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March 10, 2012

Gary Blair

Kelsey Bone

Sydney Carter


Baylor – 73
Texas A&M – 50

THE MODERATOR:  We're now joined by the Aggies from Texas A&M.
Coach your thoughts on this afternoon's game.
COACH BLAIR:  Before I talk about the game, I'd like to speak to Kansas City for what they've done with this tournament over the years.
And Kansas City has been good to us.  They've done a great job of rolling out the red carpet.  We've been at the Courtyard Marriott forever.  We love it.  And I thought Kansas City put on a good show.
I thought our crowd today, considering two Big 12 South teams were in it, I thought there was a good attendance.  So the committee must have done pretty good getting out.
But I'd like to thank Kansas City for putting on a great show.  And we would also like to thank the Big 12 for giving Texas A&M the opportunity to show what we're all about.
We're a great university with very proud traditions, and we have a damn good basketball team.  But we played the best team in the country today, and if they get the opportunity to win a national championship, we congratulate them and we'll pat them on the back.
Hopefully it will be like next year and we get a chance to play them for the fourth time.
They make us better.  I'm not sure if we made them better today.  But they make us better because we see the weakness on certain areas that we have to improve on.
But the game tonight was very similar to College Station.  It was 14‑2 there.  We took their best shot, came right back into the ballgame, and we attacked.
Today we didn't attack as much a little bit.  They were doing a lot better job on handling ball out front, and we couldn't get to the rim.  When it got to 17‑2, we played them 18‑18 the rest of the first half, I thought we had a chance.
If we would have hit our bunnies and got it down to a 9‑ or 10‑point game I think our confidence‑‑ the first five minutes of the second half was all Baylor.  And you just give them credit.  They're a great basketball team.  Baylor University has had a great year.
But Texas A&M is starting off on Monday wherever the Selection Show, whatever seed they give us, but we will be there and we will defend that national champion and we will work hard at trying to fill butts in the seat when we get to College Station.
But give Odyssey Sims a whole lot of credit, give Kelsey Bone a whole lot of credit for good post defense on Griner.  And we talked about it before the game started.  We wanted Karla to go ahead and start, chew up a couple of fouls, let the referees get used to what they were going to call and what they were not going to call, because we needed Bone scoring in the first half to make sure that there was a second half to be played.
So that's all we did it for.  And it relaxed Kelsey, and Kelsey said:  That's what I want to do, is come off the bench.  And that's why we did it.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Sydney, could you talk a little bit about Odyssey Sims, her progression, what makes her so tough and why was she able to dominate today, really?
SYDNEY CARTER:  I just think she's a good player.  She's very calm, and I think she's a true point guard.  She's very aggressive.  She attacks aggression with aggression.
And she does a good job of getting into the paint and using her body to hit those shots.  And she even follows her shots.  And you don't find that in a lot of point guard that will actually go in there get a rebound after they miss.
So I just think that she's learned a lot and she's a sophomore.  So she's playing on a good team.  So she's getting more and more seasoned as the years go.
And I think she'll definitely keep getting better.

Q.  Kelsey, if we had told you before the game that you guys would hold Brittney Griner to 11points, especially after she went to 45 yesterday, would you think, hey, we're going to win that game?
KELSEY BONE:  Most definitely.  But the good thing about it is Baylor's a great team.  I mean, that's what elite‑level teams do.  After seeing Brittney go for 45 yesterday, we made it up in our minds we can't let her get 45 on us if we want a shot at winning.
So somebody else stepped up.  And it just so happened to be that three people on their team stepped up.  Everybody's going to talk about Odyssey, but you have to give Destiny Williams credit.  She's a player I've known since high school.  And she's a double‑double machine.  Tonight she got another double‑double.  Jordan Madden came up and she scored in double figures as well.
So I think while most people think that the focus is on Brittney, I said it yesterday, whatever five steps up, it's going to be about the supporting cast, and today that was the tale of two stories.

