Pregame Notes & Quotes: LSU vs. UNC AshevilleMarch 16, 2007

Press Conference #7 LSU
Friday, March 16, 2007
Austin Regional 1st & 2nd Round
Austin, Texas

LSU head coach Bob Starkey

(Opening statement): Its an honor and a privilege to be playing in this building because I have a lot of respect for [Texas head womens basketball] Coach [Jody] Conradt. She means an awful lot to our game. When you look at whats going on in the womens game right now, shes one of the pioneers who made that possible.

Our program has been through a lot in the last week. We made a decision that when we left, our focus was going to be completely about who we are playing, and our next opponent is the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Were not worried about anything that happened in the past.

(On keys for the game): I think were going to have to make the adjustment defensively to guard their players away from the basket. We havent had to do that since December. Its a little bit different than what were used to. I think that will be very important for us. Its been a little while since weve played and it will be important to get our legs back under us. Weve had an opportunity to get some game-like performances, but to do it under the lights, with officials, and all of those things&.

(On UNC-Asheville): I like Ashevilles team and I like the things they do with their players. [Ashley] Elder, that theyre going to play in the four-spot, is a really flexible player. She can grab the rebound and may bring it on the floor all the way to the other end and lead their fast break. [Brittany] Hendley is an outstanding 3-point shooter. Shes somebody were going to have to find early and stay with. I think Coach [Betsy] Blose does an excellent job of utilizing her personnel and that always creates a challenge defensively.

(On whether he has nerves): Im anxious, but Im always anxious as a coach. Ive got a wonderful team and great assistants. That makes everything easier.

(On whether he feels sorry for his players): I probably would, but they seem like they are having a heck of a time. Theyre having a great time. I really believe in my heart they are focused in and I think that will be a big part of our success.

(On the importance of defense): I think its pretty important. I think weve been very, very consistent defensively. Weve been able to do a nice job taking some teams out of some things and keep the score low. And I think weve been efficient offensively. We dont turn the ball over. Were never going to score a lot of points because defensively we slow the game down and offensively were patient. If we shoot the ball well were still going to be in the high-60s, low- 70s.

(On challenges as a new head coach): The absolute biggest challenge is what Im doing right now. And thats meet with the media.

(On his demeanor on the court): Im just going to be myself. Thats the only thing I know how to be.

I have a dear friend in Coach Don Meyer (Northern State University). Hes a legendary coach, a Division II guy. He gave me three pieces of advice. He said the first thing is to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. He told me to make sure I saved all of my meal money. The third thing was he told me to be myself. Hes got this little catch phrase that goes: Be what you is, because if you is what you aint, you aint what you is.

So Im just going to be myself. I think that will be the most relaxing atmosphere for our kids. If I try to be something else I dont think our kids will respond to that. I think theyve adjusted to me.

(On the play of Kiana Rainey): It makes a difference when shes knocking her shots down. She went on a tear in the middle of the SEC season where she had a nice double-figure streak. Kiana may have been forcing a little bit. I know she feels the pressure to score. We want her to score and she knows that. Hopefully with the last two weeks shes more relaxed and she can come out and play like she was.

(On the importance of hitting perimeter shots): It helps in a lot of ways. The better she [Kiana Rainey] shoots the perimeter shot, the more its going to open up for Sylvia [Fowler], the more its going to create opportunities for Erica [White] to drive. If theres one thing our team is lacking, its consistently knocking down the perimeter shot. Thats a big key, for us to knock those shots down. The other part of that is we have to be doing the things we should be doing if those shots arent going in. Weve got to be a little more patient. Our execution level has to be a little higher, so maybe we get to the free throw line, or maybe get the ball to someone who is scoring.

(On the coaching of UNC-Asheville): Watching their film, you can tell they are a wellcoached team. They play multiple defenses. Theyll play some zone. Theyll play some man. Watching them play man, you can see them utilizing the scouting report. You can see them not defending certain players on the perimeter, doubling up. They use some multiple full-court defenses. I can see them using some soft presses to try and slow us up. We expect that in some form from everybody. Its still a matter of us executing.

