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March 8, 2007

Gary Blair

A'Quonesia Franklin

Danielle Gant


MODERATOR: We're now joined by the Aggies from Texas A&M. Coach Blair, your comments about the season's game and your thoughts about upcoming opponents in the post-season.
COACH GARY BLAIR: Folks, this is where we were last year when it was a little different feeling. We came in here and lost 53-52 to Baylor. Top 10 team. And we felt we gave a great account of ourselves and the ball would have bounced another way maybe we would have won.
Tonight we got outplayed. I don't think we got outplayed last year against Baylor. It's just one team scored one more point than what we did. And this ball game here we got outplayed and a lot of it was the last four minutes of the first half. I think we went 0-6, something like that, we're three shots inside, bunny shots that we didn't convert. Three jumpers that we either forced or didn't make.
And then they made their little run at the end and hit a couple of key shots.
But we still went into half time. We felt we could make some corrections. I put in a new zone play. It worked to perfection. Danielle just got her shot blocked from behind. It was wide open. We came back to that play later and TK scored in the thing, and I thought we were right in it.
Then we were not forcing turnovers on the press, so we gave that up for a while and tried to play half court defense but we kept coming off of the 3s.
We were told to stay with your girl, make them score to highlight them, the shot. Invariably we had to come off and come over here and try to help on Peter. And Paul was shooting 3 from the corner.
But they're kids. They know what to do. You don't give those kids those shots. It doesn't matter if they shot 10 out of 28. It's the shots that they took were good shots and wide open shots, and eventually they were going to shoot enough 3s and all they had to do was make 33% of them and it was hard for us to catch up. We didn't do a good job of attacking the zone at times. When we did get it inside, they double teamed us and our post players didn't kick it out and they traveled.
We've got to work on that. We've seen it before. We did a better job. We've got 15 offensive rebounds, we converted one. We were 0-3 first half in transition opportunities where we could have had the easy basket, 0-3 we had nine in the second half. It's a game of numbers.
If a team shoots 45%, 38 and 83 from the line, and we shoot 36, 33, and 37, we get outrebounded by one and we only win the turnover battle by five, even sports writers can figure that out, the best team won.
And that's just the way it is. But we're going to regroup. We're going to look ourselves in the mirror and the head coach will look in the mirror first and figure out how to teach this game a little bit better, how we can play a little bit better, and how we can play and be a little bit smarter as we play.
I've got a great ball club and I've got great young ladies right here, but tonight we got team -- beat by a team, we knew exactly what they were going to do, and they just executed better than us. Give them credit give me an inch in your paper and give them nine inches and the story is done.

Q. You talked about regrouping in this game, basically the season you won six games, now you're the national champion. A'Quonesia, this will be for you after Coach Blair answers this. Is that what you tell them, it's a bad taste in your mouth after losing in the Big 12. All we have to do is win six in a row, we've done that so far, the attitude forward?
COACH GARY BLAIR: We're resilient. We can bounce back from anything. Won 19 at Texas, came back won 11 out of our next 12. We got beat at Iowa State, came back and won all ours down the stretch against the Baylors and the Oklahomas and the Texases down the stretch.
We got beat by a team that just played better today. So we will bounce back. And I I'll tell you what you look at these girls right here, they might not be ready to see me in practice tomorrow, but they're ready to go practice and correct their mistakes because they've got tremendous pride.
We're not Cinderella. We're a top 25 team that's on a mission, and we plan on going pretty far into the playoffs and we will see a 3-2 zone the very first game that we play, just like we did against TCU last year, and we will find a way to beat it.
A'QUONESIA FRANKLIN: As coach said, we'll take it from this experience, did a great job on the defensive end keeping us outside, not letting us penetrate. We'll go to practice and work on what we need to work on and be ready for the NCAA.

Q. When you look at the Big 12 conference, this shows the NCAA how tough this conference really is because you got really six or seven strong teams and your team is right there in the thick of everything.
COACH GARY BLAIR: I think you definitely have six teams that should be in the NCAA playoffs, and hopefully the committee realized this wasn't an upset tonight. This wasn't an upset.
And it's just they're that good. When Iowa State beat Nebraska, that wasn't an upset. When we beat Oklahoma and when we beat Baylor, those were not upsets. And that's how good this league is and that's how good the coaches are in this league. So we're just going to, we're just going to go back put our heads up high, not point fingers and look ourselves in the mirror and we're going to go to work. And we're going to get it done and we're going to have a hell of a ride. Monday we'll have a selection show because we know we're not a bubble team and everybody will come pat us on the back again, tell us how great we are and we're going to start all over again.
And I guarantee you, you will make it past the first round this year.

