March 25, 1999
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
COACH ANDY LANDERS: Well, we're excited. I'm excited as coach of this outfit that they are here. It's always a lot of fun to be involved in this, and I guess particularly fun when you bring a young team that has not had the experience, and to see them live it for the first time. So that part of it is obviously very enjoyable. The thing that is exciting is I think that we've played some very good basketball, particularly on the defensive end, en route to San Jose, and excited about the challenge of playing a terrific Duke team that really, I think, dominated its opponent in the last game, which isn't easy to do. Nor is it something that's been done very often in the last three years. So, very good basketball team with a lot of balance on the offensive end. Terrific dribble drivers, three-point shooters. So I'm just excited about the challenge that we have with Duke, and excited that our players. And our basketball team is here to try to rise up to that challenge.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about what it was like in 1983 when your team and the men's team made it to the Final Four, whether if you think it might be different for Duke since the Final Four has become a bigger event?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: I don't know how it will be for Duke, because I don't know the relationship that the two coaches have. In '83 when our men were in all Berkeley and we were in Norfolk at those two Final Fours, it was a special experience for us, because Coach Durham had been at Georgia relatively short period of time. And I had been at Georgia one year, relatively less than he had, a short period of time, and we had both -- our programs had kind of paralleled each other. And neither of us were expected to get there, which isn't the case with Duke. But neither of the teams were expected to get there, and we did. Coach Durham and I had a special relationship. And we talked I think about once a day from the two sides, just to say good luck and to laugh about really the success that our teams had had. I don't know how that compares with Duke. But I think the thing that made it special for us -- two things I guess. One, neither of the teams were supposed to advance that far. And two, the two coaches had a very good relationship.
Q. Coach, what's it been like this year to coach twins in terms of -- maybe you can give us some amusing stories of maybe, like, mistaken identity, things like that that have occurred. And Kelly, where is your sister?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: You know, this is my third set of twins. So I don't -- I guess I've just kind of gotten numb to it. I mean, really.
Q. What's it like to coach twins?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: You know, I'm going to burst your bubble. I can't tell you a whole lot of funny stories, because we really have worked hard at treating them as individuals and coaching them as per their needs and as per the way we think that they should be coached. While they look alike, they are not alike. There's no two people identical or exactly alike. And Kelly and Coco fall into that as much as you and I do. They play differently. They think differently. Do they have a lot of common bonds or commonalities? Yeah. But I hope everyone on our team has a lot of things in common. Do they more than some of their teammates? Yes. But still, I've tried to coach them as much as I could. I try to talk to them as much as I can, individually rather than as twins.
DEBBIE BYRNE: In answer to your question, her sister is in the locker room.
Q. Can you maybe just talk a little bit about how she has improved? Tawana, it looks like guard play could neutralize each other with that matchup, could put a lot of pressure on you going against Michele. Could you maybe just talk about your year, how you've improved, and then the matchup you'd have.
COACH ANDY LANDERS: I'll go first, if that's okay. How has she improved? The thing that I would want people to understand is that Tawana missed perhaps the most important ten games of her freshman career; those being at the first of the season with the sprained ligament in her knee. Those games, in my opinion, would have given her a great opportunity to learn more about college basketball and make the transition, and especially to gain a lot of confidence. She started playing when we started the SEC schedule, which isn't the way you like to break a freshman in. So there's been some pain involved. And in her learning to play and her improvement, how much has she improved? I can tell you the last month of the season is where I thought she would probably be in January. She now is -- she's showing flashes that -- flashes of excellence. She has greatness in her that is starting to come out and is going to continue to come out. I think the greatest compliment that I can pay her is it's important for her to be on the floor for Georgia to look good. She has a presence, whether it's scoring or rebounding, one or the other or neither. She has a presence on the floor that our basketball team has to have to be successful. That that I believe it's going to be a big match up for me and for her. It's going to be a physical game for both of us. Just looking forward to the matchup and looking forward to play.
Q. Coach, you've obviously got a great sophomore. And if you look around the country, there are a lot of high profile players in that class. Do you think that class is a little bit special?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: I thought when we recruited the sophomores two years ago, that it was a class that just had an unbelievable amount of talent. And, yes, I do think that that class was exceptional in that there were so many very, very talented players. And I think when you go back and look, as you obviously have done, these players have made some teams really good.
