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March 7, 2007

Gary Blair

A'Quonesia Franklin

Patrice Reado

Takia Starks


THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Texas A&M and Coach Blair and his players. Coach, congratulations on this afternoon's win. Your thoughts on the game and your upcoming opponent?
COACH GARY BLAIR: I always believe the team that played the day before that doesn't have the by has the advantage. Because I really like how Colorado played the day before, and they held a pretty good Texas Tech team down the stretch in check, and they were playing with nothing to lose. And we had that attitude, that's why we went out there with such hard intensity on defense. I was really proud of my half-court defense.
We've got to do a better job of scoring in transition. When we do force turnovers or we do make them miss, we just were not doing a good job unless we had break-aways.
Of course, as most of you know, I didn't like the last minute of the game. We had a chance to really hold the team down to 10 points, and it's not that we're trying to ever do anything like that, but you want to take that momentum and pride in there. And we were substituting a lot there.
And we wanted to keep the kids out of foul trouble. We made some mistakes, and that comes with the territory. We had kids come off the bench not knowing who they're guarding.
But I was proud of our effort on the defensive end. I thought it took eight minutes into the second half to get out of the sluggishness that we had.
And I got on my Energizer bunny here pretty hard, but she's been able to take me for three years and is going to because the team responds around her. If she walks to the huddle on a timeout, the team's going to walk with her.
If she runs to the huddle, the team's going to run. If she gets to the huddle and acts like a leader and a captain, the team is going to respond. And if she starts making excuses, our team will make excuses with her.
And this is what a point guard is all about. And she's a very, very special one. I'm prejudiced. I think I got the best one. And there's some very good ones in our league. But she's got her job tomorrow. It's going to be a tough ball game tomorrow, whichever one of these teams, because we beat Nebraska all by a total of one point and we got beat up there by Iowa State. So that's the Big 12 tournament.
I'm just glad to be here. I'm proud of my kids and I thought we did some good things in the ball game. We were a little sluggish. Perhaps that's the first game of the tournament. But I commend Colorado because we really didn't force the turnovers that I thought we were going to off of the press.
And the press sets the tempo and the attitude of the game. It doesn't necessarily mean you've got to steal the ball. But it sets the tempo and the attitude and you wear it down.
Coach Schaefer's number one thing was to stop the guard-to-guard passes. Make them go guard to post instead of guard to guard, because when you go guard to post, we've got a lot of help side in there. And I believe they only had one lob the whole night, and that was in the second half to McFarland.
And other than that, that's just how we play. It might look a little ugly to you, but we're sitting up here right now and so it's still pretty.

Q. A'Quonesia, will you talk about that leadership you need to have. And then there was a stretch there after they hit two three-pointers in about a minute and a half and then you had two three-pointers in a pretty crucial stretch, you had the three-point plays.
A'QUONESIA FRANKLIN: Well, it's a hard role to fill on the team. But my team is behind me and they respond well. And with the three-pointers, at that time we knew we had to break the lead open. If we didn't, you knew it was going to be a close game and we didn't want that kind of finish.

Q. This is for Patrice. It looked like you really hit the boards very hard there the first two games. You guys got a lot of points on some of the points. Can you talk about how you felt that you really took it to them from the beginning, scrapping, rebounding, et cetera.
PATRICE READO: Well, every game I go into the game just wanting to play defense. For the past couple of games, I haven't been going to the boards. Coach Blair has been getting on me about going to the boards. This game I just wanted to go in, rebound and play defense, so our team can get the win.

Q. Patrice and Takia both, they cut it to five. It looked like you got a good delay up there with the three-point play, and you all really kind of got going after that. At that point was it almost like, all right, enough of this, let's put it away? Was it that feeling?
TAKIA STARKS: I wouldn't say it was that feeling. Sort of like we had been playing the whole game. We thought we should be up by more. We weren't up by more because didn't play like we should have played. And as soon as we got that run, we just kept trying to keep running and getting defensive stops and getting the transition shots, and that was really our game. When that started happening, you saw us start to take the game away.
PATRICE READO: Once we get the momentum on our offense, that's what leads us to the momentum down on the defensive. That's how the big plays gets us started.

Q. Coach, you guys were on the offensive glass a lot, getting a lot of steals. Just kind of the way the entire season has gone?
COACH GARY BLAIR: I think so. It's what we do. There's no great formula. Basically the run started with that Oklahoma tornado in there, Danielle Gant, when she made the block on the baseline right in front of Kathy. Those are big-time plays, and gave stops to finish down there. I thought it killed Colorado by her two blocks and what she did there.
And make sure you give -- McFarland got 17. But Reado did one heck of a job on her. She was on her the majority of the game at 5 foot 11 and I thought that was the difference in the game because I had nightmares last night of her getting 32 again.
And a lot of it is because of that little kid who is usually not up here in the press room. She's back there in the garage doing the dirty work, and that's the type of player she is.
But I was really pleased at how well she played at the floor.

Q. Gary, can you talk about Gant in general, what she does for your team. Doesn't seem like she shoots a lot. Can you talk about the stuff she does to help you win.
COACH GARY BLAIR: You're right, she doesn't shoot a lot. She makes a lot. When you look at the field goal percentage leaders in our league, they're all post players, except for Danielle Gant, who plays a 3 the majority of time for us. But all of the others, the Mosleys, the McFarlands, the Riddles, everybody but Jackson, shoots great field goal percentage. But we get all ours almost from a little almost five-10 kid. She means so much to this team because how many players of that stature would come off the bench and be able to handle that without phone calls: Hey, my daughter needs to be starting, and all that jazz.
She handles it. She's the ultimate team player. And so are her parents. We're happy to have her here. It's not how many she scores, but she sets the tone of the game. She's a great defensive player.

Q. Will you expand on Jackie McFarland. She takes nine shots but they really struggled to get the ball to her at all in the first half.
COACH GARY BLAIR: Well, a lot of it, when you do not have the guards that can dribble penetrate besides Houston, they can't create passing angles to get it in. And that's the hardest thing, and that's what we try to take away is make you run your offense 25 feet from the basket. And then we gamble a lot.
And we're going to get beat on layups, but we said whenever McFarland did beat us, let's try not to foul her because she just doesn't miss. That kid is a great player and just a sophomore. Special, special kid there. And I'm sure that will be one of the all-time greats to ever play at Colorado.
And did you recruit that young lady? Good job, hon.

Q. Coach Blair, back to Danielle Gant, did she seem to have a little extra pep in her step in practicing this week as she was having to come back to play in front of her home crowd, or did it really make any difference to her? Was she just locked in?
COACH GARY BLAIR: She's the most low-key individual you ever met in her your life. Sometimes I have to check to see if there's a pulse there. All of a sudden she's smiling more, she's talking more, she enjoys coming back home, and I think that's special.
I think you saw that with Earnesia Williams from Texas, also played the same type. Kids like coming home. And she's played very well in this state, and I just like to thank the State for putting out as many good high school players as there are in this state right here.
This is probably the most underrated state in the country as far as producing big time quality basketball players. I think Connecticut has won a couple of national championships with some Oklahoma kids, too.
But Danielle Gant is special. The best thing about Gant is she's got two years and hopefully a month left to play.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.

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