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NCAA Tournament Practice Day

March 22, 2013
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION--Quotes from Texas A&M and Wichita State press conferences on Friday prior to the NCAA Tournament opener at Reed Arena...



Gary Blair, Head Coach


Opening Statement:

“I’d like to welcome all our out of town guests that are here. Hopefully, you will find that this is a great basketball venue. Hopefully, we will have more than 6,000 here tomorrow. I think it’s going to be great basketball. I started to bring up my 6’7” redshirt freshman to win the press conference by intimidation. I brought my 6’4” and 6’5”. Pratcher determines who gets the basketball. I’m proud of these young ladies. We won the SEC Tournament. We played very well in the last five ball games up until the last five when we lost four out of five. No excuses. No injuries. It was good play by our opponents and average play by us. We’re ready to hopefully go on to that next level. Wichita State will be a formidable opponent. Hopefully we will not have to play their coaching staff in a pickup game with Jody Adams and Bridgett Gordon. They were two very good players.”


On playing in eight consecutive NCAA Tournaments:

“All of a sudden, we’ve built this with so many people, a support staff, the media; people that embrace something new happening in this town. To me, you have to learn how to sell it first. If I was not a marketing person, we couldn’t have done it with our play on the court. I think that’s probably my biggest asset as a coach: I understand the media and I understand marketing and I understand how to meet and greet people and not just think about the team only. I still remember in that press conference, someone came up to me afterwards and said ‘Just do your best. Try hard, but Aggies are lovable losers.’ I said ‘that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to win championships. I’ve won enough ball games.’ I still remember the press conference with that person saying Aggies are lovable losers because everybody loves the Aggies. That set me off right there. I wanted to hurry up and recruit a team, get some fans and really get this place going. Now we’ve reinvented this arena and this complex and we’re going to keep doing more things over the next couple of years to showcase what basketball really is all about. Eventually we’ll have everyone talking about basketball. We’ll talk about basketball like we talk about football and baseball here.”


On the possibility of being upset:

“That will be the first thing we talk about as a team. If you do not have your A-game, if you walk out there on this court, you better be ready because the other team is playing with nothing to lose. Last year it was Albany. It was their first time here. We struggled with them in the first half. I admire these teams, but these teams win because of their coaches putting in their philosophy. The kids are embarrassed not to play hard. Wichita State is going to give us all that we want.”


On losing 4-of-5 games to end the regular season:

“Each one of those games was a different entity on how we prepared and who was hurt and who was healthy. We’re completely healthy. We played Kentucky in a heck of a ballgame, very similar to the year that we lost to Baylor three times. We played 37 minutes. Baylor played 40 minutes. The same thing happened with Kentucky; they played 40 minutes, we played 37 and couldn’t pull it off. We were able to beat an Ole Miss team and we thought we had it all figured out. But then we have to go on the road at Vanderbilt. We laid an egg there. It was ugly. We got our confidence back. We went in to Tennessee and lost. We think we feel good about ourselves. Against LSU, we built a 24-11 lead. Stuff happens. Give LSU credit. Now I have to rebuild their psyche again going into the SEC Tournament. I’ve got to talk about Connecticut in the men’s game; a team that won 11 in a row to win the championship. Whatever I can find to motivate a team, I will do it. In 2011 we lost the Big 12 Championship and then went on to win six in-a-row. Now we’re in a situation where we want to win nine in-a-row, but our biggest goal is to win four in-a-row and that starts with Wichita State.”


On players waiting their turn:

“Out of the six freshmen on the team, four of them had already committed before our national championship. Everybody likes to say that we capitalized off of winning it, but we had worked that hard to get a recruiting class in place. Kelsey Bone was with us every step of the way even though she was on our practice team. She could sit back and not be the focal point of attention. She sat back and studied and learned. She learned what leadership was all about. She’s never been a captain on any team in her life until this year. She came here knowing Colson was in front for two years. She thought she’d take over as a junior. Standish came in and won the starting job by conference time. Standish had surgery and she saw some time. Standish came back and Pratcher thought she would be going back to the bench. She’s responded with tremendous chemistry. She gives you that quiet leadership. Kids like playing with her. She leads the nation in assist/turnover ratio. That says a lot for that young lady right there. It says a little bit about this team and the appreciation they have for each other. This team is starting to come together as one. That’s what we’ve been striving for. And like Bellock and Pratcher were always passed up because of the talent they had in front of them, now they have the stage.”