Sylvia Fowles (Junior, Center)
(On comment that LSUs team focus has never been higher): What I meant about that, about our focus, saying no looking back on what has happened, and our focus right now is our next opponent, just to be mentally focused and locked in for our next opponent, and I think we have done just that.

(On it being two weeks since they played in the SEC Tournament): Besides the SEC Tournament, we had a few days off, and that was the recovery of our body, and coaches had faith in us that we could take four days off to get back at it the next couple of days. But I dont think were worried about being a little rusty because we know what weve got ahead of us, and were ready to play.

(On UNC Asheville): Its going to be very interesting just to see me go out there and to be able to defend a player whos out on the wing. Theyre very aggressive, and they get out there, and they hustle a lot.

(On if she is playing further out, if she gets a fast break, is there a chance for a dunk): Most definitely.

(On practice as a respite): Thats always a plus, but even when were not on the court, us girls always find time to just hang with each other, and I think thats been more important to us than everything.

(On describing Coach Starkeys coaching style): I can kind of touch bases on that. A lot of people talk about Coach Chatman, her emotions that she brings to the table with this team. But this man sitting on the side of meyouve all got to see him during the games. He gets after us even though a lot of people dont see it. Even though he always works behind the scenes, he always manages to get things done, so just to have him out front now is going to be even better, but he brings twice as much to the table as well.

(On whether LSU is going into the tournament the way they would like to): Yes, for the most part. I know what I need to, and I know what I have gotten better at from my time, my break off. Just my mental focus right now is to make sure that I come into the game 100 percent focused and willing to help my team no matter what.

Ashley Thomas (Junior, Forward)
(On how hard it has been to keep focus on basketball): It hasnt been too difficult. Thats always our focus. We cant control anything that goes on outside of what we do, and thats play basketball.

(On what the time off has done to help her recuperate from her injury): The time off has really just helped. Players who play so many games throughout the seasonits always nice to let your body get full rest and recovery, and most of the time thats just what you need just to get better is just a little time off, so I think its helped a lot.

(On being an outside presence in this game): We know what we have to do as I guess you could say role players. I mean, we just try to come out and bring whatever we can to the table. I mean, we work on those shots everyday in practice so if we get them, we just try to knock them down.

Erica White (Junior, Guard)
(On how hard it has been to keep focus on basketball): I think for myself and my teammates, its been easier for me to focus on basketball because you dont want to let anything else in. This time of year, youre in the NCAA Tournament. You want to come out and have a good showing and play your best, so you never want to let anything in this time of year.

(On being curious to see how LSU comes out to play on Saturday): Not necessarily. Weve practiced. Weve practiced well. Im sure well be able to carry that over into the game.

(On UNC Asheville): I think UNC Asheville is a very unique opponent in the fact that they can play four guards and sometimes even five guards, which means that theyre going to get up and down the floor. They push the ball well in transition. Its just team speed with that many guards on the floor. Also, there are five shooters on the floor which means that our post players are going to have to step away from the basket and contest defensively, so they are a very unique opponent, and looking forward to playing someone different like that.

(On the LSU teams resiliency through Sue Gunters illness and death and Hurricane Katrina): I think its just a collection of the players, our personalities, and this program. We werent here for Coach Gunters illness, but we were all seniors in high school, so we had to deal with that in our own way because we knew that we were coming here, but this is a really resilient program, and like I said, I think its the people that make us that way.

(On being an outside presence in this game): Our team focus now isSylvia (Fowles) is going to come out, and shes going to do her thing. Shes going to be that dominant post presence, but one thing that were focusing on is just making the game easier for each other, trying to take care of the ball, get the ball to a teammate that is open, setting her earlier--that way she can get into her shot. We just focus on making the game easier for each other.

