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March 15, 2008
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Kurt Budke, Danielle Green and Andrea Reilly. Coach?
COACH BUDKE: I want to congratulate Texas A&M and Coach Blair on a fantastic season and a Big 12 Championship. They've got a very good team. That's the defending champions back, a lot of players that have started from freshman and played to this point, a lot of experience. I thought at key times their experienced players came through for them and they had four people in double figures and sometimes that's tough to handle. We had three in double figures and couldn't find that next scorer tonight. But give Texas A&M credit, they put you in rush shots, a panic mode offensively when you shouldn't be and that's why they're the champions, the Big 12 champions, and they'll do well.
Like I told my girls in the locker room right now, this season is not over. You got beat. You took a team that's a Final Four candidate down to the wire, and if they're a Final Four candidate who knows how far we can go? We're going to leave here with our heads high and proud of what we accomplished and we're going to move to the next level. Everybody is looking forward.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Questions for the student athletes?
Q. Andrea, at the end of the game, the first 3-point shot you put up went in; the second one didn't. Talk about that.
ANDREA RILEY: I thought it was going in. It was tough defense, things weren't go our way. It was tough against their defense.
Q. Andrea, expand on that. Talk about just almost taking over the game single-handedly in the last five minutes. Was there something in you that said "I'm going to do it"?
ANDREA RILEY: My coaches were talking to me and telling me not to get so emotional in the game and keep my head up and play like I know how to play. Because she said forget about you being all that you are right now and just think about playing like you are playing in the backyard.
Q. Danielle, you guys lost this game, but by the way you played do you feel like you gained something as well going forward?
DANIELLE GREEN: Yes. Coach told us we have to learn from it and make better decisions at the end, box out, the basics are why we lost those six games in the first place, so just have to go back to the drawing board.
Q. Danielle, was this a fun game to play in? A lot of OSU fans that haven't seen you play before you came out and you guys had some home court advantage, was it fun to play?
DANIELLE GREEN: Championship game, it was a blast. First Big 12 Championship, just didn't get the "W."
But it was fun, glad the fans came out to support us and hopefully we can get one next year for y'all.
Q. (No microphone.) Talk about how she was a factor tonight.
DANIELLE GREEN: She hit three's, and you had to keep track of her, and she just never quit on the floor.
Q. Andrea, talk about the job that Taylor did on Starks tonight.
ANDREA RILEY: Taylor, we were talking in the locker room and she told me she wants to keep her in check because the last couple of games she said she wasn't delivering her full physical defense like she usually does, like we do in practice so she wanted to stick well on her and I think she did a great job.
Q. Danielle, can you tell me your thoughts on Andrea's last two there's, the one that went in and the one that she went out-of-bounds?
DANIELLE GREEN: I was happy when she hit the first one, the second one I thought was good but it got stuck. Things just don't work out, but try to hit 'em!
Q. Final Four candidate? Talk about the games that may be coming up.
ANDREA RILEY: I think we have to take this game like a learning experience. We were not as comfortable as they were being in the championship game because they were the Big 12 champs last year, and they're on their pay-back tour, so they wanted to get a Big 12 Championship or a tournament championship. We played our hearts out; they played their hearts out, they just came out on top.
Q. What about your confidence going forward. You guys got to feel like you can play with anybody, right?
ANDREA RILEY: Yeah, we feel like we can play with anybody in the country. We don't overlook anybody, we don't ever -- we are never overconfident. We just know how to take it into consideration and say, okay, it's just like another team playing in the backyard.
THE MODERATOR: Any further questions for our student athletes?
Q. You ladies both signed to come to a school that had not won a game in conference the season before. Talk about all the improvements that you've seen and the fact that you've not only seen this program grow so much but grow in one of the toughest conferences in women's basketball and what you think the biggest factor in getting Oklahoma State basketball turned around the way you have.
DANIELLE GREEN: Starts with the people, you know? These people are winners, you know? In the summertime we said we were going to work out and that's what the people on our campus and our fans started to believe in and it's hard work. The coaches had great plays, great sets, great minds, and you recruit good people -- you've got some good folks! (Chuckles.)
