March 21, 2009

 

Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder
Opening Statement
“We are just very thrilled to be here. This is my 10th NCAA tournament and I got to stay in my own bed the night before. It’s very exciting to sleep in our own beds and have the opportunity to play in the comfort of our own arena. We are hosting, but also understand that we have a very formidable opponent, Georgia Tech, we’ve seen them on film a number of times now and understand the quality of opponent we are going against. They are obviously a very athletic team, a quick team, a very good defensive team and we know that it’s going to be an incredible challenge. So we are excited to host, but also wish that maybe the opponent wasn’t Georgia Tech at this point, but we are looking forward to a great, great game tomorrow. To my far right, Megan Skouby, middle Kristi Smith, to my immediate right, Wendy Ausdemore. All three are seniors.”

On reaction to Paris’ guarantee
“I was surprised when I heard it, and you don’t know the context it was spoken in. You know a lot of players and a lot of coaches say things, sometimes they say things in jest, sometimes not. We don’t know what context it was really spoken in. I think it’s fun for all of you guys to play with.”

On senior leadership
“The week off for spring break was kind of nice, because they didn’t have to worry about going to classes or taking tests, or any of those other things that can complicate a student-athlete’s life.  So it’s been nice, they have been able to just concentrate on the upcoming game and on our opponent. They did a little bit of community service, visited some retirement homes and so I think it’s nice for them to be able to get out into the community and do some of those things. And we had the opportunity to do that this week. We have great senior leadership and not only the three of them that are up here, but also Lindsey Nyenhuis and Nicole Vanderpol have done a great job for us all year. I am proud of their efforts and certainly want them to feel like they are leading in this situation. This is their third NCAA tournament and they need to express that, and the things involved in that to the younger players.”

On Hamlin’s ankle
“I think it’s close to 100 percent. We haven’t even talked about it in a long time. I think she is doing well and I think she had a really, very powerful week of practice. A week of practice where she almost looked like the old Jo Hamlin before she went down. She was taking the ball to the hole a lot more aggressively. I am excited that Jo seems almost back to normal.

On Georgia Tech offense
“They are an excellent penetration team. They attack the hole very, very well. Montgomery’s a great three point shooter, so they have that weapon as well. They are a very good offensive rebounding team as well, when you’re a plus four rebounding team in the ACC conference, that’s pretty impressive. I’d say those are the three things that they are very, very good at.”

On game day attendance (current 4,000 sold tickets)
“I thought we could get a little bit better than that, and I think we still will. I think we will have a lot of walk-ups tomorrow that will purchase tickets. You know in my mind I was hoping we could get around five thousand in here for this game, especially for the caliber of opponents we have. Now I understand Georgia Tech and Prairie View are probably not going to draw much from their home communities because they’re so far away, but Oklahoma will certainly bring a lot of fans as the No. 1 seed and obviously having an 8:30 p.m. time didn’t help us any. But at the same time this is an event that doesn’t happen every day and so hopefully parents will realize that this is something that is a real special opportunity, and maybe their kids will just go to school tired the next day.”

On Iowa free throws
“Barbara you always know all those stats. I am amazed. I need to have you travel with me and have all those stats handy for me. We have done a great job of getting to the free-throw line. We are a good free-throw shooting team, and just as any game, for us to be victorious we need to take advantage of our strengths and that is one of our strengths.”

On tip-off time
“We were assigned the 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. time slots a long time ago. We had no impact on the time of 8:30 p.m., as we requested the 6 p.m. time and did not get it. I do not know the variables Susan, I’m not sure what they are and how they determine those things.”

On freshmen attitudes
“They are excited. Again, they don’t know what to expect, so you just never know with freshmen and how they will react to a different situation. But all year long they have been consistent and I don’t expect that to change with this game.”

Iowa Senior Kristi Smith
On Georgia Tech’s full court pressure (Forced Turnovers and Team Steals)
“We’ve been working on breaking the press all week. We have very good ball handlers on this team so as long as we are confident and we’re aggressive, as long as we take care of the ball, we should be good.”

Georgia Tech’s Offense
“They like to penetrate a lot, they have a few good outside shooters, but we just have to be able to deny out there…”

Iowa Senior Megan Skouby
Knowledge from Previous Tournaments
“I think you can’t go into any game scared of your opponents. You have to go in with great intensity because anything can happen in any game. Everyone is going out and playing hard. So, I think that is a big lesson learned. You can’t back down in any game as well even though you might be the higher ranked opponent, you have to go out there and play your toughest game as well.” 

Home Court Advantage for the NCAA Tournament
“Funny thing…When Niner (Lindsey Nyenhuis) and I walked in together earlier we were like ‘This is just a weird experience to have the NCAA Tournament here.’ It just doesn’t feel like NCAA Tournament right now. Obviously we’re not going to go in and be thinking… ‘Oh it’s just another home game.’ We play really well at home, but it is kind of a weird experience to know this is the “Big Dance” right here on your own home court.”

Playing much better at home than anywhere else…
“Just playing at home you get your home fans and just a lot of people cheering for you and you get that momentum. Whereas when you’re away, yeah you can get that momentum, but it’s easy for the home crowd to get their team back into it. So I think playing in front of the home crowd gives a lot of advantages, plus the fact that you know your home court, you know everything about it. I think it’s just easier to play at home.”

Iowa Senior Wendy Ausdemore
Having Two Weeks Off
“Yeah, I think we’ve had two great weeks of practice. We’ve done a lot of competitive drills; we’ve scrimmaged against each other. You saw the gold team, they really took it at us, at the starting five, a couple times even there the competition and the intensity was really kept up and stuff.”

Thoughts on Courtney Paris’ Scholarship Promise
“I didn’t hear it the first time she said it. I think it was the night of the selection show when they were kind of talking about it a lot. Like I said you know, we have to take care of Georgia Tech first and they’ve got to take care of Prairie View. She’s a great player and they’re a great team so…”

Importance of 3-ball in Offense
“We always love to hit the three pointers to get that going, that will be important, but we have to take care of the press first in the half court offense.”

 Opening Statement
"First of all, I'm excited to be back here in Iowa. We've been here three times in the last 16 months, so it seems like our home away from home. It's a very exciting time for our program. The fact that we've had the opportunity to be in the NCAA tournament the last three years in a row is just a compliment to our players, our administration and our staff. They've been committed to becoming a better team and a better program. Like I mentioned to our players, the reason why we're here is because the last couple of years we've been willing to do things that no one else has been willing to do and that's working hard, staying in the summers to lift weights and doing the little things. The thing that I'm most excited about this team is the fact that we only play two upperclassmen, so we have 10 returning letterwinners next year and the fact that we're getting significant contributions from so many young kids. I think not only is this a great experience for us this year, but it's something we can really grow and learn from and become better as a program in the future. We're excited to have the chance to play Iowa again, like I said earlier, last year we were here with a totally different team. We had a senior-dominated team, but we lost three seniors that started for us for four years and we were able to come out here and have a lot of success. The good news about that is that most of my team has been here and played here. A year ago at this time we were in Des Moines playing Iowa State, so we are very familiar with playing in Iowa but we're also very familiar with playing teams on their home floors in the NCCA tournament because we've had that experience now two years in a row. We're just happy to be here and like I mentioned to several people earlier, this is my 10th time either playing or coaching at the University of Iowa and this is the first time that I've been here when there's no snow on the ground. This has been a great weekend so far and we're looking forward to our matchup with the Hawkeyes."
 

On the season as a whole
"Well it's interesting you said we weren't playing well at the end. We won eight out of our last 11 games which seems to be a mystery to me. We have one bad loss and that was to Clemson in the ACC tournament but right before that we beat Virginia who was ranked 18th in the country. Every team has a bad game and unfortunately for us, it was our last one which I think affected our seeding. I the same time, down the stretch we won three in a row; two on the road then one at home against Virginia. Throughout the course of the season with this team I've felt that we've been on a journey. We have 10 freshman and sophomores. Those two classes were ranked in the top five in the country so we knew they were going to be impact players. We lost 70-percent of our scoring and rebounding from a year ago, for us to even be here with an at-large bid with two upper classmen who play significant minutes is a huge accomplishment for this team and this program. It makes us excited about the future and where we'll be a year from now. Over the course of this season we beat several ranked teams: Carolina when they were second in the country, we beat Michigan State at home by almost 15 points; we beat the University of Georgia by 15 points. We have some very significant wins, not to mention we finished 8-6 in our conference and our conference received two number one seeds. Obviously there was a lot of respect for the ACC in that room when they were doing the selection. It's just unfortunate that we finished ahead of Virginia and Virginia ended up with a 5 seed. You wonder sometimes, with all the different seeding, what went into to, but I do know this: in the future I think our young team learned a very valuable lesson from losing that game to Clemson in the last game of the season because obviously that really affected us."