Q. Pam, you've been to a Final Four before, and I was wondering how your role has changed within the team, how the team is different this year and how you expect things to be different for Georgia?
PAM IRWIN-OSBOLT: My first Final Four when I was a freshman, everything was new to me, and I was being led by the upperclassmen. And I was just happy to be there. But this year is totally different. I was the upperclassman. And I kind of had to -- I was telling them what it's like, what we've had to do. And we worked our way here. My freshman year we were No. 1, and was expected to be here this year. We worked our way, and I think we deserve to be here.
Q. What do you think of Duke's backcourt? And if you could specifically talk about Erickson and Howard, what makes them effective?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: I think that they are terrific. I think that they have incredible balance at all three positions and collectively. Now, they have a pointguard that's terrific in transition and moving the ball down the floor. They get out. They fill the lanes very well at the end of that transition. The break isn't over until you stop the pointguard. And then stopping her sometimes, it requires help. Now you've got a wing open. And what they do so well is balance their game between the drive and the 3. You know, you have to defend them, because they are going to stroke the 3 on you. You get up there. You don't do a good job at the 3-point line, and now they are driving you very aggressively to the basket. So, you know, they are constantly creating that game from their offensive scheme. Balanced individuals, all three of them shoot -- it's interesting that one shoots a little bit more than 50 percent of her shots are 3s. 150 percent of her shots are 3s. The average, a little bit less than 50 percent of her shots are 3s. So they have really balanced that backcourt very well. Aggressive. And it's the same on a defensive end. They come at you defensively with a lot of determination and a lot of aggressiveness.
Q. Kelly, Coach talked about how he tries to treat you and your sister as individuals. But can you talk a little bit how either differences or similarities in your personalities helped the two of you work together on the court?
KELLY MILLER: I think our personalities are very similar. And we've played with each other for so long that, I mean, I think that helps a lot on the court, too.
Q. I'd like to hear from each of the players. What was your reaction after Duke beat Tennessee, a team that you lost two, three times during the season? And if you had a chance to see any of that game, what do you think they were able to do to win that game that maybe you guys weren't during the season?
PAM IRWIN-OSBOLT: Actually, I didn't get to see much of the game. I saw the last few minutes. But I think the main thing they do or the main ingredient was determination. Duke's determination. I don't think they did anything special, you know, anything that was really special, anything different than anybody else has tried this year. I think they were just determined to win.
Q. Your impression of their win over Tennessee, what they were able to do to beat them?
KELLY MILLER: Well, I think they probably put -- I didn't see much of the game either. But I think they played pretty good defense. And like Pam said, I think their determination, they just really wanted to win. And I think that's what made them win, I guess.
TAWANA McDONALD: I really didn't see much of the game, but I believe they stayed out of foul trouble during the game; so, this could have helped them a lot -- did help them a lot.
Q. Kelly, do you believe that playing with Coco has strengthened the bonds between you or does is it sometimes make you rivals?
KELLY MILLER: It's strengthened the bond. We really love playing together. We're really close. So I think it's definitely strengthened the bond.
Q. Tawana, a lot has been written recently about Michigan State and flares from Flint, the Flintstones, as it were. Do you have that same sort of alliance to your hometown? Do you consider yourself one of the Flintstones as well?
TAWANA McDONALD: Yes I do.
Q. Are you going to be watching Michigan State with interest?
TAWANA McDONALD: Yeah, hoping they win, beat Duke.
Q. You guys go back and forth in terms of being leading scorers on this team. Is there competitiveness as well?
KELLY MILLER: We don't really think about it that much when we play. So we don't really compete between each other. We support each other.
Q. Coach, could you script the first five minutes of this basketball game; what do you expect will happen?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: What do I expect will happen or what do I expect -- or what do I want to happen? If I could script it five minutes, we're up 20-zip, they have got three starters in foul trouble. The Coach has had a technical, so she can't stand up anymore. The people on television are giving us a little bit of credit, and you guys are holding the late edition of the paper so that we'll be the headlines the next day.
