March 11, 2006
Coach Elaine Elliott: Well, just, you know, our kids played a great game from start to finish. I was so happy for all of them, certainly for our seniors. This had alluded them. As a coach, you just like to see them have as many great experiences as you can. And getting to win this tournament format is so fun. And I'm just really happy that that has happened for them, and they played incredibly well.
Question: Shona, were you aware of the triple double?
Shona Thorburn: I had no ideal until after.
Question: Julie, can you talk about your shooting and how did you feel like you were quite open and then were you feeling it all day, just how it felt?
Julie Larsen: I think my teammates were getting me wide open shots, and luckily today I was on and hitting those shots for them.
Question: Kim, can you talk about what it's been like to wrap up your career this way and what did you see as some keys to the game?
Kim Smith: As far as wrapping up my career, it's not really the way we look at it because, you know, we're hoping we still have a couple more games left in us. So it was just a great win. It's nice to finally seal the conference tournament championship game. As far as all of my teammates, everybody has played well all year long. We've had Heidi and Julie and Morgan, and everybody just steps up. And tonight everybody stepped up when we needed them to, and we were burying the ball in the hoop and playing defense.
Question: Shona, can you talk about the feeling of finally win the Mountain West Conference tournament?
Shona Thorburn: Well, I almost broke down and started crying when he took me off, so I think that describes it pretty well. Gosh, it's so worth it. I guess it was worth the wait and worth the losses that we, you know, experienced in years past. And it's just a great way to end your conference career, and we look to go on and keep playing. I'm glad that I had Julie and Kim here to do it with.
Question: I just want to ask Kim or Shona, I guess, how was Julie able to get open so much?
Kim Smith: She doesn't need a lot of time to get her shot off so it's not very hard.
Shona Thorburn: We've learned that in practice. I think we did a good job of penetration, and penetrate and kick. And her man had to help a little, so Julie was open. And I think we did a good job of swinging the ball and hitting the open person.
Question: Obviously your team is no stranger to these title games. How much of the process of the past few years builds up to how you played tonight or are the events separate?
Coach Elaine Elliott: Well, I really think that every game is new and so I certainly think every season and every game like this is new because every team is different. At the same time, when you do have leadership that is capable, first of all, to get done something that they've set their minds to, it makes a big difference that they've had that experience and they're setting themselves to accomplish something that they've fallen short of. It was certainly it has to be an indication of their preparation tonight, their play tonight. You play well when you're really focused. You play well when you're really interested in what's out there. And you really have a love of competing. And I just credit those kids for the mindset to do that and play well.
Question: Any different style of play tonight or how was your game plan?
Coach Elaine Elliott: It's we've started fast quite often and shot the ball well early. But don't mistake, we certainly continue to talk to our kids about don't fall in love with this. There's a long game and we can't talk at the end of this talking about how we didn't go to the rim and didn't go to the post and we weren't aggressive. So, we have to balance that success with knowing that there's a long game to play and that that isn't something that you ever want to rely on. You just want to ride it while you can. And that's really pretty much how that worked out.
Question: How much was it a matter of the game plan setting up Julie's shots in the game or the game coming to her?
Coach Elaine Elliott: Well, the thing is, she has a guard the ball is in somebody's hands who can go to the rim and can still find her. Shona has that triple threat that she obviously showed tonight. There's not a lot of guards that can do that, both get the finish done themselves when necessary or draw and kick. You can't defend that in terms of if it's working well or if you get that penetration, it can hurt you. So, you know, Julie just understands spacing and she stays available, and your choice is to stay on her, in which case you'll have problems with guards that can penetrate or try to give help. So it's a tough call, if you can get both things done.
Question: Coach Judkins after the game revealed a conversation you two had afterwards about, I guess, some angry words of your not pulling your starters. Do you have any response I guess to what he was talking about?
Coach Elaine Elliott: What did he tell you?
Question: He basically was complaining how you left your starters in the game, and felt you should have pulled them earlier. He said that has been a trend, apparently.
Coach Elaine Elliott: Apparently. He accused me of running up the score, in a championship game, Division I level, against the reigning regular season champions. You take that for what it's worth. I was just waiting for them to come back.
Question: You've got the NCAA tournament selection on Monday this year as opposed to this Sunday. What are your thoughts on the women having their own day and waiting a day for that?
