Michelle Clark-Heard previews regular season finale vs. Middle Tennessee

We met with WKU women’s basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard today, just 16 hours after talking to her following the Lady Tops’ 65-59 home loss to South Alabama.

Heard previewed Saturday’s regular season finale at 11 a.m. against Middle Tennessee at E.A. Diddle Arena.

She also talked about trying to keep players from focusing too much on or putting too much pressure on themselves because of seeding implications.

WKU will finish no better than third in the conference, but no worse than fifth. As the No. 3 seed, the Lady Tops would play the No. 6 or 11 seed on the second day of the conference tournament. As the fourth seed, they would play the No. 5.

Plenty of things can happen in the next couple of days, but the Lady Tops are more likely to end up in the 4-5 game because they don’t hold tiebreakers on Florida International or Arkansas State.

It’s a big mess, but be sure to follow me on Twitter (@zach_greenwell) for updates as they become available. Here are Heard’s comments from today:

MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD

South Alabama loss: “We did some things, in terms of not taking care of the basketball in crucial situations. We let one particular person catch the ball and get some points inside. We’ve got to make sure at the end of games like we’ve been having – we shouldn’t be in that situation, but when we are, the kids have to feel confident in what we’re going to do.”

Feeling pressure: “I think the kids got a little rattled, and part of that is probably where we’re at. They see the papers. They see Twitter. They see the things about having a chance to be in third place. You’ve got to take that as a learning lesson and keep moving forward.”

Implications of MTSU game: “This one game isn’t going to get us to the NCAA tournament. We have to focus on getting better, get ready for this game, and then we’ve got three big games after this. If we win those three, then we get to the NCAA.”

Parity in the league: “You’re not going to play any easy teams to get to the NCAA. You’ve got to play teams to win. It doesn’t really make a difference, and that’s why I kept preaching about the bye. The bye is really important for us.”

Gravity of a win Saturday: “It would be big, even if it wasn’t Middle, because you’re going into the Sun Belt tournament. Any win is a big win. I know a lot of times we try to make this – it’s Middle, and it’s our rival – but at the end of the day, Middle is our next opponent on the schedule.”

First loss to MTSU: “I think our game plan was perfect. We did some different things to disrupt them. You can’t let them get settled into what they do. We were in the game for 33 minutes, and in the last seven minutes, we lost focus to where Kortni Jones was. … I don’t think that score indicated how well we played down there, and our kids will remember that.”

Closing out at home: “I’m not going to them, talking to them about this being live-or-die for our season, because it’s not. We’re going to compete like this is our last home game on our schedule in front of our home crowd. We want to have a great showing and play with energy and passion, because this is the last thing people are going to remember. I want them to go away thinking how awesome and fun it was to watch this team play this year.”

Is it a rivalry game for you? “It’s different for me, because when I played here, Middle was not a rival for us. As a coach, I try to make sure we play every game to the best of our ability for us. It’s different nowadays, too, with the social media. But I talk to them about competing and trying to be the best they can be.”

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