K-State Addresses the Media at NCAA WBB Championships

Jalana Childs

March 19, 2011

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STORRS, Conn. - Kansas State met with the media and held an open practice Saturday at Gampel Pavilion in preparation of its NCAA First Round matchup with ninth-seeded Purdue on Sunday. The game will tip at approximately 1:30 p.m., CDT and will be televised nationally by ESPN2. Live video can also be found online for free at www.ncaa.com.

Below is a transcript from Saturday’s media activities in Storrs, Conn.

Kansas State Head Coach Deb Patterson
On the experience of getting to the NCAA Tournament?
“It’s wonderful.  We’re thrilled to be here. It’s exciting.  It’s really tremendous for the younger players in our program and for players like Jalana Childs, Branshea Brown and Kelsey Hill – the three active juniors and seniors we have, it’s just a great overall experience.  It’s great to cap a season in which I think they continued to get better throughout the course of the year. I could never have envisioned this in October.”

On playing their best basketball late and playing to get into the NCAA Tournament?
“I think the big thing for this team that opened the door was that they did get a little better every week. Down that stretch run in late February and early March, they elevated their game.  We had an opportunity to play ranked teams down the stretch.  I think the wars in the BIG 12 really tested our young people. They got tougher and a little bit smarter and came up big in that time of year when you really hope they’ll be able to do just that.  It was exciting for us as a staff and as a program to have that feeling that we were heading into late February and early March with momentum. As you said, I think we are playing our best basketball.”

On the experience for the younger players getting here?
“It’s big for players like Brittany Chambers and Taelor Karr that have played a lot of minutes early in their career.  Although they are sophomores, they have almost played junior minutes relative to other people in the game.  To have this window of opportunity open to them and to get to the NCAA Tournament is extraordinary.  Not only are they handed the opportunity to play, but they have major responsibilities on their shoulders as they moved into the BIG 12 Tournament and into the NCAA.  That’s a unique situation for young players as well.  Nothing but great things for them to build on in their career.  Players like Chantay Caron and Brianna Kulas and some of the truly younger players that don’t have the opportunity to play a lot minutes, this opens a whole new world to them to play big-time college basketball and to show them what big-time college basketball is like.  I thought we were opening huge doors to them.  These weren’t high school All-Americans who traveled all across the country, so even playing in the BIG 12 was a big window for them to understand the magnitude of the women’s game.  Now to have the opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament is extraordinary.  Even as we walked off the bus and into the hotel and there were K-State banners hanging around.  Every little thing to young players just elevates their overall understanding of how big this truly is and what an awesome opportunity it is and the attention that’s garnered for being part of the NCAA Tournament.  I think it’s automatic for the higher profile teams like Connecticut, Tennessee and Stanford.  Those are ESPN quality programs.  For these young people, this is a big step.”

On the depth of the Big 12 and having a tough game every night?
“We certainly, those of us that compete in the BIG 12, feel that way.  When you line up against the 12th rated team in our league, this year it could have been Missouri or Colorado, well Colorado beats top-15 Oklahoma at Colorado.  Missouri was a basketball team that, despite their record competing in the BIG 12, could line up against any team at home, it would have been tougher on the road, any team at home, short of Baylor who established themselves as the juggernaut in our league, and competed and really have had an opportunity to win on any day.  That’s part of the challenge of competing for us in the BIG 12 because there’s not a game you look at and take a deep breath and say, “Ok we should be good tonight”.  If you do that you’ll flat out get beat and beat badly by and large.  Your players have to learn how to stay at a peak for a very long period of time. That’s why I think peaking at the end of the year can be a great challenge.  Those top-heavy programs, like a Baylor or Oklahoma that’s been in Final Fours recently, they understand how to do that.  The rest of us are fighting our way into finding a way to not be burned out by the time late February and early March rolls around because the league is so balanced.  But I will say that Texas A&M and Baylor were a notch above the rest of the league this year.”

On similarities between Kansas State and Purdue?
“I think we are programs that really try to build around very hardworking, unselfish players.  We work extremely hard to recruit around players that fit our philosophy and our mold and system.  We are pretty consistent year in and year out how we’d like to play.  We depend on extraordinary personalities and character to carry our program.  We bring that blue-collar work ethic I think. To that extent, I think the foundations of our programs are similar. I think Coach Versyp would say the same thing.  I think she would agree that we both play in those Midwestern leagues where we remain true to the character of the Midwestern player coming out of high school and the AAU ranks.  Generally speaking, we don’t have huge reach nationally with the young people we compete and attempt to win with.  In that case, we are both that sort of home-grown program so to speak.”

On how Purdue compares with someone from the Big 12?
“I felt like they were a mix of, in certain respects, that they remind me a little of Texas.  If you look at (Chassidy) Fussell at Texas and (Brittany) Rayburn at Purdue.  Then you look at those big guards that create a lot of different ways to score the basketball.  Then you look at the athleticism they bring to the floor and the physical dimension of the players, I see similarities between Texas and Purdue.  I also see sort of that work ethic when Purdue’s playing their best basketball that’s when I see a resemblance of Nebraska a year ago.  I see sort of a mix of programs in there.  I think they are a very, very good basketball team that really depends on a lot of young players to be as good as they are.”

On Jalana Childs’ health progression this week?
“It continues to be a day-to-day evaluation.  I think she has had a good week. We are going to remain hopeful until the ball’s tossed up that we’ll be in a position to play her. That’s definitely our hope.  We’ll find out quite honestly on gameday.”

