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March 31, 2013

Sharane Campbell

Sherri Coale

Joanna McFarland


Tennessee – 74
Oklahoma – 59

THE MODERATOR:  We're now joined by coach Sherri Coale from Oklahoma.  Coach, your thoughts about this afternoon's game.
COACH COALE:  First of all, I just want to congratulate a very, very good Tennessee team.  I thought they played extraordinarily well today.  First half they really made a bunch of baskets early, kind of punched us right at the beginning.
But I am incredibly proud of our basketball team.  Thought the final five minutes of the game they just fought with a passion and spirit that defines our program.
Even though we didn't win the game, the season is over, I could not be more proud of a group of kids.
These guys have done amazing things this season against really unbelievable odds.  To lose Mo in the first nine minutes of the game, a kid that plays 40 minutes for us, to survive, hang around, keep fighting, just depicts the character of this team.
I have loved coaching them and I am so sad that I don't get to coach them tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for our student‑athletes.

Q.  Joanna, you seem pretty emotional.  Can you talk about what the last few weeks have been like for you and the emotions you were feeling as the final seconds ticked off.
JOANNA McFARLAND:  Well, it's always sad at the end of something.  This is just the end of a part of my life.  This team means so much to me that it was really sad.
But I'm looking forward to the future and I know this team's going to be great next year.

Q.  Sharane and Joanna, if you could talk about the offensive struggles today.
SHARANE CAMPBELL:  I mean, you can't stop shooting because the ball's not going in.  You got to keep trying.  I mean, you just got to keep trying.  That's what we did.
I mean, eventually we started making shots.  But by that time, it was too late.
JOANNA McFARLAND:  We did everything right execution‑wise.  We got open shots.  They just weren't falling.  I don't know if you could call it nerves or a different backdrop, I don't know.  But sometimes the ball just doesn't go in the basket.
We did everything we possibly could.  It just wasn't our night shooting.

Q.  Joanna, you were so excited to get to come home.  Can you talk about the atmosphere.
JOANNA McFARLAND:  It was amazing.  Just running out on the court and hearing people scream and yell for us, that was really, really awesome.  I think just coming home and playing my last game, our last game of the season at home, was really special and it's something we'll cherish.

Q.  When Morgan had to go out of the game, how did that affect you guys in the immediate aftermath of that, emotionally and on the court?
SHARANE CAMPBELL:  You got to find a way.  I mean, that's the only answer.  You can't panic.  We still had basically the whole first and second half to go.  I mean, if anything, play hard for her.  She doesn't want you to feel sad, dig a hole just because we're emotional.
You just got to play through it.
JOANNA McFARLAND:  Yeah, Morgan is our point guard, she plays, like coach said, almost 40 minutes a game.  She's kind of the floor leader, gets us in the offense and everything.  We kind of missed that.
At the same time we had Jasmine.  She's a fifth‑year senior and can run the offense just as well.
It was kind of both ways, just a different feel in the game with Jasmine in, but at the same time, we trusted her completely.  It wasn't that much of a...

Q.  With all the ups and downs of the season, the emotion after the game, did you hear the ovation your crowd gave you at the end of the game?
JOANNA McFARLAND:  It was really, really special.  I really appreciate them all staying and cheering and everything.  It means a lot to be appreciated for what we've done this year.
SHARANE CAMPBELL:  Yeah, I agree.  It was just great.  My first Sweet 16 and I got to come home and, you know, just see this crowd.  It was just an amazing feeling.  I want to do it again.  I am going to do it again.  We're going to do it again, so...

Q.  Joanna, last time we talked about Tennessee you said they were really quick.  Was tonight different from last time?  Has anything changed?  Did they just seem like the same team?
JOANNA McFARLAND:  Well, I think at first they had a couple quick transition baskets, and I think it kind of shocked us a little bit.
We stopped their transition.  I don't think it was the quickness so much.  We got a little uptight, wound up, and I think that's what really affected our offense.

Q.  Joanna, if Baylor wins this second game, you know Baylor's post as well as anybody, you went against the Tennessee post today, can you give us a comparison between those two post players?
JOANNA McFARLAND:  Obviously Baylor has the size advantage.  I don't know.  I think it's going to be a physical game between the two of them.  They're similar in some ways, but very different in a lot of ways.
I think Tennessee is probably quicker.  Baylor, it's hard to get around Brittney.