Coach Elaine Elliott: Other than you're sort of one day later in terms of preparing or knowing what to expect or I don't it doesn't re I don't have much of a comment. I don't think one way or the other. I'm fine it's okay. Do what's best for the game. If that's better for the game, we'll all survive.
Question: Coach, last year we sat out here, you scored 37 I think it was in the championship game and you surpassed that in the first half tonight. You talked about having your team better or at least they were better prepared. Did you do anything differently from last year to maybe get them prepared to have this kind of game?
Coach Elaine Elliott: You know, again every year is so different. And, you know, this is the first year that we that we weren't the favorite. It was a completely different role. Don't feel like we didn't talk about that. We felt the pressure was on them. They were the regular season champs. They're supposed to win. And we've been on that side of it. It's a whole different mental framework to compete you're always competing in a different mental state. So, I think we probably took the best advantage we could of being in the position that we were, and kind of felt like we just thought, you know, we were a combined 2.1 seconds and two air balls from a regular season championship. So we kind of thought, I guess there was a reason for that, and it's to put us where we are today. And this chance we have today is kind of a no pressure under underdog, so maybe that helped.
Question: Can you talk about as far as the tournament next week, you could come back here. I know you don't have a say. Would you like to come back to Denver if you could?
Coach Elaine Elliott: Are you talking about NCAAs.
Coach Elaine Elliott: You bet. I've been doing this a long time, and the longer the airplane ride, the worse for me. I would love to stay close.
Coach Jeff Judkins: Thank you. Well, it wasn't won of our games tonight. We have to give Utah credit for that. I thought they played very well and executed and did a great job of getting the shots that they needed. I don't know what it is. I think sometimes when you try really hard that sometimes things don't work as well or as easy as you hope. And it just wasn't our night tonight. Like I said, you have to give them a lot of credit. I though they played very well. Probably their best game definitely in the tournament. And they seemed to do that. They seemed to play their best game against us. If we took our average games, we would probably beat them, but they always seem to step it up a notch and really play well. I want to congratulate them for a great tournament.
Question: Either Dani or Brosh, how long does it take to get over something like this?
Dani Kubik: We're going to get over it tonight. We have the NCAAs to look forward to. We'll hold our head up high and keep moving forward.
Ambrosia Anderson: I agree. That's all you have to do, is just move on, look at game film, learn from your mistakes. We obviously have the tournament to look forward to and some teams we've never played against. But, you know, it's another game. Life goes on.
Question: Brosh, what did you guys think you needed to do in the second half to try to get back in the game?
Ambrosia Anderson: Obviously defensive stops. Being down, I don't know, 16, 17 points, defense was huge. But then again, to get on the board, you need to execute and move the ball around and run our motion like we usually do. And it was a little different tonight. It wasn't the usual motion that we do. So we're going to have a whole week to work on that. But defense was key in the beginning of the second half.
Question: Either of the girls. With Larsen having the game she had, obviously Utah has other names. Was last a girl that a player that you guys were willing to let go in order to maybe make some other stops there on the floor?
Dani Kubik: No, they are a really good team, and we, just like Brosh said, we didn't play our defense. She was one girl and had to guard and we just didn't complete it.
Ambrosia Anderson: No, I mean you have to treat all the five players out there as they're all threats. And when we don't, results like this happen. So we focus on, you know, Smith and Shona, and the other three have to step it up. They know they have to because they know the whole league is after those two. So, we just we slipped up defensively against those three, especially Wood or whatever her name is.
Question: Coach, this is for all three of you, but if coach if you could start out. This has been one of your best seasons ever. And to end it this way against a team that you've had a history with, why Utah? What is it? Is it something mental? Why does it have to be against Utah that you lose against?
Coach Jeff Judkins: You want me to answer first? Every team in this league matches up differently. As you saw yesterday, TCU had a very difficult time playing us. They would have much rather played Utah in the semifinals than us. Part of it is we pound the ball inside and they couldn't stop us. The other side of the coin, they had quickness to be able to switch on Utah and not worry about Utah does not have a post game whatsoever. And so they didn't have to worry about that, and so they had the quickness to guard them out there and not get beat one on one. If I had to do this again, I would have listened to some people that told me to do some things, but it's hard when you're successful in the way that you coach your team to go change something for one team. And I think what's happened, is just certain match ups are better. What they do is they don't guard the non shooter and hope they don't hit it. If tonight Melinda Johnsen was hitting three's, they'd be sitting in the stand saying, Why did they let Johnsen shoot three's? That's how she plays it, she plays it very conservative. She's done that her whole career, and she's won a lot of games doing it, and maybe I need to look at it that way sometimes. Utah is a very good team. They are very well coached. They have two players that are seasoned, know how to play, and play together. They remind me of Jeff Jonas and myself when we played. They know exactly what each other is going to do. And thank goodness I don't have to play against those two. It will be fun to play them again without those two. They are great players, and Brosia and Dani are great players too, and tonight wasn't our night.
