Third Round Notes and Quotes: Mississippi vs. Oklahoma Post-gameÂMarch 25, 2007Â

Notes

The attendance for todays session is 9,023.

Todays attendance is the highest for any single-session of the NCAA Womens Tournament this season (First and Second Rounds as well as Regionals).

Todays attendance is the second largest ever to watch a NCAA Womens Tournament game at UD Arena. UD Arena has been the site of two previous NCAA Womens Regionals (1998 and 2003). The 2003 Regional Semifinals drew 9,552 (Connecticut vs. Boston College & Purdue vs. Notre Dame).

Ole Miss

With three steals in the first half senior Armintie Price joins Cheryl Miller as the only two players in NCAA history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists and 400 steals in a career. Coming into todays game, Price led the NCAA in steals per game at 3.8. Ole Miss will make their first Regional Final appearance since 1992 and it will be their fifth overall trip to a Regional Final. For head coach Carol Ross, its her first win in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Rebels earned their fourth win of the year over a ranked opponent.

The SEC is 13-1 in the 2007 NCAA Womens Tournament.

Price also set a UD Arena and program record in an NCAA Tournament game with five steals. She has tallied three or more steals for the 24th time this season and 76th in her career.

Price ties the UD Arena Tournament record for points in a game with 31. (Courtney Paris, Oklahoma).

Price sets program record in the NCAA Tournament with 31 points. Price reached double-figures in scoring for the 109th time in her career and 29th time this season.

The 90 points scored by the Rebels sets a program and UD Arena record for most points an NCAA Tournament game. The Rebels are averaging 89 points per game in the tournament.

Ashley Awkward has scored in double-figures in 18-consecutive games.

The trio of Alliesha Easley, Awkward, and Price have scored in double-figures in all three NCAA tournament games for Ole Miss.

Second-straight game that Awkard and Price have each scored 20 points or more.

Rebels set a UD Arena record for most points scored in a half with 49 in the second.

Oklahoma

Sophomore Courtney Paris recorded her 61st consecutive double-double and has scored in double figures in 69 straight games.

Paris ties the UD Arena NCAA Womens Tournament record for points in a game with 31 (Armintie Price, Ole Miss) The Sooners have made a three-point basket in 128 consecutive games.

Paris sets UD Arena record in the NCAA Womens Tournament for rebounds with 20. Paris also sets a Sooner program record for rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game.

Senior Erin Higgins moves to No. 3 all-time in the programs history career minutes played. Higgins came into the game with 4,025. She played 21 against Ole Miss.

Its the first loss of the year on a neutral site for Oklahoma. Coming into the game, OU was 7-0 for the year on neutral courts.

Sophomore Ashley Paris tallied a career high in assists with five.

Third time this year that senior Britney Brown has scored in double-figures and the first time since Feb. 21 against Kansas.

Oklahoma is 1-6 all-time in the Sweet Sixteen.

Oklahoma Head Coach - Sherri Coale

Post-Game Press Conference

Opening Statement Obviously, there are two statistical categories that dont bode well for us, one being turnovers and the other being offensive rebounds that we allowed Ole Miss to get. But when I look at it, and obviously those are two things that we keyed on coming in that we knew we had to do that were going to be significant factors. But when I look at this sheet, we still made more two-point field goals. We made more three-point field goals. We shot a better percentage from two. We shot a better percentage from three. We shot a better percentage from the free throw line. So, while it certainly affected the game, it doesnt tell the whole story. Whats going through your mind when seeing a team shoot so poorly but still win? Well, I can look at the stat sheet and dissect it a million ways. When you score almost 30 from the free throw line, thats pretty significant. Thats a piece of it. We gave up way too many offensive boards and too many turnovers. They out-quicked us to a lot of loose balls, and those late free throw block outs were huge when they would finally miss a couple of those at the charity stripe. We didnt reel it in.

