March 30, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined on the platform by Purdue Coach Versyp, we have student athletes, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, Jodie Howell, FahKara Malone, Lakisha Freeman and Danielle Campbell. Coach, please give an opening statement.
COACH VERSYP: Just very pleased with our group of young ladies, how we're representing Purdue University. We have worked exceptionally hard to get to this spot and we have a great opportunity in front of us. Right now in the Elite Eight you have a lot of teams trying to get to that Final Four. We have a good, quiet confidence about us and we're excited for tomorrow night.
Q. Jodie and Lindsay, many of your players have come through debilitating injuries to get where you are. Has that done something to forge your team together at all, made you guys stronger in some way? You all seem to have recovered from very serious injuries.
JODIE HOWELL: I think when injuries come into play, your team comes closer together and it's more than just teammates having somebody to talk to and it spills over to the court.
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton: I agree, just having someone to help you through that and be there for you.
Q. For Lindsay and Danielle, you guys played in the Elite Eight two years ago, what do you draw from that experience?
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton: We've all been there and we don't want to feel like that again, we want to draw on that experience. Danielle Campbell: We are looking ahead and we're excited to get out there and compete.
Q. FahKara, the atmosphere will probably be a good one tomorrow night. What kinds of things do you draw on in a situation like this, when you have 12, 13,000 fans, most of whom are probably wearing red and cheering against you?
FahKara Malone: The biggest thing I think that Coach stressed to us and is communicating, constantly looking at each other and looking at the coaching staff on offense and defense and staying in our own little world.
That's what's gotten us this far and the fact that we get to play in front of 12,000 fans screaming against us is going to make us that much closer.
Q. FahKara, their point guard is lightning quick, what's it going to be like going up against a point guard that can probably match you in speed?
FahKara Malone: It will be fun. I've seen a lot of game film, and going left or right she is extremely fast, she pushes the tempo as much as I do. Staying in front of her is the key, and making sure I can stay between her and the basket.
Q. Lakisha, the men's team faced a similar situation when they played Washington in Portland, Ore., where they, Washington had the big home crowd there. Did you learn anything from that experience, watching that game?
Lakisha Freeman: Our men's team did a great job out there and as everyone said, we're going to use this as motivation. We've been here before, so we're going to use it as motivation tomorrow night.
Q. Lakisha and Lindsay, when FahKara had her injury, you guys had a tough stretch, but you won a number of games in a row. How much did that help this team to get through those games right after losing your point guard?
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton: You pull together as a team and we had to do that. I think we did a great job, and FahKara was our captain, controls the tempo, but we had other players who stepped up and filled her shoes.
Lakisha Freeman: I agree with Lindsay totally. Other people had to step up and had to get outside of their box, people who weren't handling the ball had to handle the ball. People who weren't talking as much had to talk a lot more. Everyone stepped out of their box and we all came together.
Q. Lindsay and Lakisha, is it better to play with 13,000 people cheering against you or better to play in a quieter gym?
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton: No, not at all. It's more exciting playing in front of fans than it is a dull environment. It's an us-against-the-world type mentality that we have to go into the game.
Lakisha Freeman: Lindsay touched on everything, so I agree with Lindsay.
Q. Lindsay, talk about the matchups between Purdue and OU.
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton: Oklahoma is a great team, they have the inside with the Paris sisters, and they have a great point guard and it's going to be a great match up, just a question between who is going to play harder and want it more.
Q. You guys played a complete game last night, great balance, speed, height, I'm trying to figure out how you lost 10 games this year. What's the difference? What's the difference between the team that was struggling earlier and the team that is playing so well now?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I just think we've grown as a team throughout the whole season. We've had some bumps in the road early on, and we've learned from them. This is the time where every team needs to be playing the best basketball and I think that's what we're doing right now, which is why we're being so successful.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I think the biggest thing is the fact that we have four freshmen who are playing amazing. They're coming off the bench and doing amazing things. We have Natasha who comes off the bench, our bench has grown, which is the reason we've grown so much. We have five starters here who get us off to a good start, but if they didn't come off the bench, we wouldn't be the team we are today.
Q. This is for all five. You went line dancing the other night. Talk about the experience of line dancing and who, in your opinion was the best line dancer? Coach, you can chime in too if you'd like.
Danielle Campbell: I definitely was the worst! (Chuckles.) It was just fun to do something totally different and totally new. Coach was on point. I was the worst. She knew what she was doing.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Like Danielle said, it was fun to do something different, and I don't think I'll ever do it again, but it was actually a pretty good workout, too. I'm going to have to go with Kiki, she was trying to work it over there.
Lakisha Freeman: It was an amazing experience, I wanted to learn so bad, and Coach was instructing us what to do, I have to go with me and Coach on that.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It was fun to get out and do something that's from this area that we wouldn't experience in West Lafayette, and Kiki was calming everybody down like, "I want to hear what he's talking about ,"so you have to give it to her.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It was great to do something different while we were here, Coach was good but Chelsea has done it before and she was holding back because she is from Arkansas and she has done it before, so I know she knows how to line dance secretly.
COACH VERSYP: I was pretty good, but Chelsea was better. We call her "B.C.", Big Country, so we're good.
Q. Maybe on a somewhat more serious note, FahKara, do you feel like Purdue needs a win like this maybe to garner better respect to a national level? I think a lot of people are choosing Oklahoma to win this game pretty handily. What are your thoughts?
