2010 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship First Round press conference quotes: Lamar
March 20, 2010
One of the statements I make every year is I haven't scored any points or got any rebounds or had any assists or steals. It's all about your players, and I've been able to get some great players at Lamar. That's why we're 26-7 and won the Southland Conference regular season and tournament time.
Jenna, interesting matchup at the point guard with you being the player of the year in your conference and ranking highly in a lot of categories. Sarah Miles is considered one of the top point guards in the Big East. What did you see in looking at tape of her? What impresses you about her?
West Virginia says where Sarah goes, they go. Could the same be said of your team? As Jenna goes, Lamar goes?
How scary is their defense? Especially for you, Jenna, how hard will it be to break it down?
Kalis, coming from Sweden, how much did you know about the NCAA Tournament before you came here?
KALIS LOYD: Not too much. I know it's a big deal here. Home in Sweden, we don't hear about it that much. It's exciting for me to be a part of it.
What's the experience been like for you so far?
For the players, obviously, you guys probably playing the role of the little engine that could, hopefully. How do you guys-- have you guys embraced that role trying to win in this game and this regional?
Ashley, what gives you confidence?
The UConn coach said, if there's one team that would worry him, it would be this West Virginia squad. When hearing something like that, do you guys-- does it make you nervous about playing these guys, or does it make you motivated and excited for the challenge?
Did you talk to some of the players from the '91 playoffs when they actually beat Texas in four games here?
Do you think Austin could be managed again?
We've drawn from that. I know some of the players from that-- and as a matter of fact, we had Al Barber, who was the coach, come in and speak to our time before one of the games, and he was fantastic. But to have a run like that is one of those storybook finishes. I mean, it was unbelievable what they did. You've got to give them a lot of credit. They did it.
And we're here. Going to play one game at a time. I'm very confident in our players, and I know playing West Virginia, Mike Carey is a very good friend of mine. We've done a lot of basketball clinics together. We share a lot of stuff, and playing Mike is a privilege. I mean, to come and play somebody that's ranked No.10 in the country, plays in the Big East, and has played UConn really, really hard in a lot of stretches.
So being that, but I think Jenna says it best. The thing that we really do is we concentrate on what we can do with Lamar Lady Cardinal basketball. We're an up tempo team. We try to push it, and we try to run. West Virginia runs a great switching defense. We've got to be able to read the floor, but with our four out, one in, that's what we do. We try to do a lot of reads. That's what we're going to try to do against them.
The whole key to this game will be rebounding. We can't get outrun unless we rebound.
I was wondering if you could tell me, when Jenna transferred in, how long-- I mean, we see the points in the three-pointers. How long did it take her to fit in with the team, transferring player, and what does she bring to the team beyond those statistics? You know, the intangibles.
She brings the experience that we really lacked because a lot of us have not been here or played at as high of a level. So I think she brought that to us and brought kind of a confidence to our team that we didn't have before. So when she plays hard and she's confident and kind of spreads across the team, I guess we all feed off of it.
Larry, Mike was saying you all weren't friends until after the game tomorrow night.
This is his ninth NCAA Tournament, I believe. It's his fourth? Fourth in nine years. Okay. But I know he has a lot of great experience and he's done a lot of great things here. We're friends. We'll be good rivals during the game, but after that, it's all cool.
Jenna and Ashley, this West Virginia team, who do they remind you of that you've played?
But the bigness, we played against Griner. She's a handful. But you've got a 6'4" kid. You've got the 6'5" coming off the bench. Ali, I think, is one of the better players in the entire country that might not be noticed as much, but, boy, she is a beast. She's a great player.
Do you have anyone over 6 feet?
Kalis, you're from Sweden. How long have you been here?
Where did your accent go?
What part of Sweden?
Where is that in relation to the rest of the country?
How did you end up at Beaumont?
How do you feel a kid from Beaumont is almost like a kid from Sweden?
I mean, it was even a tough deal for Jenna because Jenna is nine hours from home, and she has to make that drive to go home to see her parents and her nieces and nephews and things. But for Kalis to come this way, and then we get her over here, and then the NCAA rules that she needed one more core course. So she had to sit a year. Oh, yeah. We were real happy about that.
