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March 6, 2009

Jolette Law

Lacey Simpson

Jenna Smith


Ohio State – 70
Illinois - 53

THE MODERATOR: We'll take an opening statement from Coach Law, and then we'll go to the student-athletes. Coach.
COACH LAW: I give a lot of credit to Ohio State. First five minutes of the game they dictated. They pressured the ball. And they got after it. And we dug a hole early in the first half, and we just took the cover, I think my team came back in the second half playing a bit more poised and dictating on defense.
We ended up playing 34 to 24 in the second half, but it was a little bit too late.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes, please.

Q. Lacey, do you feel like you guys came out a bit tentative or intimidated today, especially with the younger players?
LACEY SIMPSON: I definitely think we came out with a more fear mindset. Ohio State, they came out ready to play and they were hitting shots and ours wasn't falling.

Q. Jenna, what did you tell your younger teammates about playing on this stage before the game, about how they should come out, I guess?
JENNA SMITH: I mean, we just come out every game ready to play. Coach has a saying: Don't blink, don't back down. That's the way you have to look at it. You have to come out and play.
It wasn't any special speech or anything we told them special. Just don't be nervous. We played Ohio State twice. We knew them and they knew us. It was just you have to bring your A game today.

Q. Jenna, what was kind of happening in the locker room at halftime? What was going on?
JENNA SMITH: I think all of us were getting angry. We were getting blown out by halftime. It was just embarrassing. That's the first thing that coach said at halftime, it was embarrassing, getting blown out at halftime.
A lot of us were angry. We knew we needed to play better in the second half to get back into the game. I think a lot of us were just more fired up than when we came out in the beginning of the game.

Q. Jenna, I know the loss is still fresh, but the future of this program looks pretty bright. How soon will you be able to look forward and start focusing on what's ahead next year for this program?
JENNA SMITH: I mean, it is a tough loss. And I wish we would have gone out a better way. You always do have to look for it. We were just talking about how we've grown as a team, gotten closer. Our freshmen have grown.
Lacey and I will be seniors next year. We'll have to lead the way. We have a big freshman class coming in. Our sophomores, they've been here a year. We don't lose anybody that has played in the Big Ten tournament, that has played with us in the last games. And that's what's going to help us in the long run.
We have to think positive and just stick together as a team and work hard. Basketball players are made in the spring and summer, like coach said. And we just have to work together.

Q. Lacey, as you look at this, do you guys carry some momentum into next year coming off of a couple of wins here before tonight? Is there momentum going into next year now?
LACEY SIMPSON: Of course. Every time you have a loss like this, you always have it in the back of your head. We know we have some things to work on. We're just going to take these whatever breaks we get and get back to work.
And we work out everything we do, we're going to remember this. And we're going to feed off of it for next year.

Q. Lacey, kind of a rough shooting night for yourself and a bunch of your teammates. Was this more of a defense of Ohio State, or was it just not falling tonight?
LACEY SIMPSON: The shots just wasn't falling. I don't think it really had anything to do with Ohio State's defense. We got going a little bit better in the second half. I guess the first half wasn't our half.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Continue with Coach Law.

Q. Coach, can you talk about kind of the intimidation factor a little bit and what you told, especially, your younger players before the game about that?
COACH LAW: Just before the game, it's like right now, this is it. It's just no time to get scared or no time to blink. Just you have to look Ohio State toe to toe. They're the champions of the Big Ten, and just go out and play. I never try to talk about the NCAAs and all that stuff because I have a young group.
But right now, it's 40 minutes. And treat this as a championship game. We win, we go on. We lose, we go home. Just look at them: Just play free. We have nothing to lose, everything to gain because we've done it all.

Q. There wasn't intimidation factor, especially in the beginning with that start?
COACH LAW: I just think that Ohio State was the aggressors. They came out, they pressured. They got up on my guard, Shavelle, a little. It was hard for us to get into our offensive sets. And I just think that once we turned the ball over a couple times and our shots weren't falling, we didn't do anything on defense.
The most important thing that I was really upset is we weren't talking or communicating on defense like we were yesterday. And I just think that some of my freshmen were a little nervous.

Q. Last year's successes and the win over Ohio State, did that kind of have a negative impact maybe this year, kind of gave them something to shoot for on you a little bit?
COACH LAW: I'm sure. In the back of their minds it's like we're not going to let what happened last year happen to us this year. They came out focused. And, again, I give a lot of credit to them. They came out and they dictated. They wanted it. And I just think that last year, in the back of my mind, if you lose as a first seed, you're not going to let that happen again.
And, again, just like tonight, after we go back and I watch them again, just getting my team charged right now for we know how this felt. We don't like losing in the second round. We want to make sure we focus on what we need to do. And the positive is that everybody's coming back. Keep them uplifted so that when the newcomers come in they'll be able to share this experience with them.

Q. How much more difficult is Ohio State to stop when people like Allen and Johnson have their games going like they did especially in the first half?
COACH LAW: I just think when I look at the stat sheet, and I look at Star Allen, and Brittany Johnson is the one really got going early. And you know Jenna Smith -- and you can look at Jenna and Jantel Lavender pretty much X'd each other out. Star Allen and Lacey Simpson.
But the key factor was, Johnson came in, started doing her damage. She was perfect from the field. She got going. When she got going, it's hard to stop them inside. Their inside was their inside. And I knew she was a great player. But she came out, she was perfect from the field. She couldn't miss.

Q. Talk about the decision with Lacey and the starting lineup after yesterday's game and how is Whitney Toone healthwise?
COACH LAW: Whitney, she's day to day. She has fluid on her knee. With Whitney playing, I wanted to keep the pressure off of Whitney. Whitney played extremely well. She was comfortable coming off the bench. Didn't want to lose Macie, because Macie is an integral part of our offense as well. But just right now had to go with my gut, go with Macie Blinn and see how it goes and bring Whitney in off the bench.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about what you said to your game what you said to them after the game, maybe what you're going to talk to them after this?
COACH LAW: I told them pretty much right now, we lost the game. It was unfortunate. If we played the first half like we played the second half, it would have been a different story. But the most important thing is I've seen -- I don't look at the record. I know that this team has grown. We've gotten better, and I gave each one of them different things, different areas that I've seen growth.
And the positive is just don't think about what happened this year, take all the positives so that we can build on it next year. This is going to be the nucleus of my team.
And right now those, we look at 10 and 21. I know the season wasn't a 10 and 21 season. Because my young people, my freshmen, they did get better. Lydia McCully got better as a point guard, confidence later in the season. Macie Blinn was very confident. She became a confident shooter. Whitney Toone came in and played some key minutes the last couple of games.
I'm just encouraged that next year they're going to be better. They're going to be a year older. And they've logged a lot of minutes. And the experience they had this year will definitely carry over into next year.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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