GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS
COACH MaChelle Joseph: You have to give a lot of credit to Tamara James. I thought that she was just persistent and resilient today. I was really impressed with the way she put her team on her back at times and carried them. Like I told my kids, a great player making a great play. She just stepped up and made a great play.
But I am proud of my kids effort and fight, the way they came back in the second half. The defensive stops they were able to make. You know, the play of these young kids, Janie Mitchell in particular, a freshman coming in, and going for 21 points and seven rebounds. I can just go on and on and on. But this team showed a lot of perseverance throughout the course of this year and I am just proud of them.
Q. How much talk in the huddle was there about how to defend that last play?
MaChelle Joseph: Well, there was a lot of talk about, you know, we weren’t going to let James catch the ball, and we were tying to take the long pass away. It was a situation where you can take somebody off the in?bound and double team her. But you never know, leaving somebody that wide open to make a pass for him. The bottom line was, I thought we had somebody there. We got a deflection. She just came through with a big play. She had the fortitude to grab that ball and put it back in. It was a great player, making a great play. She has done it all year long. It’s not like it’s a player that hasn’t performed well all year. She’s been very consistent.
Q. Janie, can you talk about that last play and your position, you seemed right there?
Janie Mitchell: Yes, we were in man?to?man defense. And, of course, I was trying to help off on her. Megan Harpring, she was guarding her, but when she caught it I was right behind her. You know we deflected the ball. You know, we tied it up, and I thought that the 1.8 seconds should have been gone by the time we tied it up. But when she went over on the side, I was trying to still get there and block it, and tipped it, and she still got it off. So I give a lot of credit to her and her will to get that shot off.
Q. Coach, you were down by 14 in the first half and made a comeback, what do you think started that comeback in the second half?
MaChelle Joseph: Well, I just thought that we changed defenses, and we stayed with one defense in the second half, and we were able to limit number 40 touches. I thought she really hurt us in the first half, especially with 13 points. I think she ended the game with 15. So she only got two points in the second half which helped us as far as on the defensive end limit their points and we were able to get some stops and convert on the other end. But I also thought going inside to Janie, she made some big time shots there on the post. I really felt like Chioma and Jill stepped up and knocked down some threes. We just did a better job scoring and attacking their zone the second half and we limited their three point shots.
Q. Janie, what inspired you today?
Janie Mitchell: Today basically it was all or nothing, you know. As you can see, you lose you go home. If you win, you keep playing. Being in high school I’m used to coming out and playing these big games. As far as the state tournament and just my attitude going into these kind of games. You win you stay. You lose you go home. So I just wanted to put everything out there as if it was our last game, if it would be our last game.
Q. MaChelle, if you can comment on the crowd, 8800 kids in here, what kind of atmosphere it’s like playing in front of that crowd.
COACH MaChelle Joseph: Well, you got to compliment the ACC and Bernadette McGlade, because that was just a tremendous showing. Out there for an 11 o’clock game, to have all of those kids in attendance and the crowd was amazing. It was great. They were cheering for both teams. I thought they got excited when we came back and it really kind of swung over for us. I think it kind of helped our momentum a little bit. But it’s a compliment to Bernadette McGlade and the job she does for women’s basketball and the ACC.
Q. MaChelle, how disappointing is it not to get into the women’s NIT?
COACH MaChelle Joseph: Well, it’s very disappointing because this is a young team that’s persevered through a lot this year. We lost two key players throughout the course of the season. We’re very young. We have no seniors. We started three freshmen the majority of the year. It was really important, I thought, to the development of the program to get these freshmen into post season play. I really thought that would be something that would propel us into next year. But, you know, what this does is give us extra time to work on our individual skill development where we need to become stronger in the off season. We got to get stronger mentally and physically. We have to grow up a lot. We have a lot of growth to do. I said from day one, this program is a team in progress. We are a work in progress. We are not where we need to be. We are headed where we want to go, but we’re not there yet.
And I think the other thing, obviously, our weaknesses are very glaring. We are a great defensive team. Our weakness is very glaring, we got to be able to score. We got to be able to hit shots. That’s what we will work on and focus on going into next year.
COACH FERNE LABATI: Well, this is quite an exciting ending. We were very, very happy with the victory today but I think it was a tremendous team effort. Our team has had some ?? down the stretch, some bad losses and just some close games. And this was really important to our program to get this win today.
I think the team effort, the first half, I thought we played, very, very well. The second half we were a little tentative on offense, but we missed opportunities, fast breaking, and getting easy points in the second half and allowed them to catch up.
But Georgia Tech worked very, very hard, a great effort, and we are very happy to come up with the win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Tamara, can you talk about that last shot and the whole play from the in-bounds?
TAMARA JAMES: Our coaches drew up a play. It was supposed to come to me, and I was thinking in my head, either I’m going to get this ball, either she’s going to foul me, or I’m going to make the basket. I don’t know how ?? we got tangled up when I caught the ball. I don’t know how it got up there, but it got up there and I’m happy.
Q. Katie, you guys had a slow start in the first six minutes but then you really put it on Georgia Tech, what did you guys change or what changed for you all?
KATIE HAYEK: We didn’t really change much. We just really tried to execute our plays, find the open shooter, get it to the open man. I don’t think it was much of a change, but we just were really working hard on our offense to get the good shots and get the good looks that we did.
Q. Coach, on the last play, was it designed from the start just to throw it up high; did you want to let Tamara make a play on the ball in the air, is that the idea?
COACH FERNE LABATI: Basically the play we run, it’s the old Valparaiso play, the full court one. Remember? We just ran it three?quarter court and we took McCormick, who is a great baseball passer, and just ran a screen for Tamara and it worked. I mean, we kind of liked laid it up there. We have done it so many times. It depends on whether you have, you know, 2, 3, 4, five seconds left and what you need. But Tamara did a great job of catching it and getting it off quickly because we didn’t have much time.
Q. You said you’ve done it so many times, you’ve done it with two seconds left before?
COACH FERNE LABATI: Yes, we do it in practice. We do it with five seconds left, three seconds left.
Q. In a game?
COACH FERNE LABATI: Yes.
Q. Which game?
COACH FERNE LABATI: Numerous games. We will do it at the half, we will do it at various times in the game. In critical situations, we just run that play, that’s the play.
Q. How often does it work?
COACH FERNE LABATI: Sometimes in practice it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. We try to give atmosphere to it whenever we run our plays. We try to get people screaming, coaches, you know, get them rattled. Just things like that to help them in a game situation.
Q. Tamara, you guys have had kind of a tough year starting out in the conference, how does it feel to come in and win your first ACC tournament game?
TAMARA JAMES: Well, I think this is going to help us a lot this first ACC win, because a lot of people are doubting us. The only people that really believe in us are the people that are in the locker room. So, I think, we have something to prove to everybody. So this gives us good confidence to go on and play North Carolina.
Q. Coach, could you comment on the matchup tomorrow?
COACH FERNE LABATI: Well, you know, the first time we played Carolina, at Carolina, they were a very, very aggressive team. And we never really were in the ball game. I think that’s one of the things that we have to really be prepared for is to really be very focussed, understand that they are going to come out and probably attack us in a very similar way that they did in the first ball game and we got to change that. We can’t let that happen to us again.
Q. Tamara, what were you thinking when they were reviewing the play at the scorer’s table?
TAMARA JAMES: Well, I know when I shot the ball, I didn’t hear the buzzer. When the ball left my hand I didn’t hear the buzzer. I don’t know if it was because of the hype, or the noise in the gym. I mean I was just excited to get that shot in. It didn’t matter if we went into overtime or not, we were still going to go out there and play Miami basketball.