March 9, 2011
#3/3 BAYLOR 86, KANSAS 51
MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM KANSAS CITY, MO.
MARCH 9, 2011
Q. MJ, first minute of the game, I think you had a three, a rebound, a steal. Did you feel like your old self out there?
Melissa Jones: It felt great to get on the floor and play with the team. I think we were well prepared going into this game. Just everyone's mentality and just mentally prepared.
Q. How much better is your eye? Is it better at all?
Melissa Jones: Actually, yes. I can see that there's like light. I don't know. It's still dark, but I can tell that there's light, if that makes sense?
COACH MULKEY: I do want to say something. Everybody in this room disclosure right eye. Just close you're right eye, not your left eye. And try to write on that pad of paper. Some of you can't write with two eyes, now try to do it with one eye. Can you believe what you just saw out of that kid today?
She hits the first three of the game, she gets rebounds, that's the story of the game. She can't see. She's gone from completely black seven days later to fuzzy black. And today she's a little Catholic girl. It's Ash Wednesday, she'll be at mass at 5:15. She said Coach, I can see light. If I'm headed toward a light, I can see something bright. I don't even know if I described what I witnessed that kid doing today. So that's what I want to say about Melissa Jones. That's unbelievable. I'm sorry to interrupt. Go ahead. Keep that right eye closed though.
Q. Brittney, it just seemed like today you guys had everything clicking really well. Even though you had this game in hand, I saw a lot of effort out there. It wasn't like your effort even let up. And I know you guys have really focused on that, and can you talk about how important that is in March to have every single possession effort?
Brittney Griner: Well, Coach always tells us never take a possession off, and today I don't think we did. Our intensity in the first half was amazing. It wasn't in spurts, it was all the way through. I thought with MJ knocking down those threes and getting us ready, just out there high fiving and chest bumping. So we were just -- we really raised it together.
Q. Brittney, late in the game you and destiny had a little fast break with her leaving the break. Talk about that play and were you thinking maybe a dunk on that?
Brittney Griner: I was definitely thinking maybe a dunk. I saw one person back, me and destiny out. I remember looking at it, she glanced over at me and I pointed up. She gave it to me good. Couldn't dunk it, so I definitely was thinking about banking it.
Q. Was it in the back of your mind that Kansas might want to come in here and get revenge since you guys had a lopsided victory over them over the year?
Brittney Griner: We really, you know, didn't think about that first game. We just March 9, 2011 visit our archives at asapsports.com Baylor - 03.09.11 2 came out like it was the first game we played against them. We just knew we had to come out and jump out ahead and keep strong. You know, when the team jumps on you hard in the beginning, and that's what we were trying to do is get out and have intensity and just not give up.
Melissa Jones: Kansas is a great basketball team, so everyone possession we had, something good was going for us. We never stopped trying. Their effort was just outstanding. They have great athletes out there. They're very prepared going in. They're a good team. Just a couple good things going for us.
Q. I know it's hard to explain because it's hard for us to even imagine what you're seeing now. But the thing I'm even more impressed about than your shooting is you kept your rebounding totals up, and I know peripheral vision has to be part of rebounding along with instinct. Can you just talk about do you feel like just as stronger rebounder? Do you know where the ball's coming even though that part of your vision isn't anywhere near what it usually is?
Melissa Jones: It is a bit awkward. I almost feel like I'm catching with my chest. I can't like quite catch it sometimes. But a lot of it is muscle memory. I still know where to go to get a rebound or something like that. So I can still read that, it's just I guess a little bit difficult to still visually see what exactly I need to.
Q. You might have addressed this in previous games. But how do the glasses aid at this point right now?
Melissa Jones: The glasses are just primarily for my good eye, so heaven forbid something happen to that one, then I would be out of luck entirely. So it's just for production for my good eye to make sure I don't get a poke or something scratched or something.