On pressure:

“I’m used to pressure. I’m used to selling tickets and marketing. I’m happy for the 6,000 or more fans that are going to be here tomorrow afternoon. The pressure of winning, unless we go deep into the tournament, I don’t feel we will have reached our ability. I think our ability is to go deep in the tournament. We’re a top 10 team right now. I love pressure.”


On the women’s game:

“I think right now the women’s game is not just about the dunk. It’s not just about Brittney Griner. It’s about all the little stories that surround it. Maybe it would be good if Gonzaga made it to the Final Four. They’re home for four straight games. I think it would be great for the men’s game this year if four men’s programs like Gonzaga and Butler to make the Final Four. Then it would shut up a lot of the people saying you’ve got to be at this school to win. The best thing about the women’s game is we have kids for four years. The great coaches in the men’s game have to deal with one and outs. The women’s game is policing itself very well. Hopefully we won’t run into the troubles that you see in the men’s game.”


Adrienne Pratcher, Senior, Guard


On how much the 2011 National Championship impacts the team:

“It definitely has an impact on us. Our 2011 year, we had seniors that led the team to a national championship. This year, Kristi (Bellock), Cierra (Windham), junior Kelsey Bone and I are led the team to the SEC Tournament. I think that also has a huge impact on us because as a senior class, we want to lead this university to another national championship. I think that’s been a big thing this season in our success.”


On role for this tournament as a senior

“Coming in as freshmen, Kristi and I didn’t play as much. Over the course of the years, we started to get more playing time and we started to learn the game more by sitting on the bench. I think we’ve been blessed this year. We won the SEC Championship and now we are here playing our first and second rounds in College Station. I think for Kristi and I, it’s very important. We just want to leave A&M with a legacy and be able to say that Kristi and Adrienne as seniors led their team as far as they could while they were here.”


On anything special Coach Blair does to get the team prepared

“There’s nothing special that he does. We go by our No. 1 thing that we’ve been going by since the beginning of the season. At practice, we always just work on getting better every day. We work on our offense, and we work on our defense. So going into tournament time, we get smarter as a team and we get more comfortable with each other. It shows off more in the tournament than at the beginning of the season.”


Kelsey Bone, Junior, Center


On being on a young team with so many players who have never played in an NCAA Tournament:

“I think a lot of things are going to factor with that question. A lot of it has to do with the fact that, yes, some of us have been here before, but we have a lot of contributors on our team who have never been here before. So as leaders on this team, it’s our job to get them ready to know they have to go through a certain door to check-in and to know that there’s certain things we can’t do this week that we normally do for home games. It’s all about leadership. I think because we have an advantage and that we do have some people on our team that have been here before, it’s still going to build some nerves. It’s the NCAA Tournament. It’s what we all dream about. We’re really excited. We just have to stay focused on the task at hand.”


On what they’ve learned about Wichita State:

“We know that they play hard and that they’re a direct reflection of their coaching staff. They have two women’s basketball greats on their team. They have their coach, Jody Adams, and Bridgette Gordon, their assistant coach. So for us, it’s been a thing where we have to come out and we have to be focused and do what we do. They have three kids on their team that are from Houston that I happen to know very well. So they’re coming back home, they want to make a statement. So we are going to have to make a statement as well and protect our home floor.”


How with no men’s teams from Texas in the NCAA Tournament, it is a chance for Texas A&M to grab the state’s attention:

“I read an article the other day and I hadn’t realized that this is the first time, in a long time, that on the men’s side a team in Texas has been shut out. I think this is a good chance for women’s basketball to be on showcase and be the premiere sport in this state for this month. Everyone knows about Baylor, but we get a chance to come in and kind of make some noise as well. We’re excited about anytime that we can go out, showcase our school and put our school in the frontlines, on TV, and in front of cameras. We’re excited about that opportunity. It’s our job to represent our school to the best of our ability.”


