March 28, 2005
Baylor Head Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson:
"We are one happy bunch in that locker room. I am so happy for our seniors. I'm happy for Baylor University. Coaches can coach for a lifetime and never make it to the Final Four. To look at what we've done in just five years, I am just going to ride this horse as far as it will take me."
Q: Are you surprised at the rapid success that your program has had?
"I don't know if surprise describes how I feel. I've been around winners all my life and I've learned how to win from others that are winners. I've taken what I've learned as a player and as an assistant coach and tried to instill it into my personality as a head coach. You need to surround yourself with smart, good, hardworking people and that's what we do, we go to work every day and we've been able to recruit the players that believe in us. We recruited the players who may not have been good enough to be recruited by 'the powers that be,' but were good enough to be sitting here today at Baylor. Our school sells itself academically and its reputation academically is second to none. Now we can go into a recruit's home and sell a Final Four."
Q: Talk about the emotions you experienced at the end of the game.
"It was tears of joy. Like I said, coaches do this for a lifetime and never reach a Final Four. Coaches have expectations sometimes and don't live up to them. Players do the same thing (with expectations). For this basketball team to honestly do what we have done in five years, it just all caught up with me. Sometimes, I am not one that just walks around smiling a lot but my excitement is tears of joy. I am just so happy for Baylor University and so happy for these players. I experienced as a player what these young ladies are experiencing right now, and there is no greater feeling in the world. It's just a real high right now. I don't show much emotion like that very often but its not something you control, it just happens."
Q: How important was it for your team for Chameka Scott and Angela Tisdale to come up big in this game after struggling with their shot in the last few games?
"As shooters do, they sit there and analyze and overanalyze why they missed shots in the last two games. They were 1-for-15 from the field and I told them, 'Keep shooting.' Chameka hit some big buckets and shot with a lot of confidence. What Chameka does, which goes without notice a lot, is pass deflections. She got her hands on the ball a lot.
"Angela Tisdale gave Chelsea (Whitaker) a big time rest early in the game. She has the ability to explode quickly towards the hoop and push the basketball up the floor. We were able to get Angela some experience and playing time earlier in the season, which made me not hesitate at all to put her in a big time game like this.
"I never talked to them. I don't think you do or you have to. Shooters know when they miss shots and they know what they need to do. You don't change a thing (from a coaching standpoint). You don't even talk about it with them. I think the closest thing I said to mentioning it was that I made the statement, 'You are going to get open looks on the perimeter. Step up and nail the shot.' North Carolina is so athletic and they really flock to the ball. We were going to have to deal with backside passing and ball reversal so I knew that they were going to get open looks. They did."
Q: UNC Coach Sylvia Hatchell thought your team looked tired in the final four minutes? Do you agree?
"If that's what she wants to think, it sounds better than what I'm going to say. I felt that we lost our composure and started playing not to lose. We had a few turnovers and the missed free throws started to snowball on us. But you know what? We had never been in that position before and we won the basketball game, which is all that matters. If she wants to say that we were gassed, that sounds better than what I said."
Q: Talk about building a big lead early on North Carolina.
"I believed, going into the game, that we could not play 40 minutes of man-to-man basketball against them because they are too good. We can't let them get in their comfort zone and start running in transition and half court offense. We mixed our defenses up a lot in the first half and some in the second half. I think that when you are playing a team that athletic, you have to keep them off balance as much as you can."
Q: Talk about the contribution of Abiola Wabara.
"Abby is so physical and aggressive that she can guard you in the perimeter or in the paint. She has long arms so she will bang with players down there. I'm happy for Abby. I did not know (that she had been named to the All-Regional Team). She is, as I said in the last press conference, the silent, unnoticed player and she is just strong. Her defense was tremendous and our defense set the tone early for us. Not allowing them many transition baskets was big.
Q: Is making the Final Four as good as it gets for Baylor University?
"It is. The only thing better would be to win a national championship. This is very good for our university and I don't even know what adjectives to use to express what this means to our community, our conference, our players, and their families when they came to Baylor five years ago to try and help build this program."
