April 6, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Joining us on the dais national champions Texas A&M. Head coach Gary Blair, student-athletes Danielle Adams, Tyra White and Sydney Colson.
COACH BLAIR: I want my assistant coach, Coach [Vic] Schaefer, here.
THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with an opening statement from Coach Blair and then we'll take questions for the student-athletes.
COACH BLAIR: Howdy! I told you all the other day, you respond back to me. Howdy! Now you're getting it.
Folks, before we talk about the game, let's talk about Aggies all over the country, Aggies all over the nation, I got letters from Afghanistan, from Iraq, and everything today, just telling me how much people were getting up at 4:00 in the morning watching.
We've got soldiers fighting in a lot of different places right now, but they're fighting for us to be able to play this little game of basketball and to enjoy the freedoms that we have.
Thank you to the NCAA, thank you to the WBCA, and thank you to Indianapolis for giving us a show. The hospitality was great.
I mean, when you have a police escort, wherever you want to go, the food was tremendous, this is what it's all about. This is what first-class -- I was there in '82 when we won the first one, so was Sue Donohoe. But look at how the game has grown.
Look at how you've grown. You're here tonight as media because you want to be here, not because you draw the unlucky straw.
You're here because you want to cover women's basketball at the highest level. Tonight, we gave you that game. We gave you that national championship game without the so-called powers of the world. The two powers tonight were the two that earned it, and that's Notre Dame and that's Texas A&M.
Either one of us deserves this trophy, but we played just a little bit better in the second half. We shot 68-or-something percent in the second half, about what Notre Dame shot in the first half.
But we found a way. I really do not like to coach as hard as I had to tonight and use the whip a little. But they responded. Danielle Adams responded at halftime on what was open and to quit shooting the jump shot and to go inside and get them into foul trouble.
Sydney Colson responded by playing the game the correct way, like a point guard should. That's why she'll be in the WNBA, just like Danielle.
And Tyra White --
Sydney Colson: Game-winner again.
COACH BLAIR: Again. Two seconds to play. We had a lob play called for Danielle. They put three people on her. The second option was Tyra coming off. And with a jump shot, with a high release like that, she has no fear.
But, folks, I'm so proud of this team, and I'm so honored, honored to coach the seniors that I have on this basketball team. They've been very, very special.
And before I quit rambling, [Notre Dame Head Coach] Muffet [McGraw] has done one heck of a job with that ball club. One heck of a job. And Skylar Diggins is as good of an All-American. She might not be Maya Moore, but she might be Maya Moore by the time she gets to be a senior.
So the state of Indiana should be proud of her and also Mallory and Novosel. They gave us fits out there. All right. I'm through rambling.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Danielle, Junior College All-American, National Player of the Year, go undefeated and lose at the end of the road, it didn't appear that you were going to let that happen at all tonight. Discuss the emotions on making it happen this time.
Danielle Adams: I had a little voice in my head that said, "Don't let this team down." And my teammates, every time we would get down, we would tell each other, we're not going to lose this game.
And, I mean, we fought hard, from day one, from 6 a.m. to practice. I mean, we worked hard the whole season to prepare for this point. And that's what we did.
And I just took the game over. I wasn't going to let my team lose. I mean, they've been doing everything for me, so I decided to take them on my back and just let them ride on my back.
Q. Tyra, you picked up a couple of fouls there in the second half -- excuse me, Danielle, you picked up a couple of fouls early in the second half but still were able to play physical, score 22 points. How did you do it?
Danielle Adams: Is that for me? Oh, I don't know, just composure. Just being patient. I knew the second half was mine. And I just had to be patient and let the offense come to me. I scored eight in the first half and I don't know how many in the second.
Sydney Colson: 22.
Danielle Adams: Thank you, Sydney.
Just being patient. Not rushing anything. Just dominating inside. And that's what I did, just dominated. And just got as far as the post down as I could and got to the rim.
Q. Tyra, talk about the shot, 58 seconds left. Coach for Notre Dame called it a dagger in her heart. Talk about that a little bit.
Tyra White: I really didn't know the ball was coming to me. The play was designed for Danielle. But when I came off I seen they were triple-teaming her, and I knew Coach was going to pass me the ball, because he's smart like that, so I just wanted to hit it. Kinda hit my elbow, too, so I didn't really think it was going to go in, but it did, I'm glad it went in.
Q. Sydney and Tyra, two years with Danielle. I mean, kind of here and gone almost. Does it seem like it went really fast? I wanted you to capture her game tonight.