On what factor was the biggest key in winning the SEC Tournament:

“I would say composure. I would say that was the biggest thing we had in winning the SEC Tournament. We were down by 10 at one point playing against Tennessee. We just kept our composure and we played. I think there are a lot of nerves and a lot of jitters and we’re going to be at home. This is the NCAA Tournament, and with that comes a lot of nerves. If we keep our composure, stay together and make sure we’re in check, I think the rest will take care of itself.”


Karla Gilbert, Junior, Center


On losing three games in a row in the regular season and going into to the conference tournament:

“Between losing those three games and going into the SEC Tournament, I think that we just basically did a self-check. We’ve realized that we are playing for each other, that we are one family and we determine what happens. Doesn’t matter what anybody else says, we make stuff happen. We determine if it’s a win or loss. It’s all about effort and us playing our hearts and showing our toughness. I think that’s what we did between here and there. I know that we are the team that’s come through the SEC Tournament and shocked the world. We’ve proven that we are here to stay and that we do mean business. So now we are that team that’s starting to come out of its shell.”




 Jody Adams, Head Coach


Opening Statement:  

Well, we are really excited about being here and excited about how far we have come in the past three or four years and changing the environment at Wichita State to a winning environment. When I took over five years ago we were at the bottom of the Missouri Valley and after five years I have to give credit to a great senior class; Jessica Diamond, Jazimen Gordon and Chynna Turner that have turned this program around into a winning program. But, the task ahead is Texas A&M. It’s a great program, has a great coaching staff and we are excited about this opportunity to compete with the best in the nation.”


On talking to the team about being in the tournament for the first time:

 “Well, I think going through this once before, when I was a first timer at Murray State as the head coach, you kind of sit back and look at the student-athletes and how excited they are, number one. Number two, you want to embrace the moment and that’s something I probably didn’t do the first time at another institution. But, this is the second time being able to be a head coach going into this situation, and we want to embrace the moment. These young women worked extremely hard. They came to Wichita State when I was selling a dream, and that was it, it was bottom line, a dream. We were at the bottom of the MVC, but this is what I believed we could do, and we had a ton of support from our administration and staff and great kids like the ones up here to my right. We have been able to do this, so we want to embrace the nerves, we want to embrace the anxiety, it’s the reason why we have these things, but you have worked hard to feel those - the nervous jitters, the things you feel going into something like this - so we want to embrace it and step out there and compete. Like these guys said, we put on our shoes no different than Texas A&M puts on their shoes. We will go with our game plan against their game plan and our kids against theirs, and we will compete.” 


Touch on the three Texas players coming back to Texas this week:

“Texas has been good to Wichita state, there is no doubt about it. I love these kids, there is great basketball down here in Texas. I think the high school association does it right, they play it all year long and these kids are definitely at an advantage when they come to the collegiate level, in some ways. Jessica Diamond playing with (Brittney) Griner in high school, obviously she got to throw right to the rim. Michelle Price she rebounds the ball, she throws her body around, and Chynna Turner, she is a big forward body, she flies to the rim and she can stretch the defense. All of these girls, their game has changed, but the thing that I am most proud of I would have to say, is you can’t coach a kid that doesn’t mature in your philosophy or in your environment. These young women, they have matured and allowed us to coach them and that’s why their game has grown significantly over the past few years, especially their leadership. Without leaders and without a strong senior class, you don’t go too far at this time of the year and I have to give a lot of credit to those three seniors and those Texas kids that have led the way for Wichita State. It has been because they matured and have been very coachable.”  


On playing in the NCAA Tournament when she was in college and talking with her players about it:

“Well, I think mostly with my point guards, since I was a former point guard in the 1991, Pat (Summit) threw me out of the practices before we went to the SEC tournament. It was because of the lack of communication, and at this time, communication with your point guard is huge. You can’t hear your head coach from the side lines and you can’t depend on your head coach. You should know at this time how to lead your team and what plays to call. Those two things are very important and it’s important for Jessica Diamond be vocal and to communicate with your team of what is expected. It’s basically relaying what your coaches are saying and what you have heard in practice. There is a certain way to relay that and it takes a demanding voice form the guards. So, we have shared those experiences, of course Bridget Gordon has many experiences winning two national championships.”


