COACH BLUDER: Well, if I can risk stating the obvious, it’s nice to have Jaime Printy back. You know, what can you say about that last shot? But her whole game tonight, but that last shot in overtime and the free throw production, some of the passes she had to Morgan, especially early, were really nice. So this is a great win for our program this early in the year.
Middle Tennessee is an excellent basketball team. This will be a very high RPI team at the end of the year, and this is going to be a quality win. To get one early in the mix is very good. One of our goals at the beginning of the year was to get to the championship of the WNIT. Now we’re going to reassess those goals and win this thing. That’s going to be our next goal. We’re really proud to have it at home.
Thrilled that our administration has stepped up to that, and also that our fans, we get to have this opportunity to host North Carolina, obviously, another very quality women’s basketball program in our house on Sunday. So it should be a great environment, and we’re excited and ready to go.
Q. I’m sure there are a lot of lessons learned in a game like this regardless. But how much more do you get out of it with a win?
COACH BLUDER: Well, you just walk away feeling so much better about it. Yes, you can learn a lot through a loss, but I’ve always felt you can learn a lot through a win, too. I don’t want to have to have losses to put ourselves in that learning situation. No matter if we win or lose, we evaluate film the same way, and try to approach it the same way with our players as far as giving them constructive criticism on what they can do better even in a win. So we can still learn a lot through this win.
Q. Can you walk us through that last shot there in regulation?
JAIME PRINTY: Yeah, we just were told Sam was going to try to get in the paint and hit someone. Me and Dixon were both spotting up, and Sam was good enough to find me, and I just let it fly. It actually felt really good when it left my hands, so I mean, it was just a good feeling.
COACH BLUDER: She had to work a little harder than that though. They were face guarding her as she came down. She came around behind Sam, and Sam got a little screen in there for her too. But it was an unbelievable shot. She was out there a little ways too.
JAIME PRINTY: But Sam did make a good pass.
Q. Talk about the leadership of Morgan and Jaime in a game like this tonight?
COACH BLUDER: Well, Middle Tennessee is an experienced team, but we are as well. Morgan and Jaime have been starters since their freshman years, so they’ve been in a lot of these type of situations. But leadership is always important in having a successful season. We have three captains on our team, Morgan, Jaime and Trisha, and I think they’re all doing a fabulous job. Yeah, both of these guys had great games tonight.
Q. What can you say, you had that six‑point lead with a couple minutes left, lost that. What can you say about the results coming back and still getting the win?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, that’s tough to do. We’re up six. They come down, score a three. Then we have the turnover, and that was unfortunate because it gave the ball right back into their hands. They score a two‑pointer right away, and we missed some good shots. So those are good shots that we had at the end that we missed. Obviously we send to the free‑throw line to put them up three.
The thing is the team keeps believing. We’ve done it before in these situations. But we’ve had Kamille doing it a lot in the last couple years. It’s nice to see Jaime be able to be in on that action as well.
Q. Coach or players, how much better is the team defensively than last year or two? You gave up 59 tonight in regulation. Is this team better defensively?
MORGAN JOHNSON: I feel like we had a big emphasis on changing our defense to a style that fit our personnel a lot this year. I feel like we really came in, the freshmen embrace it. We came in and we were talked through what we had problems with. I just feel like early on we made defense a priority. I feel like that’s really paid the benefits in like these types of games where you can hold teams to that few of points. I just feel like our focus has been on defense more this year than in previous years.
Q. What style defense fits your personnel?
MORGAN JOHNSON: I feel like we’re not all the fastest team in the world, but we are definitely the smartest, and we’re smart enough to get in the gaps and to be able to help defense and learn those types of strategies.
We’re a smart team, and we know how to play a smart type of defense. I feel like we stepped up to that tonight.
Q. What do you say about Jaime being back from an injury, and her having a night like this?
COACH BLUDER: What’s the difference between saying it? The proof is in the stat sheets. For her to come out and perform like this ‑‑ you’ve got to remember, too, she’s not only coming off the ACL, she’s coming off sitting out of practice for a week. One time during the game she came over to me and said this is a heck of a way to work your way into game shape. But it’s true.
She hadn’t done anything and wasn’t able to do anything for an entire week leading up to this series. For her to stay out there and gut it out like that is pretty amazing. Isn’t that the story you want to hear?
The kid is having a great career, gets hurt, and comes back and has a night like tonight and having the season like she’s going to have, that is a story everyone wants to be a part of.
Q. Jaime, how good does it make you feel having a night like this, your third game in your comeback from an ACL?
JAIME PRINTY: Yeah, it’s definitely a confidence builder. When I was out there, I didn’t even think about my knee or my hamstring, plus my brace was bothering me, but I think it’s a great thing mentally. To be able to dive for some loose balls, to get hit, take some hits, get to the rim. Overall, it’s a great team win and we’re excited for Sunday.
Q. Coach, is that a trend you’d like to see, 22 assists and 24 made field goals?
COACH BLUDER: We really stress assists. We stress getting the high percentage shot. We think that comes through having assists, distributing the ball, open shooter. 22 assists tonight on 24 baskets versus Middle Tennessee on nine assists on 22 baskets. So I think that’s the difference.