(On whether the team feels like it can make a fourth straight trip to the Final Four): We wouldnt be here if we didnt. I definitely think so. We have guards who can play well. We have that inside person. The thing I love most about our team is our defense. Its been our key all year. Weve come out and shown offensively, but defensively, were not going to let you scorea lot. So, I think that whenever you have a team that can defend, and you can put it together everywhere else, you should definitely have a chance.

Press Conference #8 UNC Asheville
Friday, March 16, 2007
Austin Regional 1st & 2nd Round
Austin, Texas

Head coach Betsy Blose

(Opening Statement): I first want to say that we are so excited to be here and to represent UNC Asheville. As most of you know this is our first trip to the NCAA tournament, and Id like to thank everyone for a great weekend so far in Austin, Texas. We had an opportunity to see a little bit of the city and have enjoyed it tremendously. I first want to thank our Athletic Director, Janet Cone, for being here with us, and all of our administration for their tremendous support. Its been quite a ride for us, quite a journey for this program. Four years ago we had a program that was 1 and 27 and theres been a lot of satisfaction in seeing this program develop right before our eyes. Were really excited about the growth of this program and I know four or five years ago when I took over the program, it started as a vision of cutting down the net and competing for championships, and we planted that seed in the players we recruited, and Ive surrounded myself with a tremendous young, creative staff that have enjoyed building the program. I cant say enough about the young people that are in our program and I can say we really do have a program. Liberty University has dominated our league for ten years and it was a lot of great satisfaction to be the first team other than Liberty to win the Big South as of late. So we are excited to be here, were excited about playing LSU, we know its a tremendous challenge. I have no doubt in my mind that these young women will compete, they have a lot of pride and were going to go out there and prepare and plan the way we have all year. So, again, were excited to be here and looking forward to the tournament.

(On problems presented by LSU): Do we have an hour? We know its a tremendous challenge and the Big South usually draws a caliber player, an ACC team or an SEC team, we know its a tremendous challenge, they have great athleticism, they play a really great pressure in the half-court, were going to half to take care of the ball. Weve struggled with that in our own league, so that concerns me. Obviously, we call her 66, shes 66 in the middle, most of you know Summer Erb, is on our staff, a great player for Kay Yow at North Carolina State in the early 2000s, 2002, I believe, so Summer was our Sylvia Thalls the last few days. Summer may not be as athletic as Sylvia, but it gave us a great opportunity to go against this kind of size, and simulate the size we are going to see. So, shes obviously a concern, but weve done a great job on the boards, I mean we dont have the size that they may have and even the athleticism, so were going to make a few adjustments, but were going to continue to run and play the kind of basketball that were used to playing. Were going to have to play off them a little bit and respect their athleticism and their quickness and their ability to penetrate. I like all the tape weve seen on them, I think theres no secret, youve got to sag on Sylvia Thalls, and theres not a whole lot else you can do. Once she catches the basketball, theres not a whole lot you can do so were going to try to limit her touches and see what happens.

(On forcing LSU to play Zone defense): Were going to pull that out, without giving all of yall our secrets. Were definitely going to limit them in the paint and see if they can beat us on the jump-shot or the three, were going to pick our poison, if you will, and make adjustments as needed throughout the game. Theyre a great team, and a big concern for me is taking care of the basketball, so we can limit them in transit. They play a great half-court man, they lead the country in points per game, I believe, and we set some goals for ourselves, and were going to continue to set the goals that we hope and think helped us win a championship last weekend. This is a good team, but were going to play hard for 40 minutes, and were going to play from media time-out to media time-out, and put ourselves in a position so that we can be successful.

