Women's Basketball
LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell celebrates with the Tiger Girls
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Lady Tigers Meet Media Prior to Sweet 16 Trip
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Published: March 27, 2014, 08:14 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell along with Theresa Plaisance and Jasmine Rhodes met with the media Thursday in preparation for the team’s NCAA Sweet 16 matchup with third-seeded and No. 4 Louisville Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center.

Tip time is slated for 1:30 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised by ESPN2 in addition to http://www.watchespn.com/ and the Watch ESPN App. The LSU Sports Radio Network will carry the game on its affiliates led by flagship station Talk 107.3 FM in Baton Rouge and free inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live. In-game updates also can be found courtesy of www.Twitter.com/LSUwbkb.

Sunday’s winner advances to face the winner of No. 1 seeded Tennessee and No. 4 Maryland during Tuesday’s NCAA Elite 8 Round. 

For all of the latest news and information on Lady Tiger basketball, visit www.lsusports.net/womensbasketball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuwbkb along with @lsuwbkb and @NikkiCaldwell on Twitter.

LSU Head Coach Nikki Caldwell

On taking on Louisville on Sunday…
“I see Louisville being a team that’s really gotten a lot better since we’ve played them. They are led, obviously, by their All-American candidate Shoni Schimmel. She’s an exceptional player that not only can score for herself but also can create other opportunities for her teammates. She’s a great distributor of the basketball. She’s really explosive in transition. They also have a balanced attack – everybody is stepping up and playing really well for them. You have to know where Antonita Slaughter is at all times on the floor. (Sara) Hammond really can stretch you with her ability to shoot the three-ball. We definitely are going to be aware of where those sharp shooters are.”

On the preparing the defense for Louisville…
“It starts with awareness. (Shoni) Schimmel is a player that you need to know her whereabouts at all times on the court. If you give you give her an inch that shot is going up, and she’s very accurate in making shots. Awareness is going to be a key.”

On who LSU has played in the SEC that can be compared to Shoni Schimmel…
“I think you can talk about Meighan Simmons from Tennessee because she can play off the bounce and shoot the three. That’s someone who has that type of ability and has that impact on her team. We have to be just as diligent in our efforts in guarding (Shoni) Schimmel the same way.”

On the attitude of the seniors in the last few weeks of their career…
“These seniors have really stepped up their sense of urgency. They’ve kept it very light and fun. They’ve done a nice job of being positive when they’ve met challenges. I know Shanece McKinney has really come along as a great defender for us in the paint as well as a relentless scorer on the block. (Theresa) Plaisance is that player that you run action too, but I like the fact that she’s been getting on the offensive glass and getting lots of put backs for us.  We’re playing more together as a team, and you can’t say more about Jeanne Kenney’s senior leadership and what she brings to our team. They’ve grown and matured so much. They’ve allowed this program to be that team again where the national recognition is there. They’ve done a great job of being great role models for the university. The unbelievable thing about the group is people can see we underachieved at one point, and we’ve overachieved. The bottom line is that these kids are achieving. They’re doing great things not only on the basketball court but also in the classroom. These three seniors will graduate with a degree from LSU, and they will go on and do great things.”

On Jeanne Kenney’s status for the game at Louisville…
“Jeanne will not be playing because of a concussion that she sustained (during Tuesday’s West Virginia game). We will not have her for the remaining part of the year. Jeanne knew prior to us going into the season with her history of concussions that one more would end her career. Jeanne is that type of person that is about this team, and she’s always been that. It was a huge sacrifice of her to come back after the concussion before this. We’re just going to do all that we can to continue to compete and win basketball games. I know that’s what she’s going to want from her teammates. She’s going to be our assistant coach on the sideline Sunday, but she’s been that the whole year. She’s been that extension of our staff. She’s been the vocal leader of this team. She’s going to continue to do that. She’s just going to have to play a different role now, but we’re going to still need her mentality and her voice be heard in the huddles. Although she can’t be out there physically, she’s still going to be there 100 percent.”

