April 3, 2005
DEBBIE BYRNE: We'll start with an opening statement from the Coach and go to the questions for the student-athletes first.
COACH KIM MULKEY-ROBERTSON: We are playing for the national championship. We just beat, in my opinion, the most talented team in the country this year with the best player in the country. You get down 15, and I'm looking at my coaches, going "We're getting embarrassed on national television." And I challenged my players and once again what warriors they are. This is something else.
Q. Any of the players, the surge that you had at the end of the first half to tie the game. How much energy did that give you for the second half?
EMILY NIEMANN: It's always good to take momentum into the locker room especially when we had as tough as a start as we did so that was big for us.
Q. Emily, you're known more as three-point shooter; did you guys see something on film or during the game that you should be taking the ball inside.
EMILY NIEMANN: It just kind of happened on the floor. My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball in spots where I could score and fortunately they were falling tonight.
Q. Sophia, can you just talk about your performance and what it meant to do this in front of your mom?
SOPHIA YOUNG: Well, it was just a great opportunity for me to play so well in front of my mom and my mom to actually be here. I don't know, I think that or I thought that I had to step up tonight really big time for my team and my teammates did a really good job of getting me the ball as well and, I don't know, I just scored whenever I needed to.
Q. Sophia, can you talk about and Stephanie, you too, can you talk about the contributions from Abby, particularly in that second half run where you all got ahead and took the lead?
SOPHIA YOUNG: What's your name and where you from? (Laughter.)
COACH KIM MULKEY-ROBERTSON: And he didn't pick us to win and he's from Waco. (Laughter.)
SOPHIA YOUNG: I thought Abby picked up big time for us tonight and in our last game Abby didn't that play that much against LSU and tonight she did a great job against Seimone and keeping her to her average of scoring and I think Abby just played a heck of a game tonight.
Q. To any of the players, I want to know about what you did differently defensively after you got that big deficit down 15 or did you do anything differently? Seemed like your defense you kicked it up after that.
STEFFANIE BLACKMON: I don't think they did anything different. I think that we just buckled down and it was tight at that time at the end of the game. When the game is so tight you just have to try to make good plays. I thought Sophia did a good job of coming over deflecting the ball. We go the got a lot of deflections at the end of the game.
Q. Sophia, I know you guys play for yourselves and all your teammates but you could you sort of put this in the larger context about given the negative publicity that's happened in Baylor in the last couple of years, what this does as far as rehabilitating the image of the school?
SOPHIA YOUNG: Well, that's really, it's the past and so we really don't dwell on it anymore. Right now we are just trying to be the shining light of Baylor and also to the Waco community, so I think that it's we just put a positive thought in people's mouths and minds about our school and our community.
Q. Johnson was taking the ball to the hole right from the start much more than she normally does, was that because you had Augustus and the other players so well covered?
SOPHIA YOUNG: Well, yeah, that was because she had Augustus, but we had Chelsea on Johnson and I thought Chelsea did a pretty good job on her. Temeka is a pretty good penetrator and we tried to stop that. I mean she was, she is going to get her shots, so we did the best we could.
Q. Sophia, talk a little bit about not knowing who you're going to play yet, taking the emotion of this game and going into the final.
SOPHIA YOUNG: Well, we play for a national championship so it doesn't really matter who we're going to play. We're just going to go out and play our hardest and just try to win a national championship.
Q. This is for any of the players, can you comment on playing in front of such a large crowd like this and does it take time to get used to shooting in a facility like this?
EMILY NIEMANN: Well, as far as the shooting goes it's a very different arena. Never been in anything like that before. But everybody's playing in a new floor, so nobody's really used to it. It was just great to play in the Final Four in front of all these people, that was fun. So there you go.
Q. For any of the players, Kim doesn't usually like to play that much zone, were you all surprised at how much zone defense you played?
STEFFANIE BLACKMON: I wasn't. I know that we feel like the zone would be effective against them. We tried a different type of zone this game and thought it matched up better with the way they figured themselves on the court offensively. So I thought it worked well.
