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March 27, 2011
Texas A&M Â– 79
Georgia - 38
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Coach Gary Blair of the Texas Aggies, Sydney Colson, Tyra White and Danielle Adams. Coach, comments on tonight's win.
COACH BLAIR: We had no idea we could shoot the ball that well from the 3 to start the game. But this player over here has struggled a little from the 3 the latter part of the year and all of a sudden she hit those 3 bombs.
She's very good when the ball is reversed to her. And when she feels it, you just get out of the way, let her do her thing, don't try to overcoach. And then Pratcher came in for her and did an outstanding job for us as well.
So great point guard play. We only had two turnovers in the first half, ended with nine. You win ball games that way.
I'd like to give so much credit to our defense, because normally we're forcing teams 20 turnovers a ballgame. But I think our kids learn you can make stops. You don't have to have charges. You don't have to have blocked shots. You don't have to have steals. You can just play that Aggie defense, and I think that was the key tonight.
Coach Schaefer had them hooked up. I guarantee you, I've got to go check his blood pressure. I'm a diabetic, but I guarantee you his blood pressure was up. He was excited.
And the kids played defense with a passion that he coaches it with. And I think it's just a credit to these kids right here. I know Danielle didn't have her normal percentage that she normally has. But the kids knew we had to go in the game and have balanced scoring. And that's what we did.
But the key to the game was the defense in the first half. The 3-point plays were icing on the cake. My bench, 7 out of 11 for Pratcher, Baker, Gilbert, and Bellock. All four of those kids played extremely well. I was able to rest kids and not risk Carter and Colson to get their third foul. I was even able to rest Danielle a little in the first half just because we trust our bench and they did a great job.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Sydney, what was the key to the fast start, and particularly you on the offensive end, and how huge was that?
SYDNEY COLSON: Just looking at the way that they ran their zone in film, we just saw a lot of things that would work. Coach Blair and Coach Bond were telling us plays that would be effective if we were to dribble one way, reverse the ball and skip it to the other side.
They had a girl in their I formation, the bottom one was chasing back and forth, so we knew if we skipped it then the person would be open for a shot or our post player would be pinning if they try to run out at you. So really we just executed what they told us to on offense.
Our shots were falling. People were offensive rebounding and getting shots back up, and we got a few layups off of them still. It always helps us whenever we're able to get some stops and get out and run a little bit.
But I'm really pleased with the way we executed on offense, and hopefully we can continue to do that.
Q. Danielle and Sydney, Coach Blair worked all week to make sure you all weren't looking past Georgia. Could you talk about proving that you were clearly focused on this game?
DANIELLE ADAMS: It was just our focus in practice. Coach Blair and everybody, all the coaching staff just made that point, just to focus on Georgia and not look towards the next game.
But we just executed out there tonight. Our defense was great. Colson hit some great shots. Tyra hit some great shots. We were all hooked up, like Coach Blair said, and we just played together and as a team.
SYDNEY COLSON: I think just respecting them and what they do. We saw a lot of their film. We knew a lot of their players. They're very athletic and capable of going off. So we wanted to come out and give them their due respect for sure because they're a really good team.
And we just came out. People guarded people well. They didn't have anybody in double-digit scoring.
I'm really proud of the effort we gave on defense today, and I think that spurred our offense, for sure.
Q. Danielle, we were talking to Coach Landers. I asked him A&M's three blowout victories in the tournament should put the Aggies into the championship conversation. And his answer essentially was yes, if they bring their A game every day, he says you guys have a shot at it. Your comment?
DANIELLE ADAMS: I appreciate the comment. Pretty sure the whole team does. But that's a great comment. I mean, we just have to keep our focus and just keep coming out every game. And each practice is executing and just getting better each practice and each game, and just doing the little things right and just being ready and just coming out and playing A&M basketball.
Q. Danielle, can you talk about making it to the Elite Eight and what kind of accomplishment that is for you and the team?
DANIELLE ADAMS: It's great. I mean, I've never been to an Elite Eight. This is my first one, and I'm pretty sure these girls are happy to get back to the Elite Eight. So it's all a dream come true to us. We just have to keep our focus and just keep pushing towards the next game and just focus on each team.
