2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament
First and Second Rounds
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Ohio State Press Conference Transcript
March 20, 2009
REPORTER: This Sacred Heart team was — a Sacred Heart team was in Columbus a couple years ago. Are they a lot different than the team three years ago?
COACH FOSTER: Yeah. I think we
played earlier in the season and this team has
won 21 games in a row. The make-up of the
personnel will be different, and the players
that were on that team were very young in their
development. I believe there’s maybe three or
four of them that were there at that time, so
different. But the experiences, they’ve grown a
lot, whether it’s regular season, and they —
they’ve been a lot of places in that season or
the next — I think they were in the NCAA
Tournament. So, obviously, the environment is
something that they’re used to.
REPORTER: What is it that concerns
you the most about what they do?
COACH FOSTER: I think they’re a very
good offensive team. I think they have a bunch
of players that can shoot the 3. Their post
player runs very well. And I think they’re a
very aggressive basketball team.
REPORTER: Jim, how’s the preparation
any different this year than other years? I
mean, do you try to switch things up? Do you
try to just do the same thing every year going
into this tournament in terms of what you tell
COACH FOSTER: Well, it depends on
what kind of semester we’ve had academically, or
quarter. See, we just finished finals, so we
had the last week of class and finals week. So
when I looked at our grades, I realized that we
could be — now, give them a couple days off
after the conference tournament and then go into
a mode of sort of aggressiveness, did some
fundamentals, but our academics looked to be in
great shape and looked like our players had
taken care of their business during the quarter.
That’s a big deal at this time of
year. If you want the excuse of finals, you
have it. But this team doesn’t think that way
and prepared, did a good job through the course
of the quarter. So we had a very spirited
couple weeks of practice, a lot of fun, in
REPORTER: And I also want to ask
Jantel this same question. You motioned their
post player. Who does she remind you of, if
anyone, that you guys have seen recently? And
I’d like you ask you, Jantel, what you think of
COACH FOSTER: Is there anybody
working at the Dispatch?
REPORTER: In the office? No.
COACH FOSTER: Well, I think Jantel
runs better than any post player that I’ve
coached, and I always said I think she runs as
well as any post player in the country. I sort
of told her the other day that this kid really,
really gets up and down the floor, and it’s
going to be a great challenge because you’re
going to have to run both ways very hard. I
think that our post kids run very well, all four
of them, and looking forward to watching that
mini game within the game, which is sometimes a
lot of fun.
JANTEL LAVENDER: I can only go by
what Coach tells me and film, what I see on
film. She is a solid post player. She can
score in the low block and she can run, too. I
think my main focus for the game is to get her
out of her comfort zone, which is the low
blocking, and just run with her, like Coach
tells me and play post seasons like I have.
REPORTER: Is there someone that
you’ve played with that she reminds you of at
JANTEL LAVENDER: Not per se. I
don’t know anybody.
COACH FOSTER: Kid from Minnesota runs
hard, but there’s a difference in size.
REPORTER: For the players, the last
eight games, there’s been sort of a different
mindset for this team right now. Coach has
talked about from the second half of the Iowa
game on. Just talk about that, the different
mindset you’ve had those last eight games.
What’s tipped that off for you guys?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think once
everybody realized how much fun it is to play
hard and how fun it is to get steals and be
ferocious on defense, I think our team has grown
on so many levels. I think the Iowa game we
played in the tournament was like the separation
of how our team can be great and how our team
can be good. And I think everybody realized
what they have to contribute to the team in
order for us to be that great team.
SHAVELLE LITTLE: Going to the team
and the Big Ten tournament, our main focus is to
be ferocious, and we did that. We came out.
Everyone was playing really well on defense. It
just shows that defense can win the games. A
lot of the teams turned the ball over, so it
helped us out a lot.
REPORTER: I’ll ask the loaded
question, I guess. Do you feel that you have
something to prove after the last couple of
first round failures the first couple of years?
How about the players? Do you feel that you
have something to prove after the last two
STAR ALLEN: No.
COACH FOSTER: First of all, you don’t
dwell on the past. Secondly, I’ve been doing
this for 31 years and I’ve seen some terrific
coaches go through the same situation. And
every team is different. This year’s team has
nothing to do with last year’s team, nothing to
do with the year before. There’s a different
mentality. It’s a different group and different
burn. They got a little fire in their belly,
maybe a lot.
REPORTER: Jantel, this is your second
one of these, second NCAA Tournament. Was it
what you thought it was going to be last year or
was it a little bit different, and how does it
help you having been through it one time before?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think it was what
I expected it to be last year, but — I don’t
know. I just think that we came out not as
focused as we needed to be to win that first
round game. I think our team, like Coach said,
is different this year and we’re not dwelling on
the past. We’re just going to take this Sacred
Heart game and take one game at a time and just
play from there.
