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March 8, 2006

Bill Fennelly

Lyndsey Medders

Brittany Wilkins


BO CARTER: Coach, we'll get your thoughts first about the game.
COACH BILL FENNELLY: First of all, on behalf of our program, I want to thank the people of Dallas for what they did for our tournament. It's a great event. Honored to be a part of it.
Also want to thank the Big 12 for putting on a first class show. It's an honor to be a part of this league, and I don't think there's any doubt that Iowa State in the last two days did a pretty good job of representing, not only our university, but our league.
I said yesterday, I haven't been as proud of a team as I was yesterday. It's not even close to how proud I am today of the effort of our kids, our fans. We played as hard as we could play against a great team. I have always been someone that absolutely refuses to allow our players, our team, to be evaluated on what happens on one scoreboard, in one gym, in one building. We won a lot of things today. We lost one ballgame today, but we won a lot of other things. And Oklahoma is a great team. But I think we did everything we could. They were just a little better and that's the nature of this tournament.
But I couldn't be more proud of the effort of our team.
BO CARTER: Thanks, Coach. And we'll take questions for the Iowa State players by raising your hand.
Q. Bill, would you just talk about your strategy against Courtney Paris.
COACH BILL FENNELLY: I'm going to say right off the bat that I know people will critique, especially Brittany and Lisa Bildeaux, because they had the job of guarding Courtney Paris. And that was my decision. It wasn't their fault. Oklahoma is too good spreading the court. We decided to take, try and take away as many 3-point shots as we could. Try and make it tough on her, if we could. At our place we doubled her. We did a great job. Held her to 15 points. They light us up for 13 threes, that is the way we decided to play it. And she's a great player. She's as good a player as I've ever seen, coached against, and that was a decision, basically, shoot until her arm got hurt and hope the rest of them miss.
For most of it, we were okay. At least we were in the game. But we couldn't, with our personnel I didn't think there was another way to guard her and like I said, every one is going to see 36 and say, oh my God. And like I said, I take full responsibility for that 36. Because they did exactly what I told them to do and how to guard her.
Q. Brittany, talk about your game today, the shots. It seemed to keep falling inside. Talk about what it was like for you today, your game and how the shots just couldn't go down for you.
BRITTANY WILKINS: I think you got to just approach any game, whether you're playing Courtney Paris or any other post player, that you got to rise to the challenge and obviously she wanted to stay in the game as well, and you got to just make strong moves around her. And I was able to do that tonight and my post play or my the rest of my team helped me just get the ball. And, yeah, like I said, I mean, taking off what Coach said, I think the game plan was great and we did what the Coach wanted us to do and put ourselves in a position to play, give ourselves a chance to win the game. I'm just proud to be a part of this program and, yeah, I mean I credit my teammates for getting me the ball and helping me out that way.
Q. Brittany, can you talk a little bit about, Courtney said that she felt she was wearing down towards the end of the game because she just had to work so hard to score early. Did you sense her wearing down and did you kind of take it to her at that point thinking that, I can get something out of this?
BRITTANY WILKINS: Yeah, she even said that herself in the paper, like one thing for her is just playing all 94 feet and wearing her down that way. And I think that is one thing that we did notice. We were able to get the ball inside and score a little more. She was getting a little more tired there, but we just had to keep plugging away and hope that he we could get some shots on the inside and keep guarding her as hard as we could.
Q. Lyndsey, was there a thought when you came back and took the lead late that you had them at that point or did you know it was going to be tough still?
LYNDSEY MEDDERS: No, you know, we're they're the No. 8 team in the country. So they're not going to give up. They have a lot to play for just as much as we do. Our game plan worked perfectly until Higgins hit that three. We were going to let her score, we just didn't want her to get that three off. Higgins got that three off and that put us in a hole. I think we went down two at that point.
So our game plan, I thought it was a great idea by the coaches, by Coach Fennelly and when Higgins hit that three though, that was kind of just, it hit us in the heart, because it was everything we didn't want to happen at that point. But they're the No. 8 team in the country for a reason. So we knew they weren't going to give up on it.
Q. That three-pointer, it was really big. It was from way out, too. When you saw her let it go, did you think that was out of her range or anything?
LYNDSEY MEDDERS: She's probably one of the best three-point shooters from there. Once she got it off, it was a good chance it would go in. She's a great shooter, a great player. That was probably the shot that put us under.
Q. When you put that late run together, was there ever a sense of being down before that run and then things just started falling for you? The late game run that you guys came back, ended up taking the lead. Before that, you know, it kind of seemed, it appeared like they were pulling away. Was there any sense of frustration before that run?