THE MODERATOR: Okay, Coach; it's your turn.
Q. Coach, tell me about the plays at the end, Andrea drove one time to tie it, missed, they got a 3 on the other end and then a couple of turnovers for each team, talk about the crucial plays at the end.
COACH BUDKE: That's why they're the champs, we're not. They made the right plays at the end, we made a few mistakes. We didn't plan on giving Gant a layup there at the end, and the girls made a mistake. We told them they were going to go deep and one was going to fly and, you know, they're kids, they get caught up and give their best effort, they're going to make mistakes. I think that was the difference in the game tonight, was the veterans versus the ones coming on and they just made some crucial plays at the end.
You know Andrea's 3 she made, people are going to think that was a crazy shot. Go back to our season and we allow her to make those plays at the end of the game because she is a big-time player and big-time players do make plays. The second one obviously was going to be a tough make, too, but you got to allow your best people to have a chance right there and I was really proud of how she finished the game. She didn't play very well up until about 6 minutes to go in the game. We kept looking at each other as coaches on the sideline saying, we're only down 4, we're only down 6. We didn't play very well tonight but giving them credit for putting us in that position. We had to keep trying to figure out a way to get across to our girls that we were in this thing and we could win it. So I was proud of the come-back to take the lead at one point.
Q. Coach, talk about your three young ladies, 57-59 points among Green, Riley and Smith.
COACH BUDKE: That's why we came up short because it was only three. They have four legitimate scorers on that team. They have three people -- well all four of those people shoot jump shots, three of the four can come off high screens and shoot 3's and you don't see that very much in women's basketball coming off high screens and shooting jumpers and 3's. That's why this team is so dangerous, they might be one of the best jump-shooting teams I've seen in the country. Starks to me is one of the best 2 guards in this nation. I was proud of our three, I thought they delivered but we need one more to win a championship.
Q. What do you feel about the ball movement in the half-court offense?
COACH BUDKE: I didn't like it, and we kept talking about it, but that's what they do to you. They're one of the better half-court defenses that you'll face, and they make you pick up your dribble too quick. They make you -- when you cut to the a spot that's supposed to be open it's covered. We didn't do well on our second and third options tonight, but give them credit.
There's not a lot of teams in the nation that play that aggressive man-to-man that we're going to face in the nation so when we do hopefully we learned from it and we'll do well against it. This Big 12, you see every style in this league. I just can't -- still, I can't get away from us -- we played in the championship of the Big 12 and I'm very, very proud of my kids to get to this point. But we're not done yet.
Q. Coach, defensively you did shut down Starks and Gant for the most part, but Franklin goes off -- did you try to take away the first two options?
COACH BUDKE: Yes. We did. I mean, I thought we were successful in taking those two away. That was one of the keys on the board was to take those two away. They're still going to get numbers because they're great players, but that's why they're the champions and we're not. They have two other options. Mo, that kid is a pro. She's going to play in WNBA for a long time if she stays healthy, now that she is healthy. We were going to hold them in the 50s, we thought, if we were going to win, and we were close.
Q. Kurt, talk about Andrea scoring 10 straight points. Did you feel like you guys were going to come back and get the win?
COACH BUDKE: We thought -- we called a couple sets for her in a row and we said if we're going to win this thing we've got to get her going. And she hit a couple in a row, and all it takes it a little bit to get her on fire and that was our chance. I thought Danielle and Shaunté were doing their part but we needed Andrea in the 20s somewhere if we were going to win this game.
Give her credit, she wasn't playing that well at that point and she could have quit or pouted, but she found a way to lead her team back and gave them a chance to win the game.
Q. Kurt, last year you go to watch the selection show and you don't know if you're in or out, this year it will be different. Talk about that.
COACH BUDKE: After we get by tonight, it's going to be exciting. We're going to suffer tonight a little bit for sure, but we'll go home tomorrow, and Monday night I think we're going to have a get-together and watch it together and, you know, it's going to be interesting where they seed this team.
