Rochester 65, St. Lawrence 57
Rochester 65, St. Lawrence 57March 16, 2007
Oral Roberts Head Coach Jerry Finkbeiner:
Opening statement: This is our fourth NCAA Tournament in eight years, and these seniors were part of the tournament two years ago, and we are looking forward to representing our conference. Our conference has one automatic, so we went through a lot of ups and downs this past weekend. If you go one and down, theres no hope for teams from a conference like ours. But we played well through the conference tournament, beat the last team, Oakland, by 17, so we came through in good fashion.
On the trio of talented players Katie Gearlds, Erin Lawless, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton playing for Purdue: Definitely not in our conference, I dont think weve come across three players in our conference as good as these three. Now we have played Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State -- that probably rivals that competition as best as we can. We played well against Texas Tech, not so well against the other two. Weve seen players like that, a trio that plays a lot of minutes, and what they mean to the program, but thats an easy question to answer no, we havent. We have to come out in the opening minutes of the game. We cant have happen to us what happened to Ohio State, down 21 points to start the game. We dont have the ability to do that. Itll be a big challenge.
On what has to happen to get a victory: Its probably like our conference tournament, we just have to hold our own. Pull down rebounds, not allow second chance shots, we have to block out, we have very little margin of error for turnovers. I feel good about that right now because the last two games weve turned the ball over about 17 times, so weve played pretty cleanly our last two games against teams that D-up pretty good. Turnovers and second-chance points are the biggest keys. Offensively, we still dont know what we are going to do yet. We can do both -- we can score a lot of points, or we can hold onto the ball -- and weve had success doing both and just about anything in between. We have a group of girls that have a 3.4 grade-point average, so if I throw something at them tonight, I think they can absorb it. I dont want to over-coach. One of our strengths is that we adjust pretty well during the game.
On the difference of this years team with two years ago: If Purdues done their homework, its no surprise. We dont have a healthy team. All year long, this is the best team Ive had here at ORU, but since the second week of December, weve never had a healthy team, and its the same for tomorrow night. Our best freshman -- ACL in the conference championship game. Our best overall player had a broken foot and still has symptoms of that just the last two weeks. But what that does show is that this team is not only the most talented team Ive ever had, maybe not on paper, but character-wise, weve survived. We were preseason No. 1 in our conference, and we basically survived a long season and grinded it out through our conference tournament. I wish we had a healthy team; that would mean a lot more against Purdue tomorrow night. But well go with what we got and I think we will represent our conference and our team really well, obviously its a tough group of girls. These two girls (Katie Langford and Elisha Turek) mean a lot to me -- good kids, good students, theyve served on a lot of mission trips during their career at ORU, just solid people, I think thats what gives us a good chance tomorrow night.
On playing Purdue again in the first round: Its kind of a feather in our cap. I think we played one of the closest games in that round. That game was a landmark game for us, in a loss, but this will be the first true neutral-court game weve played in the NCAA Tournament. Weve played at Purdue, at OU, played in Texas backyard two years ago. Weve heard the Purdue fans have to drive seven, eight hours, its a good thing for us Golden Eagles, we are always faced with a severe case of underdog-it is with fans and crowds. It wont quite be as loud as what weve experienced in the past.
Oral Roberts Quotes Pre-Tournament Press Conference Players
Oral Roberts Forward Elisha Turek: Did your run in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament help you prepare for the NCAA Tournament: Yeah, I think it did. The conference tournament is one-and-done, and this is the same thing. There was also pressure in that tournament. The way we are playing right now, we are playing our best ball. Our guards are playing well and I think our team is peaking at the right time.
What do you draw from your experience in the NCAA Tournament two years ago: The first time we went, it was my sophomore year and we kind of had big eyes. We had never been there before. It was kind of more of an experience and we had never experienced anything like that. This year, we have been there before and it is kind of, Lets go here and do some damage. We are here to play a game and it is more business, less (of) Oh my goodness, this is so cool.
On your underdog role in tomorrows game: We have to play well in the beginning because they are a top seed. If they come out to a quick start, it will be tough to catch up, but if we get a quick lead and play good defense and play our game, then they will start getting tight because they are the top seed and then we can go out and play. I think we need to play well in the beginning of both halves.