And, I mean, we just gotta do what we do best and just play that aggressive defense that we played tonight and just keep executing each game.
Q. This is for Tyra and Sydney that have been here since the -- all four years, so since the last Elite Eight run, kind of fallen short as a 2 seed the last couple of years, what does it mean to take care of the business to get to the winner of the game that's going on right now?
TYRA WHITE: I think it's a real big accomplishment for us. My freshman year I wasn't able to play in the Elite Eight. Just to get back there be with my team, and then basically have an inside presence. When we got back there last time, I think the only thing that really stopped us was having an inside presence like we have in Danielle.
But I think the only thing really stopping us now is ourselves. We're executing more, running the floor. Our defense was tremendous today. So I think if we go in with the game set, the sky's the limit for us.
SYDNEY COLSON: I concur wholeheartedly.
Q. Tyra, is this the most complete game as a team that you guys have played this year? And what do you do now going forward to Tuesday?
TYRA WHITE: Yeah, I think it's the most complete game on the defensive end. I think kind of struggled on offense. But that was the key coming into this game was defense, because they play just like us.
So, I mean, just going into the next game we just want to watch film, study some more, do what we did coming in for today's game, and just execute on both ends just like we did today. When you keep a team scoring 38 points, I think it leaves everybody happy at the end of the day.
Q. Tyra, let's get back to starting those 3s. You hit the first one and actually got a lucky bounce. Could you talk about was it hard to get the ball into Adams? When you took that 3, did you think it was in without the bounce?
TYRA WHITE: Yes (laughter). It wasn't lucky. Shooters -- it's never hard getting into, you just want to get her when she wants the ball, that way it makes it easier for her and makes it easier for us getting it into the inside. But it's never hard because she's pretty there. When we see her, both shoulders, we get it to her; if we don't, we kind of get yelled at. So we just pretty much want to give it to her.
SYDNEY COLSON: That shot was going in anyway.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach.
Q. From the time the brackets were announced and all the anticipation to make it to the regional final, how much of a relief do you feel right now?
COACH BLAIR: A lot of relief, because instead of griping about being in this region, we embraced it. And obviously you'd like to be away from Baylor in one way, but -- because I think we have two teams that could represent the Big 12 in the Final Four. I think we're both that good. But at the same time, we embrace coming here because of how much travel and a chance to build up Aggie Nation, and that is just something that we have to do.
And a lot of coaches, they get in the same bracket or they have to find -- they find something wrong with the committee, and I think it rubbed off on our team. When they saw that I was happy, they were happy.
And I know our fans were happy about coming here, because if -- if we play Baylor, we need to pack this lower bowl and everything like that.
And I know they'll have a sell-out at Spokane. They might have one in Dayton and Philadelphia, and I think it's good for basketball now because you've got the top teams there. And I just want to play in Dallas, represent ourselves, bring these four kids back home. I think it's very special they get a chance to play in front of their high school friends and coaches and relatives.
Q. Not going to be one of the big story lines, but what did Pratcher give you coming off the bench, Coach?
COACH BLAIR: Huge. Colson got her second foul like she normally did. First one was a reach and the second was coming over the back.
I don't blow up anymore. I just expect it. It's coming. But now we've got an alternative. I could have played her to her third foul, but Pratcher came in. From the moment she came in, she broke their press, made the right pass, then hit a couple of big outside shots, particularly the one that Maryann Baker -- shot clock when she threw it across and Pratcher just put it up. That he was a tough shot. And the kid has no fear. She doesn't speak a whole lot. But she knows how to play.
Q. Can you compare this team to the 2008 Elite Eight team?
COACH BLAIR: We're getting better and better defensively. As you can tell by our stats in the NCAA Tournament, the team in '08 was a defensive team first, a transition team, but we had no inside game.
We had Micheaux and Reado, and we would have to steal the ball from Reado to go down, and she was the best we ever had at denying the high post. And Micheaux was probably the best defensive 5 that we've ever had. But we were not scoring there, so we went out and got offense. That's the difference, we were a whole lot better offensive team.
But we just held a very good team to 38 points. I mean, we were hoping -- we said the first team to get to 60 would win. We almost got there in the first half.
