March 9, 2005
An Interview With:
JIM MILLER: We'll begin with opening comments from Coach Tomey.
COACH TOMEY: Well, we drew who we thought was the best team in the conference throughout the year, and probably the toughest match-up for us. They're big people, have a lot of size, obviously have size, but they're also very active and very athletic, and over the course of a long game, we're just not big enough to really hang with them for 40 minutes around that basket, and that's where they really hurt us, off put-backs and direct post-feeds and lobs, a valiant effort by Lindsey and the other kids. We have to hang in there and battle them, but it's a tough match-up for us.
I commend our kids, we came out at halftime, talked about cutting the game to 10 by the ten-minute mark, and to their credit, they came out and that's exactly what they did. We had the game to I think it was 55-44, and we missed some opportunities off the press.
We got a team that plays hard. We've competed extremely hard over the last six, seven games. We hate to end our season with a loss like this, but we commended them and told them how much we appreciated our players for the effort they've given us over the second half of the season.
Hats off to New Mexico, they're a class team, they've got a lot of parts, a lot of working parts. You can see a great fan base. They will go far in this tournament and maybe in the NCAA.
Q. Lindsey, Dionne Marsh goes out with two fouls in the first half and four in the second half and supposedly that's a good thing. Was it kind of deflating to see Shetters come in and play so well?
Lindsey Casey: Any of their posts are all big, so when you see one go out with fouls, it's really no better for another one to come in because it's just that much harder.
We play really well inside, even their bench players, so it's not really one of those things where they got fouls, she's out, we've got a chance to relax. You almost have to play even harder when the bench posts come in, so I guess no.
Q. Michelle, can you talk about the importance to add size in this program? You have guards who kind of were able to pressure and do some test to contest, but can you talk about the need that you have to get bigger if you're going to compete with these people?
Michelle Strawberry: I think it's very important for us to add size because our tallest player is around 6'2''. What really hurt us so when they lobbed it into the post; that our guards were so small that they can shoot over us. I think for this program to be successful we're going to need some size. Our guards did a pretty good job of trying to avoid them passing into the post, but size is really a key factor when they're 6'4" shooting over a 5'10" guard. I think size will be a factor because it's tough to handle.
JIM MILLER: Questions for Coach Tomey?
Q. That seems to obviously have been your toughest situation, trying to get size. You've signed one kid, you might have others coming, but what's been your experience since you've switched from the men's side in terms of how many really good players there are with size, and is it a situation where the really good ones are going to go to the top programs anyway and they're difficult to find? Why is it tough to find at this point size?
COACH TOMEY: Well, the players with length that are really good tend to drift towards the top 30 programs in the country. There are other players with length who aren't necessarily as talented and are kids that you're going to have to work with. We've got a 6'4" kid coming in this up and coming recruiting class, and we've got another 6'4" player on campus tomorrow with her parents. We know we need to address that need, but to just go out and say there's one that's going to make an impact immediately, over the last two years, we just haven't had it. We haven't seen it, or we've lost out on a couple to programs that had a little higher profile than we had when we took over.
We feel like we've put a core of kids in there -- for most of this game you looked at sophomores and freshmen playing out on the floor. We think we got a core that we can work with. We're going to add six players to this squad, and I think we've addressed the needs that we have. We need more quickness and we've got two extremely quick guards coming in, and we need size. We've signed a 6'2" and a 6'4'' kid, and I think we're going to sign another one.
It's about building. I mean, New Mexico has been here for many years now. I feel like we're just getting started. We need to continue to grow and work with our players and keep adding to the roster. We need to add good people who can play.
Q. Can you address in general the growth of the league as you've seen it since you've been a head coach as far as the balance of some of these other teams that are playing in the tournament and how difficult the league has become? Talk about that.
COACH TOMEY: Well, it's very competitive basketball. It was competitive when we got here. There were two or three teams making the NCAA tournament the first year. You've got Utah and New Mexico who have been at the top the three years that I've been here, and that hasn't changed. They're still the best two teams in the conference. And I think everyone else is catching up. Air Force and us, despite our record, we're an improved team. The last six games of our league, you know, if you look at the results and if you went to the games, you saw a team that was in most of those games from start to finish.
This team in particular has handled us and hammered us three times, and I think I've addressed why that happens. It's a solid league. It's a solid women's basketball league, and we're going to need to improve our roster in order to compete and get to the upper tier of the league. But it's certainly doable and it's a realistic goal, but it's going to take some time and it's going to take players. So that's where we're headed.
Q. Did you feel this game was kind of maybe a microcosm of the season? You said on Monday that you were worried about the team's shooting but you thought you'd be able to force turnovers. Both those things happened. I was just hoping you could address that.
COACH TOMEY: Yeah, we've seen this game before, but a lot of it has to do, I think, with our lack of size. They scored early in this game by pushing it inside, and we had a game plan to try and prevent that from happening. Sometimes it's just not enough. You can get there and put the double on and they're still going over you.