DEBBIE BYRNE: We're going to let you go back to the locker room and we'll begin the open period and now we'll go to questions for Kim.
Q. The way that the tournament ended for you guys last year, was that a motivating factor to make it here this year and be playing in this game?
COACH KIM MULKEY-ROBERTSON: We mentioned the ending of our season last year one time in the first team meeting. There's a poster or that's what you want to call it on our wall that has the score of the game with point whatever it was, two tenths of a second. It's not been mentioned again until the media asked about it. Everybody that was involved in that game will never forget it. And that in itself should motivate you.
Q. What was the strategy to keep them from getting transition baskets; even when you guys had turnovers and missed shots it still seemed like they didn't score much in transition?
COACH KIM MULKEY-ROBERTSON: Well, we're a transition team as well and going against each other in practice every day pretty much prepares us for transition defense. If you look at the players on our team, our post players are athletic and they run the floor as well. I thought that the key to the game was changing defenses, slowing it down with the two-two-one, back to the three-two. I thought Abiola Wabara in our man, the shot Seimone Augustus made when we were in man, were great shots. And that's what great players do. I don't think we just gave her any easy looks. When we went to the zone we made sure we matched up and knew where she was. A lot of Seimone's game, when you're in zone is at the foul line area. And we took that away and played it flat with a big player. And no, I'm not a zone coach, but I damn sure like to win.
Q. In regards to only four players that scored for them tonight, was there some thinking if Seimone is going to get hers, really try to put clamps on everybody else or is that how the game just developed?
COACH KIM MULKEY-ROBERTSON: No, that was just one of the ways to win the game. Seimone Augustus, being the best player in the country, is going to get her points. We can't let the second and third player have All-American nights.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about Abby's contribution, what she did particularly well tonight and what you might need her to do better tomorrow?
COACH KIM MULKEY-ROBERTSON: Abby didn't get to play much the first time we played LSU, she played six minutes. And watching Abby develop throughout the course of the year, I just was very confident that Abby was the perfect person to guard Seimone Augustus, and guys, she guarded her. She didn't stop her, but she guarded her as good as anybody could possibly guard her. And Abby, she was just a very good player for us tonight. Abby's been that way and I said it at the Big 12 tournament, I said it in the Regionals in Tempe, and Abiola Wabara is a solid player that nobody really gives enough credit to. But we sure give her enough credit. We know what she means to our team.
Q. When you were a young player did you ever think the day would come when you would look up and see 29,000 people in an arena to watch women's basketball?
COACH KIM MULKEY-ROBERTSON: You know, I did. I did. I knew it was a great game and the game continued to grow throughout my career, both as a player and as an assistant Coach and it's just a great sport. And it does not surprise me the least bit. You need to remember, I played in this arena when it was the Hoosier Dome in front of 70,000 people in 1984 when they opened it, the Olympic team came here and so I knew it was there to grow and it doesn't surprise me.
Q. Can you talk about whatever adjustments you made to get Young some, get fouls off Young?
COACH KIM MULKEY-ROBERTSON: Well, Sophia doesn't have the body that Fowles does, and she was banging in there as much as she could. I think a lot of it had to do with the delivery of the pass from the perimeter; it was better, it was quicker and it was at a time when Sophia was open. In the first half we were delivering passes just a split second too late. And Sophia would also, we were trying to bring Fowles away from the basket as much as we could. She likes to come and help from the off side block and swat shots and if we could bring her up and get her away, we felt like we could isolate Emily and Abby and Stephanie down in there. And that's what we were trying to do more of.
Q. You said you challenged your players when they were 15 points behind, what did you say to them?
COACH KIM MULKEY-ROBERTSON: I really can't remember. It was probably something they have heard a million times, just putting a little fire in your belly and have a little umph about you and don't get embarrassed on national television. And let's roll up our sleeves. I know one thing I told them is you're not going to get it back in one or two possessions. You're not going to come down here and jack threes and get it back quickly. You take your time, we got plenty of time left in the basketball game.
DEBBIE BYRNE: Coach, thank you very much.
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