Q. Do you think she looks cool in the glasses?
Brittney Griner: Definitely, I think we all should get a pair. Same effort out there, you know.
Q. You've tried to put this into words before, but Jones really is a pretty amazing competitor. I wonder if you can kind of talk about how no matter what sort of obstacles she's faced -- I look at her numbers today, 8.7 assists, nine rebounds, how she's able to do things?
COACH MULKEY: I don't know how you do it. I catch myself driving down the street, closing my eye. I'm other thinking how is this kid doing this? I just think it's the make-up of her personality that, okay, I've been giving this little obstacle. I've been given the blessing that they tell me my sight is going to come back.
I can either choose to feel sorry for myself or say, Coach, I'll give everything I have. Just don't let me embarrass myself. If you see I can't help the team, just get me off the floor. That's kind of the agreement I've had watching games yesterday. I still hadn't made my mind up if I was going to play her. Because truthfully, win or lose this tournament, there is a bigger picture for our basketball team.
Yet, as I talked to her, it wasn't begging me to play or anything like that. She said, "I'm like you, Coach. I have mixed emotions, but if I do play, just don't let me be taking away from somebody else that could be doing it better." That is kind of the agreement. Watch her, observe her, get her off the floor if she's not helping on our basketball team. Well, I don't think I could get her off the floor today.
That's just an unbelievable story. It is ten days now that she's not been able to see. Each little thing that happens, a change, it's like we all start hugging each other. While we are very confident in what the neuroophthalmologist and many specialists have said that her vision will be back, not probably, not maybe. We believe them. But until you see progress, you just kind of have your stomach stay in knots.
So this morning when she woke up, she said she can see some light. She still can't see out of it, but she knows when the light is close to her eye. That's telling the optic nerve signals to the brain, the brain back to the optic nerve. That's all we want. That's good news. And time, like with anything in life, time is going to heal her eye. What a competitor.
Q. Destiny looked aggressive shooting the ball today?
COACH MULKEY: Destiny had one of her greater games. I didn't realize Destiny, Griner and MJ could have had double-doubles. I wanted to get them off the floor. Get them off the floor as quickly as possible, rest tomorrow, come back on Friday and Saturday
So, you know it was just I saw an intense basketball team that took that floor for Baylor. If they can do that a couple more days in the tournament, I feel good about our chances of winning it. Who knows, it's a basketball team that is so talented, but when that intensity matches their talent, it's special.
I thought our defense, how many shot clock violations, how many hurried shots did they have? How many contested shots did they make? The tone was set with Melissa Jones, but it was set on the defensive end of the floor very early in the first game.
Q. Coach, is there an added excitement for you and the team that has that atmosphere and how it changes this part of the season?
COACH MULKEY: I think it is for those players from last year that experienced it. But like Odyssey Sims, she's in there freaking out because she has to stay in the locker room for 30 minutes. What? The new rules with the media coming in. They've got excitement in there too. They don't know. They've never experienced some of this. And the ones that have experienced it have only done it for a year, other than Melissa Jones.
They're basketball junkies. Some want to go to the men's game tonight. Some want to come back over here, and as long as they're watching basketball. I love it.
Q. Considering what you just said about MJ and your admiration for her, there was a moment late in the first half where she faked out a KU defender and it went up a three. Went in and turned to the crowd a little bit, shook your head and smiled. What was going through your head?
COACH MULKEY: That am I really witnessing a kid that ten days ago had two good eyes and she's putting on a performance like this with one eye. I don't know that any of us could expect that in athletics. I knew that she would compete, but to make shots, to get rebounds, to guard people and really, truthfully, look out there and it's almost like you didn't know it.
If you didn't know it and you were watching her play, you wouldn't know it. I just couldn't -- I still can't imagine that kid playing as well as she did today. I teased her after the game, as I said earlier. She's a little Catholic girl. She just smiles from ear to ear all the time, but she's human like all of us. She's had her moments and her breakdowns within all of this. That's why you stay with her, and keep encouraging her, and her mother keeps encouraging her. She is everything a coach dreams of coaching.
