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March 8, 2012

Morgan Eye

Christine Flores

Robin Pingeton


Oklahoma 70
Missouri 59

THE MODERATOR:  We're now joined by the Missouri Tigers.  Coach, your thoughts about tonight's game.
COACH PINGETON:  I think the last game of the season is always tough.  Your heart just hurts for your seniors.  But I thought, you know, we competed hard.  Certainly had our fair share of breakdowns.  But I don't know that now is the time to focus on that.
Just really proud of our seniors.  I'm proud of our team, the resiliency they've continued to show all year long, the fight, the energy, the togetherness.  And I'm really proud of them.  We're certainly going to miss our seniors, though.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for the student‑athletes and then let them go back to the locker room, and we'll keep Coach.

Q.  For Christine and Morgan, what did you guys kind of think was the difference in the second half?  Do you think it was running out of gas and playing back‑to‑back days or maybe tightening up from having a lead, playing not to lose, a combination of both?  What do you think kind of changed for you guys?
CHRISTINE FLORES:  I think it was a combination between us letting up a little bit and not going straight at them like we needed to.  And on top of‑‑ I mean, their shots were going down.  We weren't guarding them as hard as we needed to.  We know they're good outside shooter.  They're a great team.  When we have a lead like that, we've got to keep pushing, and we didn't.  We let up for a little while, and that's what really hurt us.
MORGAN EYE:  Oklahoma's a really good team, and they're really good when they get on a run, and it's hard to stop that.  They went on a little bit of a run, and it's hard to get some momentum.

Q.  Christine and Morgan, did you guys not want that first half to end?  If you could have just played 40 straight, would it be different?
CHRISTINE FLORES:  Basically.  I mean, we were playing together.  We were rebounding.  We were boxing out.  Everything was just going the right way.  It felt like we were all in the same group the first half.  So I certainly would have rather had it that way with the first half just kept going.  We just had that spark to us, that spark.
MORGAN EYE:  I absolutely agree.  Sometimes I wish we wouldn't have to have halftime, just go ahead and play through it.
COACH PINGETON:  I hope that means you don't like my halftime talks.
MORGAN EYE:  No, they're great.

Q.  Christine, Coach was talking about how she hurt for the seniors and that she's going to miss you.  Could you just talk about what it's been like for you these four years being part of this program and what's going to be the most to you?
CHRISTINE FLORES:  These four years, I wouldn't trade them for the world.  They've been amazing.  When Coach P came in the coaching transition, it fit perfectly.  She came in and kind of just whipped me into shape.  She turned around my whole entire life.  It wasn't just basketball she turned around.  I couldn't have asked for more.  She's only made me a better player and person.
But the thing that I think I'm going to miss the most is just being around this tight‑knit family that we have.  Mizzou, when she came in, she grabbed us, she told us we're going to be one family, we're going to do things the right way, and we're going to go out there, and we're going to do the things that we need to do the right way.
Just having that family that you can turn to at any moment at any time, the coaching staff along with the players, that's something that you can't replace.  That's something that stays with you for the rest of your life.

Q.  I want to follow up on that conversation with Morgan.  I've done this for a while.  I've seen a whole lot of coaching changes.  Every single one of them says we're going to come in and make this team a family, and we're going to be all close knit, and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't work out.  How key to how well this process did work were your seniors this year?  Because I know how hard Robin talked about this and tried to get it going, but that's got to come from within, doesn't it?
MORGAN EYE:  Oh, yeah, it's so important for us to be a close team.  That comes on and off the floor.  When we're able to be so close together and hang out, even when it's away from basketball, we get to show each other so much better.  You can see that carry over onto the court.  Our team is really close.  I think people see that in how we play and everything.  When we're able to just kind of get to know each other even more, we're able to read each other better.  So it's absolutely so important for us to be a close‑knit family.
THE MODERATOR:  Anything further for our student‑athletes?  We're going to let you go back to the locker room and keep Coach for a few more minutes.  Take the first question.

Q.  Robin, in looking at stats, one of the real differences is just the number of free throws that were taken, and you guys seemed to be looking for threes.  Obviously, when threes are falling, you want to keep shooting those.  There seemed to be less of an aggressiveness on offense, and it looked to me like it dropped to a degree after BreAnna got her third and a whole bunch more after she got her fourth.  Can you talk a bit about how much the offense and the aggressiveness of it dropped off when you lost her?
COACH PINGETON:  I just think Bree has done such a tremendous job being a presence on the inside.  She's a strong, athletic kid and just had the ability to really spread out in there.  Christine, on the other hand, is more of a finesse player, and she has that ability to, but she floats a little bit on the perimeter.
When we lost that with Bree, the aggressiveness, because of foul trouble, I agree with you.  I think it did‑‑ we weren't nearly as aggressive.  I didn't think our perimeter kids attacked the zone the way that, you know, we have seen them attack it before in practice.
I thought we were a little hesitant.  We weren't getting to the gaps.  But the bottom line is for us to have a chance, we're not good enough that we can have two or three players having good nights.  We've got to be 100 percent engaged from top to bottom, 1 through 12.
I just sensed a little bit different tonight than I did yesterday.  And, again, I thought our kids played hard.  We just didn't maybe maintain that edge that we had last night.  And, again, give Oklahoma a ton of credit.  They've got some tremendous players.  I think Mo hit the nail on the head when she talked about their runs, their momentum.
So certainly some things on our end.  Way too many turnovers, way too many second shot opportunities.  We had a couple of breakdowns defensively.  So a lot of things on us, but I think at some point you've just got to give credit to the other team too.
Sherri does a tremendous job.  They've got a great program, and they've got some very talented players.