Ambrosia Anderson: I would say personally, it's not so much of a mental thing. I go out there treating them like it's another team. But I think since there's a lot of girls from Utah, they do have that deep down rivalry against Utah. Myself, not being from Utah, it's kind of hard to have Utah be my rival. I look at it as just another school. But I can see, you know, how a lot of people do. I think it is a mental game because we play amazing against any other team besides Utah. So I don't know what else to say. But it's a big mental game with our team and their team. And I guess, I don't know, I guess we got to work on that too.
Dani Kubik: Same exact thing. There's nothing to say left.
Question: Jeff, why were they open so much, especially Larsen on the outside? What was the breakdown on the defense that allowed that to happen?
Coach Jeff Judkins: Well, I told my team the key to the game was to stop Larsen, Carlsen and Warburton. The last two games we played them, they hurt us. And I told my team that you need to stay on them and not give them any shots and we'll let Smith and Thorburn score their points. I don't know why they left. Sometimes it's called just instincts where they leave because they've done that so many times and they hit them tonight. They hit them. Last night they didn't hit them. Against Vegas they missed them. Tonight they hit them. It's funny, I told my coaches tonight I said, if we can go out and play our average game both teams, we would win. But Utah seems to play their best game against us. And maybe they just have the confidence they can do it. They spread us out because they can all shoot it. They make our inside player have to chase Perry, and she's not used to it, and maybe that's part of it. But they really shot the ball well tonight. They were open too, but a lot of times people are open; they just don't hit them. That first half, going five for five and three for three by those two, I mean they won't do that another game probably. They really played well.
Question: You seem to have a heated discussion with your team right before both teams shook hands at the end of the game. What message were you trying to convey before you play another game here in the next few days?
Coach Jeff Judkins: First thing I wanted to tell my team that I was proud of them, the way they handled themselves, and the way they didn't quit. And then I told them for the young kids to remember this, this will motivate you in summer basketball and lifting weights and working hard of what happened, and what you could have had. And then I told them, remember the classy way that we handled it and the unclassy way Utah handled it. They did it the whole year. I know Brosia made a quote in the paper which they made a big deal of saying they ran it up on people. When you're up 25 points, you pull your starters out with 1:54 in the game, it's a classy way. You don't need to rub it in. That's what I told Coach Elliott. Again I said, Congratulations, you played very well, but I don't know why you need to leave your starters in with a 1:54 in the game. I don't understand that. When you got somebody beat, you noticed I pulled mine out. That's not the classy way of doing it. I played for a classy coach. I coached with Coach Majerus, who was classy that way. That's the way I coach. And she got all mad at that and said something about Brosia saying something in the paper and whatever.
Question: Just to follow up on that, at what point do you think she should have taken the starters out?
Coach Jeff Judkins: When they are up 25 points with 2 minutes and some minutes to go in the game.
Question: When would you have done it? That's when they did.
Coach Jeff Judkins: I looked at the clock.
Coach Jeff Judkins: I looked at the clock. I've watched them play the whole season. They're beating Colorado State by 35, and they're in until one minute left in the game. It's a combination of a lot of things. I probably shouldn't have lost my cool, but, you know, I have a right to get mad once in a while.
Question: You've got to wait an extra day for the tournament breakdown. What are your thoughts on the new selection Monday format for the woman?
Coach Jeff Judkins: What was the first part of the question?
Question: You won't find out where you're going until Monday.
Coach Jeff Judkins: That's right. We're excited about it. We hope that we can get a real good draw and hope that we can get a situation where we can match up good with teams, and hopefully we'll come back to Denver. We really seem to play well in this building. And I know my team is very confident and comfortable. And then of course hopefully we can do very well in the tournament. I think it helps this conference to have us, no matter Utah, New Mexico and us for sure. I think we'll be going. Hopefully TCU can represent the conference well so we can get the respect which we really need. I think this year, you know, we all of us played very hard pre season games and did quite well, and I think it helped the conference out a lot.