Feb. 28, 2008
Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant
On starting off a little easier . . .
Yes, I would. I'm not really sure why we get a slow start out of the gate at times. I think it's really focus and attitude. It felt like a little bit of a hot potato out there early on. We didn't make good passes or let the offense develop. It wasn't the most enjoyable game to watch if you're a fan. It was probably sometimes like watching wet paint dry. Sometimes, ugly basketball games are ugly and you just have to find a way to win.
On the job that Courtney Davidson did . . .
Courtney (Davidson) has the ability to make the other people around her better. She's a playmaker and at the same time, she can put the ball in the basket. I think she did a good job of making that extra pass and distributing at the same time. She had a couple opportunities. She had a couple nice looks off the out-of-bounds plays. She hit those two threes. We need that. We need our kids to step up on the perimeter and have the confidence to knock down shots, and Courtney did that tonight for us.
On the lift Courtney gave the team emotionally . . .
Courtney always gives us a lift. I said that out there publicly. She does play with a lot of passion, spunk and excitement. She's kind of a dazzling kid out there, and she has a lot of confidence. She can create opportunities for herself and other people. She's an aggressive, attacking guard. Tonight was her night to end here at the Breslin, with a career in points and a victory. I think that's the way you'd want to go out.
On letting the freshmen play in the second half . . .
I just felt like we were in a good flow. To me, it was more of a defensive thing. They were really covering ground in the press and really doing a nice job defensively when the shot went up to rebound it. I think you're talking about Taja (Wilson), Cetera (Washington) and obviously Brittney (Thomas), and then sometimes Kal (Kalisha Keane) in there. I think Taja, Cetera, and Brittney are great defensively, in terms of rebounding and attacking the glass when the ball goes up. And I think Kal's not far behind. But those three in particular really pursue the ball. And Cetera had a career high with nine rebounds tonight. And that's the one thing we've been missing and challenging them to do. All those kids deserve a lot of credit.
Illinois head coach Jolette Law
On defending Allyssa DeHaan...
We knew that she was their focal point. Although Michigan State is a great team we knew that (Allyssa) DeHaan was going to be a very difficult match up. We just tried to be physical with her, try to put a lot of on the ball pressure on her, stay low forcing her out of her comfort zone.
On Michigan State's pressure defense...
We knew that they were going to go into their trapping zone. At one point in the first half, we looked to attack. We didn't sit back and wait on what Michigan State had to do. In the second half, when I had my best ball handler on the bench they started to trap. They did a great job and I have to give them credit because it worked. We didn't execute of the offensive end, not knowing when to attack, settling for jump shots. The difference in the game was that Michigan State looked to attack us, and we were settling for outside jump shots in the second half.
On struggling after Illinois' quick start...
I think the only letdown was when (Rebecca) Harris went to the bench. I think my team was so used to having the starters in. I think we got comfortable but it wasn't until the second half. In the first five minutes of the second half, Michigan State was the aggressor; they went to attack the basket and when (Courtney) Davidson hit the two threes, it was almost like a dagger in the heart. Instead of us going back out and playing the same way we did in the first half, we sort of let up.
On the play of Courtney Davidson...
I think you are a special coach if you have a senior that refuses to lose. She had that swagger about her that I'm going to will my team to win. I give her a lot of credit. I've known her for a long time. I know she is very offensive minded and once she gets going, she's a great player. Tonight, she put Michigan State on her back and willed them to victory.