I've said this many times and I'll say it again, if I'm a WNBA scout, I've got to give Melissa Jones a look. Now I'm saying that, and I've got a 6'8" kid that's a phenom. I'm saying that, and I've got a point guard that's a phenom. Melissa Jones is our glue. Melissa Jones' presence on the floor makes us better. I'll say that to any coach. I was so glad she was rewarded with being all Big 12, because every coach in America should have the pleasure of coaching a Melissa Jones.
COACH HENRICKSON: I give Baylor credit. They got after us on the defensive end. We're trying to go from doubling in a man defense on a miss and doubling a zone on a make. And both defenses going into the locker room were equally as far as field goal percentages, they were saying they were six or seven in transition on our turnovers. That's obviously a problem for a team that's that good in the half court offense, or one-on-one and score that in transition.
And we talked about going in, your best defense may be your offense. Not turning the ball over and giving them high percentage shots. But like I said yesterday when we were talking about what happened with Brittney Griner, certainly she's impactful on the offensive end.
But the longer you watch her and you have that opportunity to play against her, just how much she impacts the game on a defensive end. Again, especially for a team that scores and spends a lot of time throwing the ball inside 52-18 in points in the paint. She changes that because there's not much room to score, and the lane's awfully crowded.
Q. Angel, can you talk about what Bonnie talked about Brittney and how much and how difficult it was for you guys to try to feed the ball to Carolyn and to drive yourselves?
ANGEL GOODRICH: We tried to bring her out and bring the fours or when we had two bigs in, whoever Brittney Griner was guarding, put them on the ball and get it down. But she really didn't commit to one person coming up high. So we had to change that up and kind of go through the hustle.
Q. Monica and then Angel, I believe after the K-State game coach had said that this team has played the schedule in everything to where you should get a WNIT bid. What are your plans over the next few days? Will you take a breather from basketball or will you go ahead and get back in the gym and look forward to the announcements this weekend?
MONICA ENGELMAN: The plan is to take a little break, get off our feet a little bit. Depending on what day we're going to play, we'll be hitting the gym. And then focus on school because we have midterms coming up. We'll take a little break, work on ourselves and get back to the gym.
ANGEL GOODRICH: Just like she said, we're going to talk a break a little bit, and then once we come back in, we've got to focus on what we have to do and get better each and every day.
Q. Angel and then Monica, what do you attribute your shot clock struggles with all the shot clock issues you guys have throughout the game?
ANGEL GOODRICH: Well, at the beginning we wanted to, like Coach said, we wanted to slow it down just, so we weren't rushing anything. Then we kind of waited too long and needed to adjust the offense and try to get the defense hammered in the screen. So once we got that we were free. We had to try to find open man. I think we kind of panicked after it started getting low.
MONICA ENGELMAN: Same thing. We kind of wanted to control the tempo a little bit at the beginning. Then a couple of low situations and a couple of extra plays, so from that we scrambled and tried to find a way to get good ball in the hoop.
Q. Monica, you really stepped up and took that leadership role today like you had yesterday. What was driving your performance today?
MONICA ENGELMAN: Just the opportunity for my teammates. We all talked about coming in the game and being aggressive. I think I try to keep up with that goal and expectations.
Q. Melissa Jones is basically playing with one eye out there. What did you think of her effort and what she did for them?
COACH HENRICKSON: She's a tough kid. She's been a tough kid since she got there. Didn't surprise me. I'd be surprised if she didn't bring to the table what she brings.
No excuses. She's a no-excuse kid.
Leave-it-on-the-floor-every-night kid, it speaks volumes to her character and the pride she plays with for herself and her team.
Q. Monica, can you talk a little bit about Griner's effect directly on Carolyn? She seemed to settle for more jump shots today than I've seen her take all year?
