Lady Tops talk about SBC tourney, first-round game vs. ULM

We met with the Lady Toppers on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament, which begins Saturday.

WKU, the No. 5 seed from the East Division, plays Louisiana-Monroe, the No. 4 seed from the West, in the first round at 12:15 p.m. Saturday at Convention Center Court.

Here are comments from coach Mary Taylor Cowles, senior Vanessa Obafemi and sophomore Chaney Means:

Mary Taylor Cowles

On Louisiana-Monroe:

“They’re a really good transition offense team. It’s going to be important for us to not give them easy things. They’re very aggressive putting the ball on the floor. They’re lead by their point guard, Torres. She does a really, really good job of being aggressive, and she’s very savvy with the basketball. You’ve got to recognize the force inside with Williams. She’s done a good job with her length and her size.”

“They’ve been a lot like us. They’ve been up and down. They’ve had games where they’ve had a really strong half – kind of similar to what we’ve had. I expect it to be a great battle.”

Is there any motivation based on blowing lead at ULM during season?

“At this point, you better be ready to play no matter who the opponent is, whether it’s somebody you beat or lost to. It’s one game at a time.”

Do you try to clean the slate for the postseason?

“I don’t think we have any choice other than to think that way. We’re not where we want to be. We’re not even where we’re used to being. Hopefully we can get our minds right and walk in with the mindset that it’s a whole new beginning.”

How do you string four wins together in four days?

“Putting all of those factors together, play after play, half after half, game after game, that’s what we’ve got to do at this time of the year. That’s what we did last year.”

On last year’s run to the finals:

“These freshmen weren’t necessarily a part of that, and until you are and realize what it takes and what you have to do to get there, I’m not sure you can explain it as a coach. Hopefully our upperclassmen can take that feeling back, but we’ve got to get it done. It’s not going to happen because we were fortunate that it happened last year.”

What’s the feeling like of playing for a championship?

“It’s like the ultimate feeling of knowing everything we’ve been through this year is paying off. That’s why you do what you do – to play for a championship.”

“Last year was really special because of the adversity we had been through as a team. We got off to such a rough start last year, with Amy suspended and opening 0-5. It was unbelievable to wake up that Tuesday morning and head to the gym for a championship game.”

Would you rather be favorite or underdog?

“I’m not real big into how difficult it is to play four games, as opposed to getting the bye. But I’d like to have a bye. I’d rather be starting on Sunday, but it is what it is for this year. We’ll deal with what we’ve got.”

Vanessa Obafemi

“We have a new mindset and mentality. It’s really a new season. We’re going to take it one step at a time, because it’s win-or-go-home now.”

Last year’s run:

“Nobody expected us to make it that far, probably just like this year. We know it’s possible to win four games.”

“I still remember warming up to play Little Rock. We were so close and just missed it. We could almost taste the championship but couldn’t quite get there.”

How do you keep from looking ahead to MTSU in the second round?

“The coaches, they try to get us focused on that one game on Monroe first. But I think we all know in the back of our heads that we have Middle left. We have to take care of Monroe before anything.”

Chaney Means

Talking to the freshmen about last year:

“They weren’t a part of that, so they didn’t get to experience that first-hand. That’s something we can talk to them about. We’re trying to find a new energy, and I think we can do that. We can make a run. We have the talent to go really far.”

Do you want revenge for the close loss at ULM during the season?

“It was a tough game with them. We kind of gave it away at the end, so we’ve been looking forward to playing them again and getting some revenge.”

On ULM’s strengths:

“They have good guards and a point guard that’s very good at distributing. We have to do a better job of rebounding. That hurt us there.”

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