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March 10, 2007
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
MODERATOR: We're now joined by the Cyclones from Iowa State. Coach, congratulations on a great tournament and a great year. Your comments on tonight's game, please.
COACH FENNELLY: First of all, I want to congratulate Oklahoma. That's an amazing team. We knew they were good. And they played that way.
I want to thank everyone in Oklahoma City, the Big 12, just a tremendous, tremendous tournament. It was an honor to be here all week and represent our university. And I told our kids before the game, I told them at half time and afterwards, that championship people, it's not always about trophies.
And I would not trade our players for anyone. I thought they played as hard as they possibly could play in a very difficult environment.
And I think that anyone who saw the game and watched the game can appreciate how competitive our team is and how special these young people are.
So it was a great event. And we were fortunate to play as hard as we did and wish we could have made a couple more shots. But we got beat by a better team tonight. And that's what this tournament's all about.
But the good news is we're not done playing. So that's the best news.
Q. Bill, will you talk about, they really just didn't give up. Looked at one point OU took, had a nice run and looked like there might be some gas out of the tank. But really they came back and hit the 3s late.
COACH FENNELLY: I think I told them, too, there were a lot of teams across the country again, against a good Oklahoma team in this environment that would have given up a number of times. It's 11 to nothing. I don't know if I've ever called two timeouts in the first three minutes of a game in my life. We gave it back in half time. And the second half we were doing fine then missed some shots. They go crazy.
Kendra Moore steps up and makes huge plays. We're down 57-42 and call timeout.
I really thought in the last three weeks there was one time that we quit playing one possession. One possession. And that's where I challenged them in that timeout. We come out, hit three 3s in a row and go from 15 down, and we're back playing. And most teams couldn't have done that in this environment at all.
So you're absolutely right. To come back two or three times from big runs by the great Oklahoma team was something that really -- we knew we had to score and we just couldn't get enough baskets in.
Q. Bill, you know they're a team that runs like you all. But have you seen a team score 15 points like they did in about three minutes? Ever had a blitz like that lately?
COACH FENNELLY: No, we haven't in a long time. And retrospect, I probably should have called one timeout earlier. But we'd already used two and I knew we were getting a little bit tired. They made some shots. We got confused one time defensively and gave up an open look. They made some shots.
And we told our kids at the shoot-around we'll have to keep scoring. We couldn't stop them from scoring. There were too many options. They spread us out. And during that run, when the other guy's scoring, sometimes you gotta make a shot.
And I thought we had three, four good looks at the basket maybe they outscore you 15 to 6 or something. But we couldn't make enough shots.
You shoot 33%, it's tough to win, and we went 3 for 17 in the post and that hurt a little bit, too. But, yes, they scored in bunches and we just couldn't -- we couldn't stop it quick enough. Really couldn't.
Q. Bill, I thought you did a great job of spreading the court at one time, especially late in the first half and allowing your players to try to take Oklahoma off the dribble. Could you talk about the strategy and how it worked for you?
COACH FENNELLY: We felt sometimes when they went big we had to go small, spread them out, beat them off the bounds, kick for 3. We were struggling to score in the post.
We had to shoot the 3-ball a little bit maybe get to the free throw line a little bit. But and plus we were getting in a little bit of foul trouble in the first half. So we were trying to limp this to half time. Spread the court, use the clock. Get a one-on-one move to the basket and maybe make a couple of shots.
I thought the kids handled it pretty well. We worked on it this morning. It was something we talked about and thought we had to do, because their size advantage, we just couldn't handle it at times.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the lift Kendra Moore gave them, especially during the 15 run.
COACH FENNELLY: No question those were probably maybe the two biggest 3s in the game. She's not a kid who played a lot. She's not a great three-point shooter, but she's a senior and made some big plays. I think when you have a team that wins tournament games, wins championships and NCAA tournament games, you often see someone that shouldn't be doing it.
But she's a senior. Coach Coale made a great decision to put her in the game and add another defender, I think, against us. But there's no question those two shots were really, really big during that run, and especially the one that was 47-42. She hit the three to make it 50 to 42. That was maybe the biggest shot of the game as far as the way the game was going at that time.
