April 4, 2010
Box Score |
 CONNECTICUT (38-0) 70,  BAYLOR (27-10) 50
ALAMODOME • SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
APRIL 4, 2010
Baylor Head Coach Kim Mulkey
You guys were halfway through the first half. I think you had eight turnovers and three field goals. You were down 25 to 8 and you turn it around. What happened to get back in the game and get within 3 there in the second half?
Hustle plays. I thought hustle plays. And Griner got some more touches. And they're freshmen out there and they were desperately trying to keep the game close.
You guys went 1 for 7 from 3 point range in the one game with about 1:15 to go. How much would a couple early on maybe loosened up that zone that blanketed Griner all night?
I didn't think they blanketed her all night, really. I don't think they had to. I think she got the ball a lot in one on one situations, and they came some.
But we got good looks. And, sure, if you hit some of those early, it might not have we might not have been down double figures at halftime.
But we had good looks. I thought there were several things that were different in the game. First of all, their two All Americans scored all but 15 of their points. And that's a junior and a senior for Connecticut that we had freshmen guarding. Griner was guarding Tina Charles all night and Shanay Washington and Nae Nae Hayden and Jordan Madden took their shots at Maya Moore.
Therein lies the difference in the game. And because of the experience our freshman got guarding those great players, I can only think in the future they're going to be really excited to have an opportunity to get back here.
Where does that performance from Maya Moore rank with you in terms of a player playing a big game among the biggest stages?
Well, she's just she's National Player of the Year, isn't she? That's what they do. National Players of the Year, they don't get rattled. They get big offensive and timely rebounds. And she did. In fact, she was part of the reason it went from a 3 point game when we cut it to 11, I think she got some long rebounds there and some free throws, and that's why she's the National Player of the Year. She's just a great, great player.
And then when you have her on the perimeter and you add a Tina Charles in the post and both of them had double doubles on this stage, there's a reason for it.
They've been here before. They've experienced it. They've taken everybody's best shot, 78 games or however many games they've won, and they just don't get rattled.
I've had players score more points against us in our conference. But she's special.
I saw you get excited, M.J. get excited when you all cut it to 3 and they called the timeout. Maybe you were already believing, but do you think the team was believing at that point?
That you could do it.
I think they believed before they tipped off they could do it. I don't think I coach any kids that think they can't do it. I mean, they were trying out there. They played hard. They just got beat by two All Americans.
Are you telling them in the timeouts at that point, hey, we've got to expect a run back from UConn?
You're talking about when we cut it to 3? I wasn't probably telling them that. I was probably saying: Now you see you can play with them. It was probably something motivating like that, that, hey, everybody in this arena is cheering for you to win and you can play with them, and just trying to motivate them.
I thought when you're playing as hard as they were playing and as hard as we were playing, I just thought that fatigue set in with both teams. And he didn't sub and doesn't play a whole lot of players. And if you look at my stats, I didn't sub a whole lot either. And so you had some women out there that were really, really playing hard.
Has the regular season game with UConn been officially set for next year? The reason I ask, I was wondering whether you would get them before they would get that 88-game winning streak.
It has been set. I couldn't tell you the date. And then they come back to Waco the following year. We go there Maya Moore's senior year. They come back after she's gone.
You don't know whether it's like November, December?
I honestly do not.
Can you give us an idea what Brittney talked about what she thinks she wants to work on? Can you talk about what you think she'll work on next year? But also the rest of your freshmen, they made so much progress, what are some of the things you think you'll see them progress on next season?
As I always do at the end of the year, you sit down with players and you talk about their individual strengths and weaknesses. With Brittney Griner it will be continue to get her stronger and get her in the weight room, make she understands she has to play with her entire body. I think she gets bumped off the block a lot. That comes with maturity. That comes with more weight training. And she progressed a great deal through the course of her freshman year. And she will continue to get better.
I'd like to see her become a better offensive rebounder. I'd like to see her go in there and get a little more. And, yet, at the same time I've got to be fair. There may be a reason why she is not a better offensive rebounder, and it probably has to do with people all over.
I could break them all down. Nae Nae Hayden and Shanay and Nae Nae, I'll sit down I mean, Jordan Madden. I'll sit down with those kids as well and break down what I want them to work on over the summer and what we'll work on individually, and it could be anything from taking the ball off the dribble, jump shots, perimeter shooting, but the progress those young ladies made is big. But you haven't seen the best of them yet.
What did you have to say to Melissa and Brittney as they were subbed out of the game?
Melissa Jones is hardest on herself. I told her: Take a look in this building and look around. You have another year. You're not a senior. And I think well, I know I did. I said: Thank God when you go to bed tonight that you were able to experience this and that your injury was healed.
Who was the other one you asked me about?
I told Brittney: I know a lot of four time All Americans that didn't make it to a Final Four until their senior year. You brought your team here as a freshman. Build on it.
Baylor Senior Forward Morghan Medlock
A couple of sequences the first half when you guys didn't seem to be able to get shots to fall, and then in the second half, when you got the lead, got them down to 3, and then they took off from there, can you talk about what happened in those two instances?
I just think that's where their experience kicked in. We got lost on a couple of defensive plays, and Maya Moore, being the great player that she is, she did what she does best, and that's take over.
Can you talk about having to go up against both Tina and Maya and how difficult it was to try to stop one and not both of them?
