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Oral Roberts Press Conf. Transcript (3/22/13)

March 22, 2013


Misti Cussen, Oral Roberts Head Coach

(Opening Statement)
"We are thrilled to be here in Knoxville. We are thrilled to be here as participants in the NCAA tournament. During the careers of these three fantastic seniors here to my left, the last four years have been very special years at Oral Roberts University led by Kevi (Luper) and Jaci (Bigham). They've had outstanding careers here at ORU. We expected to be here experiencing this more than one time during their four-year careers here at ORU. Just like this class, they've saved a little drama for us and made it happen at the very end on the final curtain call. We were blessed to be a part of the Southland Conference this year for the very first time. I'm in my first year as taking over the reigns as the head coach, so a lot of first for this year. These three women to my left have really stayed consistent, have stayed faithful during this season. Their perseverance has really paid off for them in Katie, Texas."

(On Kevi Luper)
"Kevi has been the face of our program for the past four years and she's very worthy of that with the numbers that she's been able to put up and the consistency with which she's put those numbers up. When you've got a player that hits the 1,000-point mark in December of the sophomore year in college, you know you have a special player as far as what she's able to do for you offensively. She is consistent and I am as proud of her on the floor as I am off the floor from the career that she's had. These three women to my left are just fantastic representation of not only our program, but also of our University. It would not have been complete without an opportunity to be able to participate in the NCAA Tournament with the senior year that this senior class has had."

(On Tennessee's transition from Pat Summitt to Holly Warlick)
"Tennessee athletically has always had such premier players coming out of high school. The level of players that they bring in our players that contribute from their freshman year on. You look at a Bashaara Graves, who around the SEC is known as a beast. To be able to come out of high school and make that transition in her freshman year is something you see perennially at the University of Tennessee. The elite level of recruit that they're able to bring in with their rich tradition I see that continuing with Coach Warlick and her staff. They have multiple offensive threats; they continue to receive the crowd and community support that they've always received. I think Holly was a huge part of the tradition that Coach Summitt has created here at Tennessee as a longtime assistant. She's put a lot of time and effort into the foundation and building blocks of this program as well. There's going to be a lot of consistency because she's not a new coach coming in that doesn't understand the tradition of Lady Vol basketball."

(On her team embracing the opportunity)
"In 17 years at Oral Roberts University, we've always been part of a conference that you have to win it to get the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. That's our pressure moment. Our pressure has come and gone. We experienced it at its height this past Saturday in Katy, Texas, when we won our conference tournament. Any basketball that's played from here on out for us, there's a lot of freedom and joy. I won't say relaxed because I don't want my girls to take the floor relaxed tomorrow because they would get the game handed to them, but there's definitely a sense of you've earned this opportunity so make the most of it. I like hearing two of the three girls that were up here talk about winning tomorrow. We don't show up to have the moral victory; we want to really show up. We know that we have an extremely small margin of error when you come to play a program as storied as the University of Tennessee and to be on their home court to boot. At the same time, we play them so we're excited to have that opportunity. As we've moved through this week we've had a little bit of illness that has been in our team and some things like that, but I think when the ball goes up tomorrow we'll be ready to give it our best shot."

(On waiting on Selection Monday)
"You know you're in and start counting through. We knew we couldn't be a 16-seed and I didn't think we would earn a 14-seed because we stubbed our toe a couple of times during conference play on the road; you start ticking through who the two and three seeds on the board. About two minutes before we got to the end of that final bracket, I realized the Lady Vol hadn't been called yet and kind of knew it was coming. That's exciting too, because the last time we were in the NCAA Tournament in 2008, it was against a Pat Summitt coached team at Purdue. We're hoping for a little bit better first 10 seconds with this game because we lost our starting point guard to an ACL at the very beginning of that one and we had to punt the rest of the game. It's fitting that we're able to come back and that it will be the first opponent we see again."

(On that game)
"You just couldn't come up with something like that. It was such an unusual situation, but it was no ones' fault and just a fluke accident for Marianna Camargo going down and stepping on a cheerleaders' placard. I think they've actually moved the cheerleading line back as far as rules. We had a Marianna rule after that... There has to be a certain distance from the cheerleaders to the baseline of the playing court. She made a little history with that injury."

Kevi Luper, Oral Roberts Senior Guard

(On Knoxville)
"It's awesome to be at a place where there is so much tradition and history on the court. We are just really excited and ready to play tomorrow."

(On showcasing Oral Roberts)
"I think the last time we made the NCAA tournament was in 2008, so it's been about five years. We are super excited to get out there and show everyone what we are made of and what we have."

(On playing Baylor)
"Playing the defending national champions this year was huge for us. I think, if anything, it was just good practice before this game. We are not intimidated or scared or anything like that because we've already played the defending national champion."

(On her career)
"If we were able to pull the upset tomorrow, we would be making history at Oral Roberts. No one has ever won at the NCAA Tournament yet. Ending my career at the tournament is just the greatest honor I've had my entire career."

Savanna Buck, Oral Roberts Senior Forward

(On Knoxville)
"I definitely feel honored to get to play on a court when we were growing up, we watched history being made here in Tennessee. And just to be a part of history, it's a humbling experience for sure."

(On headbands)
"We just like them a lot. That's the only story; we just like them."

(On waiting during the selection process)
"As you saw Baylor and Stanford and all those teams go up, you kind of hold your breath like, 'OK, where are we going to be and what are we going to be doing?' It kind of just dragged out the experience, but it made it a lot more special in a sense just because they saved the best for last."

Jaci Bigham, Oral Roberts Senior Guard

(On Knoxville)
"You know Tennessee came up, and we're excited to get out there and give it our best."

(On headbands)
"We are actually trying to one-up Skylar Diggins, if you must know, but it's not a big deal."

(On Women's Basketball Hall of Fame)
"I think a few of our girls have already moseyed over there and checked it out. I think that's something maybe we will do in our free time. But first and foremost, we are going to get the win, and then, we will take care of that business."

 

 

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