Q. The question I asked earlier to Danielle, the Georgia coach was acknowledging that A&M should be in the championship conversation now because based on the way you've played in your first three tournament games, and just to get your comment on that?
COACH BLAIR: I think we've been in that conversation the whole year. The top six teams in the country have not changed: Duke, Connecticut, us, Stanford, Tennessee. Are we all still in it right now? Nothing's changed. Everybody has held serve.
Now, there's two of us. Duke has got to play Connecticut. And we have to play Baylor. They're the top six teams. But don't rule out little Gonzaga. They've got the motion, they've got the home crowd, they'll play in front of a sell-out up there. I think it's good. I hope Gonzaga wins. I think it would be great for the game. But, more importantly, I hope A&M wins; it'll be more great for my game.
Let me say something that nobody's asked me: Danielle's defense on Phillips. She had four points at half. She ends up with seven. But nobody ever looks. They just look at how many points she scores or how many charges she takes. She's a very, very underrated defensive player.
That was the key to the game. They had a balanced scoring effect all year long. But when you take Phillips out and make it hard on her, and it's a little bit harder because we put so much pressure on their perimeter players that they didn't handle the rock as well as I'm sure Andy would have liked, and they didn't have the creativity that he's had in the past with the Saudia Roundtrees and all those kids that have played for them.
But Georgia's a young team. They're going to be right back. I've still got a long way to go before I'll ever get to be 500 with that guy, because that guy's very special and he's a great coach.
Q. You talked so much this week about focusing on Georgia, playing the song and everything. When you all jumped out to such a large lead, did you realize you had really gotten through to your team?
COACH BLAIR: I kept looking up at halftime, and I was telling the little NCAA lady, I can't believe it. I was telling the officials, I don't know what happened. I've never had an NCAA game like this against this quality of a team.
And we kept saying we have to have that last basket. We were coaching as hard to get that last basket before half as we were when we got the lead.
Because you never underestimate people what they can do on comebacks. And I think it just got to a point we never had to -- Andy was so far behind, he just didn't go into a pressing type of ballgame, which I think that's to our advantage because of Colson.
Q. Even in the second half when you all were up by 30, the defense didn't seem to let up at all. Can you talk about just what that means for Coach Schaefer and his intensity throughout the game?
COACH BLAIR: You mean Coach Schaefer was intense (laughter)?
I'm glad the officials let him coach. We've got a unique situation. There's not too many head coaches that will share the spotlight. If we win this thing, I hope you're all smart enough to ask for Coach Schaefer to come up here and sit up here with me, and I hope there's a few ADs out there that are smart enough to hire the right person, not just the person. Because he's been that good for 14 years. He keeps getting better and better. And there's more and more teams that keep firing coaches that keep getting worse and worse. Sometimes you need to give these top assistants in the game their opportunity. I've got a bunch on my staff that are ready right now, so does the Big 12. They've got a number of them.
The intensity that we play the game with just come to practice. We never let up. We never let up. And that's the way Coach Landers coaches as well. He never lets up. Okay. And the only thing I can beat Landers on for sure anytime is the golf course. But he's beaten me so many times, he's got half of his cattle named after me. He's got a bunch of cattle out there; he names them after me. Names some of them after his great players, too. I mean, what a tribute.
While I'm thinking of it, I know I need to get out of here, but just hold on. I just appreciate coming back to Dallas. When you see a Richard Justice there who used to be at the Dallas Times Herald. He was my second beat writer. Jim Dent was my first beat writer. John Eisenberg from the Baltimore Sun was probably my third beat writer. David Holland, who used to be Dallas Morning News, was in there somewhere being interviewed in '77 after we won state, South Oak Cliff, the men and the women, by Frank Luksa.
Richard, you're something, but back then Frank Luksa was everything. He was the Jim Murray back here.
I mean, I appreciate the job that you all do. Okay? The printed word is the most important thing that we have right now. We got all those fancy cameras back there, and we got all these machines there. But there's nothing better than in the morning picking up a newspaper and reading your stories. And, please, keep changing my quotes where I sound like I graduated in four years instead of six.
I appreciate you all. Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports