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April 3, 2011
Texas A&M Â– 63
Stanford - 62
THE MODERATOR: Joining us head coach Gary Blair, student-athletes Sydney Carter, Danielle Adams, Sydney Colson and Tyra White.
COACH BLAIR: How about those Aggies? This is what women's basketball needs. It needs regional final games and semifinal games and final games like this to be able to sometimes wake up America, to be able to give us credit when credit is due.
You saw two very good ball clubs out there, play with their heart out there. You saw two All-Americans in Nneka and Danielle play as hard as they possibly could. Sometimes Nneka is very underrated with her defensive efforts, but she played a great defensive game out there.
You saw two senior point guards in Pohlen and Colson. One had six turnovers and I believe their kid did as well. Seven.
And so you don't realize how hard it is to run a ball club when there's great defense, when they're taking certain options. And we're a set team. We don't run a lot of true motion, even though we ran a couple of circle motion plays that did work for us. And we were able to change and keep changing our offense.
54-44. Ten points. We haven't pulled off a win like that. You'll have to ask the guy in the blue shirt back there, but it's been a long time. But our kids refuse to give up and they refuse to play a team close and have everybody pat us on the back.
They went hard. Two great players at the end made great plays on their end. Nneka on a great sideline play they came up, got it, and she made a tough shot. Then we came right back down and jammed it down and Tyra went straight to the hole. Both plays could have been and ones.
But at that time the officials decided to let the kids decide, and both teams made their plays.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Sydney Colson and Tyra, looked like you almost lost the ball in the free-throw line when they threw it in. Can you take us through your part first then Tyra finish it up?
SYDNEY COLSON: She hit it a bit when I was circling, but I knew we needed to jam the ball and get a score because we were down one. So I pushed it as fast as I could than.
Even though I had some turnovers earlier in the game this was crunch time and I knew I needed to step up and make a play for our team. So Tyra was running with me like we urge one another to do to run in transition.
She was there I gave her a bounce pass, and she finished with two people hanging all over her like monkeys in a gym.
TYRA WHITE: I just seen her take off and I said I have to catch up really fast. Then I started sprinting. I figured she was going to pass me the ball. When she passed it to me, I just heard Coach Blair's voice in my head saying pin the ball. So that's what I did. I thought the time was up, but it was like three seconds left.
Q. Sydney Carter, take us when you were down 10 in the second half, what was going on in the huddle, no panic or what was going on there?
SYDNEY CARTER: Never. I think that you guys know that we're the type of team that never gives up, and I think that when I -- two big plays is when I got the offensive foul and when we were pressing, and I got the ball and I hit it off Pohlen.
So I think that my energy definitely kind of sparked that run that we went on, and I just give credit for my teammates for never giving up and I just think that's the type of team we are. We have to make sure that ten points is nothing in college basketball.
So anybody can make a run at any time, and I think we made ours at the right time.
Q. Piggybacking off that, Tyra, you had nine points during that stretch. Just discuss and describe the mood and just the belief inside those huddles.
TYRA WHITE: We always believe in each other and everything like that. Coach Blair drew up a play. I was kind of missing my shots. But after today I just wanted to let it all go. It might be my last game in the Final Four. So you never know what's going to happen.
I just wanted to step up for my team and knock down crucial shots. When I had the open layup, I just wanted to take it. But it was a great pass by Sydney. I couldn't have did it without her.
Q. Sydney Colson, you talked about the turnovers before, but on that last play, did you think about taking it to the basket and not dumping it off and not taking the chance of something going wrong there?
SYDNEY COLSON: No, Tyra is a much better finisher than I am. She's taller. She pins the ball better. And I just had to put the past turnovers I had behind me. I knew what I was doing to get those. I was making not so hard passes, not snapping the ball or pushing in transition and getting it knocked off my foot.
I just needed to clear my mind. And Coach Schaefer was telling us before the game a clear mind makes good plays. I let everything go that happened in the past, that was negative, and just pushed the ball. And Tyra did an excellent job for us on the pass, in the last minute or so.
Q. Sydney Carter, your fourth 3-pointer of the evening cuts the score to one and Sydney hit a couple of free throws, gave you a one-point lead. Your thoughts on just being in the zone out there at the end of the game and what's going through your mind?
SYDNEY CARTER: Honestly, I didn't even know I was going to shoot the ball, but when I shot it, I think I said a quick prayer, because I was like this better go in or Coach Blair is going to be upset.
But I am glad that I was able to step up big for the team and hit that shot. And I think that gave us a little bit of momentum going into Sydney's couple of free throws, and we knew that she'd go ahead and hit those free throws to give us the lead and we knew we had to have a defensive stop. I'm just glad it went in. Such a relief. Whew.
COACH BLAIR: I wouldn't have been mad at you because you have another 40 minutes to play. So you're not coming out.
SYDNEY CARTER: I was tired.
Q. Sydney Colson, for a while there, a couple minutes in the second half looked like you might not even back on the court to make the plays at the end of the game. Just talk about that play where you ran into the screen and just what was going through your mind at that point. And then coming back in the game.
SYDNEY COLSON: She set a good screen to clear up their point guard. And I didn't see it coming. I turned and I hit it. And it just like hurt my neck a little bit. So I needed to cool off for a little while.
But luckily it wasn't anything serious. I was able to come back and contribute what I could to the team. And this wasn't the -- this was by far the worst game in the tournament I've had but luckily I have some really good teammates who work hard for me. I work hard for them. And we have one another's back and people stepped up at key times in the game.
Q. Danielle, real physical game for you. Able to gut out 32 minutes on the court. But first off, how are you feeling? And what exactly happened? And just discuss the physicality that they played with tonight.
DANIELLE ADAMS: I'm all right. Kind of tankless. Hopefully I can fill it up. Nneka is a great player. All-American. Tremendous. Works hard to get her position and I had to fight her for it a couple times and couple times it was fouls.
But it was two all-Americans going at it. And she did a tremendous job tonight. And my teammates was there just to help me out and back me up. I mean, we did a great job coming down the stretch, down ten, and we knew we had to fight back. I knew I wasn't going to let my team just end at that point, and they weren't going to end at that point.
So we fell back and came back and got the lead and Tyra did a great job on the play. Luckily she made it. If she wouldn't I really didn't want to get the rebound. I was there, but I was hoping she would have made it.
Q. Danielle, did you hurt your left hand? Were you at 100 percent the whole time the second half. You took a couple of bad spills as well?
DANIELLE ADAMS: I didn't hurt my hand. I got busted in the nose on the rebound. But free throws was great. I just took my time. I mean, that's what we always do, just use the same rhythm that you always use, don't try to change it. Your stance on how you do free throws, do everything the same time, and that's what I did.
Q. Sydney Carter, how do you feel about defeating two No. 1 seeds in a row? What does that do for the momentum of this ball club going into the championship game? And the second part of the question is, how do you feel about Tyra, who has been so steady during this tournament, double figures I think every game in this tournament, and just talk about both those things.
SYDNEY CARTER: It definitely feels great. I think it allows us to continue to keep our confident attitude. And we're just glad that we survived another day. And Coach Blair always says survive and advance.
I think we took that attitude in there today. And you know, being down 10, we never gave up. So I think that says a lot about our team, mentally and physically.
And even though our gas tanks are probably on E right now, I think that we'll be ready. And our ultimate goal is to win the whole thing. So that's what we have in mind.
Tyra, she's a really big key for us in all the games that we've played, because of her size and her shooting ability. And so we always need her to put up big numbers for us and big minutes. And I think she did a really good job of that tonight. I applaud her effort pinning the ball in there, taking it in there those 3s that Stanford had. And she did a really good job pinning the ball at the end and we needed her effort today at the end of the game, and I'm proud of you, Tyra.
And nobody believed in us, but we did it. We're going to the ship. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach.
