Ohio State-Sacred Heart Quotes
March 20, 2009
OHIO STATE QUOTES
REPORTER: This Sacred Heart team
was -- a Sacred Heart team was in Columbus a
couple years ago. Are they a lot different than
the team three years ago?
COACH FOSTER: Yeah. I think we
played earlier in the season and this team has
won 21 games in a row. The make-up of the
personnel will be different, and the players
that were on that team were very young in their
development. I believe there's maybe three or
four of them that were there at that time, so
different. But the experiences, they've grown a
lot, whether it's regular season, and they --
they've been a lot of places in that season or
the next -- I think they were in the NCAA
Tournament. So, obviously, the environment is
something that they're used to.
REPORTER: What is it that concerns
you the most about what they do?
COACH FOSTER: I think they're a very
good offensive team. I think they have a bunch
of players that can shoot the 3. Their post
player runs very well. And I think they're a
very aggressive basketball team.
REPORTER: Jim, how's the preparation
any different this year than other years? I
mean, do you try to switch things up? Do you
try to just do the same thing every year going
into this tournament in terms of what you tell
COACH FOSTER: Well, it depends on
what kind of semester we've had academically, or
quarter. See, we just finished finals, so we
had the last week of class and finals week. So
when I looked at our grades, I realized that we
could be -- now, give them a couple days off
after the conference tournament and then go into
a mode of sort of aggressiveness, did some
fundamentals, but our academics looked to be in
great shape and looked like our players had
taken care of their business during the quarter.
That's a big deal at this time of
year. If you want the excuse of finals, you
have it. But this team doesn't think that way
and prepared, did a good job through the course
of the quarter. So we had a very spirited
couple weeks of practice, a lot of fun, in
REPORTER: And I also want to ask
Jantel this same question. You motioned their
post player. Who does she remind you of, if
anyone, that you guys have seen recently? And
I'd like you ask you, Jantel, what you think of
COACH FOSTER: Is there anybody
working at the Dispatch?
REPORTER: In the office? No.
COACH FOSTER: Well, I think Jantel
runs better than any post player that I've
coached, and I always said I think she runs as
well as any post player in the country. I sort
of told her the other day that this kid really,
really gets up and down the floor, and it's
going to be a great challenge because you're
going to have to run both ways very hard. I
think that our post kids run very well, all four
of them, and looking forward to watching that
mini game within the game, which is sometimes a
lot of fun.
JANTEL LAVENDER: I can only go by
what Coach tells me and film, what I see on
film. She is a solid post player. She can
score in the low block and she can run, too. I
think my main focus for the game is to get her
out of her comfort zone, which is the low
blocking, and just run with her, like Coach
tells me and play post seasons like I have.
REPORTER: Is there someone that
you've played with that she reminds you of at
JANTEL LAVENDER: Not per se. I
don't know anybody.
COACH FOSTER: Kid from Minnesota runs
hard, but there's a difference in size.
REPORTER: For the players, the last
eight games, there's been sort of a different
mindset for this team right now. Coach has
talked about from the second half of the Iowa
game on. Just talk about that, the different
mindset you've had those last eight games.
What's tipped that off for you guys?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think once
everybody realized how much fun it is to play
hard and how fun it is to get steals and be
ferocious on defense, I think our team has grown
on so many levels. I think the Iowa game we
played in the tournament was like the separation
of how our team can be great and how our team
can be good. And I think everybody realized
what they have to contribute to the team in
order for us to be that great team.
SHAVELLE LITTLE: Going to the team
and the Big Ten tournament, our main focus is to
be ferocious, and we did that. We came out.
Everyone was playing really well on defense. It
just shows that defense can win the games. A
lot of the teams turned the ball over, so it
helped us out a lot.
REPORTER: I'll ask the loaded
question, I guess. Do you feel that you have
something to prove after the last couple of
first round failures the first couple of years?
How about the players? Do you feel that you
have something to prove after the last two
STAR ALLEN: No.
COACH FOSTER: First of all, you don't
dwell on the past. Secondly, I've been doing
this for 31 years and I've seen some terrific
coaches go through the same situation. And
every team is different. This year's team has
nothing to do with last year's team, nothing to
do with the year before. There's a different
mentality. It's a different group and different
burn. They got a little fire in their belly,
maybe a lot.
REPORTER: Jantel, this is your second
one of these, second NCAA Tournament. Was it
what you thought it was going to be last year or
was it a little bit different, and how does it
help you having been through it one time before?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think it was what
I expected it to be last year, but -- I don't
know. I just think that we came out not as
focused as we needed to be to win that first
round game. I think our team, like Coach said,
is different this year and we're not dwelling on
the past. We're just going to take this Sacred
Heart game and take one game at a time and just
play from there.