Q. Could we talk about Nicky Wieben play a little bit. Looks like she fought in the post and gave up --
COACH FENNELLY: I thought our post did the best they could. You're playing against the best post player in the country. We did some things, we just asked them to do the best they could. We knew you couldn't stop them from scoring. We need to get more points out of them. That hurt us a little bit. We -- when you look at the 3 we played, we were 5 for 22 in the post. We need a little more there. But again, they're playing against good defenders, they're defending good players and being defended by good players.
So our kids battled them really hard. We told them we couldn't double team a lot. They did the best they could. I don't think there's any question that their experience tonight will try hopefully make them a better player because they're not going to play against a better post player. They're not.
If there is one, I don't know who it is.
Q. Lyndsey, what happened early in the game when you guys got behind and then what happened when you got back into the game and actually took a lead?
LYNDSEY MEDDERS: They hit some big shots coming out. We had some defensive mistakes right out of the gate. I think Leah Rush hit some big shots for them to start the game.
But it's something that this team's been pretty good at all year. We've been down on Iowa. Down on the road a lot this year. And we called the timeout when it was 11-0, and I think everyone -- no one freaked out at that point. Everyone knew it was about trying to get some scores and getting the stops.
And that's how this team has played all year long is not giving up. And so I don't think it really hit anyone or it didn't really faze anyone until the second half when we got down by 15.
But in the beginning of the game, it's as -- loud as an environment, which I think is good not only for our two teams but for Big 12, for women's basketball in general. But I think the way we responded was a good sign hopefully for future tournament games.
Q. Coach, earlier in the game they get out to the 11-0 run. Midway everybody gets a drought. But the best part out of that situation was Courtney was still having a bad shooting night and you all were staying in the game. Talk about that point up to the half time.
COACH FENNELLY: Yes, I think there's no question when you're down 11-0 in that situation, nothing short of a miracle to be ahead at half time. Both teams were struggling to score. We tried to go inside early and get some shots we needed to make. And they made their first couple.
So all of a sudden it's 11 to nothing. And we had to find a way to survive the first half. And we made a couple of shots after that. They missed a little. Courtney was missing a little that maybe she doesn't normally miss, and the pace of the game got a little better for us.
And we hit enough 3s to compensate for being so far down. So that was important. But, yes, to be ahead at half time, I'm sure a lot of people were getting the (indiscernible) ready on TV, Oh, my God, the biggest massacre in Big 12 history and all that kind of stuff. Luckily we showed a little bit of courage, tremendous amount of courage, and kept playing.
Q. Coach, what type of case did you make to the NCAA with this effort this week?
COACH FENNELLY: Well, I hope that the NCAA committee looks at us as a team that's as hot as any team in the country. We played at a very high level. We won eight games in a row. We lost to a great team in a borderline home game for them in the Big 12 championship game.
So I would think that they would look at us as a team that they would like representing the tournament. We have great fan support. So I think that we're a team that would represent -- it's the greatest sporting event in our country. And it's something that every single day, besides my family and our players, the only thing that keeps my heart beating every day is the NCAA tournament.
And for Iowa State to be in that tournament, if we're lucky enough to be in it, it's great for our school. And to be honest with you I think it will be great for NCAA tournament to have our team in it.
Q. Similar question, but what do you think you did maybe for your seeding for this run?
COACH FENNELLY: Well, I think we had to help it a little bit. When we beat the teams that we beat and we lost in a hard-fought game tonight. So you don't know how other teams fit the bracket and all that kind of stuff. So to be honest with you, I'm not really worried about if we get in the NCAA tournament where we're seeded. I just want to -- I want to get a match-up that we can handle and I hope that we can get our fans there.
Q. Megan, can you talk about what this last three weeks, this winning streak has been for both you and Lyndsey and the whole team, just kind of how everything just kind of turned around and kind of just how fun and maybe magical it's been the past three weeks?
MEGAN RONHOVDE: Yes. The turning point -- we talked about that last night -- was Valentine's Day against A&M. And I think if someone would have told me that we would have won eight out of our last nine games, I probably would have told you you're crazy with the way that we started out, the conference play.
But it's been an amazing run. We're playing our best basketball, and that's what you want to do come February and March. And we put ourselves in a very unique position where hopefully come Monday night our name is going to come up across the TV.
