Creighton NCAA Pregame Press Conf. Transcript (3/24)

March 24, 2013

Jim Flanery, Creighton Head Coach

(Opening comments)
"We're happy to be here, but we're not happy just to be here. That's got to be our mentality over the next 30-or-so hours. We loved what we did yesterday and the determinedness. It was a good day for our team and our program, but tomorrow is as good of an opportunity as we've had for our program. What we do in terms of preparation for today and tomorrow is critical to what's going to happen tomorrow night. We've got to be really sharp and focused. We have a great idea of what we need to do to win. That's our mindset. I loved our composure yesterday. I said yesterday that I thought we had a look about us. Our bench was tremendous. Our body language was great. Those things all have to be in place tomorrow because we know the challenge of playing Tennessee at Tennessee is going to be very difficult."

(On 3-point shots helping on Friday)
"We talked about it a lot. We feel like we can guard their shot attempts. Sometimes, when you're playing someone more athletic and a little bigger, it's not what you're worried about. That wasn't necessarily what we were worried about. We were worried about second shot opportunities. Look at their stats: Alexander has 4.8 offensive boards a game, Tyson-Thomas averaged over 3. I felt like we're not a great rebounding team. I try to tell our kids: "Here's what their coach is saying. "You guys can beat this team up on the glass." That's what Coach Hillsman is saying." He's emphasizing that for their team, so we have to be competitive on the glass. What surprised me is that we got that many offensive rebounds. I thought we'd get our share, because they're a better offensive rebounding team than defensive, but I did not expect to get 16 offensive rebounds. The first 10-12 minutes, we were good on the defensive glass, then we let up later in the game. Being in the game, shooting as poorly as we did in the first 12-14 minutes and still being in the game was a huge shot of confidence.

"Like Carli said, it was because we rebounded. That was our best stretch of the game in terms of rebounding. We reverted back to not being a great rebounding team the second half of the game, but we also started doing the things we do well, well, the rest of the game. That was important. If we had not rebounded well early in the game and been down 12-14 points, I don't think we would have the outcome we did. Tomorrow will be the same way. We'll have to defensive rebound to do well. It's one thing to tell your kids they have to rebound and to tell them they have to play in play and stay behind the ball reasonably well to rebound it well. When the ball goes by you and defense rotates, it's hard to block out. I get a kick out of going to men's games and hear people yelling, "Block out." A lot of times, when defense is in rotation, there's no one to block out. If we don't keep the ball in front of us, we're going to lose. We won't be a great rebounding team if we don't keep the ball in front of us. Those two things go hand in hand."

(On focusing on the 3-point shot)
"We're not going to get-I love our post players, but we're not going to get Kayla Alexander or a Tennessee post. It's easier to get good guards at Creighton than the 6-3 post who can overpower you or dominate a game. That's always had to be our M.O. We've always gotten versatile posts. Sarah's as good of a post as we're going to get. I love her versatility. She's 6-0, so she didn't get a lot of BCS looks, and yet she's a really good player who can play a lot of places. From our standpoint, versatility in post players and good guard play is how we're going to win. I did not think this team would be that good of a three-point shooting team. I thought we would be good, but not in the top few in the country in terms of makes. Part of it is that Carli is not as healthy as she was a year ago-she was the preseason player of the year-but she's fighting an arthritic knee so she can't drive the ball as much as she did last year. Marissa needs some strength to finish at the college level. We haven't been as good inside the line as I'd thought, but we've clearly been better outside the line."

(On the biggest challenge of playing at TBA)
"As a coach, you normally emphasize what you need to do defensively. But we have to have good possessions on offense. We can't turn the ball over. Ball security is important. But we have to have good possessions. Oral Roberts did a lot of good things, but the times they got hurt were when they quick-shot the ball. They took average shots. We can't take quick average shots. We don't want the game to go up and down to much. The more it goes up and down, the more likely the crowd is to get in the game. That doesn't mean we're not going to run, but I think we've got to make that guard. You've mentioned the youth of their team. The more you can make a young team guard, in terms of connecting passes, the more chance you have of turnovers. If Creighton is going to try to make a play off one pass off Tennessee, I think we can have a lot of success. If we can connect passes and make them guard three to five screens and three to five passes, experience can negate their athleticism. And we can take advantage of some of their youth. The biggest key is that and offensive rebounds, which we cannot give up a lot of offensive rebounds. We've got to keep them to whatever their average is or less. They can't get 18 or 20."

(On comparing to Missouri)
"When I found out Tennessee was in our pod, I said, "Let's watch the game where Missouri beat them, because I don't know where Missouri finished, but at one point they were number one in made threes and we were second. Robin from Missouri was in our league from Illinois State, so that's the game we watched. We have to screen well and move the ball. The Missouri film showed us a lot that we could do. It's going to be harder to do it here than if we were in Omaha or Columbia; I understand that, but that's our chance to do what they did in terms of making Tennessee guard. That was the first film I said we needed to watch. The two assistant coaches doing advanced scouting on that were like, "Man, if you watch this game, you wouldn't think Tennessee is Tennessee. Because they weren't. But Missouri had something to do with it. We're definitely going to take some hope and some confidence from it."