Q.  Last night Christine and Bree had talked about the team getting a little bit lackadaisical after you got that big lead against Oklahoma State.  Did you sense any of that happen tonight, or did you feel like the girls stayed focused most of the way?
COACH PINGETON:  I didn't really‑‑ I don't think it was the same situation it was last night.  I certainly‑‑ I didn't sense it.  They might tell you differently, but I did not sense that at all.
I just felt like it was a combination of things.  We had some careless turnovers.  We started the second half, BreAnna Brock had a nice strong take, and we had a turnover in transition, actually, two turnovers in transition.  We sub in, and we've got just a no look, errant pass.  We just didn't value the ball at the level that we needed to.
And part of it, yes, it was Oklahoma's defense, but some of those turnovers were self‑inflicted a little bit.  Those are against a team like Oklahoma that's got so much fire power.  It's going to come back to bite you a little bit.
So I think it was a combination of a lot of things, but I really don't think it was looking ahead or losing our focus.  I think it was a combination of some other things, just breakdowns on our end, and Oklahoma upped the ante after halftime.

Q.  Robin, this is a very broad question, but just kind of the emotions in the locker room afterward, and how will you kind of remember this team this season?
COACH PINGETON:  I think I'll remember them for their resiliency.  Again, I think we've talked so many times and just so proud of them for just staying the course.  Again, we've had‑‑ our fans have been great.  Coaches in this league have been great.  Just the kind e‑mails, text messages, notes, just complimenting how hard our kids continued to play despite the fact that we weren't getting the wins on the scoreboard.
That's a hard, hard thing to do.  When you're not coming up with those wins on the scoreboard, it's hard not to feel sorry for yourself or start to point fingers or maybe even quit, disengage, and they didn't do that.  They didn't do it all year long.  We had some hiccups here and there, but as the season went on, I thought we got stronger.  That's a tough thing to do.
So I'm really proud of them for that.  I think those things that they learned this year, that's going to carry with them for a long time.  Those are life lessons.  They're going to be more successful because of it.  Emotions in the locker room, I think you've got a wide range of emotions.  Your seniors are obviously extremely emotional.  You've got your freshmen that are a little wide‑eyed.  It's a long season for freshmen compared to high school.  I think they're just eager.
I think they're going to miss our seniors, but I think they're also pretty confident about some positive things to come in the future.  They're just so‑‑ they're tireless workers.  I'm sure we'll be getting phone calls within the next day or two, how soon can we start individuals?  That's just kind of the way they are.
We're absolutely‑‑ our focus right now is making sure our seniors understand how much we appreciate them and just want to be there for them.  And then when the time is right, we'll exhale a little bit, we'll embrace the opportunities that we have in front of us for the next season.

Q.  Let's talk about futures.  You lose so much in play and in leadership with the three that are going here, and you're going to have Liz and L.P., your community college transfers, in as seniors next year.  But of the people you're really going to get leadership from, they kind of have been built up through the program.  Talk a bit about how important Sydney's role is going to be on this team next year and kind of what you're expecting from her.  What do you think needs to change between now and next year for her to be where you need her to be for this team next year?
COACH PINGETON:  I think there's a lot of question marks and some questions that need to be answered individually.  We're going to continue to make giant strides with this program.  Kyley Simmons will be our leader next year.  She'll be our leader we're really going to lean heavily on for vocal leadership.
I really like‑‑ I think Mo‑‑ I think this year is a hard year for our youngsters to really step up in that leadership role, although I think they did an outstanding job.  You're coming in as a freshman and you've got seniors that are starters for you, you just tread lightly maybe at times.  But they still did a heck of a job.
Sydney Crafton, I thought typical.  We saw some great things yesterday.  I thought maybe that was the best basketball game she'd had all season.  Consistency is the question mark.  How much are you going to invest into it?  Emotionally, mentally, physically‑‑ she's got a lot of potential, but there's a lot of people out there that have got a lot of potential.  I guess the big question mark is how much are you going to invest?
But I can tell you this, I'm really excited about our returning kids.  I'm excited about our kids coming in.  I don't know who it's going to be or how we're going to replace certain players, but we'll find a way.  I think we'll make some giant strides again next year.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thank you very much.  Good luck for the rest of the year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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