Q.  Joanna, obviously disappointing to have it end this way, but is this a thing where it may take you a little time to appreciate what you've been able to accomplish?
JOANNA McFARLAND:  Uhm, probably a little bit.  We've kind of across the year taken a step back and, Okay, we're doing something special right now.  But at the end I guess now, it might take us a little while just to really bask in what we've accomplished.

Q.  Joanna, if one of your younger teammates comes to you in the next few days and says, I want to make the kind of jump you made in your career, what would you tell them?
JOANNA McFARLAND:  First of all, I'd tell them to get in the gym and work, because that was a big part of it.  But also just to play free and to play to have no regrets because that's the way I played this season.

Q.  What do you see from this team next year?  Do you think a game like you had today, Sharane, can catapult you toward doing this kind of thing box score‑wise next year?
JOANNA McFARLAND:  We're going to be great next year.  The league is going to be somewhere where they could win the league, I think.  They're only losing one starter and they're going to get a lot of people back.  They're going to be a force to be reckoned with next year.  They're going to be really good.
SHARANE CAMPBELL:  Well, I feel like I can make an impact.  This game alone has taught me a lot, just this one game.  I mean, after the game, I realized these seniors taught me something.  Whitney Hand taught me how to be a leader on the court.  Lyndsey taught me how to play with emotion.  Jo taught me how to be tough, crash, rebound, want the ball.  Jazz taught me how to love defense.
I just learnt all these things from these seniors.  I'm going to be a junior, but I'm going to show all my teammates that we can do this.  I'm going to take this role as being one of the leaders and try to bring us back here, bring us further.
I think next year is going to be great.  I can't wait.
THE MODERATOR:  Ladies, congratulations on a great season.  We'll now take questions for Coach Coale.

Q.  Could you talk about the impact Kamiko Williams of Tennessee had on the game.
COACH COALE:  Big, strong guard.  Gives us a matchup problem.  Try to keep Sharane on Simmons because she's a prolific scorer, that puts Vegas on Kamiko, which is a bad thing size‑wise.
Great athlete, good rebounder, really strong defender, hard to get around, plays really hard.  Yeah, she impacted it in a variety of ways.

Q.  Right now, is it hard to embrace don't cry now but be happy because it happened?
COACH COALE:  Not really.  When you're proud of your kids and they did everything you asked them to do, not really.  I would love to be going to New Orleans to play in the Final Four.  The thing that makes me most sad is we don't have practice tomorrow.  I don't get to be around them in the same environment together that we've been in up to this point.
That's sad, but at the same time, wow, what a ride they took us all on.  They were unbelievable.  I got to be a part of that, so...
No, not that hard.

Q.  Sharane's game was inspiring, how she played.  I know she's given you so many tough minutes throughout the year.  When you think about what she could provide for you, you have to be pretty optimistic about her coming back and leading this team next year.
COACH COALE:  You know as inspiring as her play was for 40 minutes tonight, I think that little speech she just gave might have been more so.  Now you see how we were able to do this.  They get it.  She'll be back for two more years.

Q.  This game and this tournament, the emotions run so high.  Close games, emotions peak at the end.  This got away from you early.  Can you describe how you manage your emotions during a game when it's clear early on that it's not your night.
COACH COALE:  Well, that's the difference.  You thought it got away from us and it was over early and I had to manage my emotions.  I didn't.  I didn't think it was over.  With four minutes left, I thought, Stranger things have happened, let's go make some baskets.  You're in the moment.
This team has done incredible things this year in the face of situations where most people would just succumb and say, All right, let's get 'em next time.  Not these guys.
As their leader, I don't get to do that either.  We just played a possession‑by‑possession game.  You think in a minute, those shots Vegas was getting, they would go.  They did go eventually, just too little too late.