Q. Coach, how proud are you of yourself, personally, for getting to the national championship game, and your players?
COACH BLAIR: Self doesn't have much. I've won a lot of games over the years. But right now I'm all about championships and big games.
I mean, whatever the number is, we've just gone against four straight Hall of Fame coaches that are already in the Hall of Fame. Okay?
With Vivian Stringer, Landers, Kim Mulkey and Tara VanDerveer, and I'm sure there's a couple more waiting in the game on Tuesday night. I'm proud of my team, and proud of Texas A&M, because we don't have to apologize who we are.
We're a very good basketball team that plays tenacious defense, and finds a way on offense. We're not the prettiest team around, except when we put dresses on, and we'll outdress anybody. We're a good looking team, as you can see up here.
But I'm just really proud of the fight that we have. We're gaining fans. Our season tickets will double next year.
Everything is happening for a reason. It's because we don't quit. While you all were writing, I guarantee you a lot of you already had your story three-quarters of the way done. And now you're having to change it. Okay?
All the analysts, every one of them, picked Stanford. And that's good. Because they're all good friends of mine. And I just want to keep going as hard as we can, and I tell you another group that I want to recruit, okay? I want to recruit those Butler fans. Okay? I hope they win the whole doggone thing.
But I want to recruit the Butler fans, and I want them to come out, because it's a little bit embarrassing that we've got 3,000 empty seats out there with a Final Four of this magnitude.
We were in the dome the last time we were here, and we had 25,000 again. So I want the fans to come out. It's the best basketball in the world. So get Larry Bird on the thing, have him talk about it. Let me talk about it. Let Muffet or Geno talk about it. But let's fill this thing up, and let's do it with some of the Butler fans, the hometown -- we can't get any more here from Connecticut or A&M, just on a two-day swing with airplane prices and holes in the ceilings of airplanes right now.
But we have the fans from the schools that are already here. Right now we need the Indianapolis fans to come out and support us.
Q. Take us through that last nine seconds, and as that play was unfolding, I mean, are you hoping she's going to pass it, or are you hoping she's just going to take it to the basket?
COACH BLAIR: No, I wanted her to take it to the rack because they just got finished on the other end. And I think the officials were going to let it go. They were going to let kids win it.
And I was jumping up and down thinking I should have had an and one. But at the same time Tyra probably thought she needed an and one down on the play on the other end. But we're prejudice, okay? You had three Final Four officials that have called a lot of Final Fours, and they were good officiating.
Neither one of the coaches had much of a problem. We had more problems with our team getting our team to run what we wanted them to run.
Because too many times we broke down, and my point guard didn't take over. She let a couple kids handle the ball that didn't need to be handling the ball, and that's what happened on turnovers there.
But while I'm thinking of it, nobody else is going to ask: Pedersen and Murphy played very, very well for them. We know what Nneka did.
But Pedersen is a nightmare on matchups. Okay? But Murphy, I think, saved their game by what she came in and in the second half they just had to run a spread offense and try to dribble the thing for 15 to 18 seconds, and then eventually somebody would go one-on-one. And that's not their game, okay?
We forced that by how much pressure we put on them. But I thought Murphy did a heck of a job, and I'm glad she was out of the game at the end.
Q. Ballgame at the beginning, we had our third time-out and third TV time-out. It was 11-10 Stanford. You went on a 9-1 run in the next four and a half minutes. Then after the following time-out, the last seven and a half minutes, you got outscored 15 to 4 to finish out the half. You were only down 4. Talk about what happened in those seven minutes. But one more comment, you mentioned Butler. Well, Sydney Carter I know she's going to be back with you, she kind of reminds me of Ronald Nored of Butler; she's the spokesperson.
COACH BLAIR: Write that in the story. Let's build that up. Our colors -- I know who else's colors are blue and white. But my eyes are blue. So I want the Butler fans to pull for us, and Carter does remind you of that play. And I wish I had the calm demeanor of the Butler coach, but I don't. I'm all over the page.