(On calling the Missouri coach)
"No. There's so much film access that I don't feel like it's...You never know what their relationship is; you never know if Robin has a relationship with Holly. We have so much film access, you just watch what they do and figure it out from there."

(On watching what happened in Knoxville against Missouri)
"I didn't watch that one. I've watched parts of several films. I watched Kentucky to see how they forced 31 turnovers. I've seen Kentucky play, and after you watch the game, you realize we don't have what Kentucky has. We're probably not going to be able to force 31 turnovers. But there might be one thing. There's still that one thing that Kentucky did to get them to turn the ball over 31 times that we can do. There might be six things we can't do, because they're bigger, stronger, faster, but there might be one thing we can do. There was probably one thing they did that we can do. Probably only one."

(On free time with the student-athletes)
"We're probably not doing anything because the Hall of Fame is closed and the mall closes at 6. We talked about all those things. We've got good students and they're worried about school. They've missed class so they're going to study. We haven't really been able to do anything. I feel bad, but I am also grateful that they oftentimes do want to study. There's a group of them that don't, but there's a group that does."

(On receiving congratulations)
"I got a lot of them. It's neat that people watch. Different coaches across the country, who aren't even good friends, just people you know from recruiting or playing. That's really nice, but it's hard to return them all. You feel like that's all you're doing. It was a great win for our program. It was a little bit of validation for our seed. I was surprised we were 10-seed. Not that there's much difference between a 10 and a 12, but I did not expect to be a 10. When you win, you feel validated by that."

Carli Tritz, Creighton Junior Guard

(On having composure all year long)
"I would say so. We're an older team than in years past. I think we've been in these situations before. Even in last year's NCAA Tournament game I thought we had good composure towards the end. It just slipped right through our fingers in the last couple of seconds, and this year we made sure that it wasn't going to happen again. I think that kind of drove us all year, and we always talked about that game. As an older team I think we expected ourselves to be better than in past situations. I thought we were yesterday."

(On maintaining confidence while missing shots)
"Coach Flanery talked about how we kept rebounding and we were tough. I think in these games in the NCAA Tournament toughness wins a lot of them. We were tough enough to keep going to the offensive glass. We missed our first four shots, and we got four shots on the first possession. That was evidence right there that we were going to be tough all game. We're going to keep trying no what they threw at us. I think that even though McKenzie carried us throughout the first half but in every timeout we were only two points down, three points down. We were still in the game, so we were obviously doing something right. On the defensive end I think when you get stops against teams like that it gives you confidence. It just keeps you pushing through the game, and we didn't really think about the offensive end as much because we knew someone else was eventually going to make a basket.

Ally Jensen, Creighton Senior Guard

(On struggling early yesterday)
"We've played from behind a lot this year, and last year especially we were a come-from-behind team. That wasn't necessarily new for us. Starting cold like that wasn't really new for us either. It's happened in games before. We are a really deep team, and we rely on everyone. It was obviously huge of McKenzie to keep us in the game, and then we just fed off of that. People started to hit shots, and we started getting on a roll. That's not exactly how we wanted to start, but at the timeouts Coach Flanery was saying that only one person's hit shots, and we're in this game. Just keep rebounding and doing the things that we need to do to win, and we'll start hitting shots."

(On having composure all year long)
"I think a lot of it is credited to the way Coach Flanery schedules, and we've played a tough non-conference every year he's been here. You get a lot of experience in the non-conference playing teams like Nebraska and South Florida and Kansas who all won their games yesterday, so we've played teams like Syracuse before. Even though Marissa and some of our kids are freshmen, they've at least gotten a couple of games under their belts, and we are an older team with more experience, and we just really believe in each other and believe in our coaching staff."

(On the pressure being on Tennessee, being relaxed tomorrow)
"I think we feel pretty relaxed already surprisingly. We're definitely putting pressure on ourselves to prepare the right way. In film and practice today we're just going to lock in just as much as we can. We were at the game yesterday. We see how loud it can get. Their attendance is like top five in the country, so we're aware of that. I think it was helpful to sit there and see them play yesterday. But, I don't think that we're going to be hopefully rattled or nervous or anything. We're excited for the opportunity and believe that we have the chance to win the game."

Marissa Janning, Creighton Freshman Guard

(On having so many players that can shoot the three)
"I think that because we have so many players that can shoot the three it's really hard for teams to guard just one or two shooters like most teams usually have. For us you have to guard almost everybody. Everybody is capable of shooting the three. But also if the three-pointer isn't falling we have the ability of going inside. We got the open shots we wanted, and we weren't making them except for McKenzie. We knew that we had to keep shooting. They can't defend five shooters on the floor."

(On ball security tomorrow)
"Ball security is going to be very important for us tomorrow. I know ball security has always been a big thing for us. For me as a point guard I need to make good decisions because Tennessee is very good in transition. Every turnover that we have is going to be a layup for them. We have to be strong with the ball."





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