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March 29, 1998

Leon Barmore

Alisa Burras

Tamicha Jackson


COACH LEON BARMORE: I certainly think that our basketball team has done a lot of good things this year, and they can never take away the fact that we have a Final Four banner. We played for the National Championship. We did it basically with five kids all year. And you saw those five kids tonight that just early in the game didn't get back in transition, and gave them a lot of easy baskets, and got beat by -- a couple of months ago I was asked, and I thought it was too early to ask me, but it's the greatest women's basketball team that I've personally ever seen. They've earned it. They worked hard. I know the system. I know what they go through. When it came time to get it done, they got it done. I know any coach would love to be a part of that. I'm not sure that I've had a Louisiana Tech team where we got more out of them than we did this basketball team. If it would be a little better as far as depth, I think we could have possibly made a good run at them. Beat them, probably not. But I assure you, Coach Barmore has had a year, I couldn't ask for anymore than I got. Especially, here's two kids sitting up here, they came to the program two years ago and we lost all five starters. And without Alisa Burras and Tamicha, we certainly wouldn't be in the Final Four. I certainly wish them well. Tamicha is a great basketball player that has a lot to learn. I knew that the best thing we had was transition offense, and I knew at the same time it was the very thing that I couldn't afford to do against Tennessee. So I was caught where there really wasn't an answer for this team. We could have tried to set it up and slow it down and do some of those things, but that wouldn't work for us either. We got beat by the best basketball team I've personally ever seen.

Q. Could both of you comment on their first half run. I think they were up 42-17. What's going through your minds and what you're trying to do out there to stem that?

TAMICHA JACKSON: We knew what we had to do, and there's too many times we didn't get it done. We knew we had to handle their pressure. Your full court press, it's hard to come against a great ball club like that. And being in that position, it made it harder. So we couldn't afford to make as many mistakes as we made. I think that made the difference.

ALISA BURRAS: I think being down 42-17 really hurt us. Like Tamicha said, we got in a position where a couple of players and a couple of us kind of got down, and we couldn't get back into it like we usually do. And I think after a couple of times Coach talked to us. And on the offense we kind of came back, but we couldn't do it.

Q. To the final minute you guys gave an all-out effort; diving for loose balls, scrapping, trying to make big plays. Would you talk about your effort for 40 minutes, despite being down in the half.

ALISA BURRAS: Coach told us to come out and give it all we have. If we're going to lose, don't lose not hustling and not playing hard. So this was my last game, so I just left it all out there.

Q. Could you talk about the difference between this game and the last game? To either player.


COACH LEON BARMORE: We never was ahead in this game too much last time. I think one thing, you saw a Tennessee team that just improved so much through the year. And we caught them early in the year -- and we improved a lot. But they improved tremendously and was certainly a greater team tonight than they were the first time we played them.

Q. You were down by 27, second half, and it seemed to -- almost you got angry, and the next thing you know you got within 15 points. Did you -- were you starting to think maybe we can get back into this thing?

ALISA BURRAS: Yes. When we started running and hitting our baskets, and we was playing together for a little stretch, we felt we had a chance, we're still in the game. But Tennessee came back and answered with what kind of took away from us, and it really hurt us.

Q. Alisa, early on you scored six points right off the bat. It looked relatively easy. Why didn't you guys keep going with that? Or did they do something to help stop it?

ALISA BURRAS: Well, you can't depend on one player. You can't win championships with one player. So the first six baskets was easy. And I know going through the rest of the game, they're not going to let one person sit and score easy baskets. They had five people playing defense and helping out.

Q. Tamicha, were you surprised by Kellie Jolly's shooting? She sets up the offense more than runs it, with all the weapons. Do you sort of have to back off her a bit?

TAMICHA JACKSON: I wasn't surprised at all. I expected her three-point shot. She got a lot of open baskets, and no doubt I expected that. I was kind of lax in defense, and that's the result. That's the consequence.