But first half, I wrote down: The key to the first half, after they made their run, I had Danielle with two fouls. Our kids were doing a decent job, but they were not rebounding. That's what Danielle does.
So all my subs came in and got zero rebounds in that whole time. They played hard, but we made a few mistakes.
But the key was holding it to four points. Okay? Holding it to four points, where they could have made the run and got it to 10.
And we would have been back playing woe is me at halftime. But I felt we had a chance. We made some changes on our offensive sets, and I thought we ran our offense pretty well in the second half.
And we missed some shots, but we missed some shots, a lot of times because they made us miss because they were so long, and we were shooting over.
And, finally, at the end of the game, we called a play called "35," guard initiate, throw the ball to Carter or Maryann, who was in there, and play the two-game on the backside.
I think Danielle hit the first shot, and then Tyra hit the next shot. And then Tyra took it to the basket. Those two 3-point plays back to back, I think that was the turning point of the game.
How about Colson's two free throws under pressure? She's not our best free throw shooter, but I think she knew she was not playing well in the second half and stepped up and hit two crucial ones and then here comes Nneka, came back and made two crucial ones on the other end.
Q. Gary, as you know, this is all new to the A&M fan base from the Dallas region to here as far as all you have gone, what do you think to the A&M fan base all the way back to the state of Texas?
COACH BLAIR: I think we're growing as a community. You know me, I'm never satisfied with how many seats are in. I'm trying to fill up the seats that are not filled up right now. But we're going to start filling them up.
But what I want to do with this is try to encourage the Stanfords the Tennessees and Connecticuts to get on our schedule. Because we're ready to play risk/reward. And we're willing to go wherever it takes to play these games, because that's what's going to make us better. Because those teams are going to be good every year, and I think Texas A&M now is at that level that we can recruit the right type of student-athletes. We can pack houses.
We're hosting a subregional next year. But I don't know who was happier, my wife coming off with tears, Bill Byrne who hired me in the first place, or our president Bowen Loftin.
We put a Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates, in the White House; but our Secretary of Defense, Vic Schaefer, he might be doing a better job right now. And give that man some credit, because he coached his butt off in this ballgame.
Q. Just because of her personality, Tyra sometimes gets a little lost in the shuffle with the Sydneys, with Danielle's productivity, but just talk about, she's been the steady person for you guys throughout the tournament, makes plays, delivers the game winner, talk about what she's given you.
COACH BLAIR: With about six or seven minutes to go, or eight minutes to go in the game, Kelly Bond, my associate head coach, came up and said: Carter's spent, she's out of gas. But I couldn't take her out.
So we had to quit calling as many plays as we were doing. So we started calling Tyra's plays.
And Tyra's never going to say anything or whatever. She's a low maintenance kid, just like Danielle. Some kids are going to demand the ball. But all of a sudden we started calling her number and she started delivering. Because she's got the six-foot frame that most of those Stanford kids have that can get the shot off that we had to have.
And remember, the big change in the ballgame was when Maryann came in at about that six-minute mark, our defensive intensity upped and we were able to stop the penetration from the point guard that Colson was getting hurt on a little, and we were getting into foul trouble. Baker came in, but when it was time to win a game, Colson's the one who brought us to the dance and she was coming in to win the ballgame.
Q. Were you at all concerned about burning your last time-out?
COACH BLAIR: I was concerned, yes. But at the same time I knew how good Stanford was. And sometimes when a coach does too much, is they call too many time-outs at the end of the game instead of letting the emotions flow and let me get rid of them and let my kids play.
So sometimes we can overcoach. And sometimes it's time for them to just play hard and not call a time-out after a transition basket, which I don't think we had any the whole game. It's just let the kids run, because they were having trouble getting the ball in. They had to use the time-outs on that, and I think we got two five-second counts as well.
Stanford is a good ball club. Give them credit. Four straight Final Fours. Four straight Final Fours. That's how good they are, and how well coached they are.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports