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March 24, 2013

Bill Fennelly

Chelsea Poppens

Anna Prins


THE MODERATOR:  Iowa State, press conference for the game tomorrow 6:30 against Georgia.  We have Coach Bill Fennelly, as well as student athletes Anna Prins and Chelsea Poppens.
For Chelsea and Anna, if they want to give their reactions to last night's game after having a night to absorb it and watching some video of it, just your reaction.
ANNA PRINS:  Well, obviously we are really excited.  It's always a lot of fun to keep moving forward in the tournament.  We were able to play in a great atmosphere and get the W, and I don't know, it was a really fun game, and I think we're all really proud of ourselves, and, I don't know, just excited to, again, move forward.
CHELSEA POPPENS:  Like she said, we're excited and I'm proud of my teammates and the way we conducted ourselves throughout the game and just maintained pressure and didn't back off and just kept going.  It was a really fun game, fun crowd.  It's just exciting just to be able to go on to the second round.

Q.¬† Anna, just to be a senior and have a chance to go to the Sweet16, what's that mean?¬† And two‑part question, what does it say about a team that could potentially advance there?
ANNA PRINS:  Well, I mean, it's exciting to think about, but I mean, you know, I think in the Tournament, you have to think about the game that you're about to play and not necessarily, you know, what could be.
And I think, you know, like I said before, we're just excited to be at this point that we're at and, you know, ready to go to practice in a little bit and learn about Georgia and what they have to offer on the court.
You know, just‑‑ I don't know, just trying to enjoy as a senior, enjoy the moment that we're in, and with the girls; it's definitely an exciting time.
CHELSEA POPPENS:  I feel like she basically covered every area of it.  I'm just excited to keep playing.  Obviously we want to make it further, but we have to look at the present and focus on the now.

Q.¬† Starting with Chelsea, looking at Georgia ‑‑
CHELSEA POPPENS:¬† We haven't really gone over scouting reports or practice yet, but they are going to be a tough time and I know we are going to have to be able to stick with their pressure and be able to guard them inside and out.¬† I know they have quite a few good three‑point shooters.¬† We just have to play good defense and hold our own.
ANNA PRINS:¬† Like Chelsea said, we haven't gone much over them, just little of the scouting reports, a little of that.¬† But just watching them yesterday, they are a great team.¬† And they have got some tough physical players, drivers, three‑point shooters, but we'll learn more about them later today and just excited to play them.

Q.  What can you take from the game with Georgia yesterday, anything specifically you're looking for in watching that game.
ANNA PRINS:  I don't think, I think I just noticed the team as a whole.  They did look physical and I don't know, it was a fun game to watch.  We were there for the first half of the game, so didn't get to see the second but I think that's mostly what I talk out of it, great rebounding team, too, I noticed that as well.
CHELSEA POPPENS:  I noticed they are really good and quick on their feet and they know how to get to the right people at the right time.  We are just ready to go up against them, try to is see their weaknesses just go at it.

Q.  Coach Landers mentioned yesterday that they don't minding being aggressive, is that something you relish and what goes into playing a team that's aggressive and hard like that?
ANNA PRINS:  I think playing a team that is really aggressive, I did notice, too, they did a lot of trapping.  I think it's being able to attack pressure.
I think one thing we learned from the game, Gonzaga game, and they did a good job of pressuring us, trapping us.  I think just staying calm and not letting pressure rile you up, I think is really important, because that's what causes turnovers.  I guess focusing on the way that we play is going to be the most important thing to focus on.
CHELSEA POPPENS:  Like she said, I mean, Gonzaga did a really good job of putting pressure on us, and I'm sure Georgia will go about that same way, trying to put pressure on us and force us to make turnovers.
We had quite a few turnovers yesterday, and our goal is just to reduce that amount and have more poise and be able to better attack the basket.

Q.  Can you speak a bit of the experience of coming halfway across the country to try to get to play in the same place the following weekend?
CHELSEA POPPENS:¬† It's just a great experience to be able to like stick around the same place.¬† It's a great atmosphere and Gonzaga has great people.¬† We have been walking around town and everyone has been super friendly, super nice.¬† And just being able to ‑‑ just to be able to stay in the same place, it's a challenge.
At the same time, you've got to maintain like school while you're gone if you have to stay here and you have to be able to organize yourself and keep the goal at mind.
ANNA PRINS:  Yeah, it's a great experience.  I know a lot of us were excited when we found out we were coming here.  I don't think a lot of us have been to Spokane.  It's a gorgeous place.  Like Chelsea said, really nice people.
I think it does help to be able to continue in the same spot.  I don't know, I have just been enjoying the scenery.  I'm Colorado, and pretty similar with the mountains and stuff.  So it's nice to be back in kind of a familiar atmosphere as far as the scenery.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Fennelly, and he can maybe answer the same question we first started with:  Any more reactions from last night's game after looking at a little video?
COACH FENNELLY:  I mean, not a lot of sleep last night obviously for the coaches.  The way we do things is we want our players to enjoy the experience, and sometimes when you get in these events, the game ends and you're so focused on the next one.
So we told them:  Go to dinner, relax, enjoy themselves, watch the men's games.  We give them a scouting report that they could look at.  We haven't met with them yet because we wanted them to watch our men's game, enjoy that, and we will literally go over some stuff here in the gym and then watch some video when we get back.
But this experience is one that you talk so much about as a coach, as a player, administrator, fan, media, and if you don't enjoy it, it kind of goes away.  So we try and let them enjoy the win, it was a great environment, a great evening.  Everyone was into the game from the start, and one of those atmospheres that women's basketball needs more of, and it was fun to be a part of it last night.

Q.  What concerns you most about Georgia, the quick scouting report.
COACH FENNELLY:  The biggest things always with Andy's teams is they are extremely physical, one through five.  It's not just Hassel and Butler (ph) in the post.  Their guards are big, strong kids.  They attack the basket.  They are going to defend us like crazy.  You know, they are a team that doesn't shoot the three point shot a ton.  They drive the ball at you, points off turnovers.
You know, a Georgia team is a Georgia team.  The names change a little bit but the personality doesn't because of the way Andy coaches and the kind of kids he gets, but they are going to defend with great energy and they are going to deny all over the court.
You know, I thought Montana played them really hard.  You're going to have to make some shots, try to rebound the ball a little bit.  But their depth is a concern for us a little bit.  They played a lot of kids yesterday, and obviously we only played six.  For the most part our kids were tired, a lot of ice baths and stretching last night.
I don't know how much we'll get done in practice today, but the Georgia mind‑set, they are built for the SEC.¬† It's like every team is built for certain things, and Georgia is built for an SEC team, and Andy's teams are always the same way.¬† We have played them twice in the NCAA Tournament a long time ago; we lost to them in the Final Four, and then we lost to them a few years ago in Minneapolis.
So, tough to score against and you'd better rebound the ball.

Q.  Can you think of any current ties between the programs that you know of, players or anybody down the line?
COACH FENNELLY:¬† Shannon Becker, the trainer for Georgia, was my trainer with the USA team when we went to Australia, when we went to China with the World University Games team.¬† I think the game, I mentioned that we lost in to go to the Final Four, my defensive ‑‑ inaudible ‑‑ Kelly, Coco Miller, All‑Americans.¬† I think they both got about 30 on us.
And Georgia has recruited a little bit in the Midwest, so we see them.  They have recruited Minnesota.  Andy and his wife, Pam, are really nice people.  I have seen them on the Nike trip, and he and I both love Diet Mountain Dew.
He's just one of those characters that our sport has needed for a long time, but not a lot‑‑ we haven't played them much.¬† I think those are the only two times we've ever played them was in the Tournament.¬† But someone that we have known for a long, long time and someone who has done a great job of building a program.¬† You know, he's going into the Hall of Fame for a reason, that's not by accident.

Q.  How would you describe the difference between a team that's built for the SEC and maybe a team that's built for the Big12?
COACH FENNELLY:  That's a great question.  I think our league with the exception of a few teams, we don't see as many full court pressure defense.  The SEC is really going to get up into you and guard you a little bit more.  They are rebounders, drivers.
The scores, if you look at their scores historically, they are a little bit lower than ours.¬† I think our league is, offensively, we have been a little bit better top to bottom.¬† But I think that the other thing that I think you see over time in the SEC this year and the rosters I've seen, they have some great size.¬† They have a lot of kids 6‑2, 6‑3,6‑4, and our league doesn't have as much of that.
We have Brittney Griner which everyone talks about, but from a broad base of schools in our league, our league has become very guard‑oriented for the most part.¬† So we don't see that consistency and depth of size that the SEC will have.

Q.  We were talking last night briefly with Coach Landers about his early impressions of you.  He paid you a compliment and said he thinks this is one of the best teams you've had in a while.  Your response to that?
COACH FENNELLY:  I would agree.  I think it is one of our better teams.  We have been in seven straight NCAA Tournaments and that's a great thing, and I'm very proud of that.  I think there's only 13 schools that have done that.  But we haven't had a team that I thought realistically could go past one or two rounds of this tournament.
We are more balanced.¬† I think it's a team‑‑ it's been one of the most fun teams I've ever coached.¬† They are easy to manage.¬† They get along great.¬† They are enjoying everything about this experience.¬† And that makes it‑‑ coaching, I love my job, but sometimes you love it more than others and teams you love more than others.¬† You know, just like your kids I guess at times.
But this team has been really fun, and they have kept everyone loose, and I think everyone who is engaged with them have enjoyed being around them.¬† And I think it's not an accident that our team got to come to Spokane and to Gonzaga, because the people here are just like home, and they appreciate the kids, they are friendly, the fans.¬† I don't know how many people went out to dinner last night:¬† I'm not glad you won, but we like your team and everyone was really gracious until the men's team lost and then it became really a bad night‑‑ we've been there, believe me.
But it's been a team that's fun to coach, and I think we are probably a little more skilled than we have been in the past.

Q.  Speaking about the fun nature of this team, can you talk about Anna Prins' engagement?  That just seems like such a fun moment.
COACH FENNELLY:  Yeah, the Cliff Notes version of it was about two weeks before Christmas, Ryan, her boyfriend, now fiancée, came to my office and he said, "Coach, I have a favor to ask you."  And he said he wanted to propose and he wanted to do it on the court, because Anna's family was going to be there, and the basketball family, the extended family, her coming to Iowa State was a big part of her life and he wanted to share it with people.
So we decided to do it during our tournament and he gave me the ring before the game, and I was like a nervous wreck the whole time because I wanted to make sure‑‑ luckily, we played someone that we beat really easily and I wasn't even thinking about the game.
After the game was over, I just took the microphone and I think our fans thought we were just going to say happy new year to everyone, because it was December 30th.  And I said, "There's someone here that wants to do something," and he walked out.  And I turned around and I said to Pop, "She's going to say yes, isn't she?"  That would have been embarrassing.
But it was great.  I've never been a part of that, and I don't think I ever will.  He put a lot of pressure on the other boyfriends to come up with a way to propose.  But it was a special moment for their family and they were all there and the kids were a part of it.  It was very unique, fun.
THE MODERATOR:¬† You must have had to ask the seven‑foot father first; right?
COACH FENNELLY:¬† I would hope so.¬† You'd better ask the seven‑foot father.¬† Yes, he had it all cleared and he was ready to go and the whole family was there.¬† It was a neat moment, it really was, and it was neat that our fans got to see it.

Q.  You said you've gotten it done with one and a half guards in term of ball handling, but how have you gotten it done with six kids and such a thin bench?  Tell us about it.
COACH FENNELLY:  That's been hard, we've had to do some things, manage our minutes.  I think Pete Link, our strength coach, who is in his first full year, deserved a lot of credit for getting them ready.
We have been very smart, literally, since the second week in January in how much we practice.¬† Our practices are very, very short, to the point.¬† A lot of walk‑through, a lot of video, and you know, the kids that are playing understand they are going to play.¬† We have had to do some things defensively a little different to stay out of foul trouble, because obviously like last night, I think there's five minutes to go in the game, and Anna and Pop both get their fourth foul, so we have had to manage that a little bit.
But you know, it's a group that can handle the minutes, and it's just one of those things that, you know, I tell them all the time:  You're young, you're fine, you can do it.  They would rather play, anyway, and I think it's just the nature of our team.  I wish we had someone in the seventh or eighth spot, but right now, and for most of the year, we haven't, and tried to manage it.  There's been games it has hurt us, that's no question and that's a concern for tomorrow.  I think this time of year, Pat Riley, I play nine, (inaudible) eight, I trust seven, I believe in six, I'm going to throw the ball to five, I'm going to call plays for four, and we all kind of get to that point; your benches get a little shorter.
That was the other thing yesterday, the officials, like Bill, keep them on the bench.¬† The time‑outs are so damn long.¬† They get plenty of time to rest.¬† But seriously, the biggest thing is, manage your foul trouble and manage your practice, and I think we can get to the end.

