March 22, 2002
Oklahoma Head Coach - Sherri Coale
We are obviously very excited to be here, we're excited to still be playing, and to be one competing against Texas Tech. ....one of my favorite women's basketball staff's in all of America is the staff of Texas Tech. I think they're terrific people, I admire the job that they've done. The way they do their business. It's an honor to be competing with them in this venue in particular.
We are excited about Boise. Never been here before. Lovely little town, snow on your mountains, I hope that it stays on the mountains. We are thrilled to be here. It's a great facility and the people have been fantastic. We're looking forward to competing tomorrow night.
Hand pick a scenario or preference as to who they are playing:
I'm not sure that I have a preference. I think that there is some confidence to be gained from having played a team and beaten them. An unknown factor is removed, and I think that is a very positive thing. I think that it's great for the Big 12, I guess in that way I'm a little prejudice toward getting to play Texas Tech, because I think it's great for our league to have 3 teams in this regional still competing. But we had 2 unfamiliar opponents in the first and second rounds and kind of got a little bit of a breath of fresh air, so it doesn't seem so bad to go to the familiarity.
Does it boil down to defense for you guys? Shut Texas Tech down both times you've played...
I think that success at this point regardless of who you're playing is going to boil down to defense. I really believe that. Even though we probably get a great wrap for being an explosive offensive team because we score so many points and get up and down the floor. We won the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City and we won the first 2 rounds of the NCAA tournament with our defense. Because that defense initiated our offense, and against Tech I think that's critical because if we play tough defense and we dictate the tempo of the game in that regard then it's going to be a back and forth, high scoring affair. And that bodes well for us.
Have been complimentary of Texas Tech, have you modeled your program after them?
I don't that style wise we're all that similar in the way that our teams actually play. For years she ran a 2-3 zone, while she runs a lot more man now, the hi/lo offense, we never had anybody hi or lo to throw it to. We run the 5 guard out thing. I guess X and O wise, strategically we haven't been that similar. But I would say it's a very clear assumption that in all things that emanate from a program that we have attempted to model what they do, because everything Texas Tech does that relates to women's basketball says class. In that regard, you bet, from the way you feel when you arrive at the arena, to way the players dress when they're on the road. Everything that is an extension has always been good, in that regard we are modeling closely after them.
Short Practices after Texas Tech game and Conf. Championship:
We gave them a couple of days off. The game before Texas Tech against Missouri really solidified our championship. I felt like we played so heavy, the first half in particular, just like the weight of the world was on our shoulders...and we finally busted out and got a little room to breathe. Then OI felt like we went into the Texas Tech game and particularly in retrospect , I felt like we were playing to get it over with, to get onto what really matters. For a group of players like this team that I have they know what the object is. They know why we play NCAA basketball. It's because of this time of year. I think while you never do it consciously, sub-consciously in some ways there was a little witch waiting to be flipped, that as soon as that Tech game was over, and that conference championship was finished and put to bed, we cut down those nets we gave ourselves a couple of days off. When we cam back the energy and juice in that gym was immediately recognizable. It was like we said OK, this is what we've been waiting for. This is why we've played the last four months, was to get ready to go at this point.
I think it's 2 things. I think it's seniors really understanding the object, and I think it's also a reflection of the difficulty of this league. We were in the lead for a long time and it gets really hard to be the one that everybody is shooting for, and nobody is in front of you to chase for game after game and week after week...I think they're a little tired of pulling that, So to get to cut down the nets and get a breath of fresh air was really, really good for this team. I've seen continual improvement and not a single change in that level of juice that existed in our gym following Texas Tech.
She's a philosophy/chemistry major. That should tell you all you need to know about her. She's a tough little kid that we recruited for her toughness. Everything she touched turned to a winner. We felt that was a valuable attribute to add to our to our bunch. She is an extremely intelligent child...she's pretty sharp, a lot of fun, adds an element of intelligent wit to our bus rides. She's a sharp girl. She gets it and has been invaluable. The white team had their best practice of the year, and I appreciate that. It's because of them that we are here. She has accepted her role and embraced it.
Advice on building a program.
The best advice that I could give anyone who's trying to rebuild or build a program, I'm still not sure which we have done...but for anybody whose trying to turn things around, is follow your gut and recruit great kids. There were a lot of kids I was told I should get, a lot of kids that I knew were good enough, but I thin the most important thing that in almost every scenario I followed my gut. Is this a kid who can make us better? Because it's not always about the most talented player, it's about the player that fits best. I'm not talking about a system of basketball, ...we play up tempo so I'm not going to recruit a player that can't run at all. That's about as far s that goes. I'm going to recruit great kids that are good basketball players. My X and O system will fluctuate to fit what they do and what they're good at. When I say get the kid I want, I'm talking about the intangible things. An unselfish kid, who has exhibited committed and a respect for authority. A kid whose going to be committed, and passionate about coming to the Univ. of Oklahoma and being part of our family, not just our basketball family but our collective university family. All those things are what has allowed us to so rapidly ascend on the national scene.
In addition to that surround yourself with great people. From your secretary to you asst. coaches.
Team chemistry..it's how you respond. There are no excuses. You go out and find another way to win. It's a credit to our kids and about maturity, character, and an unfailing commitment to make sure the season ends the way we want it to end.
Oklahoma player Stacey Dales
On playing Texas Tech for third time
We're not particularly fearful of playing a team three times. We've faced that circumstance twice in the Big 12 tournament against Oklahoma State and Baylor. We understand that both teams will have a great feel for the others tendencies and small technicalities that they will prepare for. I feel real confident with our team and how we're playing as of late. The feeling that we're getting out of postseason basketball- we're having a lot of fun together and I think fun will carry us very far.
To be honest, you put those two prior games to the side and focus on a brand new game. You can't dwell on what you did the games before but this is a brand new ball game and a different part of the season, it's post season. I feel that we have a very strong metal edge overall- winning the Big 12 Tournament outright, winning the Big 12 regular season outright- we've carried that momentum with us in a very strong, confident way. That gives us a very strong- we think- an internal advantage among our team. We're not too worried about the opponent- we need to take care of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma player LaNeishea Caufield
On a Big 12 team advancing to Final Four
We never think of it as a Big 12 team getting to the Final Four but I think it's great that we had seven teams make it to the tournament and five of us are still playing. For us to still be competing, it shows that we have a strong conference.
Regarding impact of Coach Coale
She's taken a program that was nearly null and made it a national power and it's not easy to do in such a high division of basketball and athletics. She has a fire that you rarely see and I feel that there are good coaches that come along and she's one of those coaches that took something over with the confidence in the division that was necessary to make a team a national contender.
At practice she's intense and up tempo and relentless and that shows through our team too because of how she is when she comes to practice, we reflect everything that she's taught us.
Regarding concerns with Texas Tech
Tech has some real strong shooters and they've got a sharp player in Jia Perkins. When Ritchie and Amber Tarr get going they continue to get going and they give their team a lot of momentum. We really have to contain that element of their game and again focus on what we do well and we're looking forward to the match up. I'm thrilled that we're representing the Big 12 together.
On establishing the program
For me it's been an ongoing process of maturity and definite learning. Coach Coale has really taught me how to play basketball and for someone to be able to teach you how to play the game is a huge accomplishment. She's taken some of us that have tremendous talent and taken some of us that don't have tremendous talent and put us together and made us this unbelievable heartbeat.
On team's recent play
I think a little break and we're older now and we know now to enjoy the process of getting to where we want to go instead of counting down the minutes and getting antsy about it.