On bringing ORU to the NCAA Tournament twice: It is really important. A lot of times a senior class is marked by how they do, so making it here two times is a really big deal because we want to end our senior year right. Coming here twice has been a perfect ending.
Oral Roberts Guard Katie Langford: What do you draw from your experience in the NCAA Tournament two years ago: I feel like we are a lot better prepared this time around. Last time we came, we didnt have anyone who played in a NCAA Tournament. We have five seniors who have been here before. This time, we are a lot better prepared this time around.
On your underdog role in tomorrows game: I think our defense has been our strength -- in the Mid-Con Tournament -- and it will be a big factor tomorrow night. Also shooting the ball, we have been a lot more consistent then that the last few weeks.
On bringing ORU to the NCAA Tournament twice: We werent going to go out any other way.
Oral Roberts Quotes -- Pre-Tournament Locker Room
Oral Roberts Forward/Guard Sarah Davidson: On the difference between the 2005 team that went to the NCAA Tournament and this years team: Were a lot more mature. We have six seniors that have all been there before, so now we know what to expect. Looking back at that team, our team this year is a lot more developed and stronger.
On her most memorable moment of her four-year career: Going to the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and then also this season. I have made a lot of good friends on the team and they have all been great. They have taught me so many things.
On what a win in the NCAA Tournament would mean to the team and the university: It would be kind of huge. Our guys (the Oral Roberts mens basketball team) had a chance yesterday but didnt quite get there, so it would be a really big deal. None of us have ever done that before.
On the attention of basketball on Oral Roberts: I wouldnt say that there has been more emphasis on basketball in the past couple of years. Were just getting more attention from local and national people, because of the success we have had.
Oral Roberts Forward/Center Jenny Hardin: On her first trip to the NCAA Tournament: Its been exciting. This is my first national tournament. Ive gotten to hear a lot about it from our seniors who have been here before and its really exciting to hear from them about all that goes on.
On the familiarity with Purdue: We dont know too much right now. Weve seen a little bit of video and had a scouting report, but that is about all.
On the keys in the game against Purdue: Were just going to have to play our game and do the things that we have been doing all year long.
On whether or not they will be nervous at the start of the game against Purdue: I think well be OK. We have six seniors and have talked a lot about it, and we can draw on that experience, so we should be fine.
On what a win in the NCAA Tournament would mean for the team: It would be incredible for us. It would be a first and would be great for the senior class.
On how she adapts to playing in a new gym: Just shoot a lot and get used to the rims.
Purdue Head Coach Sharon Versyp: Opening comment: We are very excited for this weekend to come. It has been about two weeks since weve played. We are very excited to be back in Minneapolis and a Big Ten venue. We are really anxious to get tomorrow going.
On the Purdue team: We are a very disciplined, organized and structured team. We like to run in transition as much as we can. We rely on our defense all year, being one of the top (teams) in the country in field-goal percentage defense. We like to attack and get to the foul line and have good leadership.
On being in the NCAA Tournament as a coach and not as a former Purdue player: Its just an excitement. The excitement is for all those prior to myself at Purdue, not getting here. I am trying to keep that for all of us and we take this next step. It comes down to you being a coach and them being your team. I just have a little more passion because it is my alma mater. I am just very proud being on the sidelines and representing our university.
On Katie Gearlds contribution to the team: The last four years, to wear the uniform like all the previous great players, she has really stepped it up. Being a Ms. Basketball in Indiana, a lot of hometown people have had the opportunity to see her play consistently. Having a new coach, she has really stepped it up leadership-wise, and made sure all the players followed her lead. I think especially the last seven games, she has really elevated her game to another level, to put everyone on her shoulders and continue this ride through the Big Ten Tournament and we will see what happens in the NCAA.
On being a former Purdue player along with Georgia Tech Head Coach MaChelle Joseph: I think it is great when you look across the country and you see a lot of Purdue womens basketball players coaching, whether as a head coach or assistant coaching and obviously MaChelle has done great in her career, putting Purdue continuously on the map, as other players have with her and after her, and all the things she has done at Georgia Tech. It represents Purdue exceptionally well.
