvia and I guess her process when she's been here obviously it's all new to her, even know it's not new to y'all. Have you guys been holding her hand, talking about the things outside the game, making sure she's focused on the game?
TEMEKA JOHNSON: We're not putting a lot of pressure on her compounding basketball into every second of the day. We're not really holding her hand either. We're allowing her to grow as a person. We just along the way we're right alongside her whenever she needs us she knows that we have her back. Anything that she needs we're right there behind her. But for the basketball, I think Seimone and I do a good job of talking to her and allowing her to know that it is okay for her to make a mistake and just be free. We have her back, no matter what.
Q. Seimone, I think you said after that first Baylor game that it felt like March out there. Obviously you saw that this was the kind of team that could be at this level. What are some of the things that they do real well and match up with you guys real well with.
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS: I think you look back to what Coach said. They have a good inside tandem as well as they have a great role players that know how to play their roles. They get the ball inside as well as when it's dished off from the post they spot up and knock down shots. So it's going to be difficult to defend especially on the inside but it's going to take a team effort to stop that tandem.
Q. Seimone, I would like to ask you also, getting here, last year, getting to the Final Four was one thing. Now that you're back, what do you feel might be different or are some things a little more relaxed or even a little more focused than from last year's experience?
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS: I think we're more focused on what we have to do. We felt that we have some unfinished business here some things that we need to get done here. So it's more putting everything into perspective and understanding that we enjoy being here, we are glad to be here, but we have a lot of things that we have to do in a short period of time.
Q. This is for anyone: How much do you guys joke about the Miami clique, the three players you have, kind of the Miami Pipeline, and do you joke with them at all?
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS: Yeah, we do joke with them, only because they mess with us, especially people from Louisiana. They say they have the best things in Florida from water to food to entertainment. So we normally mess with them, but it's all in fun and games. They're great players. They're also great teammates and they keep everybody focused as well as we have times when we can relax and have fun.
Q. For Temeka and Seimone, after the first meeting, the comeback that Baylor made, their Coach and some of their players explained that as a team that plays with emotion. Maybe you could just talk about the emotion that's within your team and what we'll see as far as the semi final game.
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS: I was trying to take a pass on that. I think that they are a great team and they fought back and in November, and but I think I think we had the same fire, that same desire that they have. Everybody wants to be in the national championship game and we understand that it's going to be a tough battle for us. But like Coach said, we had to come back from 12 points down in that Duke game and that showed a lot of character and composure that we kept in order to fight back. So that speaks a lot for our team as well, to be able to come back on a great team like Duke and win the game.
Q. Temeka, in your judgment, what's the most important thing or things a player has to do to be a good point guard at this level?
TEMEKA JOHNSON: Lead the best way that she knows how in every aspect of it. Be the leader that she's supposed to be and pretty much do whatever she has to do to help take her team as far as she is going to take them and get all of them involved. Help do whatever it takes to make her team successful.
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS: As well as be five foot three. (Laughter.)
Q. Temeka, it's I guess a cliche in sports to say we're not worried about the other team; we're just worried about ourselves. But is that a philosophy that this team really sticks to and I know whenever we ask about the opponent you guys just kind of shrug it off. I mean you're just focused on what you guys need to do and that kind of thing.
TEMEKA JOHNSON: Pretty much. And that's not any disrespect to the opponent. But I think if we focus on what we have to do, then everything else will fall into line. The more we execute well defensively and offensively, the easier things come for us. So I think it's easier, it's best that way for us to concentrate on ourselves.
Q. Can you talk about Seimone's impact on the team, she's just named National Player of the Year?
TEMEKA JOHNSON: I'm glad she's on my team. I can tell you that. I think everything has been said about her. What you see is what you get. The person that she is, the player that she is, what you see is what you get basically. She helps out the team tremendously. She takes off -- I know she takes the pressure off of me. She helps in that aspect. She opens up a lot of things for other people because of the attention that she gets and her minutes, because all the people that's drawn to her. I'm glad that she was named National Player of the Year and that she's just got the trophy. She deserves it more than anyone that I know.
Q. Seimone, do you think in that first meeting with Baylor that there was ever a time when both teams were playing their best against each other because you guys had the stronger first half and they had the stronger second half. Did we get to see the best of play Baylor versus the best of LSU at the same time in that game?