It was really difficult. You can look at film on a team all you want, but until you get on the floor with them and actually get up and down the floor with them, jump with them, bang with them a little bit, you never know how good players are. And just getting up with the two of them, they're pretty good.
Once you guys got it to 3 there, the rest of the game you all really struggled to score. Did you guys kind of hit the wall there? Or what was the reason the rest of the game where you guys just had trouble getting shots and getting them in the basket?
I don't know. I think it might have just been the game of basketball. The shots weren't falling. And they made a run. And I think basketball is a game of runs. Tonight's game was a game of runs mixed in with a little bit of inexperience. That's what happened, the experience and them going on the run when we cut it to 3.
You sort of watched these freshmen grow up, including the one sitting next to you, who has had such a phenomenal freshman year. Could you kind of put in perspective what the freshmen have meant to this program and what you think that's going to mean for Baylor basketball for the next few years?
I think one statement I can just bluntly make about that is without those five we wouldn't have been here, period. And they have a bright future ahead of them, and all I can say is the teams just better watch out because what they did their first year is huge. No freshmen do that, unless you're talking about a Maya Moore or Tina Charles. But collectively I think they did a great job. And they're only going to get better.
They have three years left. And it's just going to be amazing to watch them grow and grow and turn into the players that UConn has and things like that their junior and senior years.
Kind of following up on that. Obviously I know the loss is disappointing. But even in the wake of that, do you still have a sense of appreciation over what you guys were able to do this year?
Definitely. I'm disappointed we lost and sad because it was my last game and all that stuff.
But I couldn't be more proud of this basketball team with the injuries and some things, not playing well in conference and just all the stuff that we had going. We weren't even expected to be here.
I'm just really proud we beat the odds and we got here, and I'm proud that we didn't quit tonight and we gave UConn everything we had. They just were more experienced and you can't teach that overnight.
But I think next year, when these kids are back in the Final Four, which they will be, I think they'll know what to do in situations and stuff like that, because they'll be more experienced than your average sophomores.
Baylor Freshman Center Brittney Griner
Can you just talk about how tough it was to go against Tina Charles with her kind of experience and just how good a player she is?
You know, it was definitely a battle in the post. I just feel like she did what she needed to do for her team, and being her experience. And I just hope to just be back.
When you guys do get it to 3, UConn calls a timeout. The bench is going crazy. I mean, how much did you feel like the game was there for the taking?
It was definitely there for us to take. We just just mistakes and let it slip through our fingers. It was right there. But I feel like we never stopped playing to our ability and we kept trying to get that, to get it down.
Can you talk about the matchup against Charles, how that's helped you become a better basketball player?
Well, good thing they let us play tonight. Just learning from her. Just how patient she is and just how her team plays off of her and just she's All American. What can I say?
Can you talk about what Tina did specifically? Did she try to body you away from your comfort zone? Were they continuing to try to slap the ball out of your hands, things like that? Could you tell us exactly what she did to try to frustrate you?
She just did what normally every other post does. She's physical. She tries to get me off the block. She was a lot better than most other posts. And I wouldn't say I got frustrated or upset. I felt it was just a battle. And she had more experience than I did.
Just wanted to ask you, I saw that Coach Auriemma stopped to make it a point to tell you something at the end. Can you share what he said to you? And what it meant to you to hear that from him?
You know, he just told me that I was a good player and just keep going. And it means a lot for the other coaches to just tell you that you're a good player and just to keep working hard.
You broke the NCAA record for blocks in a season this year as a freshman, also the NCAA tournament record for blocks. Can you talk about how it feels to accomplish that in your first collegiate year? And also what areas of your game you hope to work on and improve on over the summer?
Ball handling would probably be one. Just getting stronger with my lower body and stop relying on my height would definitely be something I'm going to get in the gym soon and start working on. That's basically it.
Baylor Junior Guard Kelli Griffin
On second half run:
"We started out kind of slow. UConn had a little lead on us before the half. We came out at halftime and we just wanted to make a statement. We just wanted to come out with some energy and get our stuff going. We hit some baskets and got us to within three."
On hanging close to UConn and not being one of the teams that have been beat by 40+:
"Definitely. I think we played hard to the end. Nobody gave up. That is what you are suppose to do in any game. We're young. We lost to a good team. I would rather lose to them than anyone else. They're a great team. They have a lot more experience than we do. We just have to grow as a team."
On Baylor's youth paying off down the road after the experience tonight:
"I think it can help us tremendously. To play such a great team with great players, the younger players can look at them and learn. Not only what they did on offense and defense, but how they helped their team make stops and make plays. Playing against other teams definitely is a positive for our younger girls."
Baylor Freshman Guard Shanay Washington
On coming back within three points against UConn:
"It really made us feel that we had a chance. No one expected us to get there but momentum had us going as we kind of just let them get back in it. They got the flow back into the game as it allowed them to make some big plays."
On the confidence factor this team brings for next year with only one senior leaving:
"It makes us confident as I can't wait for next year. It just makes us stronger for the future."
On what she learned about her team tonight:
"That we don't quit and we're pretty good."
On this experience with her being a freshman and hanging with UConn:
"At first you come into the game and you're thinking UConn, but I can tell you that coming into this game none of us were nervous. I thought that was pretty good as no one was nervous but rather were ready to bring it on to UConn and were pretty excited. I'm pretty happy that we got this far and feel we kind of lived up to our expectations."