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March 24, 2013

Anne Marie Armstrong

Jasmine Hassell

Andy Landers


Q.  How do you feel carrying over the defense to Monday night's game?
ANNE MARIE ARMSTRONG:   We played well.  Our main focus is coming out hard on defense and pressuring them.  I think we did a good job of it the second half, coming out and staying composed and just staying with that pressure, and I think it eventually got to them about midway through the second half.
JASMINE HASSELL:  I totally agree with Anne Marie.  We came out and executed our game plan as far as playing defensive pressure and using that.

Q.  JJ, think you can carry that over to Monday?
JASMINE JAMES:  I just think that the way we played yesterday was great, defensively and offensively, and it's important for us to be able to carry that over into our game tomorrow, so I feel like that's definitely a good start.

Q.  JJ, what stands out when you take a look at Iowa State this morning?
JASMINE JAMES:  One thing that I would say stands out is their size and the way that they go about using it.  I mean, they have players who have had pretty good height but as well can step out and shoot it.  They shoot the ball very well.  So more than anything, I just would say probably their size and their ability to shoot the ball.

Q.  You saw the number of turnovers that Gonzaga was able to force on Iowa State; do you think that you guys will have a similar ability to hassle them like Gonzaga did?
JASMINE JAMES:  It's definitely a focus of ours, every night we go out on to the court, to remove (ph) the other team as much as possible and to try to cause as many turnovers as possible, so that will definitely be a focus of ours.  Not because of what Gonzaga did, but just because that's what we do.  So we are definitely going to go out and pressure the ball and continue to play great defense like we have been.

Q.  I know all three of you will be playing in your ninth NCAA game, if you can just talk a little about that experience from the last few years.
ANNE MARIE ARMSTRONG:  Just the legacy of the Georgia program and what Coach Landers has done here going into the NCAA Tournament, and then when we get there, just one game at a time.  Every game is important, and we learned that last year; you just can't take any game for granted, and you just have to show up as well prepared for the game you're playing as you're going to show up for the next one.
JASMINE HASSELL:¬† I totally agree with Anne Marie.¬† Just being grateful to go to the second round and do what we need to do and not taking it for granted, and just focusing on what we need to do game‑in and game‑out.
JASMINE JAMES:  I think the experience is definitely a good thing to have but it doesn't mean much if you don't really use it.
So I think that one of the things that will be important is that we continue to play and continue to practice, that we utilize the experience that we have and we continue to talk up the younger players and we continue to keep our team motivated and we continue to be ready to go.

Q.¬† Last night‑‑ (inaudible) had the sprained ankle coming into the season, how tough was it to deal with that and was it a long recovery process?
ANNE MARIE ARMSTRONG:  Last night the biggest thing was just the frustration with it, just coming in ready for senior year and just felt like I was really prepared and just set me back a little bit.  I think I'm definitely 100% ready now.  I think the biggest part is just the mental aspect and not being able to do things the way that I had the year before and just finally getting back in the groove.

Q.¬† And obviously‑‑ (inaudible) leg injury, not sure what it was, did you offer any advice?¬† Seems kind of like a perfect thing a senior with a freshman?
ANNE MARIE ARMSTRONG:  I think the biggest thing is just your attitude.  You know, you've just got to stay positive, and she's fought through it and she's had a really good attitude towards it.  She comes to practice and she's still struggling with her injury, and she still wants to do the sprints the same shape.  And I think that's just the way she's approaching her injury and just the attitude she has really helped her out.

Q.  For the forward, what's going to be the key to keeping Iowa State off of the line where they are just killing people on the free throw line?  Try to be tough and pressure them and also to stay out of foul trouble?
JASMINE HASSELL:¬† Some has to do with them but also has to do with our defense.¬† You have to play good defense to help with the guards pressuring the ball and making it hard for the injury‑‑ just playing smart and being the aggressive and not fouling, like you said.¬† Just play hard.
ANNE MARIE ARMSTRONG:¬† I would say with the four out, one in set, totally pressuring‑‑ I just blanked out.¬† No. 55, the 6‑7 girl, does a really good job of reading for the next pass.¬† So just pressuring her as much as possible and not let being her use I guess her height as she does half of the court.

Q.  Does Iowa State remind you of anyone that you've seen in SEC play or do you see any similarities between them and teams that you've played before, and what can you draw from that?
JASMINE JAMES:  Yeah, I think that when we look at Iowa State, you just kind of see bits and pieces from every team in the SEC almost.  It's not like one certain team.
So I wouldn't say that it's really anything that we haven't seen before as far as match‑ups and defensive schemes and things like that.¬† But I definitely can't just pick one particular team.¬† They definitely have pieces, bits and pieces from several different teams.

