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March 4, 2007

Katie Gearlds

Sharon Versyp

Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton


COACH SHARON VERSYP: Well, we knew this was going to be a very intense battle with two teams that play some very good defense. We needed to make sure we did well on the boards, which we did. We out-rebound them and we got more offensive boards. We knew at the very end we've been in a lot of games like this, and we just really had to have a great gut-check and these kids played with their hearts at the end of the game, and that's why we were successful.

Q. Katie, in the second half when you really started to warm up, what was working there? And then kind of as a secondary question, how's the neck?
KATIE GEARLDS: You know, I think personally I got two back-to-back jumpers right in the lane. The one over DeHaan was a fadeaway that was the biggest shot I've ever taken. To shoot over a 6'9" girl, that's some guts, and I got the roll, and it just got me really hyped. Everything felt pretty good after that.
The neck is going to be a lot better tomorrow.

Q. Sort of the opposite feeling you guys had a month ago considering the game played out almost the same as your last meeting with them:
KATIE GEARLDS: It's kind of the same feeling -- (laughter) no. It's completely opposite. We came out on top tonight, and you know, I think you can never underestimate the heart of a champion. We're not champions yet, but I thought we showed a lot of heart tonight being down and battling back. I thought we showed a tremendous amount of character, and when it was gut-check time and reality set in, we laid it out on the line.

Q. Lindsay, could you talk about how Katie just energized the team in the second half, and she wasn't 100 percent, but maybe did you guys feed off that in the second half?
LINDSAY WISDOM-HYLTON: Definitely. She led this team. Starting off the half, she started knocking down some shots for us and we just kind of went on her back, and Erin's, she started getting everybody excited. We just fed from our senior leaders, and we just followed them, and they helped lead this team to a great victory.

Q. Katie, there seemed to be a play late, I don't know where it was, nine minutes or so, where they called the foul. Seemed like a nice defensive play for you guys. You seemed to get mad?
KATIE GEARLDS: A little bit.

Q. Was there some anger, because right after that is when you really got hot?
KATIE GEARLDS: That's what I talked about with television after the game. I thought I got fouled on the jumper and I've got the red mark on my arm to prove it. I thought I made a great defensive play on the ball, and she tripped and they called Jodi (Howell) for a foul. You know-- refs are human and they make mistakes just like we do. They call what they see. It just got under my skin, and I tried to do my best to get the crowd into it, and I thought we fed off the energy of the crowd and just got really hyped from that moment.

Q. Lindsay, obviously, Katie showed a lot of courage in the second half. You get a double-double, Erin had a great box score. But in the first half especially, talk about what Kiki did for you guys in this game?
LINDSAY WISDOM-HYLTON: Well, Kiki was hitting on her nice jumper that she always has for us, being aggressive and taking it in the lane. At first it seemed like she was the only one attacking and keeping us in it, but our bench players were stepping up and giving us great minutes and she's doing great, and I think we just need more of that to help with a victory in the championship game.

Q. You guys scored 24 points only in the first half. What was Michigan State doing and what was the difference in the second half?
KATIE GEARLDS: I think it was both what they were doing and what we were not doing. They were being aggressive on the ball, on the perimeter, and when our posts put the ball on the floor, their guards were digging in and slapping the ball.
We weren't strong with it and then I think we didn't do a good job of really tying to attack the basket with a purpose, and you know, I thought in the second half we attacked with a purpose.
Danielle (Campbell) made a great pass to Erin and Lindsay made a great pass to Erin, and I think when we attack with a purpose, we make good things happen.

Q. Lindsay, how do you think you guys handled DeHaan, and was that a big focus coming into this game to control her and contain her?
LINDSAY WISDOM-HYLTON: Definitely. With anybody who's a 6'9" kid, they're probably the main focus, we definitely wanted to limit her touches. You know, she was making great post moves. We had great defense on her. D and Erin did a wonderful job to sustain and putting hands up and not fouling her. She was missing a lot of her bunnies, so they did a good job in that.

Q. You kind of stole my thunder, but I'm going to ask, you had 14 rebounds. Did Sharon and you work on any specificity in this game going against a 6'9" post player?
LINDSAY WISDOM-HYLTON: They just said be aggressive with the ball and go after her. You know, we need to work on rebounding because that was one of our weaknesses. I think in this game and some of our past games we've been starting to be more aggressive and going to the boards. And I think that's why we came out on top with the rebounds this game.

Q. Katie, could you talk about how Erin contributed on the offensive end, as well, and kind of carried you guys until the rest of the team got in sync?
KATIE GEARLDS: You can't say enough about the job she did for us. She was aggressive, and you could tell she really wanted this ballgame. She was getting put-backs, attacking the basket strong and knocking down free throws. But what she did with DeHaan, being aggressive with her, and when she did get good position, Erin was right there in her face.
I mean, she made some tough shots, but I thought Erin did a good job of affecting her all night long and really making her think about what she was doing.

