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April 4, 2010

Sherri Coale

Danielle Robinson

Amanda Thompson


Stanford – 73
Oklahoma - 66

THE MODERATOR: We have Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale and Danielle Robinson and Amanda Thompson.
COACH COALE: I first want to congratulate Coach VanDerveer and Stanford. I thought they played extremely well and they have a terrific basketball team, and I wish them the best.
We did not have an answer for Nneka all night long. And it just took us too long to get going. They scored 21 in the first half and 45 in the second.
It was too little too late, and still with two minutes to go I thought we had a chance to win the game, and we did. I'm unbelievably proud of these kids. I cannot express what a joy it has been to coach them, how refreshing it has been and their willingness to learn, their drive, their belief, their faith, how they are with one another.
It's been everything that's good about college basketball, and I feel blessed to have been their coach.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Amanda, could you talk a little bit about how difficult an assignment it was to guard Nneka in this game and what were you trying to do?
AMANDA THOMPSON: She's very athletic. You know, she's making everything and really aggressive down low. And we couldn't really doubler because they had another 6'5" girl over there. With me in foul trouble I couldn't guard her how I wanted to. She was just incredible all night. And she's a great player.

Q. Could you talk about the difference between your team offensively in the first half and in the second half?
DANIELLE ROBINSON: We let our offense affect our defense. I mean, our -- yeah, offense affect our defense. And so we know we weren't converting on that end, so we struggled a little bit on the defensive end and then we would come down and not convert again.
We were just stagnant. We had no rhythm. Everybody was just standing, waiting for somebody else to do it. They sagged a little bit, and that kind of socked us up. I knew we'd fix it in the second half, but it just wasn't enough.

Q. Danielle, the sagging, they didn't sag off Nyeshia. I think she only got seven shots. Did they do anything special defensively to limit her shots?
DANIELLE ROBINSON: I mean, they put their best defender, Rosalyn, on her. She got some good looks. We all got some good looks. We just didn't knock shots down when we needed to. I guess that's where we struggled in the first half.

Q. You guys now have faced both Stanford and Connecticut. Assuming that Connecticut moves forward out of its semifinal game, do you think there's anything that Stanford could do to pull off the upset?
DANIELLE ROBINSON: Stanford's a great team. They're both tremendously athletic. They're both pretty big in size. I think it's going to be a great matchup between the two of them.
AMANDA THOMPSON: If they rebound like they rebounded tonight, I think it will be a good matchup.

Q. Danielle, like you said, it seemed like you guys got good looks, but did you guys kind of have to take jumpers? Because you didn't have any room to drive, it seemed like, because of their size. Was that one of -- Nyeshia didn't get much going to the basket. Were you guys settling for jump shots?
DANIELLE ROBINSON: I wouldn't say we were settling. We had open looks. When you get wide-open looks, you have to knock them down.

Q. Danielle, at the beginning of the game I think you started 0 and 9 from the field. Particularly your jump shots seemed to be short. Was it something they did? Was it the jitters, the big arena? What was it?
DANIELLE ROBINSON: Wasn't getting under it. Leaning back a little too much. And that's what made it short.

Q. For both of you, in the replay of the game, in your mind, between missed shots, offensive boards allowed, or the execution you were talking about, Danielle, just what bothers you the most in the aftermath? What let it get away?
DANIELLE ROBINSON: Rebounding. We knew coming into the game that rebounding was going to be the key. It seemed like we tipped it, we tipped it, and they came up with it. Or we tipped it out of bounds and they had an extra possession, new shot clock.
Just wasn't securing the ball, and I guess a lack of focus.

Q. 6:45 to go in the game; you guys were down 18 points. Was it just made shots? What clicked that got you guys going? Because most people probably thought that you were done.
AMANDA THOMPSON: The game's not over until the clock says 00:00. And our whole season has been about fighting. And we fought our way back to the game. And we didn't want this to be our last one. And everybody just kind of linked together and we found a way to come back.

Q. Danielle, just continuing on that vein about the comeback, you were really on fire at the end. Did you think at that point that you had them on their heels and you were going to get it?
DANIELLE ROBINSON: Yeah. I mean, why play the game if you're not confident in believing in your team regardless of the situation. I definitely think we made that run. It's something we've been doing all year, like Amanda talked about, come from behind. We knocked down some shots, and got a little momentum on our side.
You could tell that the momentum was on our side. They were a little bit unsure. But we gave up a couple layups that kind of secured the win for them.

Q. Amanda, one of three seniors on this Oklahoma club, talk about all you've overcome this year, your experience at Oklahoma.
AMANDA THOMPSON: We've overcome a lot. I mean, we've been -- over time we've lost players. We've done it all. We've brought it together. And Abi, she didn't play for three years and had the best year of her life. Nyeshia, a year ago wouldn't have took the shots that she took this year. She knocked down some big ones here to bring us to the Final Four.
We all just fought, man. I'm just proud of everybody. And where we've come, nobody can take that away from us.

Q. Danielle, everybody talked about the size-versus-speed matchup. Obviously their size played a role. Do you think you failed to take advantage of your speed advantage, and, if so, how did Stanford negate that?
DANIELLE ROBINSON: I think we did in the first half, just because we're so stagnant. They were scoring. So we had to take the ball out and not let -- off of misses it's easier to get a quicker outlet. So I definitely think that affected us a little bit.

