Dec. 28, 2009
Wisconsin Head Coach Lisa Stone:
Opening remarks: “I tell you, it was like a football game. I know we’ve got the bowl game tomorrow, but it was a very physical Big Ten battle out there tonight. Michigan State’s a great team. They rebound the ball with relentlessness and I thought we did a really good job of boxing out. I thought it was going to go right down to the wire there and that’s something we can shore up.
Rae Lin D’Alie’s energy and her leadership out there on the court was just simply outstanding. She had six steals (and) seven assists. I’m not quite sure of her line, but her leadership on the court and her energy in talking in timeouts about finishing the play and getting things done and let’s play to win.
We sputtered a little bit late but held on to win. Again, it was a tremendous defensive game for us. (Michigan State is) a team that averages a ton of points and I knew at halftime that we (couldn’t start) the half like we did at Ohio State and we talked about that. Let’s not let our second half be like that one at Ohio State, but I give Michigan State a lot of credit. They’re a very, very good team. They’re well coached and it’s good to win at home in front of great fans and I hope you come out for more because we’re going to do the best we can in the Big Ten this year.”
On Zastrow: “I thought Lin was trying to score offensively. She made some aggressive moves to the basket and I liked the look in her face. I’m very, very encouraged by that but your right Lin is a very good defensive player and she was big on the boards."
On Gant: "Teah Gant had her hands full with Lykendra Johnson. There’s not a better offensive rebounder than Lykendra Johnson in the Big Ten, but I thought Teah did a nice job on her. [As well as] Taylor Wurtz for a bit. Again, Anya Covington comes in and gives us key minutes. Her jump hook saved us a couple of times. Alyssa’s spin move – I don’t know how that thing went in, but it was a key moment. And I thought late in the game when Teah Gant attacked the basket, got a shuffle pass over to Tara Steinbauer late when we were struggling just a little bit and the shot clock was winding down, they were pressuring us, the veterans came through with our team.
Again, it feels really good because these kids work very hard and it was a possession-by-possession game and one that we just had enough in our tank at the end."
On Alyssa Karel’s toughness. “She came out really with a scorer’s mentality. She wanted the ball. She knew if she had any type of room she was going to look for her shot. I thought Rae (Lin D’Alie) did a good job of finding her. I thought early in the first half we got her some touches and she’s very good in the open court. We were able to get out in some transition too, which was nice to see and I hope that will continue.”
On playing Iowa on Thursday: “Well, it’s a short turn around, but it’s actually longer than we’ve had. In the preseason, we had three games in three days in Oregon, three games in five days here where we finished up with Robert Morris, so we actually have one additional day. That’s a little more rest for us, but we are on break. It’s nice to be here now that finals are over. We have some time to recover and watch film and more teaching. We’ll head down to Iowa on Wednesday and it’s important we play well on the road. We’ve played at some tough venues – at Marquette, at NC State, at Oregon – those three venues stand out in my mind in preparation for the Big Ten road games. It’s important we take one game at a time. It’s a journey this year and I’ve got a group of young women with a look in their eye and it’s pretty special.”
Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant
On not playing Allyssa DeHaan the last eight minutes of the game: “Offensively, I thought we weren’t getting much out of Brittney Thomas. I felt like that was our problem in the first half – we didn’t have guards out there who were really looking to score and that was causing problems inside. My intent wasn’t to sit Allyssa but we started to make a run and I really thought that Aisha (Jefferson and Kalisha (Keane) allowed us to press a little bit more – be a little more aggressive on the defensive end. The problem with Allyssa is that when they play physical like that, it really takes her out of the game.
She had three turnovers in the post. Everyone had a lot of turnovers obviously. But I was not sending a message to Alyssa as much as I thought we had gotten into a flow and making a little run and I didn’t want to sub just to sub. I was just looking for anything that gave us a spark. I think with six minutes to go it was a 14-point game and with a minute-twenty it was a four point game. So it was more that side of it.”
On the team's 26 turnovers: “Certainly it was us because we were doing it. But I really felt like Wisconsin was really physical with us and that really bothered us. They did a great job of attacking the ball whether it was on the block or on the dribble drives. We were trying to drive and we had a hard time just kicking the ball. I give a lot of credit to Wisconsin, I think they are very good defensively and were very physical with us and had more effort than we did on the defensive end. I give them a lot of credit. Twenty-six turnovers is something we should be able to handle, especially with what we’ve played this season. We’ve had the hardest schedule in the league. We’ve had three top-10 teams and the others were 11-0 and had been to post season. We’ve played every style possible and in every scenario possible and I just thought Wisconsin played harder and Lisa (Stone) did a great job getting her team ready for us.”
On Alyssa Karel:
“I think she is underrated. I think she is very, very good. I think she is underrated defensively, I think she is a very good defender. She’s very smart, very headsy. I think she is a tremendous talent in terms of playing within the flow. She had 21 points, but you wouldn’t know she has 21 points because she never forces any shot. She’s really good at playing within the flow and taking open shots and honestly when she’s open, she’s money in the bank. She makes them. Her pullup jump shot is as good as anybody in the lead. If you leave her open behind the arc she’s going to stick it. And the other thing she does is create off the bounce a little bit and gets her post players involved. I think she’s a very unselfish player and pretty underrated. She’s certainly someone we’ve had a hard time handling.”