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS: I don't think so. The best consists of 40 minutes. But like you said it was two different halves for each team. A good half for us, as far as getting out executing and second half was kind of sluggish and they took advantage of everything. But I wouldn't say it was the best. It was early on, it was November, and a lot of players had to grow within our team and within their team as well as people had to find their roles. So I can't -- I don't think it was their best or our best. It was too early to really say, you know, it was too early.
DEBBIE BYRNE: We're going to let these ladies go back to the locker room now. Now we'll continue with questions for the Coach.
Q. I wonder if you could talk a little about Kim Mulkey, tried to recruit you I believe when she was at Louisiana Tech and you guys were both point guards from the Bayou State. Can you sort of talk about your similarity as much as you could remember her as a player. Your similarities as players and maybe your similarities and/or differences as coaches.
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: I think that the similarities as a player is extremely easy. Oftentimes I'm asked to compare myself to Temeka and I wish I could. Only in my dreams. But when I think about Kim, we weren't blessed with height; we're both five four, we weren't the quickest. Didn't quite have a vertical. But we could think the game at a pace that usually helped us to defeat our opponent. You find something, mental as to physical as far as to one. And I think Kim was that type of point guard. You put players around her, she made them better. They fed off of her. She ran her team. And I think those are some of the things that I had to do. I was limited athletically, so I had to learn how to think the game fast, think the game effective. And there in lies the difference. And it always seemed that I was fortunate enough to be on teams that were successful and I would like to credit some of that to my ability to grow with the team, but also to develop some of that talent around us. And that's where I see the similarities. I think in terms of coaching, we're both in a Final Four, so we figured something out that we're doing right. It's a different approach. Kim's maybe a little bit more animated than me; I need to conserve some of that energy. But the bottom line is she's here and I'm here, so we're doing something right.
Q. Same question I just asked Temeka about paying attention to yourselves instead of the opponents. You said at the beginning that what did we learn from that first match-up and you said nothing. I mean is this team even more than most a team that tries to set the tempo and dictate the way a game is going to be played and focuses on what you guys are going to do first?
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: Let me finish the second half of that quote. I said we learned nothing and we learned everything. And the point is it was a long time ago and Baylor was a very good team in November. And obviously we are here in Indianapolis so they're a great team now. The focus, it's always 75 percent of yourself because that's what you can control the most. We're going to scout, we're going to get our 10, 12 tapes in, we're going to break it down. But I think you can't forget about yourself in that process. But I want to make sure you got that part of it. We learned a lot. I look at the schedule that Baylor's played, I look at the schedule that we have played, and when you get kids at this level the only thing you can do is improve and again a lot of questions regarding Kim and her leadership and obviously that trickles down to those players and that's why they're here.
Q. Pokey, Sylvia's had such great impact on games defensively. I was curious as to why you continue to wait to put her in the game and don't start her.
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: Well, if someone would have told me 10 months ago this would be the case, I probably wouldn't have believed them either. But I know all of Sylvia's basketball life she's been taught to stay near the basket, play behind in the post, she knows how to get Sylvia open, not her teammates and that was something that she had to learn. We didn't exactly give our freshmen an opportunity to grow early. We kind of threw them at the wolves with our preseason schedule. And with the leadership of Wendlyn and Tillie Willis, it was an opportunity to bring Sylvia along at a comfortable pace. And then what we noticed going in is when we brought her along at a comfortable pace, we're subbing her at a time when she's fresh and she brought a little something extra to us and it worked to our advantage. So for us it's been a plus that we had a senior that could start the game and then come off the bench with someone like Sylvia.
Q. With the elimination of Connecticut there will be a new champion this year although it could be Tennessee winning a 7th. The three other coaches, including yourself, do you all understand this is a big chance to put a new face on women's college basketball?
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: I guess I'll understand that if I have to contend with that when all is said and done. You work so hard and you work so long to get to this moment. And I know it's extremely difficult for you to understand that, but the moment is Baylor. It's not about tradition, it's not about the number of titles someone else is holding. I hope we're discussing that.
Q. Could you just talk about your team's ability to handle all of the ancillary stuff, especially on a day like today. With autograph sessions and how much has last year's experience helped in that process and I guess just your thoughts on viewing it or is it different from last year?
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: Obviously it helps because so many of the kids have been here before and they're able to disseminate some of that information to the young kids and give them a prelude to what's to come. It's nice when you have your peers that can do that. But fortunately for me I'm blessed with some kids that are really good about perspective. They're not really high, they don't get too low, they're very methodical and business-like in their approach. And honestly, a day like today is perfect for these kids. They're so anxious. They have been here, they're chomping at the bit to play. And it gives them an opportunity to break up their day and not get too worried about what's to take place tomorrow. So it's extremely easy at this point. The closer you get to it, the distraction related to a championship opportunity is a welcome thing.