Q. For either one of you, the baseball pass, you talked about giving up a couple layups, the one to Nneka seemed to be the one that kind of maybe was the last one. Did she get away? What happened on that play?
AMANDA THOMPSON: Well, she screened Danielle's player and went backwards, and that kind of played it forward so that whoever she was defending wouldn't get the ball. And we just had a mishap and she got a wide-open layup. So, I mean, it was either one of us. Can't really blame. She got the layup. Game over.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Sherri, you opened by saying you didn't have an answer for Nneka. Is there an answer for Nneka?
COACH COALE: Well, someone closer to her size would help. She's just very explosive and bouncy and does a great job of getting fouled, obviously, and then converting free throws.
She's just a tough matchup for a lot of people.

Q. Can you talk about what coaching adjustments that you made late in the game from the time that you were down by 17 to pulling back within two?
COACH COALE: I don't really know that there were a lot of coaching adjustments that had anything to do with that. Players made plays. We were doing what we'd been trying to do the entire second half. And Danielle starts making jumpers and everybody relaxes a little bit and gets lost in the game and quits worrying so much about the score and just plays the possession that they're in.
And we did what we've done, what got us here. That's the tough part about it, is if you go down, you want to go down playing your best. And the first half wasn't anything like what we've shown in the last three weeks of the season.
And what you saw in the final, you know, eight to ten minutes of the game was a lot more like it.

Q. Kind of a two-part question. First of all, seemed like you were doing a lot of switching defensive zone, man, half-court stuff to try to take them out. And for the most part, other than Nneka, you seemed to do a pretty good job with that. But also when the team starts off shooting like it did, is there anything you can do as a coach, just have to kind of hope it ends?
COACH COALE: You know, I really think -- we didn't guard them nearly as well as we wanted to. There were several times we were chunking it up a little bit to try to negate the size advantage in the paint, and three people would remember what to do and one or two wouldn't.
And they caught us a few times on some cover-downs in the first half. I felt like the first maybe four defensive possessions of the game we really guarded them. We did some good stuff. We made them uncomfortable, and we went down and missed shots.
We took bad shots. One passed and shot and nobody to rebound. Danielle was exactly right: our poor offense began then to affect our defense. And in our mind you're worried about the play that happened before, and you just can't do that, especially not at this juncture of the season, especially against a team as talented as Stanford.

Q. What did you tell them at halftime when you're down 13 and shooting 25 percent? What did you tell the team?
COACH COALE: We talked a lot about how we have to all be on the same page when we change defenses; that everybody's got to communicate; that offensively they're giving us jump shots and they're not guarding Jas. So, Jas, go ball screen, and then who is going to help if they're not guarding you.
Talked about D-Rob getting to the rim and taking and making the 10-foot jump shot, and continuing to go at their post players, trying to get them in some kind of foul trouble which we obviously were never able to do.
Ended up by telling them that we were ahead by 12 last year to Louisville and they got to play on Tuesday, so let's go do it.

Q. Coach, was there a case of nerves in the beginning? Because the shots were not even close for the most part.
COACH COALE: I don't know. How do you ever know? I mean, they don't know. I don't know. They definitely wanted to win, and we've been sagged on all year long. That's not anything new. It wasn't some big shocker.
We just made some bad decisions and found ourselves in a hole.

Q. Sherri, you talk about the legacy of these seniors.
COACH COALE: They will forever be the class that took us to back-to-back Final Fours. And it's such a hard thing to do. If my number is right, I've heard that there are only six schools to do that. That's a pretty special thing.
And Stacey Dales and LaNeisha Caufield and Caton Hill will forever be the class that took us to our first Final Four, and these guys will be the first ever to take us back-to-back.
But I think even more than that these seniors have restored everything that is Oklahoma basketball. And I don't know if restore is the right word, but they have grown and they've figured out over the course of their four years what it means to play hard all the time, what it means to sell out and be a great teammate, what it means to commit to the process of getting better.
They figured that out over their career. And that's what we're trying to do. And we're sad about this and we hate the fact that we're not going to play for the national championship on Tuesday. But I'll tell you what, we've done some special things. This class has much to be proud of.

Q. Sherri, talk about this third experience at a Final Four and as you look ahead for this Sooner team and a top 10 recruiting class coming up for next year.
COACH COALE: Again, just very, very proud of these seniors and what they've done and what this group accomplished amidst the adversity that we faced.
The thing that it does is it removes a ceiling. It's kind of like the first guy that runs a mile in four minutes and then all of a sudden everybody's doing it. And for the kids within our program, these guys that will return next year, this is what we do.
I mean, Whitney Hand and Jasmine Hartman, this is all they know. You work and you go to the Final Four. There's something that's contagious about that. And they will quickly teach those five incoming freshmen what it means to work and commit at Oklahoma, and we'll do our best to get back here on a regular basis.

Q. Talking about Stanford's sagging defense, they certainly didn't sag off Nyeshia. Could you talk about what they did to keep her shots limited?
COACH COALE: They just followed her around. But you see Nyeshia got to the free throw line 11 times. So she took advantage of that.
We didn't shoot it quite as well from there as we would like. But they were sagging off Jas, which people have done all year, and they were really backed up under D and going under, and when they're committing to one guy like that, the other guys have to make plays.
We did a good job of trying to screen and get her open and got her the basketball some. But she did a good job, too, as they followed her off of all those, of putting it on the floor and trying to get to the rim.

Q. You've coached some great players. You've coached against some great players. What makes Nneka so special?
COACH COALE: Her size and her explosiveness. I think she's just so bouncy. She's really hard to keep off the glass. She's a fantastic rebounder, and a great competitor. She plays hard all the time.

Q. Did you have any sense of Jayne's health in terms of the ankle? What did you see as far as how mobile Jayne was tonight?
COACH COALE: She's not as mobile as she was earlier in the year, obviously. But, you know, she's a competitor, too. And I saw her catching it on the block and going really strong to the rim a number of times. I think it affects her a little bit more in transition than it does in the half court.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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