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March 22, 2013

Jasmine Hassell

Jasmine James

Andy Landers


THE MODERATOR:  We want to welcome you to the third press conference today.  Today we have Georgia Lady Bulldogs Head Coach Andy Landers, and we have players Jasmine Hassell and Jasmine James.
We'll start with questions for the student‑athletes and get to Coach after that.

Q.  This is for Jasmine Hassell.  I just want to ask about your defense.  You guys have played great defense this season.  What do you like about it?  Just talk about the pride there in how well you play defense.
JASMINE HASSELL:  We play defense well.  We've always had a hunger playing defense.  Defense leads to offense.  I love playing the defense to help with the offense.  We just like doing that, and that's what we hang our hats on.
JASMINE JAMES:  Just to kind of go off of what she said, I kind of agree it leads to easy offense for us.  If we don't have a great offense, we understand that, if we go to the other end and we get stops and get steals and stuff like that, and it may be able lead to easy points for us to get us going.
Defense has been a big thing for us all year long and will continue to be as we work our way through the NCAA Tournament.

Q.  Jasmine James, it seems like it's been a long time since you played a ball game.  Could you just talk a little bit about that.
JASMINE JAMES:  I think that you can look at that two ways.  I think that you can look at it as you're not really playing games, you're practicing, or you can look at it as a good thing because you're not playing games, you're practicing.
When you're practicing, it's giving you opportunities to improve on the things that you need to improve upon as well as just try to get better as a team.  We've had quite a while now since our last game to try to get better.  I think it's been a good thing for us.

Q.  Jasmine Hassell, I know you ended the year with a real strong performance.  How does that play into your game, having the layoff, after having such a great finish to the season?
JASMINE HASSELL:  I think as a group, we all just have gotten to regroup and do what we need to do to make this journey through the NCAA Tournament.  I think we're all excited and ready to go.

Q.  Ladies, what can you tell me about what you know about Montana?  Start with you, Jasmine Hassell.
JASMINE HASSELL:  Well, they play defense, and they play offense.  We know that we have to play hard.  We know that we have to execute and do the small things.
JASMINE JAMES:  I'll say this.  Montana is a good team.  They're here in the NCAA Tournament.
As we've taken some time to look, we've identified who some of their key players are, of course, and just understand that they're a real good all‑around team.¬† They shoot the ball really well.
We understand that we're going to have to come out and play hard and play good defense in order to come out with the win.  But we do understand that Montana is a good team.

Q.  I know you both have been in the NCAA Tournament quite a few times.  Coach Landers has been there many, many times.  Talk about the experience that you've had previously of being in the NCAA Tournament and how that will help you today.  Go ahead, Jasmine Hassell.
JASMINE HASSELL:  We have been here a lot of times, and we don't want to take that for granted because to be in the NCAA Tournament, it's a big thing.
As far as experience, it will help us because we kind of know what to expect.  Once again, we don't want to take it for granted.  We want to take each game one day at a time and do what we need to do.
JASMINE JAMES:  I agree.  We've been here now, this is our fourth year in the NCAA Tournament, and it's definitely something that you can't take for granted.  Having the experience is a good thing.  You come in your freshman year, and you don't really know what to expect.  Here we are seniors, and we've been here every year now.  It's like we know what to expect so we can talk to the other players about what it is we need to do, and we know how we need to come out and how we need to perform.  So having that experience will be a good thing for us.

Q.  J.J., I was just curious if you have any feelings on having to play Montana three hours from Missoula.  You're a higher seed than them.  Does it bother you at all?
JASMINE JAMES:  I wouldn't say it really bothers us much at all.  In the SEC, you have to go out night in and night out playing in front of crowds of thousands and being able to come out with wins.  I think it will be a good thing, period, to have a good crowd, whether it's their fans or our fans.  So I'm looking forward to it.

Q.  Have either of you players been this close to the Pacific Northwest before?  Or do any of your teammates have any connections with anybody out west here?
JASMINE HASSELL:  I don't believe so.
JASMINE JAMES:  I don't think so.

Q.  Just a shot in the dark.
THE MODERATOR:¬† No other questions for the student‑athletes.¬† Appreciate your time.
Now we'll open it up for questions for Coach Landers.

Q.  Hi, Coach.  I'll ask you what I asked the players.  You can't help but be impressed with allowing 53 points a game.  When the defense is clicking, what do you like about that side of the ball for your team?
COACH LANDERS:  I think the first thing that I've appreciated about our defense and about our basketball team in general is that it's been very consistent.  Our team has done an outstanding job of making the effort to do things that not everybody wants to do.  That's probably what impresses me the most.
When it's really clicking, we're doing the things that not everybody wants to do.  We'll step in and take a charge.  We'll leave our man to help guard your man.  We spread the floor to eliminate the possibility of transitions, just a lot of little things going to making it as effective as it has been.
Probably when you look at it, to be more specific to your question, probably when I look at it, what impresses me about it is that we really do spend a lot of energy.¬† When I look out on the court and I'm watching our team play, they expend a lot of energy getting it done.¬† They're not a group that we have to beg during time‑outs to play hard.¬† They tend to play hard every time out.