Sydney Colson: It does. It seems like it went by so quickly. But we relished in every second of it and enjoyed every minute of it. Danielle has meant a lot to this program. She's gotten so many accolades that are just individual, but just like everybody else on this team, and she's such an unselfish person.
She could be a real meany, decide to be arrogant, full of herself, and she's not. She's one of the most selfless players on our team.
I've been happy to play with her for these two years. It's been fantastic. And she's helped to get us where we are right now. And I know Tyra played with her in high school and against her a lot. So she knew what she was capable of.
But I didn't realize how much a gem we had on our hands until last year. So it's been awesome playing with her.
Tyra White: Just going along with what Sydney said, I mean, I've been knowing Danielle since we were little. I always knew what she was capable of. So people are surprised now. Just looks like, Danielle, you shocked the world and you've just shown people what you're capable of.
She's a great player. I'm going to miss her next year. We're closer to Maryann and Snow, so -- but it was fun playing with her.
Q. Danielle, this is a program that's been kind of knocking at the door for a few years, and over the past few weeks you've just kind of barged into the elite beating Baylor, beating Stanford, winning the national championship. How do you feel being such a big contributor to that, and can they stay there without you?
Danielle Adams: God. God has worked through this team so gracefully, and, I mean, we've been in bible study ever since we started the tournament. And even during the season.
So God has worked through this team tremendously. And, I mean, next year, it won't be any different. Going to work hard from day one and prepare for this point again. I mean, we hope to get back to the Final Four next year with the class we have coming in, and Kelsey Bone has been a tremendous asset to this team this year in practices, pushing me down around low, and she's helped me out a lot.
Q. Sydney, what do you think this means to the A&M community that's been so hungry for something like this?
Sydney Colson: I think it's so huge, just because it's finally like, you know, we've had track and field win championships, equestrian, and those are big sports, but a lot of people have been waiting for women's basketball to really do something big.
We've won Big 12 tournaments, and that was all exciting and everything. But analysts, people around the nation, people have been believing in us and saying that they think we can be contenders for the national championship and we can make it to the Final Four.
And in the past two years we had underachieved tremendously. And I think this team was sick of it. We got together this summer, decided to have voluntary workouts, getting together, conditioning, working on our one-on-one games, and I think it prepared us for what we were going to go through this season with the ups and downs we've had, everybody being resilient, working hard and believing in one another. We were able to fight and battle through it. And I think it's huge not only for our team but for the Aggie community.
I was telling them I wish we could see like some snapshots of what was going on in College Station, just to see how proud of us they are, because I know they really are.
Q. Sydney, you got into foul trouble?
Sydney Colson: Did I?
Q. Can you just talk about how it was to play with all those fouls and the challenge posed by Skylar?
Sydney Colson: She's a really great player. She's going to be huge for that team in the next two years. But in the first half, you know, I made some bad decisions going for steals that I shouldn't have at inopportune times.
And I felt really bad sitting on that bench over there and seeing that lead slip away and I really felt like I was letting my team down, and it hurt me really badly.
Made me want to come out in the second half and work hard for them, make the right reads and make the right passes and everything like that. Just make better decisions and be solid on defense.
And I'm so glad that my team has faith in me and they wanted the ball to be in my hands and expected me to find them at the right times. And Skylar Diggins, she's a really good defender. And I think it was a really good battle between her and I and between her and Carter.
I'm just really proud we were able to go into the locker room at the half after we lost that lead and take accountability and realize we lost that lead because of us.
It wasn't what they were doing. We were not composed. We looked nothing like we did in the Stanford game when we came back from that lead. We looked like we were ready to fold. And we had to find a way, and we did.
Q. Danielle, I wanted to ask, before the tournament, before the Final Four, on the video that was on the A&M website a few days before this thing started, you more or less predicted that the Aggies would win. Do you remember those words and sort of what you said, that you looked at the Conseco sign and said, "We're going to do it here, we're going to bring it home?"
Danielle Adams: Oh, yeah, I remember those words. And I was pretty confident about it. I knew how hard these girls had worked and how hard I worked and coaching staff had worked, and I just knew we was going to take it home. We let it slip up in the Stanford game, but we fought through and came back.
And tonight we just gave it all we had and left it on the floor. I predicted it. And these girls have worked hard. So, hey...
Q. Sydney, to finish your career this way, how is it feeling right now?
Sydney Colson: Unbelievable. Just all this team has gone through, all I've gone through personally with injuries and everything, and just having my coaches believe in me, having my teammates have my back, and helping me fight through the hard times and really helping me stay mentally strong when I was going through a lot of stuff.
