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Feb. 24, 2013
Penn State Head Coach Coquese WashingtonQ: What did you think of getting Wolfe out on the floor and what was behind that decision?
A: Well, we had to get clearance from the doctors to be out there for 30seconds. This senior class has gone through a lot, and she had earned and deserved the opportunity to wear her uniform one last time. It was senior night, Pink Zone. She is as much of a key as the rest of them, even though she hasn't played this year. So, there was no way we weren't going to try and find a way for her to be on the court today.
Q: Ariel made the three when the shot clock and then Tori gets the block on the other end and made the shot. How big of a turning point was that stretch?
A: It was a huge shot. They were making a run--making a push. In the second half, we never really got in the rhythm especially on the defensive end of the floor. They were making a push and that three-point shot was big, and then we came back with the big stop. That kind of gave our team a lot of confidence and momentum. After that point with 5.5 minutes left in the game, it gave us a lot of confidence and momentum to finish the game.
Q: What does it say about your senior class to win back-to-back Big Ten titles?
A: They have meant so much to this program. Their faith and their belief in Penn State has been tremendous. This class said "yes" to Penn State when we were in the midst of the worst period of Lady Lion basketball. It takes a lot of faith and trust and confidence to want to come put a program on your back and on your shoulders. These five ladies did that. They said they would change the program, the expectations, the culture, the change that people think about Lady Lion basketball across the country. And, they did that. I'm happy for them that they did that. The goals, visions and dreams they had as athletes--they fulfilled those. Just as important, the goals, visions and dreams they had as students and women and how they were going to grow and become women of impact--they accomplished that as well. When you look out and see the impact our Pink Zone game has on people's lives. This year, we weren't going to have senior day on Pink Zone day. But, they wanted to share this moment with the community and all the people that support our and our dreams. That's who I am proud of--those women who are going to leave here as Penn Staters and will continue to make this university so proud of them.
Q: Talk about the home schedule.
A: We try to win every game. We don't have a thought to pretext our home court. We want to play well every single night. When we play in the BJC, we have an added advantage. We have great fans, and they are going to give us great energy. You see, these girls, they love to be theatrical. It's great. They want to win every game. We are pleased we have come in this season night in and night out and put our best effort in and be one with our fans and be "one team". This year you leave a Lady Lion game; you leave with a smile on your face.
Q: Talk about the defense in the first half.
A: I can talk about the defense in the first half, because the second half was a little less pleasing to the eye. The first half, we did a good job of getting in them. They missed some shots and had some open looks the first half, and they didn't knock them down. But we rebounded those balls and got in transition. The second half we didn't do as good of a job. But senior day is always a really emotional day. It's like Forrest Gump--you never know what team you're going to get. You throw the ball up and you see what team you got. I was pleasantly surprised in the first half, and then the second half, as we were getting closer to the end of the game, the emotions start to come into play. It's one of those nights with a lot of emotions, and you just have to ride it out. You just have to see what happens. We had some good performances off the bench from Ariel Edwards and Tori and those guys helped us.
Q: Could you tell a difference with the emotions of the seniors coming into play?
A: You know, it's not just the seniors either. The seniors certainly have more, but their teammates want it for them so badly. They want to play well for the seniors so badly. Sometimes when you want something so badly and it's there for someone else to take it, you can work too hard and not just relax and be your normal self. We had moments and flashes of it out there. But when it came down to the end of the game--five, six minutes--we became Lady Lion basketball.
Q: How crucial was it to get off to a hot start offensively?
A: It was big getting off to a good start. It certainly helped. It put Michigan in a spot to make adjustments. It gave our team a lot of confidence. Obviously the breathing room helped. So, it was good.
Q: The first play of the game, it looked like Nikki was looking for Marisa. Did you draw it up to get Marisa a couple of points?
A: No, we didn't draw it up. We knew Marissa had about 37-38 seconds on the court before she was going to pass out, so it was like whatever happens in those 30-40 seconds--roll with it. We just wanted her to get out there for a few seconds.
#20 Alex BentleyQ: Could your last game at the Jordan Center have gone any better?
A: I was very proud of how my teammates played throughout the entire game. We are our worst critics and we wanted to play better, but who cares, we won, which is all that matters. I am really proud of my teammates.
Q: What was the atmosphere like for you guys today, especially with the Pink Zone?
A: It was amazing. I always tell people that the Pink Zone is my favorite game of the year just because of the crowd and the atmosphere is amazing. Obviously, tonight was even more special with senior night and clinching the Big Ten so it was all exciting.
Q: Alex, what was it like to be on the court with your fellow senior class to start the game?
A: It was amazing. (Marisa Wolfe) hasn't played all year and I think it was amazing that she got to step on the court and go out like an amazing senior. I'm glad that she got in and I'm glad that Gizelle got her (playing time) and we just had fun out there tonight.
Q: Can you reflect on what the Jordan Center has meant to you for your time here?
A: The BJC is like our second home, we might as well live here. It has meant a lot. I am just glad as to how we went out. This game was awesome and I'm just really excited. I just love my teammates.
#33 Maggie LucasQ: How do you motivate yourself after the game has gotten really close like it did in the 2nd half?
A: I think that you can't get it all back in one possession, it came down to good team defense and I think we got a few critical stops. Teams are going to go on runs, we knew they were going to go on a run, they have great shooters, and they are a great basketball team. It was just going to be on us to weather their run and play our style down at the end.
Q: Maggie, what does it mean to you guys to back up your Big Ten title from last year?
A: It means a lot. We also went undefeated at home and it's always nice to protect our home court. We are going to miss these seniors and we just want to keep it going as long as possible because I don't want my last game to be with these seniors anytime soon. We just want to keep battling and keep getting better.