“At this point in time, there is a reason it is called March Madness, nobody is ever guaranteed a game. Texas A&M will have jitters just like the other 64 teams that have been chosen, that’s the same for all of us as athletes. So we want to share that those nerves and that anxiety is normal; but you have worked for that, you have worked for the stress, worked for the media, you worked for all the cameras that are in your face that you haven’t seen in the past four years. Embrace it, we have learned to embrace these things that they are going to remember because it will help them on later in life to be successful.”


On keys to the matchups tomorrow:

“Well, I don’t have 6-foot-4 in the paint, so I don’t think we even have a 6-foot-2 kid on the team right now, but we know that everything goes through (Kelsey) Bone. She is a great player, she is a versatile player, she runs the floor well and In Gary’s millions of sets that he likes to run; the ball is going to end up in her hands at some point in time. So, we will do the best that we can do with her, and it may change how we have played thus far because we are a 90-foot, 4-inch defensive team. We like multiple presses and we like pressure defense, but we will adjust to the game and do what we have to do for a game plan that will benefit our students in a situation that they will be successful. Offensively, that is where we are different. The kid that is listed here as a guard, she isn’t a guard; she is a 5-foot-10 post player. She will stretch the defense and we will bring the 6-foot-4 and the 6-foot-2 out of the paint. That is our game plan offensively. We will go, we won’t lock the ball up. We will go and spread the court.” 


On building from the NIT Tournament last year:

“Going to Oklahoma State, OSU won the WNIT last year and we had beaten Oral Roberts at home; we had gone to Oklahoma State and we knew it was going to be a challenge. We had lost our senior, Haley Lankster, which was a huge loss for us at the time. I think that was a glitch in the momentum that we had, but, this team is so different from last year’s team. The leadership is so different. We have had 11 starting lineups in a selfless team and a very humble team. They could care less about the accolades, they really could. I think they believe, that’s the bottom line, they believe. They think that they can win and they do the little things that is the inch for us. It’s going to take a lot of little inches to beat a phenomenal team like Texas A&M.”


On what she took from working with Coach Summit:

“It’s the humbleness, the appreciation of being here. It doesn’t come easy. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s invested time. It’s a great staff and great players. It think watching her labor and her staff over the many years of what they have done and what they had given to the game of basketball in general, it has been built around a great person. She isn’t just a great coach, she is a great human being and I think I take more of who she is as a person than the X’s and O’s. That’s what everyone needs to know. That’s the most valuable part, who she is as a women and a leader in the game today.”


Jessica Diamond, Senior, Guard


On playing in Texas again:

“It means a lot. We haven’t had the chance to play in Texas throughout the years I’ve been here. I’m getting to play against some of the girls I played against in high school. It’s exciting.”


On playing in their first NCAA Tournament game:

“It’s going to be a great matchup for us. Texas A&M is a great team. We’re ready to play Shocker basketball. We came here to compete, not work. That’s been our philosophy this entire season.”


On some of the upsets in the men’s tournament:

“It definitely gives us motivation. That’s why it’s called March Madness. Anything can happen. It’s all about the team that goes out and plays the hardest. Whoever executes their game plan the best will be successful. I believe anything can happen. We’re going to show that when we play.”


On coaching experience in the tournament:

“We follow our coaches’ leadership. They’ve been in a lot of positions that we haven’t been in. We had to listen and buy in to what they were saying. We’ve been very coachable this year. We’re following our coaches’ lead because this is a first time for all of us.”


On the team’s mindset:

“I’m excited. I’m very proud of my team and all we’ve accomplished, but we don’t think it’s over. We’re not going out there to just play. We want to win, and that’s what our goal is. We’re here to compete and not work. That’s what we’re going to go out there and do.”


Michaela Dapprich, Freshman, Guard/Forward


On being nervous:

“I think I’ll be nervous once I step on the court, but once we start playing, I’ll be fine. It’s all about playing hard, playing as a team and playing together.”




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