Q. If you could, talk about Seimone Augustus and for a player that scores that much she seems to be an unselfish player that likes to include her teammates and involve them in the game.
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: You said it. And for me it's great that Seimone can be the recipient of so many individual awards and at the same time lift a team, and that's the team on the floor, the team on the bench, the team at LSU, the team, our community. And you think about it, she's a three player, she doesn't have the basketball in her hands a large percentage of the time, and to me that's what separates her from being a good player to being the great player that she is. She understands how to move without the basketball. She understands how to get people open. She understands "I can average six less points and have an opportunity to compete for something special. " And all those things go unnoticed. So for me, I am enjoying the fact that she's being recognized for her play. It's not typical, I like to call it "old school" and oftentimes it seems like it the game comes so easy so Seimone because she is gifted, because she is athletic. But she's a cerebral basketball player. She understands the intricacies of the game and oftentimes that is why she's open on those mid-range jumpers because she understands cuts and reads and spacing. So for me I'm sort of like Temeka, you know, I'm glad she's on my team.
Q. Abiola Webara wasn't playing a lot for Baylor. From what you've seen what are some of the problems that she can create especially on defense?
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: I think your last word said it, obviously she's a defensive presence for them and you always start there because that seems to be the area that you can control, not having an off night. She brings a presence, she has some size, she's athletic, she has that mentality, attacking an opponent. And it's been shown throughout the tournament and prior to that and I think that's some of the things the kids were trying to allude to and in terms of Baylor being a different team and we're a different team. We have had some players step up, we had one player that played earlier who is injured now. So that's November to April. But she's playing extremely well for them, but more than that she also has the ability to attack the glass, to post up a little bit and she's a player that's developed and flourished in their system.
Q. You talked about Kim had recruited you; is that correct?
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: Yes.
Q. Out of high school. Was it ever tempting to play for her, knowing what she had done as a point guard and everything?
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: Yes. It was more than Kim. Growing up in Louisiana, I can remember attending some of the Louisiana Tech games. There was a great player back there Sandra Hodges and watching Debra, Angela Turner, Pam Gant, all those players. And Kim and I also played the same AAU program, we wore the same number. She lives -- she's from Hammond, Louisiana, so there was so many similarities there. So I guess it's ironic that we're here now but it was just a natural progression at the time. They were obviously a great program at the time and I had the opportunity to be recruited by someone that you watched growing up, you watch be successful as a Coach and a school that had won some championships, it was just the next step.
Q. Who really dictates whether it's time for Seimone to start shooting more and try to take over a game? Is that something you try to avoid as coaches or she tries to avoid and as these games get tighter like when you were down against Duke and things like that, the first Baylor game, is that something important for her to do that she should take a few more shots?
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: We run motion offense. We very seldom -- we don't come down and call a play for Seimone. And it's very difficult for people to understand. Seimone wanted so much attention that when it comes to crunch time, the second she makes a cut, she's going to draw the defender and it's going to leave someone else wide open. And that's what I think separates her, because she will make that cut, knowing she's going to get bumped, held, bumped, not get the ball, double, tripled-teamed. But she continues to do it. And it's always going to come in the natural flow of the game. But she's a player, a competitor when the stakes are high. I think it's just a natural innate ability to just understand that, "I have the ball in my hand, let me be a little bit more aggressive in my approach" but it's never from a one-on-one standpoint; it's always in the confines of the flow of our offense. But understanding that she is the most valuable player on the floor and we play our offense through her; not to her, and that way the decision lies within Seimone.
Q. Is there one aspect of the game that you really do not want to see Baylor dominate tomorrow night?
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: Just one? (Laughter.)
Q. I don't want to give all your strategy out.
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: It's no secret with Baylor what they're good at and that's several things. They will play to their strengths, they will attack you offensively, inside out. And if they don't make that first shot, they're going to try to attack and get the second one and the third and the fourth and the fifth. And it is your ability to defend the first, because there is no defense for the second one, so our ability to get on the boards with them on both ends but more importantly, we need to make Baylor defend us. They play really aggressive defense, whether it's man or zone and I think that's what you always want to do, but for us I think it's securing boards and making them defend us in our half court.
Q. Specifically the defense board? You don't --
COACH POKEY CHATMAN: All of them. I want all the boards.
DEBBIE BYRNE: Okay. Pokey. Thank you.
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