LYNDSEY MEDDERS: Not really. We been down the last six games that we have been down or every time we won in the last six games or something like that, we have won the game, so I think we were down 11 with seven or eight minutes left to play. People hit big shots, we were able to get stops on defense, get some good transition looks. So this team, they don't give up. I think that's because we follow the lead of Brittany; she won't let us give up. She gets offensive rebounds. When you got a teammate like this, who fights as hard as she does every possession, she battles and battles, and we were just kind of following her lead. She didn't give up and neither did we. It's kind of been the story all year.
BO CARTER: Ladies, I want to wish you guys good luck in the post season. We'll keep Coach for a few more minutes. Thanks for joining us. Good season.
Questions for Coach? Raise your hand, please.
Q. Bill, along those same lines with the post-season you said at the beginning of the year to get in the post-season is the main goal. For this team to play in the NIT, is this going to be good for this team with everybody but Brittany coming back?
COACH BILL FENNELLY: I hope we get picked. I hope we get to play. We're 17-12. I think we have had a pretty good run. I think we showed the kind of team we can be. Especially in this tournament. I think this team would like to keep playing. I think they leave here disappointed, but at the same time with some renewed enthusiasm actually. I don't think this team's ready to quit. It would be nice to go for our younger kids to get some extra practice, extra games, it would be nice for Brittany and Kandice to play again, so, no, we would be honored to play again and hopefully -- I don't get to pick the teams, but if they're interested, we would love to play.
Q. The past few weeks now you've been saying how important it is just to finish strong. That's the type of team you wanted to see. Is that what you saw these past couple of games?
COACH BILL FENNELLY: No question. I never had a team finish this strong ever. This team, playing six players and banged up, and what we went through yesterday and what we had to go through today and being on the road both games and just, that wasn't about basketball, folks, that was about some young people that have great pride in themselves and their program and their school. That wasn't coaching, that was something inside of them that I don't know where they got it from, but for two days in a row and they have done that lately, they just kept plugging away and battling to the very end of the game. And that's what I told them. I said, if they can take this with them for the rest of their life they're going to be pretty smart people and pretty successful people. And they're hurting right now and that's a good thing.
You ought to be disappointed when you stick your heart and soul into something and it doesn't work out. But like I said, at the very beginning, I am very proud what they have done and very proud of how they finished this portion of their season.
Q. You're down three with 10 seconds to go, something like that. Looked like you were going inside for a basket and free throw, is this it?
COACH BILL FENNELLY: We were trying to go for a quick two or in and right back out. Because they were trying to collapse. We wanted to get the three. They were switching everything, so we were trying to go quickly to the basket, take the two and a foul or if Brittany caught it, pivoted, try and kick it for the three and hopefully go inside out instead of outside in because they were switching on the perimeter, and we knew we would have a tough time getting that off.
We noticed when they played Texas Tech we watched film and Tech was down three and they literally put five people on the three-point line and switched everything. So we thought maybe we could get an and-one and score quickly or get the kick. We had a good look at it, it just didn't go and that's basketball.
Q. You said that you doubled Courtney in Ames, and then you come back single coverage today. Talk about the frustration of guarding her for the next three years in this conference as an opposing coach.
COACH BILL FENNELLY: You had to remind me. I only have to play her once though. The person that will whine the most is Gary Blair when he gets up here. He'll whine all the time. "I got to guard her for six more times?" I'm sorry.
And I have started a petition that the WNBA can draft kids early.
(Laughter.) There's no way to guard her. There isn't. If there is, I don't know anyone that's found it. But the way we guarded her tonight is the way this team had to guard her to have a chance to win the game. And you need her to miss a few times. The only way to guard her is when she's sitting next to Sherri, that's the only way to guard her and unfortunately we couldn't get that done either.
So she didn't miss enough. She's a phenomenal player, an amazingly composed freshman. Very talented. And to Oklahoma's credit, they have allowed her to be the star of the team. They have allowed her to be the focal point and they figured out that's how to win. They have a lot of juniors that have maybe stepped to the back, Erin Higgins, Chelsi Welch who I had in Korea, Leah Rush, I've always been a fan of hers. Those kids have decided, to their credit and Coach's credit, to allow someone else to be the focal point of their team.
But the bottom line is they're the Big 12 champion and it's a great lesson for you all of us to learn. We can all be successful but it doesn't have to be just me. And surround yourself with great people. Courtney Paris is a great player and she's impacted the league already and will impact the game for a long time.
BO CARTER: Coach, we wish you well.
COACH BILL FENNELLY: Again, thank you every one. Appreciate your time, appreciate all you do for our sport. Thank you.

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