On the Ole Miss pressure: We had some unforced turnovers, which they force enough on their own. We dont need to throw it out of bounds like we did a couple of times. Just miscommunication and playing faster than were capable of playing. Trying to play faster than were capable of playing. Once we got the ball to the middle of the floor, we had post isolation anytime we wanted it. What their defense does is that it speeds you up so much that you fail to see the obvious. We didnt do a good job of coming out of timeouts all night long, our mental concentration. I dont know how much of that was the frenetic pace that they go at, how much of that was the heat. I dont know what, but our concentration when we changed things out of timeouts just was not good all night long.

On the seniors leading in the second half: The seniors were just terrific. I thought they fought, and I would expect no less from them. This group has done an amazing job this year of finding ways to be successful. Lots of recipes for that. Their attitude, their mindset, and their sense of selflessness has been impressive to say the least. I knew Brittany Brown would scratch and claw and do everything that she could. I thought her minutes were absolutely huge. The other guys as well, just fighting as we would expect Oklahoma to do.

Were you prepared for the heat? Personally, I wasnt. I know at this level Ive never coached a game in that type of circumstance. Never. I dont remember it ever being 90 degrees or so on the floor, and maybe thats my fault for not anticipating that and talking about it more with our kids. We came in at shoot around and it was hot, and we talked about it a little bit and just choose to take the stance that we dont call attention to it. Lets just go play. You cant change it any way. You sit here when you lose and you think of 50 different things you wish you could have done. Im not really convinced a conversation about the potential heat in the gym would have saved what happened today, but you never know.

Match up wise, did you ever have a line up you were comfortable with? Not really. Early on, Amanda [Thompson] got into some foul situations, and we really liked the match-up with Amanda guarding Armintie Price. We didnt get to see that much at all because of the early fouls. We wanted to play Jenna [Plumley] and Britney [Brown] a little bit together, and Jenna was struggling a little with all that and so we kept rotating that position as well. And you wanted a shooter there, but you also wanted someone who could get to the rim. It was just, kind of, put them in a pot and stir them up and try to figure out which one could come out do it at the time. There were some combinations that worked along the way. At the end of the day, we didnt block out well enough, and we turned it over too much, and obviously we fouled too much.

Is it getting tougher to win in this round? Oh, I dont know. I think so much of it is about who you match up with. Whats a good match for you, and youve got to be really good and a little bit lucky too, and you cant be unlucky. Of all the types of teams that we could run into, this was probably the worst recipe for us. I thought we battled valiantly, just wasnt good enough to get it done ultimately.

In trying to get farther in the tournament, what pieces are needed? The most blatant thing as we sit here on the heels of this is team speed. We couldnt outrun them to any loose ball or any long rebound. We couldnt get there first. Theres got to be a healthy balance of that I think. I still strongly believe in skill positions, but when you can combine that, I think the deeper and deeper you go. You look at the teams that are consistently in the top ten, theres great speed.

On Courtney Paris performance and conditioning: Shes just an extraordinary kid. I think her will overplays any sort of physical circumstances she might be in. Shes just one of the most competitive kids Ive ever met, and she reaches down and finds something you dont even know is there when a game is on the line. It doesnt surprise me that she gave us the effort that she gave us today. Shes just a special, special player whos still got a great deal of upside as well as she played and as ridiculous as her numbers have become, still a huge upside in that kid. Would another team have been a better match up?

Oh, we dont care. We just wanted to play in the elite eight. We didnt care who was there. Of the two, Maryland and Ole Miss, Maryland might have been a better match for us, truthfully, in style of play. You can spin it anyway you want. Ole Miss isnt big enough on the interior to guard our bigs if we can have the poise to get it there, and Maryland was. So, it just depends. Youve got to be good at what you do.

On missing out on the goals and expectations of the season: Theres a big difference between being frustrated at not reaching the goals that youve set for yourself and discounting everything that you did that was fabulous along the way. If we did that, there would be one team in America full of kids that felt good about a 365 day commitment. That would be ridiculous. Were going to continue to stretch our sites, and the goal will again be a Final Four and a national championship, but you cant discount particularly what the senior class has done, the number of Big 12 titles that are very difficult to come by, getting every year into the NCAA Tournament, and two consecutive appearances in the sweet 16. That is hard to do. Ask all the rest of teams in America that have been finished for a while now how difficult it is to be playing on this weekend. We wont discount that.

