March 9, 2008
COACH Suzy Merchant: Illinois always had the mindset that they were going to take this game from us. I give Illinois a heck of a lot of credit for this win.
Q. Allyssa, can you talk a difference in the Illinois team you faced today compared to the game at the end of the regular season? It seemed like they were attacking you a lot more inside and aggressively going to the basket.
Allyssa DeHaan: They played with heart. They just wanted it more today than us.
Q. Can you talk about what was going on mentally with the team in the second half when Illinois went on a run?
Allyssa DeHaan: Not only in the second half, but this whole game was a totally different team than yesterday. We really didn't play as a team and we weren't focused. We didn't play together, and just fell apart offensively and defensively.
Q. Allyssa, what did they do defensively on you? Yesterday you were able to get posted up and get down low late in the game. Did they do anything differently tonight?
Allyssa DeHaan: Illinois was aggressive on the inside. They doubled down, sunk a lot of people on the paint, and were just a lot more aggressive on the defensive end. We didn't handle the pressure very well.
Q. Allyssa, I was wondering if you could talk about the rebounding out there.
Allyssa DeHaan: There's not really a technique or skill to rebounding. It is all about heart. They just had a lot more of it than we did tonight. We are just as capable of pulling down those boards, but we didn't come out with the same heart and intensity as they did.
Q. You guys are now in a holding pattern until next week. What will you talk about in this next week concerning a potential NCAA berth?
Q. For the last four or five years the women's program at MSU has set high standards. How will you handle it if you don't get an NCAA tournament bid?
Kalisha Keane: We finished out our season strong. We won seven of our last 10 games, and we're coming in with a good win against Minnesota as well. We didn't play our best tonight, but with the couple of good wins we have under our belt, we still have a hope for the NCAA
Tournament. That is what our main focus is going to be.
COACH Suzy Merchant
: I don't think you can control any of that stuff. I feel like we belong there. Our RPI is right up there. We have five wins over top 50 teams and won seven of our last 10 games. We just had one bad night. How do you handle it? I don't know. We will deal with it when it comes. We put ourselves in position to be in a situation where the NCAA needs to consider us. We are an NCAA Tournament team, and I think we belong there. Until that time, I'm going to think nothing less than that. I know we had our injuries and we had some tough times fall on us, but I thought our kids battled pretty hard from where we started to where we finished. I think we had one of the toughest schedules in the conference, and a lot of those were on the road, so I feel good about where we're at.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Rebecca Harris' performance in the second half, specifically with the switch-off when Brittney [Thomas] was in foul trouble. How much of a factor that played?
COACH Suzy Merchant: She's been carrying them. She's been the difference-maker for them, and makes them go. Obviously Jenna Smith is a great player, but I think Rebecca Harris in the last few games, has given them a lift. She is a senior who said she wasn't going to lose. She's taking her team to a place where she can hopefully continue their season.
You have to give their seniors a lot of credit, as they have really stepped up down the stretch. We were not focused tonight. We didn't have the same energy and the same fight in us that we did the day before.
As a young team, that's something that we have to learn from and we're going to fight to see another day.
Q. Illinois is notorious for coming apart at the end of the game this season. Did it surprise you at how strongly they finished the game?
COACH Suzy Merchant: Illinois is a good team. They had some tough losses. I think we all do. I certainly felt like there are kids on that team who were not willing to go home yet. They outplayed us, out hustled us and outworked us. That is a hard pill to swallow when you are a coach. I felt like we beat ourselves in some respects, but I also thought they really just wanted it more. I'm happy for Illinois. They have had some tough losses and it's good that they were able to come out strong. I just wish it wasn't against us.