On differences between this year's Iowa team and last year's
"Well their guard play is better. They have more true guards in the lineup. Last year they were huge, they were over 6'3" at every position except for point guard, but that kind of worked in our favor. This year they have two guards that are playing extremely well outside of Kristi Smith. Obviously I think they're more balanced inside and outside. I think they made a tremendous coaching move when they moved Ausdemore out to the four. She's a very difficult matchup at the four position because of her perimeter shooting. Obviously I think they're more dangerous. It's a huge compliment, when you have three seniors that have scored over 1200 points in their career, that's tremendous balance. Anytime you have a point guard and a center, you're going to be good and you throw in a point, a wing and a point, you're special. I think that's why they won a Big Ten championship a year ago and tied for second this year. Again, I think they've done a great job of highlighting the talent that their players have done a good job at playing that style."

On Alex Montgomery not playing
"No, Alex will not play in this game. She's not 100%, in fact she's not here. She's back in Atlanta rehabbing. That's a difficult challenge for this team to lose your leading scorer and leading rebounder. She got injured in the last two minutes of the game against Clemson, so obviously that was a very difficult loss, but we've had that 17 day layoff to get ready without her. We're learning to play without her, so that's really going to pay off for us in the future. We've had other people step up in the last couple weeks and it's been exciting to see actually. To see these young freshman and sophomores to say, `hey, there's an opportunity for me there and maybe this is a chance for me to get better.' So we're anxious to see what kind of team we're going to put on the floor. The bad news is that we don't have Alex, but the good news is that we're a totally different team without her and that could be a good or bad thing for Iowa. I'm not sure they know exactly how to prepare for us because I would say you prepare for us trying to stop Alex. She does so many things for us on the floor, offensively and defensively. Obviously it is a loss for us but we're a completely different team without her. We've had to change positions. A lot of players that were playing the perimeter are now playing inside and vice-versa. We're a very versatile team, we have several players that can play inside and outside and that's one of the things you'll see, we'll use our versatility."

On defending the three-pointer against Iowa
"Like I mentioned earlier, it's tough when you have all three, a point, a wing and a post that are capable of putting up big numbers. We've played three of the number one seeds to get to the tournament this year. The only team that we haven't played is Oklahoma. I guess that's why we got sent here. Hopefully we'll get a win and we'll get to play the fourth number one seed. We've played the Marylands of the world, who have not only two great perimeter shooters but two great post shooters. We've played the North Carolinas, we've played Connecticut with the best point, wing and post in the game. We've been there and done that. We understand how difficult it is and what a challenge it is but at the same time, we welcome that opportunity. Kristi Smith is one of the best point guards in the Big Ten, if not the best. She's had a tremendous career at Iowa and she's going to be very difficult for us to defend. When we played here last year, Ausdemore was nine of 10 from the field. She missed her first shot then made nine in a row so obviously she's a tremendous concern for us defensively. What we'd like to do is be disruptive and make people play faster than they want to play. Like we mentioned, we try to make you play ugly. We're willing to do the work that other people aren't willing to do. We want to work hard and we're a blue-collared team. We'll get after you defensively and hopefully get you playing at a speed that you're not normally comfortable playing at.

Georgia Tech Senior Jacqua Williams
On the benefits having already played at Iowa last year
"More or less, getting used to the atmosphere here. Being able to come here again is just an opportunity to say we've already been here and we know what to expect. It will just be a great opportunity."

On the team's defensive mindset
"The idea is to shut them down and get all the hustle points, get all the loose balls, and out-rebound them. That's what our defensive plan is. Defense and rebounding, that's what we're going to do."

On concerns about a long layoff since their last game (17 days)
"No concerns at all. We're just excited to get back out there and take care of business. We're just excited about this opportunity."

On their offensive game plan "We just like to attack, hit the open player, run our sets, get the ball inside, and take the open shot. We just try to play a smart offense."

Georgia Tech Sophomore Iasia Hemingway
On the benefits having already played at Iowa last year
"It's like our second home, we've been here twice and we're just excited to play again. We came down here last year and we have something to finish that we didn't last year."

On the team's defensive mindset
"We're a blue-collar team. We come out and we try and make them look ugly by getting hustle points and stops."

On defending a half-court game against Iowa
"Iowa shoots a lot of three-pointers so we have to contest the shots. We have to make sure our hands are in their face because they shoot off the pass. We just have to execute the game plan."