On what makes Brittany Chambers an outstanding player?
“She’s versatile. She can hit you with the three or beat you off the dribble to the rim. Right when you least expect it she’ll make a great play as a passer off penetration or on the ball.  That versatility and competition, she’s a relentless competitor, she doesn’t tend to check out of games if things aren’t going well early – this year.  She’s learned how to be a mature sophomore as a competitor.  Just that no-fear mentality has carried her through just a great BIG 12 season.  It’s made her just the dynamic guard that she is.  When you’re a sophomore and First Team All-BIG 12, that’s a huge statement.  Especially when everyone you lined up against knows you better bring a lot of attention to her.  It’s not as though she’s been hidden.  Everyone knows about her and she continues to rise up. I think it’s toughness, fearlessness and versatility.”

On Drey Mingo’s comeback story and what she means to Purdue?
“Oh gosh, young people like that are such an inspiration.  The toughness and the numbers she contributes to that team are absolutely essential, in my opinion, to what helps make them the successful team they are this year.  To comeback off of that illness and to be able to compete at the level she has is inspiring and is also a great story for other young people to see that toughness and that resolve and determination that she has inside.  You can’t can that up.  That’s inherent in her. Obviously her coaches and that program have brought that out of her as well but for other young people to look at that instead of what might be modeled in today’s modern athletes is inspiring and that’s a toughness that I think everyone who coaches wants.  It’s easy when you get devastated by illness and injury to fade away. It’s not easy to come back.  It’s hard enough to do it when you are healthy.”

On expectations with Purdue in a typical 8 vs. 9 game?
“Well you know, I hope – I shouldn’t say I know – but I hope it’s just a war.  I think 8-9 matchups, if both coach’s teams are playing at the level they’d like them to with possession by possession battles, and we know we are playing a program with great players and great coaches with a tradition of success.  We hope to match that quality of play that we know Purdue will bring to the table.  They’ve got that tradition of being a National Champion.  They bring a yearly expectation of being in the tournament and advancing.  It’s very rare when they are not there so we know we are lining up against a team that’s battle-tested after competing in the BIG TEN Conference this year, which is just as dynamic.  It was all over the place who was going to rise up from that conference.  We know that if things are going well for us, that it will be a tight basketball game.  If things aren’t going well, then it probably won’t be so tough or close.”

Kansas State Players
Junior forward Jalana Childs
On how she feels over the course of the week?
“Good. I really do feel pretty good. I haven’t really done much but I feel great. That’s all I can really say.”

Did you practice this week?
“No.  I actually – I hope I don’t get in trouble for this – but I had to drop something off at my friend’s house and there was a car coming so I ran across the street. I wasn’t supposed to do it but I felt good, no pain.”

On the injury and what it is?
“I can’t tell you actually, because I don’t know.  I fell on my butt when we played Texas A&M.  When I got up to walk, I had pain in my groin area and it stuck with me for a while, for a few weeks.  But I’m healing up really good, I’m feeling pretty good. There’s no name for the injury… I fell (laughing).”

Have you tested the injury?
“In the hallways, that’s about it. Not really on the court. Maybe I will today.”

On expectations for the game and the matchup with Purdue?
“I think it’s gonna be a pretty good matchup. I like being in close games. I’m excited.  I think it’s going to be a close one.  We do want to win, so we’re going to fight hard.”

Sophomore guard Brittany Chambers
On her general thoughts on the experience of the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s an unbelievable experience so far and it hasn’t really even started.  Last year we didn’t make it so we had to sit at home and watch it. It’s just unbelievable being here and we are really excited to just start this practice and get on the floor and get it going.  Purdue is a great team and we are excited for the opportunity here and what we can show people.”

On Purdue?
“This year the BIG TEN is extremely tough. They are one of those teams that’s played great talent this year and they’ve proven that they can play with high caliber teams. They beat teams that we play too like Iowa.  They are athletic and have some really good young guards.  Just high energy.”

On expectations for the game and the matchup with Purdue?
“Well we’re looking to win, if that’s the question.  I think it’s gonna be one of those really tough battles all the way through.  I’m not looking for an easy win. I don’t think anyone expects that. I think it will be one of those tough gritty games. We aren’t expecting anything less from Purdue.”

On growth this season and the difference in her game from last year?
“The big difference would be leadership playing-wise.  The way I present myself on the court and the way I hold myself – leading by example.  It’s way different than last year.  Last year I kind of held the coattails of our senior leaders.  This year we don’t have them so I’ve stepped up, not always with words but making a play when I need it or passing when I need to pass it - making the play that the team needs in different situations.”

Was there a turning point when it all clicked?
“I wouldn’t say there was one turning point. I’d say I’ve gotten a lot better as the year’s gone on.  I think it just slowly and gradually got better each and every game.”

Senior guard Kelsey Hill
You’re here at UConn, you see all the NCAA banners. What’s it like to be here and see that?
“It’s just such a great experience. You got to embrace it, you really do. This is the biggest stage of women’s basketball you can play at, at our age. You just have to embrace it, stay focused and get ready and enjoy it.”

What’s it going to take for the freshman coming up hoping to keep this going?
“It takes all the little things. You get here by working, in a month when they start working out again, that’s when it starts. It starts in the offseason and that’s what leads us to be able to be here today.

Was there something that was different about this offseason?
“I think the completive level of this team, I just don’t think people realize. We played pick-up games every day during the summer and fall. And we would be yelling and screaming at each other. When we stepped off the court, there would be no hard feelings or anything. But on the court, this group is competitive as all get out. So it’s pretty fun to be a part of all that.”

What kind of approach have you seen in Brittany Chambers?
“I think that she’s learned. Every player coming in has to learn at this level. You can’t do everything that you did in high school. You can’t do the same moves. You’ve got to be a little more creative. You’ve got to add more to your game. And I think that’s what Brittany has done. She’s added more to her game and I think she’s going to continue. It’s going to be fun to see her, to able to watch her the next two years because her scoring capabilities are special. To be able to see her keep building on that, I think is going to be fun to watch.”