I appreciate them so much, you know? And I love them like they're my sisters. And I'm just so proud of -- we got to play the last game of the season together and we got a win. And it's just
Schaefer, I love you. Coach Blair, I love you. I love you all, too. I'm so proud of the way we came out and battled and we stayed believing in one another and stayed believing in God and he pulled us through.
COACH BLAIR: Do you forgive me for yelling at you?
Sydney Colson: I surely do. I'm over it.
COACH BLAIR: Thank you, I feel a lot better.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach.
Q. Coach, you mentioned Sydney Colson's future in the WNBA. Do you feel like she's been sort of underrecognized as a guard, and particularly with respect to tonight, her contribution on the floor, when she was on the bench for that period of time, that's when the lead began to erode. You did put her back in even with the three fouls in the final seconds. And then also both Sydneys' ability to deliver the ball on the nickel to Adams in the low post in the second half?
COACH BLAIR: I think they're a very unselfish team. They found out what was going to work. We started the game great. Transition, everything was rocking and rolling. Colson was dissecting.
And it really wasn't so much Adams. It was just a little bit of everything. But in the second half, when the two Syds realized they were on fumes. Carter didn't even realize that she had fouled out, because she lost the ball and then reached in and made a foul right there.
But those kids have worked so hard. Sydney is going to go to the WNBA. And before the season she was not even on the radar. But what she's done the last month of the season, she was only averaging 24 minutes a ballgame. And that's not good for a point guard.
It wasn't because I was playing my other one to get her some minutes, it was always because of foul troubles or poor play. But she turned it around and she showed what she's capable of doing.
I think she would be an excellent back-up point guard in the WNBA until maybe she gets her stride and everything. Her best basketball is in front of her, because she's just still learning the game, particularly on the defensive side.
And she will learn once she gets up there and plays with those 28- and 32-year-olds, stealing the basketball is not defense. Stopping your man from scoring is defense and playing team defense.
And that will happen. She'll get her steals, but at the same time she's just got to realize those are grown women she's playing with. But this is the type of kid that the WNBA needs to sell the product.
This kid's going to be a CEO. She's not going to be no gray-haired coach like me. She will be a CEO or she will be doing something in the business world representing women's basketball and just women in general.
She wants to possibly go into sports casting. And if I was Disney World, I would hire her right now. And, you know, I blew that line. I want to go to Disney World with my family and nobody asked me on TV, but that's where I want to go. Preferably free. Me and Calhoun could take our grandkids and it would just be a great promotion. Calhoun and me. He doesn't know who the hell I am, but I know who he is.
But I want to take my grandkids to Disney World.
Q. Speaking of Calhoun, there was a lot of chatter during the game online that this game was such a marked contrast from the men's championship last night. I'm wondering if you could just address what a riveting, tight, well-played game like this means for the women's game, the big picture?
COACH BLAIR: I hope Tony Kornheiser watched it because he didn't speak very highly of ourselves or Notre Dame or the lack of star powers. Danielle Adams, Skylar Diggins, come on? Okay.
Now, Muffet and I are not in the Hall of Fame but we're pretty doggone good coaches. We've got great staffs, and we know what we're doing. But women's basketball needed this game perhaps more than Texas A&M or Notre Dame needed it.
We're going to give the country a chance for them to be able to see you can win a lot of different ways without the kids scoring 35 points or whatever.
And not all kids have to go to certain schools. That's what's good about our game. Our kids are going to school for four years and getting an education and being successful in life. That's
what the game needs right now.
And I just wish more people would watch the WNBA during the summer, but it's hard. It's summertime.
And hopefully it will pick up. But it was a struggle last night for Butler, because I've coached the Butlers of the world before, La Tech and Stephen F. Austin. And I admire that coach. I wish I had the calmness that he had on the bench.
I'm a raving maniac over there sometimes. But that's just how I coach. That's who I am. Okay? I hope they like our style. I hope they like our kids. It's a great presentation right there.
And let me let Coach Vic Schaefer say a word on your comment there. Coach Schaefer. We gave the country the secretary of defense in Bob Gates, but we're giving you the secretary of defense for women's basketball right here in Vic Schaefer. And he has done a remarkable job, and I'll let Vic comment on the rest of your question.
Vic Schaefer: That's got to be a first, a coach asking a coach the question.
I think everybody saw how tough our kids were. We wrote on our board, on our side on defense, that the two words that would define tonight were perseverance and toughness.
And we've written that up there many times, because that's who we are. That's who our kids are. You all don't know, they live that every day in practice.
Our practices are much tougher than games. And Notre Dame had a very tough ballgame on Sunday. We had a very tough ballgame on Sunday.