Q.  Both of you, I know this stings now, but you've played the team that was ranked No.1 for most of the season.  You played them three times.  Can you talk about how that's going to help?  You know you're not going to face anybody better than them in the NCAA Tournament.
SYDNEY CARTER:  It's definitely a learning experience every single time.  The first time we lost by 23.  We just knew‑‑ we weren't all there.  The second time we play them we take them down to the wire until we have to foul at the end.
So every single game we're learning and we're growing as a team, and we're seeing our weaknesses and we're seeing that they're playing at this level so we've got to take it up a couple more levels when we're playing a team like Baylor.  And I think it shows how tough we are.
We're going to have to get that toughness and you're going to have to literally come ready to fight instead of play a basketball game when you're playing a team like Baylor, and it's all about how physical you're going to be and the thinking part of it.  It's definitely a mentality.  And you have to go into that game with that mentality that you're going to be aggressive with them and you're going to try and play with them the best you can.
KELSEY BONE:  You're right.  We probably won't play a team better than Baylor.  We played them three times.  We've also played against Connecticut at Connecticut.  So I think it's up to us to take these games and use them.
At this point, it's win or go home.  There is no next week we'll play again.  Monday we find out where we're going.  We're going to practice Monday.  And it's up to us as a team to get better and to use these things.  Coach Blair in his postgame talk with us, he wrote it on the board:  Now it's time to get better.
We have to use these things.  There's some good things that happened in this game today, but we shot 27percent.
We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit.  And so using these three‑‑ three of our losses this year are to the No.1 team in the land.  And I think we just have to build on that and use it to our advantage.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Questions for Coach.

Q.  You know what I'm going to ask.  You had Tyra dressed and warmed up.  She must have felt better but not quite good enough?
COACH BLAIR:  We tried it this morning after breakfast.  Tried it with a shank in the shoe.  And just jogged and she said it was a lot of pain.  When she came out here, I said well at least put the tennis shoe on and go through stretching, because it would be like coming off of a sprained ankle or something, it's going to hurt if you've been in a boot forever.  So let's try it.
But then she went back to the trainer afterward.  It's too much pain.  And then when the game got out of hand, there's no sense risking who we consider one of the best players to play at Texas A&M when she wouldn't have made that much difference.
The first time we played at Waco she was our only offensive player that ballgame as she could shoot over their taller wings or create her own shot.
Our little 1s and 2s, it's hard for them to get their shots off because of Madden and Hayden.

Q.  Gary, does a team almost have to play perfect to beat Baylor?
COACH BLAIR:  I think you've got to come up with the right zone.  I do not believe you can play them man for man.  You can spot in and out.  But I think you've got to find a way.
And then Griner was not hitting her shots today.  We were doing a pretty good job of pushing her out, making her work, where at Kansas State it was a layup drill yesterday.  And, I mean, what an exhibition.
They can be beat because of Notre Dame and Connecticut and Stanford and whoever.  And Tennessee or Duke.  Whoever gets hot during the playoffs.  It's hard to be the best all year and then maintain it.  That's why we have playoffs.  Can you do it every night?  Can you not have a bad night?
All right.  I thought my Texas Rangers were going to win the World Series and that didn't happen.  They had the better team, but they didn't win the World Series.
So for the Big 12, if we can't win it, let's keep it at home in the Big 12.  And hopefully we'll be able to get as many Big 12 teams in the tournament as we can.  So hopefully they're doing their work up in Indianapolis trying to get some other teams into the league.
But Baylor is that good, and, yes, she's the best player I've ever played against, and I've played against every single one of them except Carol Blazejowski.  And I've played against them, coached against them or seen them, and that's the best.

Q.  Griner, like everybody said, you guys held her down pretty much.  First of all, you've got to stop almost everybody, right, and then you guys had a couple of layups in the second half with break‑aways.  You have to convert every possession almost.  You can't have empty possessions, right?
COACH BLAIR:  You talk about it.  Guys dump the ball on layups.  Girls, it's 50/50 at the best.  On a driving layup.  Don't go up and foul them because most of the time they're scared to death they'll get their shot blocked and they miss layups.
So I'm coaching the ones behind them to hurry up and get down and make the layup.  I've given up on the girl that's shooting the ball.  I've seen it for 30years now.
It's hard to make a driving layup when you see that fear instead of taking it right to them.  Make them make a train collision at the top.  You rarely see it.
Odyssey is smart enough to run under people.  We've missed those layups all year.  Not just tonight.  But it was pretty embarrassing tonight that we couldn't hit the layups.  But we've missed them against other teams as well.  So it's not just Odyssey Sims.  That's something that we need to work on.  We're not good at it.