On having her picture on a poster in Williams Arena as a Purdue player: I never knew it was up there until last year. We always talk about defense with the players, and it does not show me playing defense. I think I was praying the girl wasnt going to make the shot. It is kind of funny. It is kind of unique. Hopefully it is a good thing for us. But the kids tease me, so its alright.
On the Oral Roberts team: They are a very tough, aggressive, tenacious team. They show a lot of passion and emotion. They really get after it. They fight for the lose balls, they play a great system, they understand what they want and are well coached. They have six seniors and they will play hard for those seniors. I have a lot of respect for their team and what they are doing right now. They are very solid.
Purdue Quotes - Pre-Tournament Press Conference Players
Purdue Guard Katie Gearlds: What was your reaction when you found out that you were going to play at Williams Arena? There was just initial excitement to have the opportunity to play at a gym where we played at before; you know it would be nice to have lot of Big Ten fans here cheering for us. Of course, just excitement -- we finally knew where we were going and like Coach (Versyp) said, just really anxious to get after it.
You have struggled here a few games before, is that at all on your mind coming back here? We joked about it a little bit; hopefully its just the team that we are playing when we play here. It is a different atmosphere; we still also feel pretty comfortable playing here. Hopefully it is the team that we are playing and not the venue.
What do you think about your seed and your chances of advancing in the tournament? We are just kind of excited for the opportunity to finally get playing. Obviously, the Big Ten tournament was a huge momentum game for us, but it has been two weeks since we have played and right now we are looking to recapture that feeling and play the way we did in that tournament. The two seed is nice, but when you play the game, you cant think of what seeding you and what seeding the other team. There are 64 teams in this tournament that are fighting to be the last one standing, and that is all that matters.
Purdue Forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton: From your past experiences of the tournament, how are you hoping to pull from that this year? I have a couple years under my belt, and I think Ive matured as the other two seniors, right here. Were just going to take this team and help lead this team to victory, and we have some great players who havent really experienced the NCAA Tournament yet. Theyre ready and just as anxious as we are to get out and play tomorrow.
Purdue Quotes Pre-Tournament Locker Room Players
Purdue Guard Jodi Howell: On the two weeks off since the teams last game: Weve just got rested up, and it almost feels like its the beginning of the season.
On the confidence as a No. 2 seed in the first round and the rest of the tournament: With the two seed, you feel good about your team and obviously weve got confidence, but its the NCAA, things happen, upsets happen -- just look at the mens games. You just have to approach each game that its two teams that want to win and have the common goal of wanting to go as far as they can in the tournament.
On playing in Williams Arena previously and using that experience: Playing in The Barn (Williams Arena) is different than anywhere else in the country, and I think it does help us. I know that if this was my first game in The Barn, I probably wouldnt be comfortable with the atmosphere and setting. It takes some getting used to.
On if the Minnesota fans will be for or against Purdue: Id hope that theyd be behind us, and support the Big 10!
Purdue Guard FahKara Malone: On the time off since the teams last game: Its been two weeks? I dont think its going to affect us at all. Im ready to play, I really havent been keeping track of that. Every one gets tired of practice, thats for sure. Im ready to go, our teams ready to go.
On the scouting report on Oral Roberts: Stop the shooters and up the tempo as much as possible.
On the confidence of being a No. 2 seed in the first round and the rest of the tournament: Personally, I really dont know what it means to be a two-seed, other than you have a big dagger on your back just like a No. 1 seed. I think we are going to have to go out there and play the best basketball we can, because Oral Roberts is a good team just like any other team in this tournament, and we have to respect everybody, no matter what seed they are.
On looking forward to possible second- and third-round games: I dont. This is my first tournament, and Im going to soak in every game and not worry about the future matchups.
On feeling any pressure as a freshman point guard in your first tournament: Like Coach (Versyp) says, Im not a freshman anymore. This is the tournament, this is where everyone shows what theyve been working on all season.Your class really doesnt matter, you just have to go out and do it for your team.
On playing in Williams Arena before: I think Minnesota is a good floor altogether, Im just excited to know that we know the floor, we know the atmosphere that we are coming into, I think it gives us somewhat of an advantage.