On injuries causing younger players to step up…
“When your roster starts to dwindle and you’re losing players because of injury, players have stepped up. That was evident in our last game (versus West Virginia) when you look at the play of Jasmine Rhodes – what she did coming in and being that spark and instant positive player. The play of Rina Hill was tremendous for us. Their number was called, and they answered it. They’re very capable, and they’ve played some tough opponents. They’ve been in those games against very good teams. They can draw on that and the fact that they’ve had some positive minutes throughout the season. When you’ve played a tough conference schedule like we’ve played, that will lend to their confidence tank because they’ve been successful.”

On the team losing multiple players to injury…
“It’s one of those things. As a coach and as a team, you don’t want to have to experience. Jeanne Kenney has meant so much to not only our team this year but the overall legacy of our program. When you lose someone of that caliber, she’s going to be remembered. The relationships that she’s built with her teammates and underclassmen will be remembered. Raigyne Moncrief is just an unbelievable person. She was the loudest and the biggest cheerleader in that game on Tuesday night. To have her emotions and spirits still with us, that’s going to be a positive as well.”

On the player’s changed roles with only eight available players…
“I think this group understands the task at hand, but they’re ready. They’re prepared. They’re going to have to do this collectively, as a group. They’re going to have to play smart. We’ve got to pick and choose our minutes. We’ve got to make sure defensively we’re as tight as we can be. We also have to enjoy it. This team has done a phenomenal job of staying the course even though the record didn’t reflect it. They came back every day and executed. That’s what you want from your team.”

On having to rematch with Louisville with only eight players…
“The beauty about basketball and college athletics is that on any given day, you can have one of the best games. You can prevail as the underdogs, and you can come away with a victory. I know this team is going to do everything in their power to lay it on the line. We have one more player than we did last year, so that’s a good thing. This group is great to be around, and they’ve been that way all year. We’ve had our moments. We’ve had our laughter and our tears. This is what it’s all about at this point. Yes, we are in March Madness, and its madness for a reason. We’re going to have eight crazies out there, so to speak. We’re going to do our all with everything we’ve got.”

On the team’s schedule heading to Louisville…
“We’re going to get on the plane tomorrow to go to Louisville. We’re going to practice. We’re going to find a nice restaurant and get a good meal in. We’re going to have them rested. With eight bodies, you’re going to have to have your legs for Sunday. Saturday, we’ll do our normal NCAA routine. This team is going to make sure that they’re not just fast-forwarding this process. I want them to remember getting on the plane tomorrow – what going off to the Sweet 16 feels like especially these seniors. This is their last shot at it. We want to make it an enjoyable one. We’re not going to do anything out of the norm. We’re not going to overthink what it means to play in the NCAA. It’s a game, obviously the stakes are higher, but the way you play it we’ll know on Sunday.”

G Jasmine Rhodes

On the team’s mentality heading to the Sweet 16 with eight players…
“I honestly think our backs have been against the wall the whole season. I think this is no different. I think they went in last year with seven players. At least we have one more this year. Hopefully things turn out better. We’re going to do our part. Everyone likes a doubter. They doubted us, and we overcame that so you never know what you’re going to get. Our SEC schedule actually prepared us for the NCAA tournament.”

F Theresa Plaisance

On the underclassmen traveling to take on Louisville on their home court…
“At a home site, it’s going to be a different experience even for me. I really haven’t had to do that for a NCAA game. Going in you’re going to have to let the outsiders go and focus on what’s happening on the court. The crowd is really going to get involved especially for Louisville. They always have great fan turnout at the Yum! Center. The underclassmen have done a great job of handling that pressure. They’ve done a great job in the Tennessee game. Some of the upperclassmen got into foul trouble, and they did a really good job of playing in that environment.”

On the difference in the team since last time they played Louisville…
“I definitely think that the second time around we’ll be more prepared. Louisville was our first tough game of the season. We held them pretty close in the first half, but then they went a 21-0 run early in the second half. That’s the kind of thing we tried to limit as the season went on. We really have been doing a good job of fighting that adversity. We’ve been doing a pretty good of stopping the runs. Coming around the second time, we’re going to be more prepared for whatever plan they have. That run was our turnovers and mistakes that they were capitalizing on. We didn’t do much to help ourselves in that game. This team has matured a lot since that game. I feel like we’re a completely new team, and we have a lot more to offer.”

 

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