Q.¬† I know they are 14‑19 inside the paint and made 52 percent for the game; any that strikes you, what you saw in the SEC, great shooting teams like that?
ANNE MARIE ARMSTRONG:  I would say just the post playing SEC, really physical and I think that's something that we can relate to.  Kelsey Bone (ph) shoots really well from the floor, Bashaara Graves (ph), people like that are used to banging in the post and shooting high percentage and I think that's something that we can relate to as a team.

Q.  You and Iowa State played in the '99 regional final and you guys won.  Do you remember much of that game and anything that stands out about that matchup?
COACH LANDERS:  Actually, I do, and I don't have great recall on a lot of games but I do remember that game, because I think any time you have a player who lights someone up like Kelly Miller did that night, it sticks.
Iowa State, then, played almost entirely match‑up zone, and Kelly Miller, who was a great player for us, scored over 2000 points‑‑ I forget the total, do you know?¬† Was it in the 30s?¬† 33, yeah.¬† She was terrific.¬† She moved around the perimeter and really did a great job of finding the open areas and catching and shooting.
And you know, it made it just really difficult for them defensively, and I remember it, because I was so concerned about it going in.  They did such a good job with that zone.  And you know, Kelly pretty much punched our ticket to the Final Four that night.

Q.  You said yesterday that the height stuck out, you had not watched a lot of video yet.  Having seen more stuff, what besides the height sticks out to you about this Iowa State team?
COACH LANDERS:¬† Well, things that don't really surprise me, you know, Anne Marie made mention of something that probably goes unnoticed by casual observers.¬† The thing that‑‑ let me start over.
They orchestrate well what they want to do.  Billy has always done a terrific, terrific job of coaching his teams, and this team is certainly no exception.  It's well thought out, it's well schemed and it's well executed, and it's well called by him at appropriate times to take what he thinks the defense is going to give up next.  They really do a good job of that and their team executes very, very well.  They don't rattle very easily.
Then I would go to this:  You can have great sets and great schemes, but players understanding how to best capitalize at the end of the day is what makes them successful.
Anne Marie alluded to something a moment ago that is so important that probably would go unnoticed by a lot of people.  Most players, when they have the ball, are looking at something and seeing yes or no with the next pass.  Iowa State is looking at that going, yes.  It might not be yes, I can make this pass to Chelsea in the post, but it's, yes, if I pass the ball over here, Chelsea is going to be wide open.
They do a great job of reading the defense in the post and then moving the ball right or left to the correct person who has the assist that's going in.  They are really, really good at doing that.  They play within themselves.  They don't take bad shots.  The shooters shoot.  The schemes, they do what they need to do with their schemes, screen, cut, to get their shooters those shots.  But they always have the interior option with the post up regardless of whether you defended that cut that might lead to a three or not; well, they have a second option they are going to.  The point play is very, very good.
It's very, very difficult.  I've coached a long time, and told our team last night when we were watching some film, it's hard to wrap your head around 220 assists.  You look at a stat sheet and you look at an assist column, and it's three digits.  And it's not one hundred, it's 200.  So she understands her role and performs is very well.
So there has to be‑‑ that has to be addressed as best we can.¬† But it's a complete basketball team with parts within it that can be moved around to different positions.¬† So they create a lot of problems or a lot of challenges for you defensively.

Q.  Going back to Merritt Hempe, you said barring her injury this season, she might have been a starter at this point.  Can you talk about just having to deal with the injury, how she's progressed and do you envision playing her tomorrow?
COACH LANDERS:¬† Well, here's the downside of the injury.¬† I've said forever, fall is important to a basketball team.¬† Preseason practices is where, what, 70 percent of what you're going to be, develops.¬† It's where you become what you're going to be during the season.¬† And when a freshman misses it‑‑ it pains me greatly when a freshman misses a day of practice, because I tell them, you miss a day, it's like you're missing a week.¬† It's tough.
Juniors, seniors, I tell them, if you don't know what we're doing by now, you weren't going to play, anyway.  (Laughter).  But for a freshman, there's just so much on their plate; and to think that she missed weeks.
You know, she's playing on her own abilities.  She's  playing with what she brought from high school.  She isn't playing with what we were able to give her and develop in her.  So that's a setback.  There needs to be a continued development of physicality, of aggressiveness, of a mental toughness.
You know, she's trained and to some extent, she's okay with it, but it's not where we want it to be.¬† It's not where Cobi is, it's not where Tiaria is.¬† And it's simply because‑‑ it's not her fault and it's not my fault; if you're not there, we can't do anything with it.
To the point, tomorrow, she always has something to give.  You know, I think her size tomorrow, obviously could be important to us.  Her rebounding ability to be important to us.  And the great thing about her, one of the great things about her, and the fact that she wants to contribute something, will be a great benefit tomorrow.
You know, she's one of those kids that give us depth, and going into tomorrow's game, that could be an asset because typically Iowa State does not play a lot of people.  And we tend to play nine or ten.