Q. Gary, do you think you ran into one of the hottest teams really in the country?
COACH GARY BLAIR: Sure, I started that streak, okay? All right. I know good and well, I'm going to be at their homecoming game next year, I guarantee you. But I don't have to go to AMs next year. That's the best thing; the north doesn't like playing the south twice. I don't like going to AMs twice particularly when it's zero degrees. Sorry back there. It was zero degrees, 10 degree wind chill factor. That is a great atmosphere. I really enjoy playing the larger the crowd, the better our team plays. Good crowd here tonight.

Q. Just how hard are they to defend when they're hitting on all cylinders like that from really four or five different players on the court can shoot the 3?
COACH GARY BLAIR: I think they're hard to defend because they can dribble drive whereas a couple of teams that we played recently could not dribble drive and attack us off the bounce.
They can attack off the bounce and maybe not finish, but they'll free somebody up and they will continue running their offense. They are a great 25-second offensive team. We're playing great defense. You're seeing us going all over the floor. The crowd is getting up to them. We're denying this. We're doing this. We've got ball pressure and then all of a sudden they're still running their stuff and they make a shot at the end. That's coaching, and that's discipline on a team knowing what their limitations are and what they do they do well.
What they don't do well, obviously we hadn't exploited it.

Q. Coach, could you talk about the number one target, I guess the target on your chest being the number one seed here and then for Danielle, could you kind of address I guess particularly at this point in coming back to your hometown here and those two questions.
COACH GARY BLAIR: I don't think a target is on us because I don't think we've earned the respect yet to be saying we're the number one seed. We just happened to fall in it. Oklahoma playing at home was basically the number one seed. 11,000 fans there last night.
We're a damn good team, but I don't think we had the target on us, but I think people have prepared better for us this year, and that -- I got everybody back for next year again. And we relish that opportunity. I'd rather finish number one every time.
But I'm really going to miss not playing Saturday because we wanted to make that next step. This is a step where we got off the bus last year. When you see that big wall out there that's blue and all the teams up there, I had the marketing guy ready. I had the TV guy ready I said, hey, I want that wall shot. That's a great idea.
The trouble is they've already printed Iowa State on that wall.
DANIELLE GANT: Like he said, I guess they out hustled us the whole game; but other than that coming back playing in front of my family and friends was just something that I loved to do this year.

Q. A lot of times you guys win the hustle point, loose balls, rebounds, things like that. Did you all feel like you were winning those tonight?
DANIELLE GANT: At a point in time. The first half, I think Iowa State wanted it more than we wanted. I think the second half we improved, more the hustle plays.

Q. A'Quonesia, you said they took away the penetration. What were they able to do differently these last few games against you?
A'QUONESIA FRANKLIN: They were pushing from a 2-3 to a 3-2 zone. It was hard to penetrate from the top of the key. So the one thing you have to do is keep moving the ball, reverse the ball, try to get it inside.

Q. Coach, you talked about the press working and you talked about them having a 25-second offense wasn't that kind of slowing down, they couldn't run that offense for quite as long and it seemed like you came back a little bit during that time?
COACH GARY BLAIR: We did. We came back, and you're right they did have that long run of their offense. And you know I think that's what makes sometimes the men's game so good because they have a 35-second clock. And they're able to run a lot of stuff even if they're first stuff.
In the women's game, if you come straight down, it really changes up your offensive scheme if something doesn't work, because that's when you gotta have creators and screeners against the zone, and we didn't screen the zone very well today.
If we would have dribbled attack and got A'Quonesia and TK through those gaps, I think we could have converted or made the pass. But we tried to go east and west and pass around it a lot, or try to run the perfect play. Well, the perfect play is not going to beat a zone.
You have to be consistent. When we went to the triple post, that's the offense that's been working the best for us this year against the 3-2. And we didn't get the ball in the hands of Gant enough.
Then when you look at my two starting posts, they got seven rebounds between them. That's a telling sign, because those kids are very athletic and pretty doggone good. But seven rebounds, when there's enough misses out there, that's not enough either.
I'd like to thank Oklahoma City first for what they've done with this tournament. You've got an area here that will be into the rotation. And it's a very good place. And hopefully we'll get back to Dallas pretty quick, too. Thank you, y'all.

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