Q.  Could you talk about when you lost Morgan, what that did in terms of putting all the pressure on Jazz.
COACH COALE:  Yeah, that was one of those where you're like, Really?  Seriously?  After everything, now we're going to drop another one right here in the Sweet 16?
I had a feeling when Morgan hit the floor it might be a concussion because she hit really hard.
Fortunately Jazz has experience leading the basketball team, though most of the season when she has subbed in, she's not subbed in as point guard, she's played anything from 2 that 4.  Morgan plays 38 to 40 minutes a game.  There was a lot of pressure on Jazz.  I thought she handled herself really well.  What hurt us worse was Tennessee changing defense.
I was really proud of her.  I thought she fought like crazy and defended and rebounded and did all the things we asked her to do.

Q.  Talk about the senior class, the legacy they're going to leave here.
COACH COALE:  Well, we have on our locker room door in every entrance, Leave your story better than you found it.  It's what we challenge our kids to do, every single class that comes through.  That's your charge.
We've had some pretty special people and some pretty special classes at the University of Oklahoma.  That gets to be a rather daunting task after a while.  You leave your story better than you found it.  Most of them find a pretty good story these days.
These four kids did.  The fiber of who we are, the character that they displayed, their belief, their trust, their faith, admiration in one another is off the charts.
All things that are good they left us.

Q.  It's a really young post crew for Tennessee, but they're developing quickly.  How would you gauge them, specifically Burdick and Harrison?
COACH COALE:  Really, really good tonight.  Really good from the high post.  Really athletic.  Have perimeter skills as well as great length.  They gave us trouble.  Against the zone, they make good decisions.  Against the man, they were very physical.
I thought they were really good.

Q.  Even though Morgan left the game, she seemed to stay in it emotionally.  Can you talk about her on the bench after her injury.
COACH COALE:  I'm sorry, I was into the game and I didn't really pay attention.
I expect her to be in the game.  She's a leader, she's a captain.  It's what she does.  I know she was incredibly dizzy.  I know she was capable of doing what she was supposed to do.

Q.  It seemed like you had a lot of momentum when you came out of the locker room.  Can you talk about the adjustments you made at the half?
COACH COALE:  I think we were a little bit like a boxer who got stunned in the first half, disoriented, shaky, we lost Mo.  They popped us pretty good.  For a little bit there they were shooting 85%.  Like seriously?
But then we steadied them at halftime, talked about having been there before, having come back from behind before, made a little adjust on ball screen coverage, talked about establishing Nic in the post.  I thought she came out and performed as a different kid in the second half.
You know, we had ourselves right there.  Would love to know how the story might be different had we made a couple of those open shots early in the second half.  We got stops.  Crowd was behind us.  We got exactly the looks that we wanted and they just didn't go in, two or three of them, all the way into the bottom of the basket and back out.
It takes life from you when you have those, especially when you're behind, and they don't go down.  Yet we battled, continued, we just couldn't dig ourselves out of the hole we put ourselves in early.

Q.  Considering the narrative of this season as a whole, it didn't end up the way you wanted it to, did this team climb every step to the ladder?
COACH COALE:  You know what, they did and then some.  The way I feel about these kids will fill me for years.  The young guys who got to see the examples set by the senior class, what a gift they've been given.  Whitney and Lyndsey were absolutely unbelievable this year.
They're two guys that they don't get to play any more, they show up every day, they stay invested.  That is so hard.  The easiest thing to do is just seal up, maybe be there, but not really be there.  Those two guys were all in every day.
I know that left a gaping, open wound inside their heart, and they did it anyway.  Those kids they did it for, they know.  They'll be forever indebted.
Now they'll treat their future teammates in the same manner.  They know what it means to be right.  Preach it all you want, but until kids feel it, it's hard to get it done.  That's the gift the senior class gave these guys.
Did we climb up the ladder?  Yeah, I think we did.

Q.  Can you talk about what it was like going against Holly, how she does or doesn't resemble Pat Summitt?
COACH COALE:  I don't think they look a thing alike (laughter).  Thank goodness I wasn't going one‑on‑one against Holly.  I'm a little irritated I didn't get any asks on where would I be on the one‑on‑one tournament.
Here is what Holly has done.  Honestly, what a tough job.  Seriously, do you want to follow Pat Summitt?
Holly has put her personality on that team.  She jumps around the sidelines, has a lot of energy, passion, yet she's fun, has some humor wound up in all that.  I think her team is feeding off that.  I told her that at halfcourt, what a difficult position, yet what a fantastic job she had done with this team.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thank you very much for your comments.
COACH COALE:  Thank you.

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