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March 12, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
Kansas Â– 61
Nebraska - 56
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the Kansas Jay Hawks and Coach Henrickson and her student athletes. Coach, if you would give an opening statement.
COACH HENRICKSON: Great effort on behalf of Nebraska and great defensive effort by these two, give them credit for being tough to continue to set up screens, use screens, hit tough shots, take tough shots and make tough shots.
And I thought Sade and Ivana were difference makers, got two steals and turned 'em into layups, Danielle to have toughness, after the time-out when I was grouchy with them, when I called it in the beginning of the second half, but Danielle comes out and gets an offensive rebound and in one, and that's what you do.
You find a way to score when you're a great player. And Chel throws over to Ivana, scoring in transition. There is a lot of kids that stepped up and played well, and particularly these two are the most obvious, whether it's a great screen or a great pass. I thought it was a great team effort on our part.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Can you talk about what this game means and how it might propel you for the rest of the season?
DANIELLE McCRAY: It feels great to play well this time in the season. I played well, the rest of the girls played well, great feeling today.
Q. How many people were here?
DANIELLE McCRAY: I don't know.
COACH HENRICKSON: There were a lot of people at her grandmother's house Tuesday night, so a lot of people here.
Q. It seemed like Bonnie was talking about things weren't clicking, you guys didn't look like yourselves. What was it, a matter of becoming more aggressive or what worked? That became a different game in the second half.
DANIELLE McCRAY: I think in the beginning, the first part of the game both teams were so antsy to play.
Me personally, I think I was just going too fast. I needed to calm down, but the whole game I think we both knew that this was an in or out situation for us, and both teams were playing hard.
SADE MORRIS: I think the turning point was our defense. We stepped it up on defense to get our offense going, because it was struggling a little bit, and that was game changing.
Q. Danielle, seemed like they were all over you in the first half and trying to keep you from catching the ball, especially in the second half, too, can you talk about how tough that was for you?
DANIELLE McCRAY: I thought they were there every play. Nebraska's coach, Connie Yori, is a great coach, and she knows what we run and they were in my face the whole time. And I was just trying to rush it and not letting the game come to me.
And after Coach Bonnie got us in the second time-out, I kind of calmed down and knew it was going to come, and let the game come to me. Sade did a good job of, if they're playing hard on "D", I'm going to step up, and she did a good job of that.
Q. Sade and Danielle, did you come here thinking you could play yourself into the NCAA tournament? And what did you do to make that happen today?
SADE MORRIS: We definitely thought we could get ourselves into the NCAA, but we knew we had to come out and play hard. And now we have another one that we have to fight for tomorrow, too.
DANIELLE McCRAY: To go off of what Sade said, that was our No. 1 goal since the beginning of the season, and we know that a lot of teams want to end up in that position, where if you win one, you might get in. And we embraced that and came out for a hard fight tonight.
Q. I wonder if y'all can talk a bit, the last couple of minutes Nebraska was getting relatively open shots and having just some layups and fairly close shots that just didn't seem to be falling. Talk a bit about those defensive sets in the minute, minute and a half or so.
DANIELLE McCRAY: I think we dug down deep and decided to guard. Montgomery was doing a good job of down lowing. And once we put Krysten on her and got some of that size on her, it bothered her.
In the beginning we were giving them easy looks. You're going to make those shots. Toward the end, we had that pressure and not letting them get those second-chance points that they were getting to stay in the game.
Q. Danielle, Bonnie talked about the play where you got the edge and you grabbed the loose ball, they were on a 7-0 run at that point at that time, can you talk about the kick start?
DANIELLE McCRAY: She gave me confidence that I could make a shot. In the beginning, I couldn't make nothing, and I felt like I needed to get something different done.
And once my teammates saw how emotional I was, they fed off of it and we kept going from there, because we didn't want to go home tonight.
Q. In terms of effort, those two steels were kind of like a defensive back taking an interpretation off. It was a high effort. Is there something there that -- can you explain it any other way than, hey, we don't want to go home, something seemed like it possessed you today.
SADE MORRIS: I didn't want to go home, I wasn't ready to leave. We came here to go to the NCAA tournament, and we came here to win. I was going for the steal because we needed to win and we needed to get on a roll and that's what I did.
Q. Coach, we talked about those last couple of minutes, what was happening with Nebraska missing shots. Your players are obviously doing some things very well. We have known really all year the problems that Connie has had as far as injuries with that team. Talk about your depth, how that made a difference for you and do you think the fatigue was a factor in that last couple of minutes?
COACH HENRICKSON: I didn't -- maybe a little on the perimeter where 'De uses her length and knocked some things down. And I think our defensive pressure created some things in the first half, knocked some things down played and played good rhythm and pretty good spacing and timing.
I thought when they went to Montgomery so much one-on-one, I told the guards, you've got to be the reason they can't go inside. And we went back to Krys to give Montgomery some length inside, and then we put Nic on Redmon and we stayed on her, and Yvonne has good pressure and I thought we really distorted them offensively.
