March 20, 2009
Auburn Tigers Head Coach and Student Athlete Quotes
Head Coach Nell Fortner
“Our goal is like every other team in the country’s goal and that’s to win as many ball games as you can but to make that NCAA tournament and have the opportunity to compete for a national championship. I’m proud of how this team has played this year. We’ve had tremendous leadership from our seniors; it’s gotten us to this point. We are looking forward to seeing what we can do in this tournament.”
(On having Whitney Boddie back in this year’s tournament and on being a No. 2 seed.)
“That’s the difference. This year we are a two seed and last year we were an eleven seed. That’s how important that position, your point guard, is to your team. You’ve got that ability at your point to score, to distribute, and to defend. It makes a huge difference because it all starts from that spot. We’re real fortunate to have her back. I think it’s made the team more appreciative of what we’re doing. It’s nice to be back to see what we can accomplish.
(What have you seen of Lehigh on tape?)
“I’m very impressed with them. Before we even watched any film on them, to win 26 games in a season is impressive. That was the first thing that jumped out at me. They’ve got great seniors. They execute offensively very well. They have some nice 3-point shooters that will spread your defense. They’re a smart team; they take advantage of defensive mistakes. We haven’t been on the floor in a while and we are looking back at getting on the floor.
(On the way the game has change from her days at Purdue to her days at Auburn)
“The game has changed so much in the sense that the kids have gotten bigger, faster, stronger. Every five year, it seems like the game has taken a big leap. Our DeWanna Bonner is 6-4 a,nd she’s a guard. Come the end of the game, she can play every position on the floor. Looking back at the Candice Parkers from last year, they are just bigger with more skills. But then there’s Whitney (Boddie), as an example, who can get their shot off when they want to. You see that more in today’s game than you did ten years ago. There are lots of reasons for that. They’re more athletic and they work on their game at a younger age. They have the goal to play professionally in the United States. That serves as a tremendous motivator. The game is so much more physical, stronger. We’re basically just bigger, faster, stronger.
(On how the SEC prepares you for going on the road)
“The SEC definitely prepares you for the road. There’s no easy road game in the SEC. They are very tough games, very competitive games and the crowds are not friendly. You’ve got to go on the road and win and prove yourself. We’ve been in some tough environments and we’ve won in some tough environments, but you do all that to prepare yourself for this point in time.
Student Athletes DeWanna Bonner & Whitney Boddie
(Can you tell us a little bit about how last year’s experience getting into the tournament has helped you in getting the nerves down and knowing what to expect?)
“Last year Coach Fortner always said that when you get to the NCAA tournament you’ll want to go back again. It just kind of helped us get out the jitters, the first time jitters, and made us more experienced with what the tournament is like. You don’t want to lose, it makes you more hungry. We just have to come out focused and take it one game at a time.
(On having Whitney Boddie eligible to play this year)
“Whitney’s our point guard, she’s like our quarterback. When Whitney went down there were a lot of points taken away and a lot of assists and defense and everything. We lost our leader. When she came back, we knew that it was everything we needed. It was like a missing puzzle piece. When she came back, it was like that perfect puzzle fit. Now our team is just clicking right now. She’s our leader. When you take the ball out of bounds, you don’t have to look back and worry about someone stealing the ball because you just had that trust in her. You know that she is going to get us in the right offense. Everyone follows her. We feed off her, energy, defense, confidence, everything. ”
(On knowing Kia Vaughn)
“I’ve been trying to find Kia since I got here and I still haven’t seen her. We played on the USA team for two years back to back and were roommates. We were silly; she was someone I could connect with. I didn’t have a teammate there, but Kia and I connected. We stay in touch. We get on the phone and just kind of laugh. We never have basketball talk. If we play them, I guess we won’t talk that much.
(On her first NCAA tournament experience)
“When my teammates came back from the tournament last year, they talked about once you get there; you want to be able to go back. That feeling fueled us the whole off season, through the nonconference and it made me hungry because at the time I wasn’t eligible. I wanted to be able to help my teammates and to whatever it took to get back.
(What level of play are you expecting in the NCAA tournament?)
“It’s everyone’s last chance. It’s do or die really. Just take it one game at a time. I don’t think we’ll be nervous. I think we’ll be hungry and ready to come out and play hard. Like coach said we haven’t played in a while, so we could be real high. She may need to calm us down, but that’s a good thing.
(On playing a lower seed on their own home floor)
“We are really happy with being a No. 2 seed. It doesn’t matter who you play anyway. Sometimes I’d rather play on the road, when the competitive nature comes out and maybe silence their fans. We’re looking forward to it, but we’re not looking past Lehigh by any means.