Q.  We're all going to miss you a lot in this league.  I do want to say that.  I think I speak for every media person who has covered this league.  And good luck in the SEC.  But I wish you weren't leaving.  My question is:  What about the depth of your team?  I know today you're kind of disappointed.  But I thought I saw more depth in this tournament, and will that come into play during the NCAA Tournament?
COACH BLAIR:  We hope so.  Sometimes it's hard to recruit depth when you're national champions.  Because a lot of times, that's when you look on Connecticut and Tennessee's team, they usually only have 10 or 11 players because they're All‑McDonald's All‑Americans, so who wants to come be that third wheel.
We have kids that‑‑ we do not recruit bench warmers.  We recruit kids to be starters.  If they do not become starters during their career, then I've made a recruiting mistake.  But due to injuries, normally we fill our allotment.  I think our depth is good.  I put that little Scott kid in, the freshman.  I think she's going to be good.  If I could‑‑ when we go to Europe this summer, she'll get a lot of experience.  A love my recruiting class that's coming in.
We played a lot of different people.  The bench played well all tournament long until today.  But, hey, at halftime, never in the history of basketball has your starting lineup had one basket at halftime.  Your starting lineup had one basket at halftime.  So there's your little thought for the day.  I see you scurrying around writing that note down.  That's true.  When I looked at it, it was pretty scary.

Q.  Didn't have two starters really, Bone and Tyra?
COACH BLAIR:  That's good, Randy.  I'm going to go with my thought because my thought sounds a little bit better.  And we missed some good shots.  Carter missed some very wide‑open, makeable shots.  And it wasn't her best game.  Yesterday was her best game.

Q.  Remember that segment talking about the missed layups the start of the second half there, when you talk about the Griner effect, but Collins misses the wide‑open layup going in, Carter misses the follow, then Griner goes down and hits it, and then Odyssey steals the ball and hits the 3.  And I looked over on the bench.  You guys never really looked like you recovered from that.  Looked like that stretch was the final one that put Baylor over to end the game?
COACH BLAIR:  That's just how smart Odyssey is.  They will win a national championship if Odyssey Sims can play at that level consistently, because she's so doggone smart.  She didn't last year at the Elite Eight.  And it cost them.  But if she can play that way, I do not believe there's a better point guard in the country that can play both ends of the court and play it up here.  Because certain zones will shut down Griner.  But when you've got a point guard that is as good as she is and is as unselfish as she is, a lot of people don't want to come to Baylor and watch Griner do all the work.
They want to go where the ball's in their hands.  Well, they've got some unselfish players that are about winning championships, and that's what makes Baylor so good is they've got some kids that will share the spotlight while Griner does her thing.
But that role in the second half was huge.  The missed layups, you feel for kids, then you feel for the follow‑up because you see somebody's coming.  Little Carter's 5'6" in there and shooting an Annie overshot.  And it's frustrating.  And then you see Odyssey go down the lane about four straight times and score on everybody that we had just because her body control is so good.
Destiny Williams kicked us at the 4 position like she's kicked every 4 player all year.  Elonu didn't show up physically.  She's been great for us all year, but did not show up physically.  That's why I kept pulling her in and out.
You got a 12 and 11 versus a 0 and a 6.  That's why I put Assarian in there so much because, by God, if I'm going down, they're going to go down with some body blocks or at least we're going to play hard in there, and hopefully this will wake up Elonu to realize you cannot be a finesse player when you're playing for championships.

Q.  Can you talk about the technical there, what they came over and said?
COACH BLAIR:  Williams pulled the hair of Kelsey Bone.  And you know Assarian, as tough as she is, she cries on a foul.  But she's just such an emotional player.  She came to the bench and she said:  Coach, they pulled my hair.  The referee saw it.  He said dead ball, technical.
And it's just, hey, girls do that all the time.  When I was in high school‑‑ don't ever do this.  I was on lunchroom duty and I had to break up a fight between two girls in the girls' bathroom, and they turned on me and I got the fool beat out of me.  You do not do that.  Okay?
And that is serious and the horns are blowing and he's got his pencil going.  If you need me for anything else, that's it.  But that technical had nothing to do with the game.
That's all.  She pulled the hair, dead ball, technical.  Foul.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

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