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March 6, 2009

Jim Foster

Brittany Johnson

Jantel Lavender

Samantha Prahalis


Ohio State – 70
Illinois - 53

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Jim Foster and the student-athletes. Are you going to decline your opening statement like you usually do? Okay. So we'll go straight to the student-athletes. Raise your hand and we'll get a mic to you.

Q. Jantel, the start of this game you guys hit the first of your 10 shots. How focused were you guys for this game and how good were you at the beginning? Is this one of your better starts to a game this season?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think so. I think we came out and we reversed the ball well and there was open shots and everybody was knocking them down.

Q. You lost to these guys last year. Did you want to make a statement -- is there any kind of a statement in this game that you're a better team than you were a year ago, Jantel?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Definitely. I think we came out and we knew we had lost to them last year. And we knew it was our chance to get some -- get tough against them because we lost to them last year and I think we came out extremely focused and ready to play.

Q. Brittany, I think I looked you up. I don't think you even scored in this game last year. How much more prepared and in what ways were you more prepared to help this team than you were a year ago?
BRITTANY JOHNSON: I think I'm more confident and my teammates are confident to me which allows them to pass me the ball and hit the shot.
But I think that last year from this year I overlooked my shot. I didn't look for my shot. And this year I think I just need to step up and hit shots.

Q. Sam, you weren't even here last year. How much were you guys pushing to get this game, and it's the kind of transition game you got it in, and how much easier does it make it for you guys to play when you can go out and run?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: What was the question again?

Q. You guys got the run of this game. Illinois is hard to run against. How much focus was there on getting out and running in this game and how much of a difference did it make for you in getting your offense going early?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Well, every game you want to run. So it's just like -- it's like an every-game thing that we want to push the tempo and run.
And today I think the wings ran real well and we were flowing well. We just got some fast breaks and everyone was being aggressive, and just bringing energy which was what the game plan was.

Q. Jantel, again, in this game with them -- you didn't feel sorry for them, I guess, in this game is what I want to ask you, that you just kind of kept your foot on their necks in the game. Is that something that this team might be better at doing this year than you were last year?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Can you say it again?

Q. Basically you guys never let up in this game. Are you better at not letting up on somebody this year just because you've got a big lead?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Yeah, we've been focusing on that, just playing a -- being a 40-minute team instead of being a 20-minute team. We showed today we came out for two hard halves and showed we can be a team to play 40 minutes straight pushing the ball up-tempo and just having fun.

Q. Jantel, was it safe to say that it was nice to have Star Allen out there this year, I guess that's a big help?
JANTEL LAVENDER: Definitely. I think Star is a huge help. I think she comes and she brings a lot of energy, and she plays extremely hard and she's fun to play with in the post, and the high-low game is like we have a good chemistry on the floor.
And you can always depend on somebody to be in that rebounding position and other post positions, post up and score and rebound and everything you look for in a post player.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.
Questions for Coach Foster.

Q. Jim, just the opening of this game, how good were you in the opening of this game? How did you like the way you opened this game, and just how focused were they?
COACH FOSTER: I think any time you go on a run of the amount of shots we made in a row and percentage of shooting, sometimes that makes you very nervous, because you know it's going to change.
No one continues to play at that pace and that tempo. But what gave me a comfortable feeling was how hard we were playing on the defensive end of the floor, and we were just really digging and getting after it so that even when we hit it a little low offensively the balls are not dropping quite as often as it was early.
They're not making shots, and the shots they did make they had to work very hard to get them. So I liked our defense as much as I liked our offense in terms of the start of the game.

Q. Coach, you seem to be able to spread the minutes around in the first half quite a bit, you sat Sammy quite a bit and also Shavelle Little. What allowed you to do that and what was the thinking behind that?
COACH FOSTER: Sammy got too fast, and we're not going to put her out there with too fast in the half, we're going to sit her. And Maria came in and did a good job and everybody was out there, continued the ball movement and the defensive intensity. So we didn't pay a price for that.

Q. Coach, the 10-for-10 to start, maybe you've seen something like that before. Put that in perspective, because kept looking up and everything kept dropping.
COACH FOSTER: Sometimes that's the way it is and, again, what I enjoyed more than that was us starting people, because you know that you're not going to make every shot you take in the course of the game.
And if you're going up and down and you're exchanging baskets, your quick start could come back to hurt you. But the defense was of such a level that I wasn't concerned in that vein.

Q. A follow on that, is that even better in the last two or three weeks, that the defensive intensity (indiscernible) like Iowa, has that gotten better with this group?
COACH FOSTER: Yeah, I think we're playing more with a sense of desperation. I think teams that really, really get after it defensively understand the season could end at a moment's notice at this time of year, and we don't want that to happen.

Q. As we move ahead to the semifinals now, there will be four teams playing for position in the upcoming NCAA tournament. I know you talked last week a little bit about the respect that the Big Ten gets. As we move forward, how would you compare the talent in the Big Ten top to bottom compared to other major conferences?
COACH FOSTER: I think that's a question that Joe McKeown (Northwestern) and Kevin Borseth (Michigan) could answer better as people walking into this league and having had a discussion with Joe the other day. His comments were that the league is a heck of a lot better than his perception of it outside of it.
And I think when you get inside, it's a very physical league. Very physical league and probably the most physical in the country. And it's almost a relief to get out of it when you get into the post-season if you're playing on all cylinders.
And I think there are some teams that are playing very well for this time of year. And it probably hasn't happened in a few years in this league. And I think the fact that you had to fight every night, the fact that Northwestern and Michigan, when you play against them, especially at their place, you're in for a war that night, and you just have to get to play 40 minutes. I don't think that's necessarily been the case in this league.
When I was in the SEC, I thought that always helped us, when we went into the NCAA tournament. There was a fear of you losing any time you play in the SEC. I think that's starting to evolve in this league. And you might not see it in terms of records. But the league is better.
Coaching certainly is better. And the competition, I think, is going to make better teams in the post season.

Q. Coach, could you please comment on Brittany Johnson's offense tonight and what she gives you?
COACH FOSTER: I was more pleased with Brittany's defense, to be quite frank. Brittany makes shots. Brittany's been making shots. And if you look at the numbers that she's put up in the Big Ten as adverse to her season numbers, you'll see a significant jump.
What Brittany has learned how to do is learn to play hard, as has Alison Jackson. And a lot of times players coming out of high school don't understand the intensity necessary at this level. And especially on the perimeter.
Post players, they get a quicker blip, because if you don't understand it quickly, you just get the heck beat out of you. But the perimeter, it's more subtle, and I think last year when we got tweaked with injuries, they didn't understand the intensity level.
This year, when we got tweaked with injuries, they were more than ready, and they play hard every day, and as a result we're a better basketball team.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

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