MONICA ENGELMAN: At our place she struggles, gets one deep in the first half, and then get two and quick shoots.
So I told her you don't want to finish this and never try to challenge her one-on-one. She's trying to go up and under. But if you get Griner deep, she's not going to move. She's just going to wait for you to release it.
I was trying to talk to her about a hook shot and get over the top of her, not present the ball to her. But, when you play these guys and have a chance to win, like in the game against Texas Tech. They score from the perimeter, small scores from the perimeter and they're big scorer on the perimeter, Wickett, scores and makes the three, then Mallard comes out and knocks down the shot. Baylor struggled offensively and they shoot 20 -something percent from the game. They go 3 for 27, so you know, they hurt themselves as well. But you'll have to make perimeter shots. And sometimes your bigs are going to have to score from the perimeter because of how effective she is. So if she's altering your shot, you have to make the extra pass. And that's a big, long kid under the rim.
Q. Given what happened the first time and the fact that it would have taken a monumental effort to beat these guys today, can you just rate the disappointment in the locker room?
COACH HENRICKSON: Yeah, I will say it might have been more disappointment. The result was the same, do you feel the same, no. I was embarrassed for her. I mean, I get it. But thought we competed, but we made mistakes, and we both made mistakes, and there's no doubt about that. It comes a point where you have players that get us on the glass in the first half. It was a little disappointment that we just shoot ourselves in the foot too many times in league play that we're headed to the postseason tournament. Not being disrespectful or not appreciative of that tournament and that field, but that's going into the year, that's not our goal. But we'll huddle back up here and be excited. And get on a run here in the postseason.
Yeah, it's still disappointment. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. But I felt like we competed in night and day. I watched that thing late last night, and it made me sick. I didn't sleep. We had no fight, we had nothing. We just let it happen. The result was the same, but it felt different. I don't think I'll feel different when I watch it on film.
Q. You mentioned already that's not where you wanted to go, but this is four in a row now. Are your kids disappointed? Does it drive you crazy?
COACH HENRICKSON: Yeah, it drives us all crazy. But we're going to have to get over that fast because in the NIT, those that don't want to play in it don't last very long. There are a lot of teams that are excited about it. It might be their first chance at postseason for whatever reason.
And we have Krysten that played in it, Aishah that played in it. Angel was on the bench for that run we made. Krysten will tell you playing in Kansas in front of 16, 000 people for a championship was the highlight of her career.
So we're a group, and by the time we get back together, this group is in a good place to be able to make a run. Now we've got to catch our breath here and get over the disappointment and we'll allow them a chance to do that. But they're a competitive group. They play with a lot of pride. They want to hang a banner in Allen and get this right. They want to keep playing. They want to play in the other one.
But it's not like they don't want to play. They'll play and compete with a lot of individual pride and program pride in that tournament with no doubt, absolutely no doubt.
Q. Boogaard and Jackson both had some surprisingly impressive performances today. What do you attribute that to?
COACH HENRICKSON: Well, we played Carolyn and Krysten together. And we worked on that walking through the hotel last night playing two bigs. Because we wanted to be able to in taking the post -- Griner guarded Carolyn, so Krysten got in low post touches against their fours and had some success there and hit that high post jumper.
Today we used the pick and pop. And the four's kind of sit and grind the lane. So she's a perimeter face-up. She scores the very first play in the second half. We go post to post back screen. She moves up the ball and Angel drives it, and we throw the extra pass, because they'll disrupt and destroy your offense pretty quick. So the answer to the low shot clock was when you get in your primary look and secondary look and it's still not there, that's what happens. You end up with a low clock. Then we were aggressive with the primary stuff and it was late.
So those two, Krysten ends up scoring the four. She doesn't have the Griner match-up. So we play Carolyn high. Carolyn plays the four spot just to keep her eye and try to get her in the lane. And on the face-up she hit some shots in rhythm.