Q. Kelly, did you ever consider not going to the same school as your sister? And was the fact that both of you were recruited by Georgia a key point in making that your decision?
KELLY MILLER: We always wanted to go to the same school. We never thought about going separate ways. I mean, yeah, that was one of the reasons, because they recruited both of us.
Q. For Coach and for Pam, you've limited your opponents to 34 percent shooting. What exactly has contributed to that? And Pam, when Georgia is clicking, how do you describe your style, especially offensively?
PAM IRWIN-OSBOLT: I think our defense has really -- has caused other opponents to shoot 34 percent. And I think our offense as far as clicking, I think our defense allows our offense -- our defense creates our offense I guess I should say.
Q. But what are you doing defensively?
PAM IRWIN-OSBOLT: Just playing hard-nosed defense.
COACH ANDY LANDERS: What do I attribute their defensive success to? We've been real pleased with the way our players have been able to adjust to each of the games that we've played in and to the strengths of the other team. You know, with Liberty, you were talking about a very perimeter-oriented team. With Clemson you're talking about a very inside-oriented team that had the ability to extend you beyond reason at one position out at the 3-point, not on the line, somewhere out in the next county. So our ability to adjust ourselves to the opposition, our players' abilities to adjust what Pam calls our hard-nosed aggressive style, and then come out and play and execute that plan I think has been really key for us with Iowa State. It was dribble, penetrate, kick out for a 3. We were able to get up on them, pressure them. And our thought was, let's make them drive. The heck with this penetrate and kick stuff. If they are going to beat us, let's beat up on them, let's make them take it somewhere. And when they get it there, we're going to adjust the best we can. But we're not going to let them one, two, dribble us and kick. So it's been little things like that we've been able to do defensively. And backing up to -- if I could script the first five minutes, I think it would be for us to have settled in defensively and made the necessary -- you know, we have a plan defensively as to what we hope we can do. What I would like after five minutes is to know whether or not that plan is a good enough plan to ride the distance or until they make changes or whether or not we're going to need to tweak it right away and change into the subplans that we've talked about. That's from a defensive end. And to have stayed out of foul trouble. That's very important for our basketball team. When you dribble drive the way Duke has, when you have the inside people that Duke has, there's the potential to have fouls. And when you get up on people that play aggressive, as we do -- we fouled the person at McDonald that was serving us Coke. So we have to be careful there. On the offensive end, I rather suspect that Duke is going to throw some junk out there. Our ability to recognize the first five minutes what Duke is doing and to move smoothly into our offensive schemes, that's all I can ask for. You know, you'd like to think your shooters are going to hit, you're going to get the ball inside. But there's so many things that play into how things actually play out. Those last five minutes, Duke is going to have a lot to do with that. But that's where we want to be the first five minutes.
Q. There's been so much talk about the Duke women coming out from the shadow of the Duke men. Do you feel like you're coming out of the shadow of Tennessee?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: I hope not. Do you feel like that we are? You obviously cover women's basketball, and if you're not aware that this is our fifth Final Four and that we've played in two national championship games and that Tennessee has one eight southeastern conference championships and we've been here six; and it's much more competitive, then we obviously are in their shadow, and I'd probably hold some of you responsible for it.
PAM IRWIN-OSBOLT: No, I don't really feel like we're coming out of their shadow. We're in the same conference and everything, and they get a lot of attention. But I think that we can hold our own.
Q. What is it like having -- what do you think it means to women's basketball to have some new faces in here in the Final Four?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: I think that it's very good for women's basketball to have new blood and new success by different teams. You know, I think what Connecticut did -- and Connecticut, in my mind, was the team in the '90s that really gave women's basketball a booster shot, if you will, in terms of exposure and creating interest and particularly with the -- with the print and television media. You know, the year they went undefeated was a terrific thing for women's basketball. And I think a lot of people sat up and took note of what was happening there. I think what Tennessee has done has been good for the rising popularity. But I think there comes a point in time when those single teams carrying the banner become self-defeating to the purpose of -- you don't want teams, you don't want players, you don't want coaches becoming more popular or bigger than the game. You see that in the NBA. And sometimes it turns out not to be a pretty picture. So, you know, us being able to beat each other from time to time and ground each other I think really helps our sport.