Head Coach and Student Athlete Quotes
Head Coach Sue Troyan
“We’re very excited to be here at Rutgers and to be participating in the NCAA tournament and competing against Auburn. We are looking forward to representing the Patriot League and representing Lehigh University.
(On some of the challenges Auburn poses) “We’ve watched quite a few tapes. They are a phenomenal team in a great league, the SEC. Boddie is tough and Bonner is as diverse a player as we’ve matched up all year. Going into the game, I don’t think you try to stop great player. We try to focus on what we need to do as a team. We need to focus on defending and executing on offense and playing a team game. Those kids are going to do their thing and get their points and do what they do. If we can execute our game plan, we are pretty good match up. We watched their Vanderbilt game and we know Vandy gave them some problems. We have a similar style to that. We like the match up for a 15-2 seed. We have kids who have competed all year and who are going to lay it out on the floor. We’re not just happy to be here. We’re here to compete and give it our best. We’re hoping to keep it close and to give ourselves a chance. Hopefully in the second half, the pressure can mount. We’re only playing an hour from home and the pressure can mount. It’s a great opportunity on a national spotlight to reperesent our University and our league with outstanding student-athletes.
(On coaching student-athletes and having a perfect graduation rate) “From my perspective, it’s why I do what I do. Being at Lehigh, the type of kids that we get there are truly exceptional in terms of having to balance the things in their lives and truly representing what it means to be a student athlete. This group epitomizes being able to excel academically and athletically. Their team GPA was a 3.32, they’ve been ranked in the top 25 in team GPA in six of the last seven years. Our team GPA has been between a 3.25 and a 3.45 ever semester. It’s not a blip on the map; it’s not a one time thing. It’s year in and year out. These kids are kids who excel academically at the same time we have exceptional kids, exceptional students and kids who value the experience.
(On being back in the NCAA tournament after 11 years) “On a personal level, it was just my second year and I probably not as strong of a coach then as I am now. Going back six or seven years ago, the athleticism in the Patriot League, it’s been a difference of night and day. Competitively we are a much stronger program. From a coaching standpoint, I’m obviously a more mature coach. It’s an awesome opportunity for these kids. The experience of it doesn’t change, but the personnel and the people do. I’ve had so much fun with this exceptional group of young women. I’m really happy for our seniors, who have represented Lehigh and the Patriot League as scholar athletes.
(On going into New York City) “When we found out that we were going an hour away, we tried to spice up the trip a little bit. We went into New York City for dinner after practice. We just wanted to bring something a little bit different to the experience.
Student Athletes Claire Sullivan & Erica Prosser
(On getting to the NCAA tournament) “It’s been the culmination of our goal all year. We’ve talked about playing well in the league and winning the league championship and getting to the NCAAs and to be able to participate and be a part of it. We’re just really excited to be here.
(Why should anyone give you a chance?) “Why not it’s March? Anything can happen in March. We’re here to compete; we’re not here to just roll out the red carpet for Auburn. We’re going to have a good time with it.
(If you were to win tomorrow night, what were the factors that led you to victory?) “It will be because we are able to slow the game down and keep them from running and to contain them from using their athleticism. We’re obviously going to have to knock down some shots and shoot the ball pretty well. We need to play really well.
(On overcoming a knee injury to get to the NCAAs) “I’m so happy that this is my last year and that we are able to get to this point. I’m hoping we are all having fun and appreciating it. I know that this doesn’t happen every year. I hope the younger kids take it all in and enjoy it and play with no pressure.
(On getting past the intimidation of playing Auburn) “Take away the SEC and the fact they have an All-American, it’s still the game of basketball and we’ve already played 32 games. We’re going to try to play 40 minutes and invoke the game plan that our coaches give us. We need to just focus on what we need to do. They’re going to be great. We are trying to focus on what we need to do to compete with them.
(On going into New York City) “It was fun to go to the city. It added a little more, it’s not just a typical away game. “
(On getting to the NCAA tournament) “I’m really excited also. I’m extra excited for our seniors, especially Claire, because she’s a fifth year. They’ve been working really hard to get to this point. For all the underclassmen, I know we’ve been working really hard to help them get there.
(On being a student-athlete academically) “Coach really emphasizes scholarship throughout the year. We want to achieve in the classroom. We know academics is just as important as athletics. It’s been year in and year out, not just a one time thing. We really take pride in how we perform in the classroom.
(On going into New York City) “We went to Dave and Buster’s and watched American play Villanova. That was a confidence builder.