No. 2 St. John’s vs. No. 7 Louisville
Game 11 – Quarterfinals, March 4, 2012
XL Center – Hartford, Conn.
St. John’s Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Kim Barnes-Arico
“I'm exhausted. I feel like I just played an overtime game. I'm sure the players are tired as well. I thought it was a great basketball game. I thought Louisville came out and played hard. They rebounded the ball well and challenged us in every way. I think time and time again we keep proving to everyone out there that we're really a great basketball team. Tonight was another opportunity for us to do that. It was a great game, and I'm just proud of the kids.”
Coach, Schimmel went off for 11 points in the first half but was not a factor the rest of the way. What adjustments did you make?
“The first time we played them, Shenneika did a tremendous job on her. She really locked her down. We have spent the last three or four days talking about her and how we were going to defend her. I thought she made some difficult shots in the first half. I came in at halftime. The big thing about her is we said we don't want her going right because she has such a quick release. We want to try to at least force her left. In transition, if you come up and let her get a head of steam, she can get it off quickly. We talked about that at halftime. The big thing we talked about at halftime, is the most irrelevant thing is the halftime score. I said to Shenneika I don't care how many points she scored at the half. You can make a big difference in this game, if you go out and lock her down in the second half. She was focused in and did that. That was her job, and she was going to commit to it. The greatest thing about her tonight is she did that as well as score. She showed what kind of player she's capable of being tonight.”
Coach, tonight you were only really able to play maybe six and a half players for an extended period of time. How does that affect you playing an overtime game and having to turn around and play again tomorrow?
“Yeah, I think one of the biggest things we really haven't talked about is that we are down a starter. She hasn't been back, and we still have been able to pull it out and grind these games out without her. But it definitely has taken a toll, and we've had to go a lot smaller and it's affected our rebounding, obviously, as you can see tonight. But at this point in the year, it's survive and advance, and these kids got to dig down and be ready to play. They've got to go back and get ice baths and drink Gatorade. I think a lot of it is mental. They're young. You know, they're in the best shape of their lives. So mentally they've got to say to themselves they're ready to go and they've got to bring it tomorrow.”
In what ways have things changed since the UCONN win?
“Once we beat Connecticut, I think the rest of the country really knew who we were. For our players, I think that's a great tribute to them how hard they work and they're really deserving of it. We've got great kids in our program, and I'm happy that they are starting to be recognized. I keep talking to them and saying just because we're being recognized doesn't allow you to become soft. All these people out here are trying to make us soft, so we've got to continue to work hard and get better every single day. I think their confidence is at an all-time high tonight. Louisville battled back and we went down, but our kids didn't stop playing. Our kids didn't quit. They're very resilient and they kept working. I think it gave us a tremendous amount of confidence that we can play with anyone and they have a no quit attitude.”
Junior Guard Nadirah McKenith
Can you talk about the defensive effort that was out there?
“I'm kind of surprised they didn't call a foul on one of my blocked shots. In my mind I think I'm more of a shot blocker but I rebound for my position and my size so I think I'm a great rebounder. I just try to go in there and help out my teammates by getting some rebounds.”
Junior Guard Shenneika Smith
Was the game as physical as it looked from the sidelines?
“Probably worse. Louisville is a tough team.”
Can you talk about the defensive effort in overtime?
“It was a physical game, like someone said. At that point in time, you have to buckle down on defense and try to limit them as much as possible. You knew they were going to attack. They were looking for the three point shot late in the game. It was time to focus on defense and try to get any stops that we could.”
Can you talk about the defensive effort that was out there?
“We really commend ourselves on defense. We really tried to get one stop at a time. We played a four minute game. Every four minutes we should come in, and they had some tough shots. They hit some good shots with me contesting them. I just tried to book it down there and make it really difficult for them. My teammates helped me out on the screens too.”
Senior Forward Da’Shena Stevens
Can you talk about where this game ranks in your career?
“It really means a lot. Like they said, we haven't been here in a while. It's just great to be a part of this, especially my last year. To be finishing up as strong as we are, it means a lot. This game was tough. I think it's kind of getting us ready for tomorrow, because it's going to be a battle either way whoever we play. I just think this overtime game tonight is really going to put us in a great place for tomorrow.“
Does this game help prepare you for Connecticut if you have to face them tomorrow night?
“Well, we've got to go out there and watch right now who we're going to play. So we really don't know right now. But we're focused with every team we come out and play. We're going to give it our best. And hopefully we come out and win.”
Louisville Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Jeff Walz
“I was really happy how hard our kids competed. I told them in the locker room after the game I was pleased with their efforts. I thought we battled. We fought and just really competed. St. John's played a very good game. Kim does a great job. Unfortunately, we both had to deal with three referees out there that really made it a very interesting game. I'm really proud of our kids. St. John's played extremely hard. We rebounded the ball very well but struggled putting the ball in the basket on some put-backs, and then we missed some free throws that we normally make.”
How hard was it to get into an offensive flow today?
“It was an absolute debacle. You've just got to deal with it though. Both teams competed. I mean, both teams played really well. They came out focused and prepared to play. I thought we did a great job of rebounding the basketball.”
After having a game like that, what do you as a coach?
“I was excited at how hard we competed. They got us down nine in the second half, and we continued to defend. We just couldn't buy a basket there for a while. We kept going at them hard. When we would get fouled, we'd go 7 of 17 from the free throw line. Then to give St. John's credit, Kim's done a great job with that team. We get two stop that's row when it's a four point game, and get back to back offensive rebounds which leads to five points, and you can't do that with a team like them. We had them. We were defending them extremely well. They weren't scoring a whole bunch either. But when you give them second chance opportunities, it's just a killer.”
Freshman Guard Bria Smith
Can you talk a little bit about what the message was at halftime?
“Well, they pressured the ball a lot. I think that at halftime we were just trying to get into our offense and execute on some things. I think that we just turned the ball over a bit too much.”
Sophomore Guard Shoni Schimmel
Can you talk about the extra pressure put on you and how difficult it was with the defense that St. John’s was playing?
“I felt like in our second half we definitely tried to get more people involved. St. John’s played a good game. We just couldn't execute as well as we wanted to.”