We have had difficulty shooting this year. If we shoot another three, four percentage points higher on the season, we probably add four or five victories to our total. We've also been a team that's been depleted and hurt throughout the year. I know that happens to a lot of teams, but it happened seriously to us, in particular early, when we're trying to build a team and put a team together and gain confidence with a team. When you lose your two best players, one for the season and another for eight games in the non-league, you've been working with a team for six weeks and then all of a sudden you're working with kids that you didn't really see as impact players.
So I think there's a combination of a lot of things, but shooting has been an issue for us. We don't turn the ball over a lot. We play extremely hard. We defend. I think we do as good a job as we can rebounding. We get out of rebounding a lot because we miss a lot of shots. There's just more rebounds for the opponent to get, and then when you add the size to that, it makes for problems.
These are things that we've got to address, we've got to get better at and continue to build on.
JIM MILLER: Thanks, Coach.
An Interview With:
JIM MILLER: Okay, we'll begin with opening comments from New Mexico coach Don Flanagan.
COACH FLANAGAN: First of all, I thought San Diego State played a tough game, never gave up. Played hard for 40 minutes. We want to congratulate them. They played very hard.
Everything was contested, passing lanes, position. They played extremely hard. We just shot pretty well. We tried to keep the floor spaced so that we could get opportunities on one-on-one situations, reversing the ball and setting lots of screens. They were switching lots of screens so every time we set a screen we'd dive. That seemed to work a little bit, and I thought our pressure defense started to allow them to not run their offense as effectively as they wanted to.
JIM MILLER: We'll open it up for questions for the student athletes. As I said, identify yourself and media outlet, and we'll let you go ahead and make questions for the student athletes.
Q. Jenny, obviously this isn't the last game for you, but how does it feel to have a game like this to kind of go out on as a senior?
Jenny Shetters: I think everybody wants to end their career on a high note. I have struggled a little bit in the past, and I've finally, I think, learned to just let everything go and just play basketball. It's not really that hard. It's a game that's supposed to be fun.
So I'm really glad that I started off the tournament on a high note, not just for me, but for my team to dominate the way we did in the first game. I think it was really important.
Q. Dionne, you got in foul trouble early and then you got in foul trouble early again. Were you beginning to think your debut was going to have a five-minute spurt?
COACH FLANAGAN: I was kind of surprised, but most of my fouls were offensive today, so I guess I wasn't being more careful with what I needed to do.
I was a little surprised. I usually don't foul too much during the games, but I ended up doing pretty well and we still won, so that's all that matters.
Q. Mandi, can you talk about the next game, either Wyoming or UNLV? Can you talk about those match-ups and what that means for y'all?
Mandi Moore: I don't know if this is on. As far as -- they're both tough teams. We're going to have to play well no matter who wins. They just came off of playing Wyoming and they played us tough in third place. We started off the tournament on a pretty good note, and I think that we're only going to play better from here.
I don't guess it really matters who we get matched up with. I think we probably match up a little bit better with Wyoming, but I think we're ready to play either.
JIM MILLER: We'll go ahead and open it up for questions for Coach Flanagan.
Q. Don, is it fair to say that if you were worried about Dionne's foul trouble that Jenny pretty much took care of it?
COACH FLANAGAN: Yeah, you know, I was a little concerned with replacing the five position. It's not a position that we have a great deal of depth in. Don't ask me why I went to Jenny, but I did, and she responded right away and scored right away, and I'm really happy for her. This year has been a little bit of a struggle for her, and I think if she can play this tournament well, I think she's going to feel like this was a terrific success this year for her. She struggled a little bit about confidence, not with ability, and I'm happy to be her be successful.
Q. I think 24 of your 31 were from within three feet, so you obviously did a great job spacing and getting those one-on-ones. You assumed you had match-up issues that you could exploit in there, but did it happen even better than you might have thought?
COACH FLANAGAN: I thought it was going to be a closer game. I thought it was going to be pretty close.
Spacing was an issue that we talked about. We wanted to -- and I think we made a couple adjustments that hurt them a little bit, but as far as pressuring the ball and pressure in passing lanes, I think San Diego State does that better than anyone else. At least that game there, we did a great job, and I have to compliment our players because under that pressure I thought we were pretty effective. We were trying to get one-on-one match-ups down low and get the ball in, and sometimes you hurt your passers when you do that. We turned it over too much. We needed to reverse the ball a little better. I kept sending people in and they kept doing a nice job of moving without the ball and getting open opportunities.
Late in the clock we were looking inside.
Q. Just to follow up, I believe you did go to Jana first when Dionne got her second. Did you just feel maybe Jenny was the answer?
COACH FLANAGAN: Jana and Lindsey both were a little bit jumpy. They seemed to be -- something about their footwork scared me a little bit. They were trying to be a little bit too quick, and that appeared to me to be a little bit of nervousness and maybe a little bit of anxiousness. Jenny seemed relaxed. She probably figured I'm not going to play, I'll just sit back here and relax, and I gave her an opportunity and she went in and played relaxed and did a very nice job.
JIM MILLER: Thanks, Coach.