Q.  Andy, how well do you know Robin Selvig, and how kind of rare is this opportunity to have two coaches who have so much experience and success?
COACH LANDERS:¬† We're old, yeah.¬† You know, how well do you know Robin?¬† Okay.¬† I ask you that because I feel like I've known Robin for a long time, and I have.¬† And I feel like that I know him‑‑ I feel like that we have this connection, but I can't say that we've talked a lot.
When we've had the occasion to, whether it's been recruiting in the summer or playing in the same tournaments, our paths have crossed.  We sit down, and we visit for a few minutes, and I've always enjoyed that.  But because we both have been at this for such a long period of time and I met him a long time ago, I feel like it's an old friend, but it isn't.  That's why I asked you how well you knew him.
My take is that ‑‑ first of all, we're, what, 2,000 miles apart.¬† So it's not like our paths cross a great deal, but I have great respect for him.¬† The job that he's done in Montana commands respect.
I think when someone has been able to stay at a place, maintain a high level of competitiveness as long as he has, it also makes a tremendous statement about him as a person because most of us mess it up somewhere along the way.  And Robin is just a class guy.  I've really enjoyed the relationship that we've had.

Q.  Coach, I guess it's hard to predict what will happen once the ball is tipped off, but you can't help but look at what Montana has done now defensively.  That's an area where they take pride.
COACH LANDERS:  They're very good.

Q.¬† It seems like it's tailor‑made for a game in the 50s, but could you just talk about their defense.
COACH LANDERS:  I would love to.  They're very, very good.  I think a lot of things make them effective on the defensive end, but first of all, they're one of the few teams that tend to switch everything when they're in man to man.
So opponents, I would suspect, unless basketball in this part of the country is very different from everywhere else we've been‑‑ and I don't think it is‑‑ not many teams switch 1 through 5.¬† They do that.¬† So that's an adjustment that offensive teams have to make.¬† You have to address that offensively, and most offenses aren't designed to take advantage of switches.¬† They're designed to screen and get cutters open.¬† So they're very, very good at what they do there.
Then if they choose to go to the zone, it isn't your traditional zone.  It's your matchup zone.  And they do a very, very good job with it.  So defensively, you have the box.  The box for defense in basketball is man to man or zone, and it's not as if Montana is doing something abstract.  They're not.  They're just outside the box.
They're switching man to man and their matchup zone.¬† So they require a different preparation and a different mindset, and I would suspect‑‑ there's a couple of teams in our conference that play matchup, and when you only have a day or two days to prepare for those teams, it's a real burden.
Now there isn't anyone in our conference that switches everything 1 through 5 and/or also plays matchup.  So I can imagine the challenge that that presents to the teams that they've played during a regular conference schedule where games are two or three games or two or three days apart.

Q.  Coach, is there any team on your schedule that is similar to Montana?
COACH LANDERS:¬† I haven't looked back‑‑ I'll think for just a second, or I'll try to.
From a defensive perspective, no.¬† From an offensive perspective, there are two, three teams in our league that enjoy the three as Montana does and also have excellent two‑man capabilities with an outstanding wing and post player and versatile post players.¬† That piece, their offensive tendencies will not be too foreign to us.

Q.  Coach, when going up against a team from a smaller conference, how much do you think your strength of schedule helps you in a game like this?
COACH LANDERS:  I hope a lot.  But, again, you don't ever know until the ball is tipped up.  First of all, you don't know how your team is going to play.  You prepare for them to play well, but they don't always play their best game.  You don't know how the other team is going to play.
Your question is a fair one, and it's a good one, but it isn't one that we answer or try to posture with ourselves.  We've played a lot of teams who weren't in the Southeastern Conference who were very, very good.  There's just a lot of good teams out there.  Montana is one of those teams.
You don't have to be from the ACC or Big 12 or wherever to be a quality team.  Montana is very well coached.  They're very disciplined in what they do.  They're well drilled in what they do.  And what conference they come from isn't anything that we feel is important.  That we come out and attempt to play the best we can play is what's important.

Q.  Coach, you incorporated so many freshmen this season.  I was reading through the media guide, and you kind of said leading into this it was going to be interesting to see how that adaptation process would go.  You must be almost so proud and impressed by how that's gone.  Can you just speak about the growth of the freshmen this season.
COACH LANDERS:¬† It has been a lot of fun.¬† We felt like for the last couple of years ‑‑ this really isn't what you're talking about, but I'll set it up.¬† We're excited for a lot of reasons, and this is just part of it.
The last couple of years, we've been a thin basketball team.¬† We haven't had a lot of depth.¬† We've gone to NCAA Tournaments with seven kids, with eight kids, with nine kids.¬† We brought in a freshman class, and we had returning a big senior class.¬† We really thought it was a great opportunity for us to create some depth by depending on our seniors and getting the freshmen involved, ready‑‑ first of all, getting them ready to play in, and then giving them an opportunity to play early on and bringing them along.¬† That was the plan.
What we didn't know was that we had a couple of freshmen who were exceptional, exceptional in their head, that they could actually come out and look at me while I'm talking, as you are, and get it, if I told them we needed it.
Deep cut, take three steps, and back door, then throw your basket hand up in the air, they got it.  You don't have to draw it up.  You don't have to create a drill.  They got it.  We realized that very early in practice.  We had a couple of kids that were just going to come really, really quick with their development.
Cobi Barbee and Tiaria Griffin.¬† Barbee has started every game.¬† In fact, was named to the All‑Defensive team in the Southeastern Conference as a freshman, which is really a heck of a note.¬† Griffin has started the last month or so because she's one that needed to develop a little bit more and has, but she's also one that has listened, who has, when you asked her to do something, turned around and done it.
And then the big thing, where those two are really, really different, is when you come back the next day, they still got it, and they're still doing it.  You don't have to repeat it.
And then the third one, Merritt Hempe, had she not hurt her foot, she might have been starting right now too, but she was out like seven weeks or something ridiculous with a foot injury.  But when she went out the first time, she was our leading rebounder and was really doing a nice job as well.
So it is an exceptional group.  And while we thought they were going to be the depth piece, they've allowed us to have more depth, but they've actually moved up the pecking order and become primary players for us.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Coach.

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