But we talked about defense and emphasis on defense. I think our offense is a little bit behind now because of all of the defensive time we’ve put into our defense. Some of those turnovers that we have, I think we’re going to cure those with some time and a little bit more repetition because we have spent more time than usual on our defense.
Q. Will you start Jaime Sunday?
COACH BLUDER: I haven’t thought about it yet. I really haven’t even thought about it yet.
Q. Can you talk about the gutsy performance by Bethany tonight? She gets hurt and comes back in the second half.
COACH BLUDER: When she went out, I did not think she was coming back. At halftime, I thought she was done. It wasn’t going to ever happen again. For her to come back and then have four offensive rebounds, five blocked shots, she hasn’t had an offensive rebound in the first two games. I was not happy about that, and then she comes out and has four tonight, and they were pretty important. She comes back to have a really good game, and I’m sure she was hurting quite a bit out there.
Q. You’re in the championship, talk about it, coach says it’s a goal to win it. Talk about the next game?
MORGAN JOHNSON: Yeah, this next game is really important. We’re really thrilled that we get to have it at home. We’re thrilled that we accomplished the first goal that we set for our preseason kind of play here. Yeah, I think coming off this win, we have the energy and the excitement just to keep the momentum rolling into this next game is really going to be a good thing for us.
Q. Coach, at one point they hurt you really bad with rebounds in the second half. Did you guys talk about that because it changed at one point?
COACH BLUDER: We did a lot better job in overtime with the rebounds. But they had 22 offensive rebounds, but only scored one more point than we did offensive rebounds. They had 12 points on their offensive rebounds. We had 11 points on our 11 offensive rebounds. So we were much more productive with the ball when we got it, and they were padding their stats a little bit.
It was like last time, three offensive rebounds in one possession, and obviously, we never like to give up that many offensive rebounds. But they didn’t get a lot of points out of them, thankfully.
Q. Was there anything lasting between Bethany’s ankle, it looked like Morgan had her wrist taped a couple of times?
COACH BLUDER: Morgan had a cut or a scratch from a finger nail across her wrist. I don’t know about Theairra. I’m not sure about that one. Bethany, I’m hoping everything’s going to be okay for practice on Friday. We have tomorrow off.
Q. Morgan, I think Jaime had five or six of your assists on your eight field goals. What’s it like sort of having her out there? Can any other player assist like her?
MORGAN JOHNSON: I always love playing with Jaime. I think it reminds me last year or two years ago at the Iowa State game here. We just had that connection. I feel like she always knows exactly which hand I want the ball in, and where to get the high percentage shot for me throwing it away from the defense.
She’s overall just a fantastic player. She can score, she can assist, and she can drive. Just fun with Jaime having her back. There’s nothing like it.
Q. Is she pretty easy to find on the floor?
JAIME PRINTY: Yeah, she does a great job. She’s a big post, and most posts don’t communicate with you, and she does a great job talking and letting you know where she wants the ball. Obviously, she does a great job finishing, so I love playing with Morgan.
Q. Coach, you got some letters this morning. Can you talk about when was the point that Ally Disterhoft became a maybe to a yes for someone you wanted to bring it?
COACH BLUDER: It happened during the course of last year during her junior year of playing. I kept watching her play. I felt like she was getting better and better as the year went on. Her team was obviously highly successful. She wins the State Championship. It gets to be like the last month of the season, and I feel like I don’t want to bug them too much there because they’re trying to win a State Championship. But the week after the State Championship we invited her to come into the office, and that’s what we offered her a scholarship.
We’re thrilled that she accepted our offer and she’s going to be a Hawk, because it’s special having the best Iowa players. You want to get those. When they come from Iowa City, it’s even more special. She’s a wing that I think her best basketball is ahead of her.
Then Alexa, we’re excited about having her. She’s a wing as well, but a different style of wing than Ally is. Really, Alexa can play ‑‑ she’s played everything from a 1 to a power forward. She’s a very successful high school team and AAU program. So I still think it’s amazing that she still ranked in the top hundred when she didn’t play all summer long. That’s really hard to do.
Q. What about getting some of these hybrid guards, taller people that can handle the ball? It seems to work out sometimes.
COACH BLUDER: We’d like to have that. I think when you have that wing span, it helps in our defense. It helps us, allows us to have the opportunity to maybe post those kids up once in a while. But on the defensive side of things, being able to pass around people, it’s kind of nice to have that.
Q. You’re very, very high on Kali Peschel at media day. Is anything wrong physically or is she just a little behind where you thought she would be?
COACH BLUDER: I think she’s having a typical freshman year. Just the ups and downs of a freshman year. I just think you’ve got to stick with those kids. They lose their confidence very easily as freshmen. I have great faith in Kali Peschel. I think she’s going to be a wonderful player for us. But she’s lost a little bit of confidence, and having the typical freshmen kind of highs and lows right now.