Q. Katie, we all remember the emotion you showed here last year on this stage. It must mean a lot. Put into words what it would mean for you to finish as a senior with a Big Ten championship.
KATIE GEARLDS: It's just special. I think Erin and myself coming to Purdue four years ago, we wanted to hang a lot of banners in Mackey Arena, and we've hung one. And that's not enough.
We've got a great opportunity tomorrow to hang one more. It would just be really fitting to go out in my hometown with a victory.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with with questions for Coach Versyp right here.

Q. Sharon, with about 15 minutes to go, I think (Victoria) Lucas-Perry had 20 points and she didn't score again. Did you do anything with the zone?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: We ended up going man to man. I just figured if they're going to be ahead and nothing else is working, then we went man a little bit, got hurt in the first half, but I had Kiki and Katie rotating on No. 31 (Lucas-Perry). I just thought we did a really good job when she was driving in, cutting it off, playing good help side and really finding her.

Q. You've obviously seen Katie from both sides of the fence. When she's 2-of-8, are you nervous? Are you worried about her getting going, and then when she goes 5-of-5 and bolsters the team back, how does your mood change?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: No, I wasn't nervous today. Katie is in a lot of pain. People don't realize what she went through, and she was pretty much doubtful to even play tonight so she played with a lot of guts tonight. As soon as your neck loosens up a little bit, it's hard to put your hands above your head and be an effective shooter.
I think when she got those shots, I called specific plays for her, and I'm like, are you going to make these shots, let's get it done, and she just was able to really -- I could tell when she lifted off the floor, I knew it was in before it even left her hand because that was her normal shot.
I just think when she gets in a rhythm, it's really hard for teams to get her out of her rhythm.

Q. When you were down 12, what did you think got you going and how much did the crowd help you in that comeback?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: You know, I'm like, this is what happened at our place, you know? I mean, we were up by 17 and they kept inching back, and I went after them one time. If you didn't see me throw my clipboard, you missed excitement there.
I mean, these kids have heart. These kids have character, and I know how good they are. And there's no way that any team can be ahead by 12 and secure that lead. You saw it all day yesterday. We just got confident, stared them in the eyes, and were like, we've got this. Just calm down, we'll be fine. And they really stepped up. When you make shots, your legs aren't tired anymore.

Q. What happened at the end of the game?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: When (laughter)? Which moment (laughter)?

Q. The last moment. All the hesitation in play and then the debate.
COACH SHARON VERSYP: I mean, there was a loose ball. It was a scramble. No one had possession of the game -- I mean possession of the ball, and there was an inadvertent whistle, and Katie dove on the ball and the inadvertent whistle was at 2.2 seconds. They didn't mean to call it, I guess maybe they were calling for a timeout. But she didn't have possession of the ball; Katie jumped on it and had possession of the ball. So they had to go back and look at the clock.

Q. The game at your place they really did a job on you on the boards, got a lot of second chances, a lot of offensive boards. Tonight then you get the 40 to 30 over them. How much of a factor was that for you?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: It's the biggest factor for us. We didn't take care of the ball well in the first half, but for our rebounding, ever since that game, we've cleaned it up, and we're a better rebounding team now.
You know, when you're in the top two or three in the Big Ten in every category except rebounding, you obviously find out your weaknesses very bad. So you know we just really committed to that, and we've got kids -- if you want it, you go get an offensive board. You're going to have a put back. We just really, really committed to that.

Q. Same thing that I asked Lindsay earlier. Katie showed a lot of guts, Erin has a great box score, Lindsay gets a double-double, but Kiki's contributions off the bench the first half, how much energy do you think they gave your team this game?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: Kiki just has consistently been that defensive stopper for us. She's had some key rebounds, her field goal percentage is 3 for 4, she's very selective when she shoots, she understands her role. She's been one of the big keys for us. I can't say enough about her. I try to empower her all the time and give her confidence.
But I want to talk about one player that no one talks about, and that's Lauren (Mioton). Lauren came in for four minutes and settled us down and that's when we went on our run. And I think she played four minutes that were the huge key for us to turn this around.

Q. There's a segment there where things seemed to be getting away, and she scored three buckets and hits a nice pass inside for a bucket. I thought that before Katie went on her run and anything else happened, that Erin really held you guys in there.
COACH SHARON VERSYP: I thought Erin was the glue today consistently all the way through. She got to the foul line 13 times, and after she got her back crushed, she missed a couple one-and-ones, but for her getting to the foul line 13S times a game is very big for us, knocking down a three and being able to score that 15-foot shot. Erin has really stepped it up and just turned it around, and I think she was the glue consistently the whole game.

Q. I'm glad you asked about Lauren. Did she play in the first half?

Q. What does it say about someone, those four minutes you talked about, to come in, stakes like this, settle a team down, and not only that, get you going on your run? What does that say about Lauren?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: I just think Lauren is a gamer. I think she wants to be out there and contributing in any possible way. She's like, "If Katie can't go, I'll play the two for you, Coach." She's a kid that really understands and gets it. I couldn't be more proud of her being able to come off the bench in that circumstance, and she just really executed exceptionally well and played great defense for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Sharon. We'll see you tomorrow night.

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