Q.  Back to Anna Prins real quick.  You spoke after the Big12 tournament just how integral a role she played in your team's success.  Can you talk about her surge of late?
COACH FENNELLY:  Yeah, it's been one of those things, that I think a lot of us have been waiting for maybe.  She's playing like a senior.  She had two and a half games in the Big12 tournament as good as any player we've had here.  And she did it against Caroline Davis, Nicole Griffin and Brittney Griner, not bad players.
And just really played with a‑‑ and Anna is one of those kids that is very cerebral in her approach.¬† And she, I think, like she's mentioned many, many times to many of the media people at home is, I think she does realize that her career is about over, and she's just going out and playing.¬† And now as a coach, you're like, you couldn't figure that out when you were a sophomore, because a lot of them don't, and that's okay, too.
Pop has been the opposite at times.  She gets so nervous at being a senior, fearing the end is near, it's inhibited her play at times where it's kind of freed Anna up.  And I think the games in the Big12 tournament, we did get in foul trouble and Anna didn't, and played extended minutes and kind of had us on a roll.
But she's played very, very well in the postseason, and it's good for her to do that.  She's finally stayed healthy.  This is the first year she's been healthy all year, so it's neat to see her go out this way.  I think it's good for her and it's good for our team, certainly.

Q.  The Georgia loss in the Elite 8, does that stick with you ever?  Do you think about that again, or do those fade from your memory when you're that close?
COACH FENNELLY:  No, it never fades, never, never.  Think about it all the time.  There are certain things in life, they are always in your head, some things are good and some things are bad, and you know, there's a lot of those games that I think that's what makes coaching so great and what drives people crazy is you can't let it go.
And I think if you do let it go, you're in the wrong profession.  You shouldn't let it go.  It shouldn't haunt you or make you miserable, but I think it should motivate you and keep you grounded or whatever you want to say.
There's many times I've thought about that and a few other things.  And especially when you're that close, you know, to something.  We have beaten Connecticut and that's surprised some people and then you're 40 minutes away from going to the Final Four and then you get beat.  No, I don't forget those things.  I wish I could.  I'm not very good at that.  I'm not very good at a lot of things and that's one of them.

Q.  You mentioned kind of Pop is sometimes uptight.  They have been playing well lately.  Is there anything you say heading into this game so they play free and loose or that you've said to past teams that you think might help?
COACH FENNELLY:  I don't know, there are some things that have been said and done that probably can't be repeated in the public and to be honest with you, Kidd and Maddie have kind of become the things that they do and say and think and whatever.
It's like yesterday we walked out of the locker room and one of the nice people in the hallway said:  "If loose is good, you're in good shape."  It's a loose group.  It really is.  They really are, and I think that's good.  There's a lot of things that I have to do to stay out of the way, and I think a lot of times, when you get to this point, you want things to go so well for them that you make it worse for them.
So I think they have had the ability to do that, and we have met a little bit less, so we have kind of tried to‑‑ because sometimes, you can just give them information overload and it's just like, come on.¬† You overcoach it, you overdo it, and I think we have tried to take the other approach; and, look, here are two or three things that we have to think about and do, and the rest of it, let's go compete and somebody make a shot at the right time.
That's what this tournament is about.¬† And especially in a one‑day turnaround, you could be meeting all last night‑‑ whatever.¬† I don't think that's going to work.¬† And I don't think, again, they get to enjoy it as much.¬† They have got a scouting report under their door before they went to bed last night and the first time we will talk about Georgia will be in about 20 minutes.
And it's the coach's job to get them ready, and it's their job to absorb it.  We'll practice, we'll have a short film session, meet tomorrow and let's go play.  Some teams, that's not a good idea, but this team, that's the best way to manage it, and they have taught me that, I haven't taught them that, they have taught me that and we have just followed their lead.

Q.  So many coaches talk about having seniors and leaders as an extension of themselves on the court.  With two seniors that start and obviously a third on the team, can you talk about that dynamic?
COACH FENNELLY:¬† Our seniors have been really good.¬† I think it's very important, and I talked, at length, ad nauseam about being an Iowa State senior.¬† I'm a very senior‑oriented person, they are on all of our posters, all of our media stuff.¬† They understand the Iowa State way.¬† There's a way we do things at Iowa State; not saying it's right or wrong, but there's a way we do them, and those kids have to translate that to the group.
I tell every single senior when I meet with them at the beginning of the year:¬† Your goal is to leave a piece of you behind.¬† You want to be remembered for who you are as a player, and as a person.¬† People will‑‑ there are seniors that people still talk about at Iowa State, there are some former players.¬† We want them to be those kind of people and then teach the others, and I think they have done that.
Obviously Pop and Anna on the court have done a great job.  Amanda Zimmerman is a phenomenal teammate, has not played much, but the people on that bus and in the locker room know how much they have meant to the team.
We would not have gotten here without the dynamic on and off the court work of those three kids.

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