K-State at NCAA Tournament

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Kansas State women's basketball appeared in front of the media and held an open practice on Friday afternoon at The Pit, before its first round game against Drexel in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The following is a transcript of the press conference with K-State head coach Deb Patterson and seniors Shalee Lehning and Marlies Gipson.

Kansas State Head Coach Deb Patterson

Opening Statement

“Well, we are excited and honored to be here in Albuquerque. We know we have a great challenge ahead of us with Drexel, a very fine basketball team with the player of the year in their league and coach of the year and a team that has great balance. They have been very impressive on film so, the people of Albuquerque have been tremendous at this point in time and we are looking forward to the challenge.”


I think I saw a quote from you that Shalee’s (Lehning) game is not that of a classic point guard its just a little bit different. Can you expand on that?


“I think she is more of a throwback point guard that we like to compare her to players like Jason Kidd and kind of like that Oscar Robertson type of player that any night could pop for a triple-double or a double-double. Not necessarily just a scoring dominant point guard which I think you see a lot of in the modern game and today’s game. So, I think she is a little unconventional with respect to the fact that she can leave the floor as a 5’9” point guard with 12 rebounds and 13 points and 13 assists that you don’t see a lot of that in today’s game you tend to see point guards heavy with the scoring and quality assists numbers.


The other thing about her is as you watch her compete and you see her finish it at the rim, a lot of her finishes are rather unconventional. They’re very hard finishes. She doesn’t necessarily have athleticism horizontally; she finds a way to get to the rim and finish. She has got a very unique style and its very fun to watch and its been extraordinary throughout her career the impact that she has made in the league and now nationally.”


Coach I asked Marlies (Gipson) about what she went through in February What have you seen in the biggest difference in her game and what has made her able to score the ball the way she has been playing.


“I think Marlies (Gipson) just continued to fight through the emotional drought, that a couple of poor games could bring, two becomes four and it gets even heavier and the weight emotionally gets pretty tough.  I think the biggest difference in her now as opposed to when she was struggling is that she has really asserted herself. Every trip up the floor she is bringing a disposition of being a factor. A factor being a catch, and being a scorer. She was struggling. She was conceiting as a scorer, she was looking to give the ball to someone else. Part of that again was just our team as a whole wasn’t necessarily where I think we are, but we have changed and she has changes and you can see her aggressive presence and we are an aggressive presence as a team.


More than anything I think it was a change in her willingness to be aggressive and assertive and dominant every trip up the floor and the offensive end and I think she lost touch with that for a while offensively and lost a little confidence and hid a little bit off the catches and now she is not hiding anymore.”


Student-Athlete Quotes: Senior guard Shalee Lehning and senior forward Marlies Gipson

For Shalee, I know you had a triple-double since coming back from “mono,” but how tough was that to come back from?


Shalee: "I continue to improve everyday and I definitely feel that I am back on track right now into my recovery, but it was definitely a long process and anyone who has ever had mono understands how difficult it was and how tired you get.  I have had time to rest, and the coaches did a good job of giving me the time I needed to rest and using me in minimal reps in practice and this has allowed me to be able to play."


During practice, did the elevation have any effect on you Shalee, and do you anticipate having any problems with it tomorrow?


Shalee: "Actually it wasn't too bad this morning, so that's a positive thing.  It's good for me to see how my body was going to respond to that.  We've played in several venues where we have been in high altitude.  Even at Colorado just a few weeks ago we had to do it, so my body has pretty much adapted and adjusted and my teammates' as well."


Marlies, what has been the key to breaking out of your funk?


Marlies: "I think just coming into each game and not thinking about the funk I went through, and just coming out an being aggressive, and looking for the opportunities where I can help out my team.   And I think these past few games we've had, we've definitely worked as a team."


Shalee, looking back on playing driveway hoops with your brother growing up, I know he played football at Wyoming, has that helped you in being as physical as you need to be to rebound the way you do


Shalee: "I definitely think it had a lot to do with I kind of player I am.  My brother would block every shot and just tell me to find a way to get around him.  I was something that at a young age I didn't like, but at the same time, that's just life, it's part of it.  And so for me, I had to learn to play bigger and better in the back yard, and so it kind of transitioned as I've gotten older into college basketball."


For both of you seniors, can you talk about the pressures of this possibly this being your last game, with the win or go home


Marlies: "I think you can definitely think about that, but I think just coming into the game you just look to obviously compete at your best.  Just the fact that it could be your last game you want to take everything in and I am looking forward to it."


Shalee: "This has been the most amazing four years of my life and it's been an amazing ride and I have cherished every moment of it.  And for this to be my senior year and for us to be at the NCAA Tournament, it's awesome.  So we are not focusing on, could this be our last game? We are going to focus on going out to play our hardest, so as long as we leave everything out on the floor then we can live with no regrets.  So for us, it’s more of us going out to attack this game like we've attacked it all year,"


Marlies, in breaking down your opponent, what have you seen that you might be able to exploit, offensively or defensively?


Marlies: "I think we are just going to come into the game and compete how we have been these past four games, and we face a lot of different teams and that's just the great conference of the Big 12.  I think the key for us is to play as a team of five and the rest will take care of its self." 


You didn't see anything in particular that you could take advantage of?

Marlies: "No, we are just going to come out and play."