NCAA Women's Basketball First Round Practice Day Quotes - Wichita State
March 22, 2014
2014 NCAA Division I women's basketball championship
First Round · News Conference Day
NEWS CONFERENCE QUOTES - Wichita State
Jody Adams, Wichita State Head Coach:
Q: What is your impression of Penn State?
A: They are big. They have a great player in Maggie [Lucas], a little general at point guard. They have a good supporting cast, young off the bench, solid team, great tradition, great tradition.
Q: You mentioned that they are big. Have you faced teams with that kind of size, and what kind of things do you guys need to solve?
A: Obviously they are going to try to go inside on us. I mean Maggie [Lucas] is going to get her shots. She is going to play a lot of minutes so she is going to get her 20 to 25 attempts, whatever she needs to do. You know, the bigs, it is a pretty black and white thing. We don't have a 6'5" [player], so we have different defensive packages that we will use throughout this game, and we will look to make them uncomfortable and take uncomfortable shots, low percentage shots from the twos and the threes, and with all the defensive packages that we have worked on throughout the season. It's just not our game plan for Penn State who has been fortunate to play with size throughout, so we are familiar. We are just probably not familiar with the depth of bigs that come off the bench, but we are going to continue to do what we have done well for the majority of the season, and that is to play great defense. We just need to be able to finish our defensive plays with a great box out, not give them second and third shots at the rim.
Q: Does having this game basically be a true road game effect your preparation at all?
A: No, I mean we just go about things as usual. We are pretty day-to-day. Obviously being in the NCAAs, this is only the second time in the history of the program. This is going to be tradition at some point in time down the road here for Wichita State. So we are starting tradition. So, that is very different. If you have ever been a part of tradition, and playing at Tennessee, I get tradition. So that's what we are doing here at Wichita State, but again, we came to play, we came to compete, and between the lines we play to win. So preparation will be different? Absolutely not, we go about our business.
Q: You are in your second year, as you just touched on. What did you learn last year that will help you this year in your first round game?
A: You know I would even go further than that. I would go back to Murray State, and being at Murray State as the head coach there, and it being our first year in the NCAA Tournament. So, this is my third trip. I am looking back at all three trips going into this one, and somehow I am sticking to my guns a little bit more. I am not making as many changes to try to match. We are matched up with whom we are matched up with. Our kids are confident in our certain style of play. So, we are going to stick to what they are confident with, but there are some things that I thought that we have done in the past, whether it was last year's game against Texas A&M, taking quick shots and maybe not high percentage shots. We are really going to focus on being patient against their defense and taking high percentage shots, they know their goals and what a high percentage shot is for them. We like to be more patient.
Q: How do you prepare your team for the NCAA Tournament having not really been through it before?
A: This is our second time. Now, I lost six seniors last year. So, I only have one senior that starts for us. We are not as blessed as Penn State that has several seniors' start for them. The experience and tradition is very different, comparing two different programs. But the preparation, you spend a lot of time teaching because at some point and time again when these players are alums, they are going to come back and share these experiences, and they are going to share their expectations. We do not want to be Wichita State that shows up at the NCAAs for one game. We want to be the one that carries deep, and so having players being here for the second time, that is huge for a program. Tradition is being built, and they will come back and share with current players what it's like, and gaining expectations of winning at NCAA Tournament.
Q: Your assistant coach Dana Eikenberg played at Penn State, has she shared any of those experiences here at Penn State with any of your players?
A: You know, I think it is more of with her. You know, Dana and I played against each other actually in 1991. They were No. 1 and we were No. 5 and they came to Tennessee and I hate to tell you who won, but I bet you can figure that out. But actually more about the school and University, where she was and she has a great relationship with her kids so they are curious about that, where she lived. We went to the creamery last night; we ate at the Tavern last night. So, it's just some traditional things for student-athletes on campus. You know, any questions they may have. Our kids play for coaches that have been here and done that, so they get it everyday. It's something that they're taught, every move they make on and off the court they have the expectation of a Division I athlete and a Division I athlete that competes for championships and the expectations off the court, in the classroom and in the community. So with Bridgette Gordon, one of the best players in the country on this staff, they hear from the best everyday. Dana Eikenberg, Kirk Crawford, they can hound him on multiple sports. I am blessed with such a wonderful staff, so winning ways; they're fueled with that every day to the point now it's basically in their DNA.
