All the post-game quotes don’t fit into a game story; there are always some left over. So I thought I’d share some of the outtakes from last night’s Texas A&M-Washington match up.
Aggies coach Gary Blair is always a pleasure to interview, for his sense of humor and honesty. True to form, he gave plenty of credit to Washington, which upset his fifth-ranked team.
“Plum is the real deal,” he said of sophomore Kelsey Plum, who lead the Huskies with 32 en route to crossing the 1,000-point career mark.
Blair also had high praise for Washington coach Mike Neighbors, who was his director of basketball operations from 1999-2001, when he was head coach at Arkansas.
“Mike was great tonight,” he said. “If we had to lose to anybody, I’m glad it was Mike.”
Blair said of his own team that they are “good, but not great.” One of their main problems is post scoring.
“(#1) South Carolina and (#2) UConn are the only two great teams – everybody else is just pretty damned good,” Blair said.
Neighbors said the Huskies are mature enough to handle adverse game situations, unlike last year.
“We do a good job of keeping each other level-headed,” he said.
I asked about their uncanny ability to adjust in games, and Neighbors said that players usually take on most of that role. Arriving to shoot around that morning, Neighbors discovered that Talia Walton and Chantel Oshahor had already anticipated what he was going to say.
“‘We were just talking about that,’ they told me,” Neighbors said. “That shows you the leadership we have.”
Walton said that the team trusts each other and plays off one another. That when someone gets into a rhythm, it effects the entire squad.
“We always want to rise to the occasion,” she said.
Plum, who is the Division I leading scorer, heaped praise on Aminah Williams, who she said was the MVP of the second half, and Walton. I asked about her point total, which made her the fastest in school history to reach 1,000 points. She shrugged her shoulders.
“I don’t care,” she said. “I didn’t know I’d hit that mark until I heard them announce it.”