Q: Did this physical game show you that your team can play many different styles?
"I guess Minnesota prepared us for this. We just play hard, but we don't play dirty. We just get in there and we are quick. We are not slow by any means. We got our hands on a lot of loose balls and deflected a lot of shots. I like to use the word strong more than physical. You have to remember looking at their lineup versus ours, Larkins and Ivory are a freshman and a sophomore. They matched up against a junior and senior down there. That might have had a lot to do with it. Just wait until they are juniors and seniors because I think that the maturity may have been a factor down there."
Baylor junior guard Chameka Scott:
Q: How important was it for you to hit some shots early?
"I definitely took it as a challenge to be that extra offensive threat on the team, and especially on defense as well, to help out as much as I could. I couldn't let those last games affect me right now. I just had to take it one game at a time and leave what's in the past in the past. Basically I just came out tonight with the focus that we were going to leave it on the floor tonight, and I thought we did a good job."
Q: What does it feel to be going to the Final Four?
"This is definitely something you look at when you are a little kid, going to the Final Four, and here we are. It took a lot of focus and teamwork, and I couldn't think of a better group of girls to be going to Indianapolis with."
Q: Talk about the defensive job that Chelsea Whitaker did on Ivory Latta.
"She did a great job of learning the scouting report and really picking up her habits and tendencies. We talked a lot before the game, and she really knew what she had to do. I think her defense in particular really led us to do some things offensively. Her defensive presence on the court is invaluable to us. She stepped up big time as a senior and as a leader on our team."
Q: Talk about the importance of getting to the Final Four for Baylor University.
"I think it's important for Baylor because it's been through so much as a university. Right now you go back to Baylor and we've got the whole community behind us. You've got the campus just full of supporters, and it's fun to see the students get together and to have something to support and rally behind. To be a part of it is amazing on this end as well, but to sit back and watch it happen is part of the motivation and what has got us so far."
Baylor senior forward Steffanie Blackmon:
Q: That one last shot Chameka Scott hit really seemed to stop North Carolina's run. How big was that shot since your team had been struggling?
"It was huge. We had turned the ball over a couple of times and needed to get a shot off and make it, so when Chameka hit that shot, it was a big momentum booster.
Q: As a senior, what does it feel to be going to the Final Four?
"I'm definitely pumped. This is a dream come true. From preseason we've been thinking about going all the way. Every game, we've been taking it one game at a time and to get here and get to Indianapolis, that's a dream come true, what we've been working for."
Baylor senior forward Steffanie Blackmon continued:
Q: When you signed with Baylor, was this something you thought was possible?
"I think in my mind it was. I was excited just to be here and come. I was just ready to work. It was definitely a thought. It wasn't there automatically, but I knew it could happen in the future."
Baylor junior forward Sophia Young:
Q: Talk about the job you did on Erlana Larkins?
"We knew that she was a pretty good rebounder, and we tried to block her as much as possible and give them one shot. Stephanie did a really good job on her. I just think we took her out of her game and gave her one shot. I think we got in her mind."
Baylor sophomore forward Abiola Wabara:
Q: Are you the happiest person in the world right now?
"I think I am. I am really excited right now."
Q: Final Four, can you believe it?
"No, I really can't yet and I hope it will sink in soon. I'm so excited right now."
Baylor senior guard Chelsea Whitaker:
Q: Now you are going to Waco. Work is still not done, what can you expect from the whole experience?
"Well, being here and experiencing it is two different things. We're kind of taking it one day at a time. We've never been there before and we have to make the best of the situation. We don't know what to expect. All we know is that we need to bring our 'A' game."
Baylor sophomore forward Emily Niemann:
Q: How does it feel making the Final Four?
"It's an incredible feeling. I'm proud of my basketball team and proud to be a part of it. I'm not sure we've been able to take it all in yet and I'm not sure we will until we get through the Final Four. Hopefully, we can win a national championship there. It's just an honor being a part of this and I love my teammates."