Q: Dana Eikenberg is also the President and CEO of Reinvent1. How much do you think that leadership stems from the tradition that she saw here at Penn State when she was a player?
A: I think Rene (Portland) does a great job developing leaders. And I know Bridgette Gordon played for her on one of the U.S. teams so Rene was a great leader and a great mentor. So there's no doubt that everyone you work for and every place you've been, you take a little bit of that person and implement it in your philosophy and I'm sure Dana has done that with Rene.
Q: You had a little rough patch towards the end of the season after a long winning streak. What did you do to get things turned back around?
A: Thanks for pointing that out [laughter]. You know what, this is pretty simple, but I'm going to tell you how I feel. We got tired. You know a lot of teams get tired but we don't play a large number, we have about eight or nine when it comes to depth. I thought we had two significant players with pretty tough injuries, one of them played through torn cartilage. I think we got tired and no matter what you want to do during that time, we want to teach, implement this and implement that and it was just like this, didn't want it, didn't take it. So, I finally just got to a point because I know what my kids need. They're tough kids but they also need tough coaching. That's what makes this team so gritty and that's what makes them play so hard. But I think physically and mentally they got tired. But I drew a line in the sand; I think it was probably after the Southern Illinois loss that we were about as low as you can get. We got by the bottom and I said you all have to make a choice, do you want to play like this or play like this. So we showed clips, we showed clips from the first part when we were winning by 20 and 30. It's hard to teach while we're winning like that, and we couldn't teach while we were winning so that was difficult. And you know I thought we were tired and weren't teaching then but they had a team meeting after I talked to them and they decided what I showed them on film; do you want to be this team or do you want to be this team. And this team was lazy, they weren't up on their toes, they weren't playing with excitement and fire. So that's the best way I can describe it. I thought we'd work out of it after a couple of games, we didn't. So, I said I would leave them alone and that was me coaching soft which was a poor mistake on my part and I just got back to coaching hard. Here it is, you have a choice, and you make it. But, this is how I'm going to be. And they chose to get back to doing what we do well and that is playing great defense.
Q: Do you see any advantage or disadvantage to playing last week as opposed to Penn State who hasn't played in two weeks?
A: I think you can look at it a lot of different ways. You know obviously that's something everybody throws out but you know we just finished last weekend and now we are playing here next weekend when everyone else has two weeks off, bodies recover. So I guess there are pros and cons. Some people probably don't like taking two weeks off. I wish we probably finished a little earlier but would I want two weeks off without competition? No, but would I love to have it for bodies, and just your bodies to heal a little bit and minds to be rested, sure. But you know this is the hand you're dealt. You don't always get to pick things that you love and that is what we teach our players. You don't always get to pick. So, here we are and we will fight and compete.
Jamillah Bonner, Wichita State #5, Position: Guard
Q: Your men's team is also in the tournament; have you been in contact with them and discussed the goals and what to expect for an NCAA tournament?
A: No. Not really, I wish.
Q: How do you feel like you guys are playing?
A: I feel like we are playing good. We could be better. It's going to be better tomorrow. We are here to win and execute the right game plan. We are going to play hard and play good defense.
Alex Harden, Wichita State #24, Position: Guard/Forward
Q: How do you guys feel going into this game? What have you been working on since the end of your conference tournament and now?
A: I would say the time off gave us time to execute and to tighten everything up and to get our defensive executions locked in for this game.
Q: Can you talk about the emotional rollercoaster you guys have been on for the past few days and winning your conference's tournament to get you here?
A: I would say our emotions are high coming off of a tournament win, but then you have to realize it is just another game. We have to show them that we are here for a reason. We are here to win. We have come ready to play and with all our tools and all our armor.
