Tara Talks Post-Game

Many coaches retreat into a shell after a loss, but <b>Tara VanDerveer</b> is not one of them. Stanford's head coach had plenty of insight and analysis following Stanford's 76-69 loss to Michigan State.

Opening Statement:
"For our team, I was really proud of how we came back when we got down. We made some good adjustments and good baskets. We didn't make some stops down the stretch when we needed to and I think that is a credit to Michigan State. They are a great team. They pass the ball very well. They go inside well. It was a great game. I'm very proud of how we played. I'm just disappointed that we came so close and didn't make plays when we needed to."

On the inside attack:
"I think we probably made our run when we did get it inside. What worked for us best was going inside with a little bit different alignment than usual."

On the subpar 8-of-23 (34.8%) three-point shooting, highlighted by senior guard Kelley Suminski's 1-of-8:
"People had good looks. Kelley had a couple and Susan Borchardt hit a couple. I didn't think Kelley was as aggressive looking for her shot as she usually is."

On Michigan State's 3-2 defense and Stanford's 4:
"We talked about this with our team. The way that Michigan State plays their 3-2 is that they keep center Kelli Roehrig inside and help with forward Liz Shimek on the block. That left our '4' players – T'Nae Thiel, Azella Perryman and Kristen Newlin – open. We needed to be productive at that spot and we weren't."

On the two Michigan State runs:
"It was such an uphill battle the whole game. I thought Susan Borchardt did a phenomenal job defensively on Lindsay Bowen and T'Nae an equally excellent job on Roehrig. When Rene Haynes hit shots, when it went inside to Shimek all day long, then we got down and people played tentatively. It came down to making shots and we had very good open looks."

On Stanford forcing only five turnovers:
"They didn't turn it over. Haynie is an excellent point guard who ran the floor very well. They pass very well and we weren't getting the ball easily."

On this year's team:
"I think this team has had a great season and this would have been a wonderful team to go to the Final Four with. We have outstanding players to work with and every one of them gave their absolute all. We were close, with 20 seconds to go it's a three-point game. I'm really proud of how we did; being in the Elite Eight is awesome."

On the last few minutes:
"We really just struggled with making some plays down the stretch and that's a compliment to Michigan State."

On senior guard Kristen Haynie, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and only two turnovers:
"I thought she had a great game, and honestly we needed two Susans defensively. When Susan was on her, it was a great job. Otherwise, she's very crafty with the ball. She was the rudder on their ship, the whole time taking them in the right direction. We couldn't pressure her."

On how Michigan State confounded Stanford:
"They didn't turn it over. They got it inside. They got on the glass with 14 O boards. That was a huge problem for us, as was missing threes that a lot of people usually make. I'm feeling like it was a struggle the whole game. We never were able to get it over the hump."

On her halftime mentality:
"At halftime, I thought we were fortunate to be tied the way with we were playing in terms of rebounding and defense. Roehrig on the bench did give us a little bit of wiggle room when she was out, but we didn't take advantage like we should've. I just felt we could play a lot better in the second half and we did in spurts."

On Michigan State's 17-5 run in the first five minutes of the second half:
"When we came out of the locker room and right away got down, we gave them too many lay-ups. We did not get back on defense. We wanted to run, we wanted to rebound, but they ran and they rebounded."

On losing in a close game versus losing in a blowout:
"I think a loss is painful by a little or a lot. It's painful when you work so hard to get in this position."

On the loss' impact:
"There's a lot invested with the players emotionally. With me, it will probably hit at 4 am and it hits very hard."

On the Spartans strengths:
"They have excellent players in a system that works very well for them. In playing them, it's tough not to have a lot of time to prepare for them. You need time because they're difficult to play against. Their 3-2 matchup [zone] is very effective. They have seniors and juniors that are very effective."

On what went wrong:
"The inability to press them and keep them off the boards hurt. We didn't hit shots that I think people usually hit. We had to get better positioning. You have to do certain things - you can't give up the open lay-ups and O boards we did. You have to make defensive stops. They were going for point-blank shots when it's still basically a tied game with a minute to go."

On winning so many lopsided games:
"I think in this game it felt like a disadvantage to us to have won by big margins. People are looking up with three minutes and it's a three- or four-point game, instead of 20 or 25."

Whether Stanford's 15-2 run to tie the game at 57 proved tiring:
I don't know. That was our chance and we made that run. We made some good adjustments. We got people inside and got people on the move better. It would have been nice if we hadn't gotten into the hole coming out of halftime, but I was really proud of how people stayed with it and made a great comeback."

On never leading in the second half:
"It just came down to certain times in the game where if we could make a play if we could go up, it would have taken some pressure off us. It felt like we were being held underwater and we couldn't get heads up. We couldn't get any air."

Comparing the Michigan State game to the Connecticut game:
"I think people played confidently in both games. I didn't get a sense people weren't confident against Michigan State. The Spartans did to us what we did to Connecticut: they didn't guard certain people. When they didn't guard, people rushed certain shots."


-- On a personal note, I've only been here six months, but I've met 10 varsity coaches in six sports and extensively interviewed four or five of them. I could meet the entire Athletic Department (and probably will by the time I'm gone) and I would still be hard-pressed to find a more selfless, caring person than Tara. She goes out of her way to make herself available for interviews, always asks how I'm doing, and makes sure her team is doing everything it can to make my job easier. It's easy to see why her team loves the program as much as it does – nearly anyone would absolutely adore playing under that lady.

Daniel Novinson is a freshman at Stanford University. He's broadcasting women's basketball on KZSU - listen along at kzsu.org or 90.1 FM.  Daniel welcomes any feedback at dannovi@stanford.edu.


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