FahKara Malone: We were here two years ago and we were in the top 10 the whole year and we got no respect. I don't think this win is going to make or break our program in any way. I think we're going to continue to play great basketball.
We do want to win this game not only for ourselves but for our University, and hopefully people will take notice once we get the victory after the game.
Q. FahKara, could you talk about the kind of things that Coach demands as far as a point guard at Purdue? What are the things that you've got to do?
FahKara Malone: I just made a face because I don't know what she doesn't demand, really. (Chuckles.) With her coming from the same position, it helps me a lot. A lot of times, being my junior year, we have so much chemistry on and off the court, we call the same plays, we know the same defenses, so it's worked out really well for us, but communication is the biggest thing for her. Coming down the stretch, she just wants me to be able to control the tempo and know who to get the ball to in the right times. So, yeah, pretty much everything.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies, thank you. Questions for Coach?
Q. Coach, kind of following up on the question to FahKara, what's your job description for your point guard? What did you want her to do in general?
COACH VERSYP: The biggest thing is she has to be the leader on the court. She has to have the toughest mind-set, 'cause I'm the toughest on the point guard because they are the leader, they have to be, in my brain, which is kind of crazy. They're the ones who are getting yelled at for everything, if something goes wrong, so they have to be the toughest individual. And I think FahKara nailed it, me being a point guard, I never did anything right, you felt like that, but it made you mentally tougher and in a game it was so much easier.
So I ride her hard, but with her being a junior, we're exactly on the same wavelength, that's exactly what you want. Her growth between her freshman and sophomore year was amazing, but she is our high-energy kid, she is amazing, offensively and defensively.
Q. Coach, much is made of Courtney Paris and for good reason, but the last couple of games Courtney hasn't really been the person that's stood out for them. They seem to have grown as a team the last couple of games. Have you noticed that? Other players on her team, Whitney Hand and Danielle Robinson stepping up?
COACH VERSYP: I think that's the key to any team right now that your other players step up. If you watch other games, they key in on different players like the one, two and three punch on certain teams, but it's the other players, like for us, Kiki shooting 9 for 12 for us, that's a Whitney Hand for Oklahoma, Danielle Robinson being able to score and get to the basket. So I think at this point people are going to key on the players that have made them exceptionally successful, and right now other players have to step up for your program.
Q. Coach, the players have talked about no respect and getting a big win. Yet your program has been here not so long ago, in the tournament every year. Talk about the balance of where you feel like getting to the Final Four puts this program.
COACH VERSYP: I think the Final Four or Elite 8, everybody that's a coach wants to go to the Final Four and win the National Championship, but we're one of the top 10 winningest programs in the country, we've been to eight Elite Eights, 100 Sweet Sixteens, our program is one of the top programs, and that's because of the administration that allows us to be so successful and the type of student athletes that we have.
You've got to have a coach that stays at a program for a while. The programs that are spoken about are people that have been there 10 to 30 years, 15 to 30 years, I've only been here three years. And there have been a lot of coaching changes, so I think the story at Purdue is we've won national championships, been to the Final Four, the Elite Eight, Sweet Sixteen, and we have a record with NCAA appearances and you've had six to seven coaches within a span.
I think Purdue is doing something right, but that's the biggest thing. Our kids know that they're great student athletes, and we're one of the top 10 programs. When we recruit, we speak about that, we know how to get it done on and off the court, but I think the biggest thing is you got to be somewhere for a while.
Q. With your team's experience, how do you expect them to be able to handle the environment they will be in tomorrow night?
COACH VERSYP: We discussed this, and you want to play in front of fans. There's no question about that. You don't want to play in a dull environment. I think the best preparation for us is Michigan State. It's very loud.
But the "Barn" in Minnesota is one of the toughest places to play. It's 8,000 people, but it sounds like it's 20,000 people. We've been in that environment, it's tough. Other teams have come in here and been able to be successful, so the biggest thing is playing our game plan, not getting rattled, us against the world mentality is what we have talked about pretty much all year. That's what we have to do, and you've got to feed off the fans. The fans don't play the game, players play the game and we've got to make sure we do the things we need to.
Q. Is there a matchup tomorrow night or an area that you're concerned about that needs to go your way?
COACH VERSYP: Yes, we've got to be able to control Danielle Robinson. She is the key, just like FahKara is the key to us. I have so much respect for her game and her growth of her game and that's why they're playing well. Whitney Hand, 25, we can't let her shoot the 3. We just can't let her have many looks because she is the one who gets the crowd going.
You hit a three, everybody goes crazy, but the three-ball does something different. We have to limit Paris' down low, limit opportunities there and box out.
Q. Coach, having played at Purdue maybe before the glory days of the program, what would it mean for you to lead the program to a Final Four, and if I could follow up, do you talk to Coach Dunn much anymore?
COACH VERSYP: You know, I'm just -- I have so much pride of being able to be the coach here. I'm very blessed, obviously, to have this opportunity and to be able to do a lot of different things and bridge the gap and continue to win.
Hopefully I will feel that I helped fill that foundation and to continue this program for a long time would be huge. I talk to a lot of former coaches that, I guess, were after me; Lynn has e-mailed me and talked to me quite a bit. Carolyn Peck, we had the '99 championship team way back.
And all of those coaches and assistants, Nell Fortner, so it is a special place, we have people out there in Purdue country rooting for us. It's great to be on the sidelines and being part of something that's really special.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you. FastScripts by ASAP Sports