REPORTER: Coach had just talked about
how you guys have gotten back on the court since
the Big Ten tournament and he used the word
spirited. For the players, how would you
describe what these practices getting ready for
this game have been like?
STAR ALLEN: I would agree with Coach.
It has been a lot of fun practicing. It's been
hard, but it's fun at the same time. And it is
spirited. Everybody's loud and talking.
REPORTER: Is that what's made it fun?
STAR ALLEN: Yeah, I think that is
what makes it fun, when we talk. We talk to
each other as far as, like, on defense and
REPORTER: For Samantha, I think
you're up there -- yeah. What do you anticipate
it's going to be like when the ball goes up
tomorrow? Do you have any idea? You've been in
hostile environments, you've been in big crowds.
I'm just wondering, what do you think it's going
to be like?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: It's going to be
like a regular game, I think, but there's a lot
more at stake with going home. But I think it's
just going to be a lot of fun, actually. It's
going to be exciting.
REPORTER: Jim, again, you're home,
but this really isn't your home court.
COACH FOSTER: Huh-uh.
REPORTER: Does that make a difference
in any way? Maybe with the tournament, when
teams are in, like, New Jersey, they shouldn't
be at Piscataway or Rutgers, at other arenas.
COACH FOSTER: This game is so young
in its growth that you can't have the ideal
scenario. Would we rather be at the Schott? Of
course, we would. That's where we are every
other day and we would consider ourselves home.
But as long as attendance is going to be part of
the equation for success and crowd environment
is going to be part of the equation for
television success, we have to go through these
I mean, this game -- if you take the
men's game back -- it started, what, 1938? --
and you add about 25 years, that's about how old
we are, maybe 26 or 7. What was the men's game
like in 1960? I don't think anything like it is
And that's where we are, and we have
to do certain things as a result of that.
Hopefully we've grown to the point that big
crowds don't affect you, because if we play in
front of them more often so that when you go
into an environment like that, you don't have
the problems that used to exist way back when,
when we first started this thing.
So I think the game is growing. I
think it has grown in certain dimensions. But
as we continue to grow, these situations are
going to be there, and you just have to deal
with them. And mature teams handle it and the
REPORTER: Sammi, you guys did play
here one time and Cleveland State at one time.
How's the shooting background here as opposed to
the Schott, which you see every day?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: It's a little
different, but, I mean, it's not too much of a
difference where it would affect the game or
anything. We've just got to get used to it. I
think playing those two games helped us out.
But, yes, it's not that big of a difference.
REPORTER: Do you have an advantage
being right here in Columbus, do you think, over
the other teams?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Yes and no. I
mean, we have a fan base here, so that would
kind of be an advantage, if there was, but not
too much, because when you go out and play, it's
not really about the -- it's just the teams
playing. So yes and no.
REPORTER: This is for Star. Last
year, you came back as the team got into the
tournament after missing the Big Ten portion of
the season. How different is this playing for
you now after last year?
STAR ALLEN: Like the Coach said, it's
two different teams from this year and last
year. Like, this team is better to work with
REPORTER: Jim, how much is the fire
that you speak of attributed to being a
relatively young team? Have you found through
your career that maybe more enthusiasm for a
younger team because they're not sort of jaded?
COACH FOSTER: I understand your
question. I understand where it's coming from.
But Star is not a senior -- I mean, is a senior,
is not a young player. I would think that the
team would tell you that her enthusiasm and her
energy the last couple weeks has been right
there with, you know, the youngsters. Now,
Sammi loves being on the floor. It's very
obvious that she loves being on the floor. But
Star loves being on the floor. That's obvious,
too, to our team.
And the person -- if Shavelle didn't
come to practice for some reason, it would be a
quiet gym, because she just never shuts up, and
in a very positive way. So, no, it's not the
young players; it's the whole group.
REPORTER: Shavelle, how ready are you
guys for tomorrow to come, and how eager are you
for tomorrow's game?
SHAVELLE LITTLE: I think we're
really, really focused. All the big games we
had this year, it just feels the same way. We
feel like would have a lot of composure and
we're really loose. I think we just have to do
what we have to do in order to be successful in
REPORTER: And just with Jantel, a
different feel than last year than altogether
and in every aspect of the game, is it different
from last year's first game?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think I can say
yes because overall this team has a different
mindset about winning. Not that last year's
team didn't, but I think that everybody's just a
little bit more passionate this year, because
Sammi's passion is floating over to everybody
else. Different people's passions are starting
to come out because we have the leadership at
the guard position. I would say yes, because
it's fun to be on this team and I think
everybody wants to win, and you can't help for
that environment to be fun.