#24 Mia NicksonQ: Now that you have played your last basketball game at home, can you just reflect on your time here and what you have built at the Jordan Center?
A: I think that when we reflect, we came in with a vision, Coquese's vision, and we all came in with the same thoughts of getting the program back to where it was. I think we all bought into it and worked really hard. The pieces just kept adding and we kept working hard, kept listening, things like that. It has worked out so far, but there are still things that we want to accomplish and there are things that the program wants to accomplish.
Q: Can you reflect on what the Jordan Center has meant to you for your time here?
A: It has meant a lot, we just love playing here. I think from our freshman year all the way to now, the more support that we have gotten, the better we have been at home. The fans are great. People are coming to our games and the marketing department has been great getting people to our games. Students have been coming to our games, it is just amazing, and we really feed off of it. We were in a little bit of a lull today, but the fans still kept clapping and standing up, that just changed the whole momentum of the game I felt like. Our fans are amazing, and that's why we like to protect it and win for you guys.
Q: Mia, can you talk a little bit about what the emotion was like prior to this ballgame?
A: Yes, the emotions were good. I think we were just really excited. We know that we still have games to win; it's not the end all. We were definitely excited for senior day and also Pink Zone; it's a great way to end out the home season. It was great for Gizelle's family to come from California to see her play for the first time at the BJC. We had family from all over the place come in. I think the emotions were really good.
Q: What did it mean for you to see your fellow co-captain get on the floor even if it was just for 30 seconds to start the game?
A: It meant a lot. Me and Marissa both started out as forwards and she kind of drifted up to a three guard. We both battled since the day we stepped on campus. We have been in the post, in workouts, things like that. The fact that she was able to play after everything she has been through is amazing and I loved it and I love her.
Michigan Coach Kim Barnes-AricoOpening Statement: Well I think anytime you start the game the way we started, it's hard to come back against a top team in the country and I believe that they are a top team. They have incredible balance, they have incredible depth, and you know it's hard to stop one kid because another player will make a play. Ariel Edwards obviously hit a really, really big shot for them when we kind of had them on the ropes so I think they are really great team. I thought we were able to cut it but we could never get over the hump but we started the game and that was partially due to obviously their pressure and playing here but you can't come out of the gates like that and expect to beat a top 10 team.
Q: After you got it to four, where do you think it got away from you?
A: I thought we turned the ball over a bit. We missed the front end of a one and one and they made two. That was really big. I think we might have had a shot clock violation or a poor shot late and like I said I think we held them for a long period of time and Edwards made a big shot. I don't know if that was consecutively, I'm just speaking off the top of my head, but I knew that we drew a foul and missed the front end of a one and one and then they came down and made two free throws. That really hurts. And then they got a couple of good defensive stops and then they made some plays, we just didn't make the plays.
Q: Any particular reason you guys shot so poorly in the first half?
A: Golly, if you could figure it out, help me. Let me know. Geez, I don't know. I mean what do you do as a coach? You just sit there and go, "Holy cow" because there was pressure to get the ball up the floor but I thought our looks were pretty good looks. I thought a couple of them went ba-bing-bing and out, ba-bing-bing and then out, but sometimes (and I think this happened to us the other night against Nebraska) once you start missing like that, your kids get tighter and tighter and tighter and tighter. And tonight, unlike the other night, we were able to play through it and get out of it but I could not figure out why we weren't making those baskets early but I mean obviously we booked ourselves a little bit of a hole and it was difficult to recover from.
Q: What did you think of Thompson's effort? And did the threes that she hit at the end of the first half give you a little bit of a lift?
A: She couldn't hit an open one in the first half and then she hits that one to end the first half. And I Was like, "Oh, okay, good maybe that's a sign." Um, she's hit some crazy shots like that all year long so I really wasn't super surprised but it was shocking to me how she could make that difficult one but she missed five prior to that, that were pretty open. But that was definitely a momentum builder. I think it gave her a little bit of confidence as a shooter. The other night against Nebraska, she was 2-17 and this is a kid who was leading the country in three pointers made, so that was really an off night for us. She hadn't had a night like that all year and then to start tonight and miss your first five or 1-8 or whatever she was, I'm sure mentally she was struggling a little bit. So maybe throwing up that bomb at half court at half time kind of helped her confidence a little bit.
Q: Coach, is this your first visit to Penn State?
A: Actually, my first trip to the NCAA tournament in 2005, this is when they had multiple teams at a site; Connecticut was here, so they were here with us as well. We played Cal in the first round and then we played Maryland, who wound up winning the National Championship that year. So this is my second trip but first one since the Big Ten and it was an unbelievable crowd today, unbelievable experience. Yeah, I mean, Penn State runs a first class operation and for Women's Basketball to have the attendance that they did, to have the fan support. I mean when we had that run, I thought the fans might have made a couple of calls down that stretch. Or, at least the referees couldn't hear what was going on or maybe couldn't see. But I'm not allowed to say anything bad about the referees so they were tremendous. But there were a couple of calls once the fans got into it that I thought could have probably gone either way. So having an incredible fan base like that definitely makes a difference. It was a great atmosphere...for a women's college basketball game for sure.
Q: Coach, you have this tough stretch of Nebraska and Penn State. What do you build on going into the last week?
A: Golly, we better finish strong. Um, you know, I just think that it sets the bar and hopefully our kids see that if you want to be at the top of our conference, this is where we need to be. And to play those two teams back-to-back, I think going into the tail end of our season and going into the tournament, it really shows our kids, "Okay, this is where we are, and this is where they are, and we're not that far away, but being close and winning those games are two different things." So we obviously want to work on improving in the next couple of weeks and give ourselves the opportunity to finish our season strong.