Q. Coach, is it discouraging to you to know that that team is coming back, that Tennessee is coming back all together again? And is it good or bad for women's basketball to have one super team like that?

COACH LEON BARMORE: I answered the other day, I thought really for this year I thought they really added a lot to women's basketball. We saw athletes on the same team doing things we probably hadn't seen before. I think for a couple of years that's great. If they ran off 5, 6, 7 in a row, no, I don't think that's good for women's basketball. But believe me, what they did this year is very good for our game, for a lot of recognition of the game. The talent of the game elevated. And I think I would be one -- I don't know how many schools -- we've got 300. I think I feel like everybody else, that we'd like to be a little better so we can play them. I'll assure you, Louisiana Tech will do well in the future years.

Q. This is a follow-up to what you just touched on. You lose Burras. She's the only substantial minutes player that you lose. Can you talk about what you do have coming back?

COACH LEON BARMORE: Well, there -- no question we have had a good recruiting year. We have two kids sitting out. The thing that we have taken care of in recruiting, my assistants have done a good job, we're going 8 or 9 deep next year. Now, Burras is a tremendous basketball player. But our basketball team, if we get people to develop them, we could easily have a better basketball team next year than we do now, and certainly I hope so. Tamicha will be older, she'll run the ball team better. You can't believe how much Tamicha Jackson has improved. Kellie Jolly, any hope we had, those two 3s she made, just shut the door. I watched a little thing about her, the injury she had, how she fought through it. Those are the things you do to be a champion. And that team is very deserving.

Q. As a team, they got off to a fast start. Chamique Holdsclaw sort of willed them to that fast start. She was hot. Can you talk about how she took the game over from the start?

COACH LEON BARMORE: Well, Holdsclaw, I called and relied on my college coach several times the last couple weeks. He's a coach from the Miami Heat, Scottie Robinson. And I called him this morning. I said, Coach, I might be playing the Chicago Bulls. You all been trying to beat Chicago for a while. He said we haven't done a very good job of it. The point I'm making, Holdsclaw is certainly the Michael Jordan type player of our college game. She's going to do what it takes. But I really thought the kid that was big time was Catchings. I thought the difference in the first half, the tremendous lead they had, we simply did a pitiful job on Catchings. I certainly think we could have done better. I think she's a great player. But to me, I look back and think that Catchings, more than any other player, really killed us in the first half.

Q. The second half you actually outscored from the field in 50 of 28, but it was a 14 and 1 margin from the free throw line. The question is do you think it was the free throw line that really -- in addition to those three pointers that really kept you from being able to get back into it?

COACH LEON BARMORE: Well, the thing you did want is your kids to fight to the finish. The national TV looking, 20 thousand or whatever people looking, and what are they going to remember? And I thought our kids, Monica was hustling so much at the end, I couldn't ask for more out of a few players. But I'll be honest with you, as a team tonight, I was really disappointed in a couple of players. And I'm not going to ridicule anybody, but I tell you, we're just not good enough when we have a couple of players take the night off. But the team Tennessee, to me, they simply -- whatever they needed at the time they needed, they got it done.

Q. Can you talk about that blitz they went on in the first half? Have you ever remembered experiencing something like that? And what was it like?

COACH LEON BARMORE: I think me, personally, I felt like that things -- I told our kids, if those things happen, we're not going to win the game. And you must do something. And the mistake that our young kids make, especially Tamicha, when they were in transition scoring so much, she jacked up the long shot. Now, that's an inexperienced point guard for you. An experienced point guard would have settled down, made sure Burras and Wilson touched the ball, and we could stay in the game. I can't fault Tamicha, she does so many great things. She simply has to learn that. Inside early, outside later. It's part of teaching. But I wasn't in shock as much as the team. There's no question our team coming in felt like they could play with Tennessee, and should have felt like that. And I would think that they were so in shock that it was hard for those kids to get over it. All I knew to do was tell them to keep fighting. I felt this was one of the finest Final Fours. As far as the people in Kansas City, you couldn't have been a better host.

End of FastScripts....

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