SACRED HEART QUOTES
COACH SWANSON: I'd like to first tart off saying that I'm real proud of my basketball team this year. We know what we have in store for us. We've watched a lot of film against Ohio State. We know it's going to be all about performances. And that's what we talked about. We'll first have a chance tomorrow -- Kaitlin Sowinski, Alisa Apo, Steph Ryan, and some others, will have a good
defensive game for us. Going into the game, we
can shoot the 3 pointer pretty well. Most of
the year, we shot it at 40 percent. So we think
we have that in our arsenal. We're going to
have to defend and rebound, are the two main
things that we're going to have to do tomorrow.
REPORTER: Coach, you did play an Ohio
State team a couple of years ago here, but
they're a little bit -- they're a lot different.
They play a different style. What do you think
of the style that they play now as opposed to
maybe a couple of years ago?
COACH SWANSON: Well, their inside
game was great back then, too. Jessica
Davenport was a heck of a player back then.
They're so strong inside. And we're not going
to show Ohio State anything different than they
haven't seen all year long. We have to do it a
little bit better with a little more energy.
They're so strong inside and they defend real
well. I had the opportunity of watching
Samantha Prahalis play in Long Island.
We got a chance AAIU-wise to see her.
With her, she's more of an up tempo type guard,
more fast breaking style. And that's something
that we're -- we've talked about for the past
week, but they're strong inside. We've got to
stop their inside game first and then hopefully
move to the outside.
REPORTER: Kaitlin, I wanted to ask
you, speaking of the inside game, first of all,
you've really picked up your game toward the end
of the season. Also, is this going to be the
biggest challenge you've faced in, I don't know
how long, with Jantel Lavender?
KAITLIN SOWINSKI: It's certainly
going to be the biggest challenge I've faced all
year. It's NCAA first round, Ohio State. Lavender, specifically, being player of the year, and being part of such a successful
program. And like Coach Swanson just said, they
are very post-oriented. It's really going to be
just going out there and doing my best and
capitalizing on my strengths and defense and,
you know, just working hard for 40 minutes.
REPORTER: Do you think it's exciting
to face a player of her caliber?
KAITLIN SOWINSKI: Oh, it certainly
is. It's a great experience for me to play
against someone, you know, one of the top post
players in the country. But, you know, we're
both basketball -- we're both strong basketball
players. Obviously, she's from a bigger
conference. It will really just be going out
there and fighting. The experience will be a
once in a lifetime thing, especially considering
this year they're one of the biggest opponents
we've faced. We faced Marquette and Kansas
earlier in the season, but right now it's the
end of the season. We've had a year put behind
us, so we'll see how it goes.
REPORTER: This is for the players.
You've won 21 games in a row coming into this.
Everybody says you're a 14 seed playing a 3 seed
on basically what amounts to their -- in their
home city. How confident a group are you right
ALISA APO: Well, I mean, yes, we did
have a 21-game win streak, but now the
pressure's off us. We get to go in and play
loose, and I think that's a big advantage. They
have a lot of pressure on them. They're
obviously the 3 seed and we're 14. I think it's
a big advantage for us to get to go in there and
play the way we know how to play without any
KAITLIN SOWINSKI: I mean, basically,
just what Alisa said. Granted, it's not exactly
their home court, but obviously they have some
advantages here. I'm not saying that's a good
thing or a bad thing. Regardless of the streak,
we do have a 21-game winning streak, but like
Apo just said, I wouldn't say the pressure's not
completely there. Obviously, we're all nervous
and excited for the NCAA, but we're just excited
to be here and be part of all this.
REPORTER: Coach, Alisa just used the
word pressure. Ohio State's lost in the first
round each of the last two years against teams
with higher seeds than them. Is that anything
at all that you could at least mention to your
team, that other teams have done this before, I
COACH SWANSON: Absolutely. I said
you're not creating anything new, the story's
already been written. And just to talk about
what Alisa talked about a little bit, we did
play under a lot of pressure this year.
As our season mounted -- to talk about
our season a little bit, we started off 0-5. We
were struggling chemistry-wise. We really hit
stride around the holidays. Everybody in our
local media was talking about the streak, the
streak, the streak. We didn't talk about it
until it was probably about 13. We finished the
regular season off 18-0, and then we had the
conference tournament at our place. So the
pressure kept mounting and mounting and
And it was great last Sunday when we
finally won the championship, that you saw the
pressure finally relieved from their faces a
little bit. We had a great week of practice and
we're loose now. And I think we can, you know,
go out there and hopefully we'll play loose.
And I do think -- you know, getting
back to somebody's earlier question, a confident
bunch, I do think we're playing with a great
deal of confidence and we'd like to continue
REPORTER: Coach, I wondered your
impressions of Samantha Prahalis.
COACH SWANSON: She's a coach's dream.
She's only going to get better, too. She's got
a high, high ceiling. And you know, she's an
up-tempo guard. Looking at the stats, 180
assists, and I believe she was at 110 or 115
turnovers, so that's a lot of turnovers, too.