(On being in a large arena): I dont know if yall are familiar with the Justice Center, it seats about 1,200, but I like that Justice Center, we won a championship in there last weekend and it definitely was a home-court advantage for us. I think were going to get some repetitions here in a few minutes. Were going to take our 20 minutes tomorrow, I dont think anyone else has taken the shoot-around except us, and I try to take advantage of every opportunity and shoot on the goals that are going to be played on. I just always approach these uncontrollables, it is what it is. Im going to be like the Hoosiers, and basketball is basketball, and were going to come out and play our defense and hopefully create some opportunities that way and try to get some layups in transition. I think it is important that we get off to a good start. Im not going to panic if we dont, the game is 40 minutes long. Im going to be behind this team no matter what happens and Im going to coach until the very end. Im just so excited about the opportunity to play in this tournament and were ready. Were going to come out and represent Asheville with a lot of pride. Were going to play from one media time-out and Ive got a great staff, and were going to wait for the ball in the hole a little bit and take care of basketball. But weve got to do a great job defending tomorrow, thats key. The shooting, we just need to get in there and shoot some reps, Im not going to dwell on that the shot doesnt fall, we just got to defend even better.

(On defending Sylvia Thalls): Well have 58 people on her, I mean a couple of years ago we were playing against Katie Feenstra from Liberty, we had to play against her every year and, you just have to pick your poison. Theyre going to get some rebounds; you just cant let them deflate you, theyre going to make some points. We just can let anyone else go off on us. Were small, but weve got a lot of fight, weve got a lot of heart and Ive seen these young women, Ive had players play this year, I cant say too much, with broken ribs and broken hands. Its just the toughest group Ive ever coached. I dont think playing against someones size is going to affect them. Theyre going to come out and make a great effort.

(On turning around the UNC Asheville program): Theyre an extension of their coach, and I feel that weve surrounded ourselves with young women that maybe they arent the most talented. We compete against a lot of ACC schools for players and we dont sign those players. We want to sign young women that are great students, that have a tremendous work ethic, that want to be coached. We sign young women that buy in to our philosophy, on the vision of competing for championships and thats the kind of players we have on our team. They dont care about the credit, we dont have any superstars, we lost our leading scorer with only six games to go and we won six in a row. Theyre resilient, I cant say enough about this group and no matter what happens, weve had a great year. Were going to go out there and give it our best shot and represent UNC Asheville with a lot of pride.

(On Pokey Chatmans resignation being a distraction for UNC Asheville): Absolutely not. All year long, weve totally focused on ourselves, and I really wont comment about whats going on with LSU, Im so focused on our team they deserve that attention. I think theyre a story within themselves, just what weve been through and what weve accomplished. There so focused on one another, they love and care about each other. Were so happy and pleased with our program and its all about us. I think the thing they know about LSU is that they have a great program, they beat Tennessee a week or so ago and held Candice Parker to four points. So, we know what were against, they know what theyre against and this is a group that they will have no fear. I think playing a couple teams like we have in the past. We played Carolina last year, we played Wake Forest, and played in that environment, and theyre not as good as North Carolina, but weve played a couple tough teams and big opponents and big names. I think this group is going to come off tomorrow with no fear.

Amanda Elder (Senior, Forward)
(On importance of drawing LSU out into a perimeter game): Were definitely focusing on bringing her (LSUs Sylvia Fowles) out. We have a lot of great three-point shooters on our team. I think its going to force them to bring her out.

(On what the last week has been like since winning the Big South Tournament): Its just kind of like local celebrities in Asheville. Everybody knows about itsomething in the newspaper every day. Everybody coming upgoing to the gas station, and you know, people are like, Congratulations. Yall played great out there. Youve got a great chance against LSU. Its been kind of been surreal back in Asheville. Then coming hereyou know, all these rules. NCAA rulesyou cant have your cell phone. Youve got to have the right number on. It just gets crazier every year.

Brittany Hendley (Senior, Guard)
(On what the last week has been like since winning the Big South Tournament): Its been very hectic. Everybody knows who you are as well. Its just an unreal experience for all of us because it may never happen again, so were all just lucky and trying to have fun with it and enjoy ourselves.

-- Courtesy Texas