#3 New Mexico 65, #2 Wyoming 53

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March 9, 2007

New Mexico

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by University of New Mexico head coach Don Flanagan and student athletes Julie Briody and Brandi Kimble.

Coach Flanagan, if you want to just give some general comments on the game, please.

COACH FLANAGAN: First of all, I want to congratulate Wyoming. They're a class program. Joe Legerski and his coaching staff are great to work against, to compete against. Their kids play very, very hard. Well, well coached. Very difficult to defend.

We had a little bit of concerns because their post players are really interchangeable. They play just as well outside as they do inside. Very difficult to guard. They probably run as complex or execute an offense as well as any team we've played this year.

So congratulations to them.

Then for our players, I was really proud of the comeback. First half we got out to a good start, then they made a nice comeback, got back within the game. The momentum had shifted. Second half we had to grab that momentum back. I thought our defense was quite good in the second half.

Then as we started to get some movement and get the ball inside, create some opportunities for our inside players, I thought that helped. Then late in the game, our activity on offense bothered them a little bit.

But overall I thought it was a great defensive game for us. We shot 50% the second half. When we shoot 50%, we usually are pretty successful.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.

Q: Julie, you were up 21 9. Looked like maybe you were going to run away with this one like you did Wednesday. When that didn't happen, what went through your mind? How did you regroup?

Julie Briody: I mean, we knew Wyoming's a great team. We knew that they were going to make their runs. We had to make sure that we stayed focused. I thought we did a nice job going into the half. They made a little bit of a run, but we didn't let it bother us. We came out the first four minutes of the second half and just kept taking it at them. That's why we were successful.

Q: For either player, Zavecz had a big game, McGuffey had a big game, but no one else really did. What did you do defensively to frustrate everyone else?

Brandi Kimble: I think our help defense was really good. We knew Hanna was still going to get her points and everything. But just to play her a hard, physical game, and that's what we did.

Q: Julie, with so many of your post players in foul trouble, did you feel like it was on you to kind of take over?

Julie Briody: I mean, I don't know. I mean, I thought we didn't stray from our game plan. But, you know, I just got a lot of good screens from my teammates and was able to get, you know, some decent open looks, was able to knock 'em down, as well as Brandi was and Katie.

I thought everybody, it was just a team effort and everybody did really well to do their part to make sure that we won.

Q: Brandi, what is it about this team this time of the year? It looked like early on when teams would put some pressure you would not regroup, but now lately you've been playing where if teams make runs you're able to withstand those, come out on top. What's the difference between now and earlier in the year?

Brandi Kimble: I think we're playing both halves. We're playing really hard team ball. We're improving. Every game we're improving all aspects of the game.

Q: Either player, do you think your team's greater tournament experience relative to Wyoming played a factor at all in the second half?

Julie Briody: I don't know if that's necessarily true. I just thought that both teams were just going at each other really hard. I just thought that we played with tremendous effort and intensity throughout the game, and that enabled us to keep the lead, you know, and in turn win the game.

Q: Julie, after they went ahead early in the second half, you scored off offensive rebounds. Once you got fouled, you hit both free throws and then scored off a put back. Is that something you take pride in?

Julie Briody: Most definitely. Rebounds are going to win us games. I know they were going to need me to do a little bit more than just score. So I was getting in pretty good position on the offensive side of the ball to get rebounds and was able to, you know, get it, you know, score or, you know, get fouled, like you said.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, ladies. We'll let you two go.

Questions for Coach Flanagan.

Q: Can you talk about the game that Julie had, especially in the second half.

COACH FLANAGAN: Well, you know, Julie's this has been an outstanding year for her. By far her best year. She's reached her potential I think as a player this year. She's improved in almost every aspect of the game. She defends well. She's a long player, not really a strong player, but she's strong enough to compete against bigger players.

She's got a terrific repertoire of moves. She can shoot the three, she can shoot the pull up, and she's got a soft touch. You don't want to foul her because she's one of the top free throw shooters in the nation. She can drive. Now she's starting to rebound. That really completes her game.

I'm amazed how much she's improved just this year. Usually when they're seniors, you don't see that much improvement over a one year period of time. She's just been terrific in progressing. She loves the game of basketball. Now she's playing the way she always wanted to play.

Q: Do you think the past 11 games, you talked about confidence, that helped them withstand the Wyoming run, especially in the first half? Do you think this solidified a tournament bid?

COACH FLANAGAN: I think confidence and energy are extremely important in games like this. We want our kids to be confident. I want them to go in the game and believe in themselves, each individual.

Everybody on our team can add to the confidence by believing in themselves not just the players that are playing but the kids on the bench that are involved in the game, the coaching staff that's involved in the game. I want all of our players to believe that we're going to be successful.

At halftime we're just talking about what we're going to do the second half to play better and play with more confidence, more energy, where we can be effective. I think that's probably the best way to approach a game.

I think as soon as you lose a little confidence you lose that energy, and then pretty soon you're playing, worried about losing. You have a fear of failure. I think this group has overcome that fear of failure.

At some point in the season when we were losing a few games, I think we were a little bit afraid to fail. Now I think we've overcome that and we're playing with much more confidence.

Q: How does this year's team compare to the ones that won three straight Mountain West titles?

COACH FLANAGAN: Well, you know, this team's really a lot different than those teams. This year we didn't have I normally have a three player that's a physical player. I don't this year. I normally have a four player that shoots the three, and I don't this year. For about 10 years we had those kinds of players.

Now we're a completely different kind of team. I mean, Timi is not a scorer at all, our four player. She brings a great deal of energy. We found a way for Timi to be effective and help this team be effective.

Brandi is not a big strong three, but her quickness and her aggressiveness have helped put more pressure on the ball than my normal three does.