One more course?
It's been a unique experience for us to come back this year with three new faces like we have, and then Darika and Tra have taken it to another level. Getting it across, we have a girl from France on our team. Next year we have a girl signed from Peru and one from Australia. So we'll be a little bit of an international flavor.
Do they like Cajun?
THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for the student-athletes? We'll let them go. Thank you.
Coach, were you aware of Sarah Miles in high school?
What were your impressions?
We got our conference attendance up to around-- what is it, Dave, around 1,400 or so the last four or five games? We've got a buzz going on down there, and the Lady Cardinals are pretty special. But as I do recruiting, I'm going to do the very first thing, I'm going to recruit the Golden Triangle and Houston. Those are the only two areas that I can recruit who knows who Lamar is.
They're starting to know a little bit more about us, but I'm going to recruit junior college, and I'm going to recruit internationally. On a scale of 1 to 10 on high school kids, I'm not going to get the 8s, 9s, and 10s. They're going to go to conference USA. They're going to go to Big 12, SEC. I tell them I'm like Motel 6. I'll leave the light on for them if they want to come home.
Got one from Nebraska last year who transferred in, and she'll be with us next year. She's a really good player, but she's from our area.
But on high school kids right now, I signed a couple of them last year, and they're really nice players. But on the typical year, I'm not going to get a great high school player. You're going to have to get some junior college players who can help you and some international players who you go over and work clinics, and you get to know all the coaches and things like that. You get your confidence, and they all want to come over and live the American dream of playing in an NCAA Tournament and playing division I basketball.
Can you just talk about Jenna's move, your program. She was in need of a lifeline. You guys gave her one. She's had such a great season. I think I read in the Statesman--
But one of my hobbies that I do, I try to help 25 to 30 coaches, young coaches a year get jobs. And comes to find out, one of her mentors, who I didn't even know was her mentor, I helped get the job at Howard Payne university because I had a couple of friends, board of regents or ADs or something like that, so I helped him get a job. Not knowing that he even knew Jenna, and then when Jenna had this come up and it was late-- I think it got down to us, UTEP, and Louisville. He knew me, and I'd helped him. So it just fell in our favor.
It took us a year for me and her to-- we've always gotten along, but for us to get on the same page as far as like workouts and stuff. She was so intense. I really would. I'd have to send her to the rec to play against guys because I'm trying to get stuff to help that team win. You know, we won 20 last year. So it evolved into a great situation.
But the thing that's changed about Jenna-- and she's always been a good kid, but now she's a role model. I mean, she works with a couple of little dribblers teams. She teaches basketball to little kids. I mean, like 7, 8, 9-year-old girls. And, you know, we take pictures of them, and some of them are already taller than her. But what is that old saying? It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. And that's what she brings to us is just a great competitor and a great person.
Is that something, you know, like working with the kids, is that something you encouraged her to do?
I don't know if you heard the story of the 3-year-old boy we adopted, Lane Hoffpauir. He's been a very inspirational person to our team that we draw energy from. He's a 3-year-old boy that he had to have a bone marrow transplant, and he's had over 100 blood transfusions and he's only-- he's now 4. And we had a Lane Hoffpauir day at our Montagne. We called it Lane in the Montagne, biggest crowd of the year. That give our kids so much energy that we've really gone from that.
And then we have a saying called hold the rope. We'll hold the rope for each other. So it's been a great season. It's been a good story, season 2, because we've had a lot of positive things come out of that. One of the things I'm very proud of, I've been there, this will be my third year. We've had eight graduate on time, and we'll have four more graduate on time this year because we raise a lot of money to pay for summer school. They did not pay for summer school before my arrival, and I think that's very important when you recruit and you have proof that you will graduate.
And also our GPA is right at 3.0, and I'm very proud of that because, when I took over, I think we had one of the worst GPAs, is that correct? On campus, men or women. We've raised the level of what people think of our program, our image is very good. And any time we go somewhere, we look good. We go first class. And I'll finally end it with that. You're only as good as your administration wants you to be. I have a great president in Dr. Jimmy Simmons, and I have a great athletic director in Billy Tubbs. Very fortunate to work with those two men.