LOCKER ROOM QUOTES - Wichita State
Alex Harden, Wichita State #24, Position: Guard/Forward
Q: What have you been working on this week heading into the NCAA Tournament?
A: After we found out we were matched up with Penn State it was just being able to adjust to their height. It's something that we don't have and something that we are going to have to learn how to fight. We are going to have to just use our quickness to get around them.
Q: What did you learn from the NCAA Tournament last year that you're taking into this year?
A: Games can swing quickly. So the biggest thing is when you see something happening, you have to figure out a way to get it done. You need to move the ball around a little bit more, go inside, go outside, figure out way to get stops, and go from there.
Q: Do you think you have an advantage or a disadvantage with only having a week off as compared to Penn State's two?
A: I would have to say that's an advantage because nothing is like game experience. Just playing a week ago is better than waiting two weeks off. We are fresh, ready and playing with confidence. We are ready to play them.
Q: What is it like being back in Happy Valley?
A: Every time I've been back [to Penn State], it's been awesome. To come back with Wichita State as a Shocker into the NCAA tournament, which is something as a player and a coach that you work hard for, it makes it extra special to come back home to a place that I called home. But, to come back as a Shocker and be one of 64 is really special.
Q: How has the Penn State tradition stuck with you as you transitioned from a player to a coach?
A: What we do at Wichita State, there's a combination. Jody [Adams] and Bridgette [Gordon] have obviously played under a very traditional-oriented program at Tennessee. What Jody's done with the Shocker program, it has evolved into the atmosphere of what Tennessee does. Me, personally as a coach, I have a little bit of background of my coaching staff at Penn State: Annie Troyan, Rene Portland and Dan Durkin, and the details, emphasis and passion that they put in the game. So in my own personal coaching, I have a little bit of Penn State. More so at Wichita it's the Tennessee way.
Q: What is Reinvent1?
A: When I stepped away from coaching in 2009, I saw that there was a need for the development of young coaches into leaders and strong communicators. Primarily based out of some of the difficulties and struggles I personally had faced in my career that I felt like I needed to be some sort of liaison to young coaches. This gave me a healthier perspective on coaching. Caring for the individual [player] sometimes becomes a lot more important than winning ball games.
Q: What do you credit Wichita State's success over the last couple of years to?
A: I think Wichita State's success is solely based upon what Jody [Adams] has brought to the program. She has given the program an injection of passion and energy. She's done a tremendous job of getting the right recruits. The administrative group at Wichita State has done a tremendous job of supporting change, because change is sometimes very difficult. Her leadership style, her ability to put people in the right positions, and the guidance from her assistants has also helped her build the program.
Q: How have you helped counsel your players since you are familiar with Penn State?
A: Fortunately throughout the years, the last couple of years, we've had experiences at Oklahoma, at K-State, so we've played in some of these big venues on the road versus some of these phenomenal programs with great tradition. Our group has an understanding. We know we are going into a hostile environment with a great crowd, who love their Lady Lions. I think the biggest thing we have to give them as the staff is confidence and reassurance that no matter what happens we are going to keep playing the Shocker way. We are going to leave it all out there on the line.
Q: Penn State marketing manager Kathy Drysdale was a big part of your time at Penn State. Is this a reunion of sorts?
A: Kathy Phillips, now Drysdale, texted me about 30 minutes after the screen popped up that we would be here. Of course she gave me a `looking forward to seeing you' bit, but of course I thought that she was reading me a line of BS. And then Frank Gardinia, who used to be in the sports information program when we were here, made a comment on Facebook. I made a complement to Susan Robinson at the time, and Kathy [Drysdale] took it a little personal because I said I had great people around me, and I didn't mention Kathy [Drysdale]. Kathy [Drysdale] was my roommate for four years, and I probably wouldn't have been able to survive it [Penn State] without her. Together we probably helped each other through a lot of things. And, being a point guard-post tandem, it was a pretty good deal. I love my teammates. I loved my time here at Penn State. I had some of the most diverse, talented women around me. I know it is part of who I am today because of them.