Q. Who is the favorite here?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: You know, I don't really know. I haven't -- you know, you may think I'm being coy with you. I don't think about it. I haven't seen Louisiana Tech play maybe 30 minutes all year. I had not seen Duke play until they beat Tennessee. I don't know. I mean, I'm just -- my favorites McDonald, My second is Kelly, and my third favorite is Pam, just because they are sitting in that order at the table.
Q. You have one of the youngest teams here. Do you adjust your strategy having been here before? Is there benefits to having a younger team here?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: There are, I think, benefits to being young and being here for the first time. I don't think that in that regard players do not have an agenda, because they don't know what the agenda -- they have never experienced it before. And you can lead them, I think quite easily, in the direction that you want them going. First part of your question was we're young. And what was the question part of it? I'm sorry.
Q. Coach, do you coach them any differently than other teams?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: Yeah, I really do. I think it's important with this group for them to be sure that we stay relaxed and at ease and comfortable with ourselves. If we're fighting ourselves or our own emotions for the next 24 hours, we're going to have problems. So I've got to keep them comfortable and at ease with themselves as we prepare for this. And that's, I think, the way we've been doing it. That's where we're at at game time. I also have to have the ability to kind of flip the switch a little bit and turn it up and then make sure that we are the intense and aggressive basketball team that we want to be. With a veteran team, I haven't had that approach in the past. If I get serious with some of these kids, they will call their mother.
Q. How do you account for your increased scoring in the tournament? Is it a conscious decision that you've made or just having a hot hand?
KELLY MILLER: I don't know. Just happens as we've got -- my teammates have done a great job of getting me open when I've had the hot hand. It's just something that's happened, I guess. I don't know.
Q. Some people have brought up the question of the brackets, how the four male coaches ended up in one bracket and two in the other. Can you talk about that?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: One of those phenomenons that happens.
Q. Does is it bother you?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: I don't know if it bothers me. Does it bother you?
Q. I'm curious.
COACH ANDY LANDERS: I'm curious as to why you're asking. You're obviously concerned about it.
Q. You said last year that before this season even started a year ago that you really were excited about this bunch because they were one of the most competitive innately intense group that you'd ever coached. Would you elaborate on that? And did that hold true through last year and this year?
COACH ANDY LANDERS: You know, we -- this group has some special traits. And that's what I talked about last spring, that there was some competitiveness among us, that if we could channel and steer and guide and cultivate that would be a very positive thing for our basketball team, and I think a great determination in how successful we're going to be. I think we've been able to do that a reasonable amount. You know, most of the time we've -- we have been, and our players can remember this, probably one of the most often heard things that they have listened to throughout the years has been, you know, play the way you practice. Play as hard as you practice. Compete. We were even saying it last weekend at the regionals. Because -- and it's not unusual for a young team -- you know, we're a lot better in practice than we are in games, most of the time. Our work habits, our fundamental play and execution, our intensity, getting that -- getting our players to carry all that onto the floor for games has been the challenge. And I think that they have started to do that more and more. But it's a young basketball team. And I'm excited about it. And, you know, there's no question -- there isn't a player on our team that's close to being as good as she can be. So, we could be a lot better in the future if we keep the right attitude.
Q. Pam, talk about Andy not being serious. What has he done to keep the team loose this year?
PAM IRWIN-OSBOLT: Not really. I mean, I don't -- I don't think everything has been as serious -- he has kind of, I guess, lightened up a little -- maybe not -- a little. Maybe because we are younger and learning things and we're not as experienced and isn't supposed to know everything already.
Q. Could you talk about that early part of the season when you were hurt? I mean, if you had concerns if you'd even play this year, and when you did get in, as Andy said, is it tough to play your first game in the SEC? Talk about the transition for you then when you did get back on the court, please.
TAWANA McDONALD: I believe my first game before we went on Christmas break or whatever, and I was, like, surprised to get in the game and stuff. So once I got in there and started playing, I didn't feel the way I first felt when I first got here. All the confidence I had went down a lot. As the season started going on, I started getting my confidence up. He started telling me that it's going to be long and hard, and I'm going to have to keep working to get better. Now that we're here, I'm happy to be here and I'm happy to be playing in the tournament.
End of FastScripts....