REPORTER: Coach had just talked about
how you guys have gotten back on the court since
the Big Ten tournament and he used the word
spirited. For the players, how would you
describe what these practices getting ready for
this game have been like?
STAR ALLEN: I would agree with Coach.
It has been a lot of fun practicing. It’s been
hard, but it’s fun at the same time. And it is
spirited. Everybody’s loud and talking.
REPORTER: Is that what’s made it fun?
STAR ALLEN: Yeah, I think that is
what makes it fun, when we talk. We talk to
each other as far as, like, on defense and
REPORTER: For Samantha, I think
you’re up there — yeah. What do you anticipate
it’s going to be like when the ball goes up
tomorrow? Do you have any idea? You’ve been in
hostile environments, you’ve been in big crowds.
I’m just wondering, what do you think it’s going
to be like?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: It’s going to be
like a regular game, I think, but there’s a lot
more at stake with going home. But I think it’s
just going to be a lot of fun, actually. It’s
going to be exciting.
REPORTER: Jim, again, you’re home,
but this really isn’t your home court.
COACH FOSTER: Huh-uh.
REPORTER: Does that make a difference
in any way? Maybe with the tournament, when
teams are in, like, New Jersey, they shouldn’t
be at Piscataway or Rutgers, at other arenas.
COACH FOSTER: This game is so young
in its growth that you can’t have the ideal
scenario. Would we rather be at the Schott? Of
course, we would. That’s where we are every
other day and we would consider ourselves home.
But as long as attendance is going to be part of
the equation for success and crowd environment
is going to be part of the equation for
television success, we have to go through these
I mean, this game — if you take the
men’s game back — it started, what, 1938? —
and you add about 25 years, that’s about how old
we are, maybe 26 or 7. What was the men’s game
like in 1960? I don’t think anything like it is
And that’s where we are, and we have
to do certain things as a result of that.
Hopefully we’ve grown to the point that big
crowds don’t affect you, because if we play in
front of them more often so that when you go
into an environment like that, you don’t have
the problems that used to exist way back when,
when we first started this thing.
So I think the game is growing. I
think it has grown in certain dimensions. But
as we continue to grow, these situations are
going to be there, and you just have to deal
with them. And mature teams handle it and the
REPORTER: Sammi, you guys did play
here one time and Cleveland State at one time.
How’s the shooting background here as opposed to
the Schott, which you see every day?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: It’s a little
different, but, I mean, it’s not too much of a
difference where it would affect the game or
anything. We’ve just got to get used to it. I
think playing those two games helped us out.
But, yes, it’s not that big of a difference.
REPORTER: Do you have an advantage
being right here in Columbus, do you think, over
the other teams?
SAMANTHA PRAHALIS: Yes and no. I
mean, we have a fan base here, so that would
kind of be an advantage, if there was, but not
too much, because when you go out and play, it’s
not really about the — it’s just the teams
playing. So yes and no.
REPORTER: This is for Star. Last
year, you came back as the team got into the
tournament after missing the Big Ten portion of
the season. How different is this playing for
you now after last year?
STAR ALLEN: Like the Coach said, it’s
two different teams from this year and last
year. Like, this team is better to work with
REPORTER: Jim, how much is the fire
that you speak of attributed to being a
relatively young team? Have you found through
your career that maybe more enthusiasm for a
younger team because they’re not sort of jaded?
COACH FOSTER: I understand your
question. I understand where it’s coming from.
But Star is not a senior — I mean, is a senior,
is not a young player. I would think that the
team would tell you that her enthusiasm and her
energy the last couple weeks has been right
there with, you know, the youngsters. Now,
Sammi loves being on the floor. It’s very
obvious that she loves being on the floor. But
Star loves being on the floor. That’s obvious,
too, to our team.
And the person — if Shavelle didn’t
come to practice for some reason, it would be a
quiet gym, because she just never shuts up, and
in a very positive way. So, no, it’s not the
young players; it’s the whole group.
REPORTER: Shavelle, how ready are you
guys for tomorrow to come, and how eager are you
for tomorrow’s game?
SHAVELLE LITTLE: I think we’re
really, really focused. All the big games we
had this year, it just feels the same way. We
feel like would have a lot of composure and
we’re really loose. I think we just have to do
what we have to do in order to be successful in
REPORTER: And just with Jantel, a
different feel than last year than altogether
and in every aspect of the game, is it different
from last year’s first game?
JANTEL LAVENDER: I think I can say
yes because overall this team has a different
mindset about winning. Not that last year’s
team didn’t, but I think that everybody’s just a
little bit more passionate this year, because
Sammi’s passion is floating over to everybody
else. Different people’s passions are starting
to come out because we have the leadership at
the guard position. I would say yes, because
it’s fun to be on this team and I think
everybody wants to win, and you can’t help for
that environment to be fun.