Q. Bonnie, this league has got 108 teams in before, do you think you're in after today? How do you feel about your resume?
COACH HENRICKSON: I think we're in, but we'll keep playing and trying to improve our resume. I think we've had a great rundown the stretch and had quality wins. And I think it's important to be playing well, not just in the tournament.
We played well before we got to this point, obviously in the last three weeks, but we want to make sure we try to take care of things on our own destiny here. And coming into this, it was about beating Nebraska, it wasn't about getting past that.
We stole from Coach Mangino about keeping your head down, stay focused, don't cut all them fingers off if you do that, and now it's about beating Oklahoma, but I think we've earned our opportunity to be in the dance.
Q. (Away from mic.)
COACH HENRICKSON: I listen to him, I have a lot of people in our building, we can commiserate about it.
Q. Bonnie, Danielle had a lot of big performances this season, but tonight seemed like one of her toughest. On top of that, talk about Sade stepping up, and tonight she did.
COACH HENRICKSON: Good question. I think what makes her performance tough is she struggled so much in the first half, and that's emotional growth because she has this look on her face, which isn't good for us.
She let Turner go to the rim. She is mad she can't get a shot and give them credit. They chased her. It's one thing to play a box-and-one, they just face guarded her and weren't going to let her get open.
But I thought the kid showed perseverance, and her teammates were great with her about "D". You're better than this and what her teammates did is played around her a little bit.
And by the time we came back to her, I think she calmed herself down, and you heard her say "I wasn't reacting, wasn't responding." She kept running the ball, set up the screen and the bigs have to do a better job of screening for her, but she did a much better job of getting separation.
And when the fatigue hit is when they got tired chasing her off of the screens, and that's a big, strong performance. And then Sade, I subbed her out two years ago at Baylor, and I told her we should have left her at her grandmother's house. And I'm glad we didn't have to say that today.
We call them Batman and Robin. Gary Blair calls them Pippen and Jordan, they're great together. And when 'De stays aggressive, it makes 'em better. Because who do you guard, make the extra pass. I was just proud of her and happy for her that she stepped up and took tough shots and hit some tough shots and guarded and creates the defensive intensity by turning the guys over and getting the layup and everybody took a deep breath.
We scored as much from transition and turnovers than we did in any set play from the 10-minute markdown.
Q. (Away from mic.)
COACH HENRICKSON: I said when we -- I said we stay together, did you want to win 27-26 points, Danielle had 27 points, the rest of you are on scholarship, play! You've got to step up and play. Probably a little bit more than that, but --
Q. Bonnie, with 'De, it seemed like there were a couple points in that game where they could have pulled away because of the struggle, and not to single her out, but in some ways to single her out.
COACH HENRICKSON: She goes down to the rim in traffic and scores. She hits a baseline jumper when they make the extra pass. She starts -- I yelled at her one time and said you're giving the ball a headache, she's dribbling the ball 10 times and not going anywhere. We're taking 10 dribbles and not going anywhere, be more aggressive off your on-ball screens.
And I started to call things for her, I called it for 'De, and Danielle came off, and I yelled at Danielle and said that was not for you, just to let 'De calm down and give 'De confidence. And I said, we're going to play with confidence here, and she did a great job.
Q. Coach, can you discuss the challenges of a team playing well down the stretch in a league that's so strong top to bottom?
COACH HENRICKSON: What's difficult in this league, because it's so good, is to be able to bounce back, because it's hard to be consistent in the league when you get stretches of, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Baylor, there is no night off.
Coming off Oklahoma at home, it is difficult to win in this league, and you have to build some resiliency. And as a staff, you have to be careful about never making a loss, okay, but allowing your kids to be okay with it and bouncing back from it. To every assistant coach and your captains and leaders, you have to stay in the huddle.
Our bench is the best in the league, they're unbelievable as far as the energy they provide, how positive they are, they fuss at each other and that's okay, but it is a brutal, brutal league. And you've got to have some toughness about you to be able to get knocked down and get right back up and think you could go get the next one.
Q. The No. 1 team got knocked off across the street, can you use that with your girls to say that a No. 1 team can get knocked off?
COACH HENRICKSON: Absolutely, and I think as much as we've got ESPN and all that, they watch it all, they talk about, you see them hit that shot?
They understand this time of year it can happen, and that's a great example for us, and a team that we wished that wouldn't have happened to, but for us it's about getting film work in of the game with them at our place, and we go 4 for 24 coming out of the locker room to start the game.
We get good looks, we don't have very good rhythm, very good timing and great respect for Oklahoma and what they do. And they would probably think that of themselves. And what they watch on TV, it's that time of year, you've got to play.
We've got to do our job, got to have a game plan, make adjustments, but the biggest anxiety about this is players play. Although I had a great catch on the sideline, it wasn't in my range! You know? June told me "you still got it" because June did my games in college.
Q. What is your range?
COACH HENRICKSON: In the paint. I can make a free-throw, Tom.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
End of FastScripts