But it is special for Lyndsey and myself and Abby, when every game that you play is your last and if we're lucky enough to get into the tournament, every game from here on out will be our last. So we're just hoping to carry this momentum with any post-season type of play that we do get in.
Q. Bill, you're not going to play in the NCAA tournament in this type of atmosphere being so hostile. How does it prepare for that and does it give your team enough confidence when it comes tournament time?
COACH FENNELLY: There's a possibility that could happen, that we could play in a hostile environment. But our team has handled that situation very well, from K State to Texas Tech to here, but this is a NCAA tournament, regional kind of atmosphere, I thought. It was tremendous. It was fun to coach in it. Fun to play in it. That's what these kids do. They watch this on TV all the time.
Now they get to be a part of it. I thought it was great. Any environment we were in, no question we've been in it the last three weeks and it's got to help. It's got to help and hopefully our kids can build on it and I'm sure they will. And our seniors will make sure they're ready to go whenever that happens.
Q. Coach, you touched on this at the very beginning, but this city's never hosted this event before. Just your thoughts of your overall experience of Oklahoma City and whether you'd like to see this tournament return here in the near future.
COACH FENNELLY: There are not enough words in my vocabulary to thank the people of Oklahoma City. It was an absolutely phenomenal event. They did a tremendous job in every area of the event. And I think what they did was they made it really, really hard not to bring it back here. I think they did that.
So we had a great week. It's a week that I will always remember. Our players will remember, and I sincerely want to thank the people of this community because it was a lot like home. Everyone you saw was, "Hi, how are you doing? What's up? What do you need? What do you need?" And it's the environment that these young people deserve to play in and be a part of.
So it was truly special and I can't say enough thank yous on behalf of our program to everyone in this community for all the work they did, not just -- the amount of work you do to get to this point. I mean, we're here for a week and the people here who did it, did it for years. So unbelievable experience.
Q. Bill, can you just talk about the tournament that Alison Lacey had as a rookie? She hit some big shots for you and played very well as a freshman.
COACH FENNELLY: Alison is developing into an outstanding college player. She's extremely skilled. She shoots the 3 ball, gives us another ball handler. I've challenged her a lot. Alison is going to be as good as she wants to be. If her commitment to the game and commitment to effort every single possession matches her skill sets, she will be scary good. And that's what freshman go through. And the environment that she's been in and to learn from these two and to be in the environment that she's been in over the last three weeks, especially, and be put in that kind of position can only make her better.
And now the challenge is up to her to make that decision how good she wants to be. She's so skilled with the ball and has an understanding of the game, but obviously a very, very good tournament.
Q. Megan, talk about the two 3 points you knocked down in the first half to tie the game up and then get the possession again and you knocked down the score and you get a free throw. Now you're up and you're going in half time. Just talk about that point on.
MEGAN RONHOVDE: Well, it was huge momentum for us, and our teams, we really thrive on momentum. I think if you witnessed last night's game, you know, I think we went on a stretch where we hit eight 3-pointers in a row, and that's obviously an important part of our game. And we were really fortunate to be up at half time considering the start that we had at the beginning of the game.
Q. Lyndsey, Jenna Plumley came up with some big steals there when they were making the run. Can you talk about her quickness, maybe?
LYNDSEY MEDDERS: Much like Alison, she's as good as any freshman I've played against, I think. Yesterday she passed the ball to Courtney Paris better than anybody on the team. I think that helps out a lot. Defensively she was able to get around and get some steals. It definitely helped their run.
Q. Coach, can you talk about Lyndsey and Megan a little bit, what they brought when you took them out at the end of the game? You were kind of asking the fans to get up and show a little respect. Can you just kind of talk about them a little bit?
COACH FENNELLY: I took them out of the game -- I took them out of the game because I wanted to thank them for getting us here. And I took them out of the game because I wanted the fans and I wanted the Oklahoma fans to recognize two of the best people I've ever been around in my life and I thanked them for everything they did for me, and I told them they were still stuck with me for a little bit longer, because the one thing they'll help me get through the night is knowing that I get to see these two in practice next week.
End of FastScripts