But she's just a special talent. You let point
guards like that go out and play and make
mistakes, I think she's just going to be a
player of the year candidate by the time her
career's done in the Big Ten.
REPORTER: Is that a big challenge for
COACH SWANSON: Absolutely, yeah.
Alisa and Maggie and them are probably tired of
hearing me talk about her for the last 72 hours.
Yeah, we've got to try to contain her a little
bit. Like I said, we're going to try some
things that Ohio State has probably seen all
year, but we're going to try to take the ball
out of her hands and make other people beat us
by getting assists. But she's a real special
REPORTER: Coach, when you were 0-5,
did you contemplate that this could ever happen?
Did you -- or when you were 0-5, were you
thinking that maybe this was one of those years
where things just weren't going to fall right?
COACH SWANSON: I did. To say I was
sitting here in the NCAA Tournament and going
25-2, we were struggling. We knew we were good.
That was the problem back then. Some coaches,
when you're 0-5, which I've done in the past,
maybe you play a whiffleball game or a kickball
game. We didn't do that. The coaches got
tougher on the game, they got tougher on
It's a credit to the three women
sitting here and the other 12 in the locker
room, with the resiliency and the perseverance
that they've played with all year long. They
deserve all the credit. They looked to the
left, looked to the right, and got the job done.
REPORTER: Stephanie, what do you
think turned it around from the 0-5 start to
allow you guys to go on the run you've been on?
STEPHANIE RYAN: Obviously, starting
off 0-5, I think everyone's confidence was down,
everyone was frustrated. What's important for
us is we kept on working hard. We came into the
gym. Every single day, we just kept focused on
being better every single day. We kind of got
on a roll and kind of just kept it going.
REPORTER: This is for Alisa. Ohio
State likes to put a lot of pressure on the
ball, and you're the point guard so you're going
to see it. When a team is trying to do that to
you, how do you counter it?
ALISA APO: Well, I think one of my
biggest strengths is just making one move and
going by the defender, so I'm just going to
stick to that, kind of what I've been doing all
year. I don't want to mess around in the back
court with the ball. I need to go forward and
create for my teammates.
REPORTER: Have you played a team like
that, that's tried to do that to you for, and
has that worked?
ALISA APO: In the second half of the
season, I face it every day. I mean, even in
practice, we have a girl named Alexis Campbell
on our team who puts tremendous pressure on me
in practice that in games it almost seems like
no one's even there. She does a great job of
that. And I faced it the second half of the
season. I always have somebody picking me up
full court, putting a lot of pressure on me. So
it's going to be similar to that.
REPORTER: Kaitlin, you played three
years ago in the NCAA game against Maryland.
I'm sure it's a different feeling this time
around for you. Can you talk about the
differences, then freshman, now senior, and the
sense of urgency that you and your classmates
KAITLIN SOWINSKI: It's obviously a
tremendous difference being a freshman and being
in the NCAAs and being a senior in the NCAAs.
One of the biggest things is the responsibility
that's on me as a senior to really just step up
and lead the team. When I was a freshman, you
know, I wasn't expected to perform the way I am
expected to perform now. I didn't have nearly
as many responsibilities as I do now. It was
really just being that off-the-bench player that
was there to be the support system for the
starters and be there if they needed a sub or a
Now, obviously, this could possibly be
one of my last games and it is my senior year,
so I'm just going out and giving it everything I
got. And, you know, there's no turning back.
There's no second chance either, where as a
freshman, you know, I had the possibility of
three more years of being in this spot. And I'm
so grateful for at least getting this last
chance at it.
REPORTER: Kaitlin, speaking of
responsibility, do you feel more of a
responsibility knowing that not only you're
facing a tough 3 seed but you're also taking
them on in their hometown? Does that present
more of a challenge for you guys? How do you
KAITLIN SOWINSKI: Well, I mean, it's
definitely a challenge. There's some
differences. We had a 5:30 flight the other
day, we're not sleeping in our own beds. But
the bottom line is that regardless of who we're
facing or what the challenges are, what's
presented to us, we still have to come into this
game just like we do every other game. I mean,
obviously they're a higher seed, they're tougher
players, they're statistical players --
defensive player of the year, rookie of the
year, player of the year. The bottom line is we
have to just come out and play the best
basketball we can play.
REPORTER: Go back to Stephanie. And
the Coach touched on this a little bit. I was
at the Marist-Ohio State game when Marist made
its run. Is that the thing of thing that a
mid-major or a smaller school can hook its name
on, that it can be done?
STEPHANIE RYAN: Definitely. We're
the 14th seed playing the 3 seed. The odds are
stacked against us. Maybe some of the only
people that believe we can win this game is us.
But that's fine. I think we believe in