How hard is it to let go of these seniors? Thats the toughest part of coaching, without a doubt. But you know what, those kids will always have those relationships theyve formed the rest of their lives, and as a coaching staff, well always have those relationships with those kids. It doesnt end because the competitive cycle ends. Your relationship changes. In many ways, it becomes even deeper and better.

Oklahoma Player Quotes

Courtney Paris on the speed of the game: I think, when we started, we played at a super fast speed. It took me a while to get into it with the heat. We knew how quick they are but experiencing it is something else.

Leah Rush on the speed of the game: They have such a quick team.Taking care of the ball, we just didnt do it. Theyre a quick team and we didnt handle it real well.

Leah Rush on the heat: It was hot, but it was hot for them, too.

Courtney Paris on whether the speed and heat affected her: Yes and no. You get tired from running around. But, you are playing for the next game. So, mentally, you dont let it wear you out.

Courtney Paris on Oklahoma getting beat on the offensive boards: Part of it was their speed. Part of it was us (not) blocking out.

Courtney Paris on the frustrating part of losing: The most frustrating part is it was our last game and us younger players let the seniors down.

Leah Rush on the competition in the tournament: When you get to this point in the tournament. Everybody is a capable team. All 64 teams that make the tournament are good teams.

Leah Rush on this season: Im proud of what we did this season and how weve grown and improved. (Despite losing today), well look back and be proud.

Ole Miss Coach Carol Ross Quotes

Opening Statement: The greatest thing about winning is that I continue to coach these two young women (Armintie Price and Ashley Awkward) who are seniors. It has been such a privilege and we keep finding ways to keep coaching and their teammates keep finding ways to be teammates with them. It has been tremendous what Jada Mincy and Armintie Price bring to the court and there is nothing compared to what they bring into the locker room with their leadership. We also come from the mighty SEC like our next opponent (Tennessee). Championships run through Tennessee and we have respect for not only what they have done this season, but, the history of their program and for what they have done year after year. We will continue to take whats in front of us and compete against it and hopefully we will be at our best on Tuesday.

Talking about the gameplan against Oklahoma: We really dont gameplan a whole lot. I coach my team and dont coach other teams. I stay focused on our strengths. We are not going to deviate from what we do best. We are not going to let another team dictate how we play. We are what we are, for good or for bad. We are going to play the way we have to be to be successful. Its not who are the guards or who is inside, we are going to attack the ball. We are all energy based and about flying around making plays. That doesnt change from day-to-day. Now, whether we are good at that or not, does change from day-to-day. Thats why we have losses to Rice and to UT-Arlington. Those are people maybe we shouldnt have lost to. But, when we dont play good defense, we can lose to anybody. When we play great defense, we can beat anybody. So, its not a complicated formula for us, we just have to go and play.

On looking back to the previous game against Tennessee and looking at the matchup on Tuesday: Obviously, everything they do poses a big problem for us. They beat us pretty good last time. It wasnt a big margin, but, we never got into the game. They have Candice Parker who is so versatile, its hard to find ways to get to her. The flipside of that she has a great cast. Bobbitt is quick and has great ability to move around. Hornbuckle who is a great playmaker. Spencer, who if you leave her open, you know whats coming. Anoskie is a workhorse and then you have a bunch of people coming off the bench. It is a lot for us, we obviously didnt handle it well the first time, but, we will try to figure out something better this time.

On the play of Oklahomas Courtney Paris: She was doubling everything and our doubling of her was not effective at all. She is a great player and she plays with so much spirit. Sometimes that gets lost in how she does what she does. Shes got great heart and there wasnt a whole lot we did to Courtney that affected her. She is tremendous for Oklahoma and she was able to push us back with her strength and get easy baskets around the rim. She was able to get second ones if the first one wasnt good enough. If we frustrated her at all, it might have been the fact that we go 94 feet from one end to the other. Other than that, her numbers dont indicate to me that we frustrated her much.