Jenna was saying earlier that Billy Tubbs has been really good to her. She didn't remember that he coached in Oklahoma.
Then I had a lot of international coaches that come over and sit in on our practices and will come in and stay a week, go over game plans. I'm all about sharing. And then one of the Belgium coaches was at that same one, but he was a camper in the clinic. So it's pretty cool.
Coach, I hear you talk about all the success, you've had a tremendous amount of success in a short period of time, great academic success. With that success, obviously you've become a big name with other coaching teams and other coaching opportunities out there. Do you embrace that? Do you want to be a great success and have your name out there, or is that a big distraction?
It took me 33 years to get a division I coaching job. A lot of that was by choice because I was at Baylor and TCU, and I like the aspect of recruiting and being the assistant coach and things along that line. I'm a very loyal guy. I've had talks with administrators, and I think some really good things are going to happen for me at Lamar University, and I hope I'm able to have a long run at Lamar University, and that's what I really would like to do.
But having my name out there, that's good because it makes you smile a little bit, and it makes you feel appreciated. But then again, I go in and look across at Kalis Loyd's parents in Sweden, and I'm saying, I'm going to see your daughter graduate. And you have the trust of them to come all that way. I'm pretty intent on seeing it happen.
Guys, I got a real good girl from France who tore her ACL this year or would be starting for us now. She's the best on ball defender I've ever seen.
Where did you find her?
Where is she from?
But I'm all about the LU, and I'm very proud to be from Lamar University. Yes, sir.
A player like Jenna, I guess her story coming up from high school, being like a hero to the locals, coming from a small school in Oklahoma. When things don't work out and she transfers, is it kind of 50-50? You're not quite sure it's going to work out? Or were you pretty confident she'd really fit in?
Boy, you talk about a competitor. Oh, my word, in practices and everything, but that transition year when she didn't get to play, there's a lot of frustration from her part because, I mean, she wants to win. I mean, she wants to win in horse, she wants to win in layups. When she's shooting, she doesn't want to miss a shot. But that's rubbed off on this team.
And I have a lot of the same competitive stuff. I'm a little bit more low key on that stuff, but Jenna's brought the dynamics to this team that has made us very successful and made us, you know, in our league very successful. But as far as knowing it would work, I knew it would work because she had a good heart and she was competitive. And when you have those two things, you can really-- the thing that I decided I would do with her-- and we had a long talk about it-- is I said, okay. I just took out of my pocket, I said, here's the keys to the bus. Drive it.
And I don't limit her. She has a green light on anything just about she wants to do. On inbounds play-- this started going back. I'm an old guy, of course. Terry Bradshaw and those type of dynamic quarterbacks, they all called their own plays, and they all ran what they wanted to do. See, I'm a big believer in that that you have a feel for the game out there. I'll call some sets. I'll call a few plays maybe out of a time-out or whatever. But I let her run it.
I mean, you've got to determine-- and I use this-- you've got to determine. You've got to have a general, and you've got to have some soldiers. She's a general, and we let her dictate, and we know what our roles are. We know we're going to get the ball to Darika Hill, and we know we're going to get the ball to Kalis Loyd. We know those three things, and the ball will be in Jenna's hands.
And the rest of those guys are soldiers. They'd better set picks, and they'd better rebound, and they'd better defend.
Mike Carey's team uses man-to-man defense. When you see this West Virginia team, what impresses you?
But their man defense is tenacious, and it's physical. Like I told our girls, I said, you know, I've been in this tournament a few times before, and they're going to call-- the way they call the game is they're going to call it to the higher seed, and I mean the way the higher seed plays, and I've been through a bunch of them. I have no problem with it. I says, when they get physical and bust you in the mouth and knock you on the floor, there had better not be any complaints because this is what's coming, and you better bow up, and you better be ready to do the same.
But it's going to be a physical game. And if we don't play physical, then we're in for a long night. We're in for a long night. But you go back to that man to man, he's one of the best at it, and I'm going to tell you, Miles and Ali and, gosh, number 21 escapes the name-- I just go by numbers-- but she is tremendous. I mean, and Repella shoots it well. He's like me. He plays about eight, seven or eight. That's about it. And we're all in shape at this point, and we're going to see how it turns out. It will be interesting.