I think whenever they send us, whoever we have to play we have a chance to win a couple games in a row. If we're lucky enough to come back to Oklahoma City, so be it. We feel like we can win two in a row wherever we play.
Q. Just to follow up on that question, Coach. Last year was a new experience now guys in the NCAA tournament. How much more comfortable will your girls be on that stage?
COACH BUDKE: I hope you'll see the same step that we took this year in the Big 12. Last year we didn't know what to expect, this year we got to the championship. I hope it's going to be the same at the NCAA tournament. Like I said before, they're 19 and 20 year olds, now that we've experienced it. They all felt we should have upset Bowling Green last year.
This year they'll come out ready to win instead of trying to see where we fit in this thing. Last year we might have felt like, "Are we good enough to be here?" This year it's not a question. We feel like we're good enough to be there.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about their ability to get offensive rebounds and the second-chance points?
COACH BUDKE: Well, when you're rushing at shooters like you have to rush at shooters and you have to help off-screens against shooters, that's going to open things up. There are going to be long rebounds and they are one of the better offensive rebounding teams in our conference, I don't think there is any question about that, they've always been that way.
Because they're such great shooters, it gets you spread out and that opens it up a little more for the offensive boards. We've got hurt against bigger, more physical teams this year but we've been able to match it at the other end and tonight we only had 7 offensive rebounds at the other end and that's probably the difference in the ballgame.
Q. On that last 3 by Andrea, did you want a 3 all the way?
COACH BUDKE: We just trust or best player to make the best play. We did want a 3, we wanted an on-ball screen coming off. She has a pull-back move where she'll act like she's making the drive and going to the hole and pulls back and she had just made one, and it's like when we beat Texas A&M earlier in the year people asked did we call that shot and, no, we didn't, we trusted our best player and that's what we did tonight, too.
Q. How far can you guys go in the NCAA tournament?
COACH BUDKE: I honestly don't know that. I know that coming out of this league that we played in, I think we're going to have eight in the NCAA tournament, probably should have 9 but I think it will be 8 realistically and if you can fight through that and get to a championship game in the Big 12 then I think we can play with a lot of people in this country.
You still have to make shots, we have to hit on our keys that we talk about having three or four people in double figures, we have to do that to have a chance to advance in this tournament, but like we said a minute ago, the girls believe they can advance and I think that's the biggest thing.
Q. Andrea can try that 100 more times and it won't happen again, probably, so when it gets stuck, what are you thinking? Did your heart stop? The whole gym went silent.
COACH BUDKE: It did, didn't it? I think I went silent, too. It's just -- as that got stuck you felt like your season was over. Not season over but tournament over. You know, again, I'll go back to what I said earlier, I'm going to trust my best player to make a shot there and she hit an unbelievable one right before.
Q. Can you put in perspective how far this program has come? Two years ago to now in the championship?
COACH BUDKE: I don't know if I can. We have goals at the beginning of the year of trying to win, taking baby steps in this conference, the toughest in America, and to get where we got this year, I think it's going to have to sink in at some point in time. We truly don't look back and we don't look forward. We lock in one day at a time. Like I said earlier, we recruit winners and kids that expect to win. So these kids that sat right here tonight expected to be in this championship game and that's where we want our whole team to be for years to come right now. Except kids to expect to win and play for Big 12 championships. There will be a day we look back on it and say, "Wow, that was amazing", but it's not today.
Q. Comment, if you would, about the crowd, seemed like the people turned out for you tonight.
COACH BUDKE: Wasn't that something? I think that's the next step we take as a program, putting more bodies in seats and late in the year we were getting 5,000, 6,000, we won the Big 12 challenge this year with a sell-out against OU. I was proud of the orange in the stands tonight. There were people in the stands that maybe haven't seen us play much this year, but I think if we can get Gallagher with 5 or 6,000 in it each game it will be a tough place to play. I love to look up there at all those orange shirts.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, congratulations on your win. These guys got to get out of here by 10:30.
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