Q.  Bill was asked earlier about the differences between the Big12 and the SEC, just the leagues and how they prepare you for the postseason.  What are the biggest differences that you see that might kind of be a pendulum swing in the game in that sense?
COACH LANDERS:¬† Well, you know, I don't know that either team has a real advantage simply because both of those conferences are very, very competitive, and both of those conferences‑‑ and this is‑‑ until you've walked in their shoes and had to deal with this game in and game out, you can't appreciate the next statement; I'm really sincere when I say this, being honest.
Those teams in those two conferences are so well coached, you're challenged every time you prepare your team.  I suspect Billy is out there tweaking something right now, changing something, putting a wrinkle into something.  We're going to go out there in a few minutes and do the same thing, because I'm confident that Iowa State will be ready for what we like to do.  And I'm confident that we will be ready for what they like to do.
Those are the leagues that we play in that challenge you in that regard.  You have to do that.  If you don't, then you're going to run into teams that are just better prepared than you are and your team is going to be at a disadvantage.  And I'm sure I speak for Billy and me on this, neither one of us want our teams to be at a disadvantage.
But from a competitive standpoint, Big12 is very, very good, Southeastern Conference is very, very good, very good with athletes, very, very good with outstanding individual players and both leagues are very well coached.

Q.¬† Following up more specifically what he was asking, Bill was trying to say that their conference was more offensive‑oriented and he thought the SEC was tougher defense and tougher in general.¬† Do you feel that way?
COACH LANDERS:¬† Well, I really can't speak like Billy can to his conference, but I can speak to our conference.¬† Our conference is very defensive‑oriented.¬† We play some ugly games in our league.¬† We play some games that's hard as a coach to get through, because of it.
The scouting is over the top, the preparation and then the defense that people go out and put into play with the knowledge that they have of their opponents, it makes us very much a defensive league.  And as far as the toughness piece, you just have to be tough.  You don't have a choice.  If you're not tough, then our league will grind you down.

Q.¬† Browsing the schedules, you both play in real tough conferences, and this year, at least, non‑conference, like Iowa State, you didn't schedule real tough.¬† What's your scheduling philosophy on how to approach that when you're in a tough league like that?
COACH LANDERS:  Well, you know, it's not the league necessarily that drives it.  We know what we are going to get with the league and we know we have no control over the scheduling.
Our schedule this year, we thought we had built really the perfect schedule for the team that we were going to have.¬† We have been short‑handed the last three or four years.¬† We have been very thin.
We've played‑‑ you know, JJ played more minutes than anybody in the conference in the last three years.¬† We played over time games where she played 45 minutes.¬† We've had a number of‑‑ in games, a year, two years ago, we've had players in our starting lineup, three players that played 40 minutes, one player played 38 minutes.¬† We've been thin.
And with this freshman class coming in, we felt it was important to build a schedule where we could get them on the court in games and get them game experience and get them to a point where when we got to the conference, they could help us solve that depth problem.
And I think we've been successful with that.  I would say this:  We thought where we were disappointed with our schedule, we thought a couple of those teams would be better.  Georgia Tech has been a Top 15 team; this year, they were not.  Rutgers is a Top 15 team; this year, they were not.  TCU traditionally is a very, very good basketball team, and this year, they struggled a little bit.
So we had some games on there that still yet challenged us, really.  But over the course of the season, their seasons probably did not go like they traditionally have gone in years past.

Q.  You have a matchup Spokane will really enjoy.
COACH LANDERS:¬† I think it will be a great basketball game, I really do.¬† I think to see if‑‑ there's a part of me, and coming from our league, all of the things that we just talked about and defense being the focus and all that kind of stuff, it's not going to surprise me if it's that kind of game, but it really isn't going to surprise me if it's not, it's going to be interesting.

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