So we knew tonight would be a game of perseverance and be a game of toughness. And I think you saw that tonight in our kids. They made 11 baskets the second half. I bet they made six in a row to start.
I told Coach we've got to get a time-out and fix this. He said, "We've got a media coming." I said, Coach, I'm afraid it's going to be over if we wait much longer because I just felt like our help line was in a really bad spot, and we weren't doing a very good job.
And our kids were so accountable as they had been all year long in the huddle. When you have a junior/senior team and you've got those kids commanding attention in the huddle from their teammates, holding each other accountable, it makes your job as a coach pretty easy.
Those kids take great pride in what they do. And I thought tonight down the stretch they did a great job. But they were the tougher -- in my opinion, they just persevered in a real -- both ends. Gosh, we were so good on offense and shot 60-something percent. But you think about the way they opened the second half and then you look at the stat line, they shot 36 percent.
The telling tell, when you watch Texas A&M in the future, look how many assists the other team has and you can tell if we're doing our job. They had 14 one-on-one baskets tonight. They had ten assists for 10 baskets. So 14 -- in other words, they had to create their own stuff.
And when people are having to create against our kids, our kids are doing their job.
Q. Can you talk about Danielle Adams, two years, the impact she's had on your program and have you ever had a kid that's come in for two years and done this much?
COACH BLAIR: I told Coach when we were in the recruiting of Kelsey Bone, and we lost her on a television at a McDonald's game. We got her back now. And Coach Schaefer and Coach Harris were working so hard on her. I said, Vic, I know she's the best scorer in junior college we've ever seen. I saw her the year before.
And I went up -- but can she play our system? Can she play our system? Not just what she had. And Vic kept convincing me that she could. And he said -- I said we'll worry about that defense later. She took 38 charges for us this year.
She's constantly bailing out, a lot of times, Colson on penetration. Tonight it was Carter getting beat back door. But she's always there.
She's a team player. She's a we player. It's never about her. It's about her teammates. She's a special kid. How many of you all in the audience have lost 40 pounds. And she lost it really in about three months.
Vic Schaefer: Twice.
COACH BLAIR: Because she gained it back after that first year and she had to lose it again. But she's just a very special young lady and a very humble All-American.
Q. Coach, you have credited your players, your assistant coaches, but this is your first championship. And I wanted to ask what this means to you.
COACH BLAIR: First, I hadn't credited all of them. I've got Johnnie Harris and Kelly Bond over here. They're two of the best you've ever
seen. They both deserve to be head coaches also, along with Vic. But I'm not letting them go. I've got a lifetime contract with all of them.
What it means to me, I go all the way back to what I said out there on the podium. When I was a high school coach at South Oak Cliff High School, and of all things, Dennis Rodman goes into the Hall of Fame, gets his letter the same day we get a national championship where he used to play Ping-Pong with me because he was only 5'11" and couldn't play a lick in high school, but his two sisters were All-American.
So I'll go all the way back to the best job I ever had was my high school job. And then on to Louisiana Tech and being with Leon Barmore and Mulkey and Sonja Hogg and Sue Donohoe, that whole gang. They taught me how to win at the highest level.
And then we go to Stephen F. Austin, Baker Pattillo hires me, the vice president and now the president. And coaching a 6'-and-under team to finish third in the nation one time. We didn't get to the Final Four. But in the polls.
And Arkansas gave me my chance at a BCS. All those stops along the way and the people have helped shape my life. Okay? And Texas A&M gave me the chance to come home when Bill Byrne hired me.
And all I can be is thankful, appreciative, to all those people that are out there. But to Texas A&M right now, we won this thing. We won it for you. We won it for everybody that now is going to believe in basketball, because our men are not far behind us. But we're winning in everything there, but it means everything.
What also means so much to me is my family and Coach Schaefer's family, Coach Harris's family that she's got. Coach Bond's dogs. It means everything to us, because we share it with them. We share everything that we do. To be a spouse of a coach is a hard job. It might be as hard to be a spouse of a sportswriter, but to be a spouse of a coach and to know I'm taking my wife this summer on a vacation I promised her 11 years ago, I gave it to her at Christmas, a trip to Alaska. But we haven't been yet. But we're going in August. Eleven years later. That's the life of a coach because you do not get to do those little things.
The appreciation that you have to have for your family to put up for us, because we're not a lot of fun to be around sometimes. They love us, but sometimes they don't like us, because of our job or the stress or what we bring back to the table.
And I'm already past my allotment. I love my staff. I love my family. And this man right here is one hell of a coach, one hell of a coach.
Vic Schaefer: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.