On the heat in the arena: We were happy it was hot. We knew we had to play fast. I told them in the locker room at halftime in envision being back in their old sweaty high school gym in July when some high school coach made them come workout when they didnt want to. This is what it is going to be like and we are going to go back to where you had the most fun playing. You are going to sweat, but for every drop you sweat, they (Oklahoma) will drop two. So, we talked about that during timeouts. Whatever you were feeling, multiply it times two and thats how Oklahoma feels. We knew we could play in the heat and we knew we could play fast. If we had to rest, we could do that on the offensive end.

On what she said to the team after timeouts that allowed them to come out fast: It is my job to know what my team needs. I knew they were playing hard, even when they werent play well. I have never questioned their effort. I really think the game is simple and I let them play. They have the green light to shoot when they want, they have the green light to trap when they want to. I want them to have the freedom to play. In those timeouts, if I thought they were fatigued, I would tell them a dumb story or something to make them feel better than what they were feeling. I would try to encourage them to keep pressing on. Im a storyteller anyway. You give me a 30-second timeout and I can tell a story. Sometimes, its about having the will to put your foot forward one more time. We talked about doing that a lot, and told them they would like what would happen at the end of the game. To the kids credit, they kept finding ways to compete. It wasnt easy, but they are great competitors.

On answering Oklahomas run: They did a couple of things that irritated us. One was they were getting the ball reversed. The second thing was I had to call some of the traps off because our energy level was allowing us to give up quick baskets. We had the lead and we needed to protect it. It was better for us if Oklahoma had to make three or four passes instead of one. We pulled our traps back to conserve some energy. When they closed the gap, we had the energy to trap again and get the tempo back up. We had enough defensive plays that were made that turned into steals which turned into baskets or got us to the foul line which allowed us to get back out in front again.

Ole Miss Player Quotes

Armintie Price on frustrating Oklahoma with pressure We could see it in their faces as they came down the court, even before we set a trap. We knew they were kind of nervous.

Ashley Awkward on frustrating Oklahoma with pressure Being at the top of the defense I was putting a lot of pressure on their guards making it hard for them to even get the ball into the post.

Ashley Awkward on what your teammate means to your team She is the deepest and best player on the team. She makes it so much easier out there for the whole team by setting the tone. We just do our best not to let her down.

Armintie Price on what your teammate means to your team Ashley Awkward is my best friend for the last year. She is the smartest one because she knows everything from when to score, when to foul, and when to call time out. She is the one at the end of the game that wants the ball and to be the one to call the plays. She helps keep our focus by being the mind of the team.

Ashley Awkward on seniors mission We knew last year when we lost in the NIT that we werent going to let this happen again. Jada had an ACL tear last year and the seniors snatched her up to tell her that she was going to be senior with us next year. We got at it this summer, working hard, because we knew we had five freshmen coming in which was big. So that gave us three leaders along with a whole team ready to go.

Armintie Price on looking at Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M game We paid attention to it a lot. We watched film on Oklahoma and Texas A&M because we knew that they had played them and beaten they with speed and pressure.

Ashley Awkward on when Oklahoma made a come back In the NCAA Tournament you know you are going to play great teams and no team is going to give up. We always expect a team to come back and give us their best shot. We had to make a run of our own by giving it our best shot and digging deep. That is what made us successful in this game.

Armintie Price on do you look forward to rematch with Tennessee We have to be, we play them next. Yeah we are looking forward to Tennessee because we know them well, they are in our conference, and a championship team. They have been here many times but we are going to do what we do best and cause them some problems.

Ashley Awkward on going full speed all game When you have someone like coach (Carol) Ross on your side line yelling go, go, go, you can do its easy. She is a great motivator and knows how to get us going. She knows what it takes to make us successful and she does a great job of putting that in us.

Armintie Price on the size on the boards You have to be first one to the ball by reacting and moving your feet. We do a lot of drills where coach Ross throws the ball up to the ceiling and we practice boxing out.