So we found a way for this team to be more effective. It doesn't compare with the other teams physically, but it does in effort, it does in a belief in themselves, a belief that they're going to be successful.

Q: Could you talk specifically about how tough Julie is, how tough she's gotten over the course of her career? She hits the floor and keeps getting up.

COACH FLANAGAN: It's kind of like a skeleton hitting the floor when she hits the floor. You can hear every bone (smiling). That's why she wears knee pads. In fact, I make her wear knee pads in practice, too, because I know eventually she's going to hit the floor.

She's not afraid of the contact. In fact, she kind of likes to jump in the air through people, shoot the shot, and create the contact type of situation. She's active with her feet. She actually I mean, she has an injury that's pretty substantial. We can't talk about injuries.

I mean, if you had this pain you wouldn't be playing the way she plays. So she plays with so much effort. She loves the game so much. She can't play any other way. Consequently, that's the way you see her play.

I mean, she spent three years where she wasn't a great player for us. This year's been so terrific. I mean, I just wish we'd started a little bit earlier getting her potential. But she grew into her potential.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, coach. Good luck tomorrow.



THE MODERATOR: Joined now by University of Wyoming head coach Joe Legerski, student athletes Megan McGuffey and Hanna Zavecz.

Coach, if you just want to begin with some comments on the game, please.

COACH LEGERSKI: I was really proud of the way we came back and took the initial first 10 minutes. I know on Wednesday New Mexico jumped out to a big lead and then just kind of managed the game. I was really proud of the way we responded and got back into the game by halftime.

But I thought we were overwhelmed on the offensive glass in the second half. That was a big part of giving them more opportunities than we had from the field.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.

Q: Hanna, can you talk about how difficult it was playing most of the second half with four fouls? Did it affect you on one end of the floor more than the other?

Hanna Zavecz: Yeah, it was definitely difficult. I had to back off a bit on the offensive end and defensive end. I mean, I wasn't being as aggressive towards the basket.

Defensively, I was you know, I couldn't do much. I just stood there with my hands up and did what I could. Yeah, it really limited me in my game.

Q: Either player, you had two big games scoring wise. What were they doing defensively on everyone else to frustrate you guys?

COACH LEGERSKI: Do you want me to answer that (laughter)?

Megan McGuffey: Well, we've always had, you know, our three main scorers in Jodi, Hanna and Czarna. They'll pretty much get double teamed all night. I mean, Hanna is so athletic, she's great to the basket, has a great outside shot.

I think they were just really doubling down, making it tough for Jodi and Czarna out there, kind of getting them out of their games.

Hanna Zavecz: You know, Megan is right, they were really pressuring the ball. You know, they were really aggressive. They tried to get us out of our offense and it worked at times.

They took away our strengths in some places. They took away, you know, we like to shoot more three pointers, especially Jodi and Czarna, and they didn't give us what we usually get.

So they did a good job of getting us out of what we're used to.

Q: Hanna, New Mexico has some great tournament experience. You're still getting there. Do you think that made a difference in that second run, second half?

Hanna Zavecz: Yeah, definitely. I mean, experience is a big part of this tournament because it can go either way. Really, the experienced teams are the ones who usually pull it off. So, yeah, it played a part.

THE MODERATOR: Ladies, we'll let you two go. Thank you.

Questions for Coach Legerski.

Q: Defensively for New Mexico, Megan and Hanna had big games, but no one else could really get going. Were they doing anything else to try to take the other players out? What did you see out there?

COACH LEGERSKI: Defensively they were switching our motion offense. We have faced teams that way before. You know, New Mexico's very talented. They're long, aggressive, and they make things difficult.

You know, we cannot survive having three starters go 3 for 18. It's very difficult. When I take a look at the box score I think one of the big lifts that New Mexico had was they ended up having five other players score four points, and that's 20 points off your bench from that scenario.

That is a huge lift for any team. We just have to be able to find more points from a number of players. When we're able to do that, we usually come out on the top end.

Tonight, New Mexico was able to make it difficult for those three to be able to score.

Q: You talked about their offensive boards. Julie Briody was a big part of that. Having coached against her her whole career, what changes or improvements have you seen in her over the four years?

COACH LEGERSKI: I'll tell you what, she's very talented, first of all. She has a great desire to win. I think that's something that you can see out on the floor. Julie gets after you both offensively, defensively. She's a threat from three point range. She can shoot off the dribble. She can really take a smaller guard down inside and post up.

But I probably, you know, taking a look at competing against her, her desire to win is very evident.

Q: Your team was able to pull within six a couple times late in the game. It seemed like New Mexico would come back and hit a big shot. Did you feel like you were one stop or one big shot of your own away from getting the momentum?

COACH LEGERSKI: I tell you what, I thought we were 1 3 from Justyna from swinging a little momentum. She went 0 for five today from three. I thought she had three really good looks at the basket. I think that's what's difficult, is that when you're trying to build a program you're trying to scrap and find a way to be able to get one.

New Mexico answered every time. They came down and made big shot after big shot. All of a sudden you're playing well, but you're not closing the gap. I just thought that that's what ended up happening today.

Q: You don't have any control, but post season hopefully in front of this team, what are your thoughts? You're going to be playing in the post season in some tournament? What do you think your NCAA chances might be?

COACH LEGERSKI: You know, first of all, you're right, I don't have any control. I wish I had some. I think the Mountain West Conference plays at a very high level.

Hopefully there's a place somewhere for a team that wins 21 games, ends up getting a No. 2 seed in this tournament. It was a long two months in the Mountain West Conference. This team responded for those two months. Very proud of this group.

Hopefully there's a place in post season for Wyoming.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

COACH LEGERSKI: Thank you, everybody.