March 21, 2009

Head Coach Muffet McGraw

On the intensity in practice this week…
“Practice has been going really well, and I think the intensity has been building all week. When they put the NCAA logos on the floor, I think it went up another notch. I’m really pleased with the way we have come back and worked hard to get ready for this game.”

On the team’s schedule helping to prepare for the matchup against Minnesota…
“I think that every team in the BIG EAST prepares us for the postseason. Minnesota is similar to DePaul and St. John’s. They’re a very physical team, and we’ve played that kind of team a lot this year. I think at this point, it’s who we have played recently that will prepare us for the NCAAs.”

On playing in the NCAA Tournament at home…
“It’s a little bit easier here. It’s much easier for the freshmen, and the upperclassmen are taking it in stride and trying to instruct the freshmen as best they can. I think that it’s the comfort level: being in our own locker room, having our fans here, and staying in our own beds. Everything is like a home game, and I think that’s a good thing for us.”

On playing four freshmen off the bench…
“The hallmark of freshmen is inconsistency. We hope that at this point in the season, they have had enough experience to overcome that. They have certainly had the opportunity to get that experience in big games and late in games. They are definitely prepared and feeling a lot better than they were at the beginning of the year. And they’ve played well; Erica Solomon and Natalie (Novosel) making the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team gave them a shot of confidence, and Kellie Watson has had some good games. I think they are ready to perform.”

On position matchups against Minnesota…
“I think all of the matchups are concerns. With the way we defend, there are some weaknesses. They have a very good guard combo (Brittany McCoy and Emily Fox) at the top, and they play well together and have a lot of experience, with a junior (McCoy) and a senior (Fox). They have a great inside game as well. When you put that together, it’s going to cause problems for the defense no matter what defense you play.”

On returning many players from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team…
“I think it definitely helps. When you look on the wall in the locker room and see the seven Sweet Sixteens, the national championship, and the two Final Fours, it shows that there is a big tradition to uphold here. They feel like it’s their job to continue to uphold that tradition.”

On taking one game at a time…
“We focus just on one game at a time. We don’t talk at all about what is going to happen down the road; it’s too far away, especially for the freshmen. They’ve all been very good about knowing that Minnesota is the team we’re playing and the only team we are focused on right now.”


Lindsay Schrader • Sr. • Guard

On playing Big Ten teams in previous games…
“The Big Ten is a great conference and Minnesota is a great team.  The whole week of practice we’ve been preparing for it and I think we’re ready.  They [Big Ten teams] are very physical and they get the ball in transition.  I believe those games helped and I think preseason helped us too.”

On Lindsay’s injured elbow…
“It’s great.  It’s going to be bandaged and it’s fine.  I’ve had over a week and half to heal so it feels great and ready to go.”

Melissa Lechlitner • Jr. • Guard

On improving Notre Dame’s perimeter defense…
“We’ve been working on a lot of defensive drills in practice, fine-tuning our zone defenses and our man to man and our communication.  And really everything in the past that has been a weak spot for us is very fixable.  We’ve just been spending this week fine-tuning those weak points.”

On Melissa being former teammates with Minnesota’s Kristen Dockery…
“We started playing on the same AAU team and then went to the same high school.  We haven’t really kept in contact that much since college but we’ve talked a little bit after the pairing came out and the seeding.   We [traded] a few kind words back and forth.”


Ashley Barlow • Jr. • Guard

On playing at home in the first round…
“Being able to stay at home has a different feel.  It’s a good thing for us and we don’t have to be tired from traveling.”

On having a two-week break from the conference tournament and the NCAA’s….
“I didn’t like the break, I’m ready to play.  We’ve been practicing hard and just working on doing little things like boxing out and containing the ball for the last two weeks and I think we’re ready to go.”

Head Coach Pam Borton

On playing in the NCAA Tournament…
“We’re really excited to be here in South Bend for the NCAA Tournament.  This year we have a lot more veterans who have had NCAA Tournament experience.  They’re ready to go.  They’re playing great basketball right now, so let the games begin.”

On their high three-point shooting percentage…
“It’s obviously all about half-court execution.  We have been able to get some transition threes throughout the course of the year.  If we can reverse the ball and have good ball movement and find our three point shooters it will be a good thing for us.”

On Notre Dame’s home court advantage…
“I’m not sure if it’s a different feel for us because we were in this situation a few years ago when we hosted the NCAA Tournament.  It’s obviously a different feel because you sometimes don’t get the tournament experience, but it’s also an advantage with your home court and your home fans.  It’s always an advantage to play on your home court because you’re in your comfort zone.” 

On playing two freshman…
“Both Jackie [Voigt] and Kiara [Buford] are very mature and are beyond their years in knowing what’s going on.  Both have learned a lot over the course of the year and in the last two weeks have come to see how every game we play throughout the season matters.  They have come to see how focused and how disciplined you must be throughout the year.  I think his is a new season for them.  You often worry about them coming into NCAA Tournaments because they don’t know what to expect, but at the same time they just go out there and play because they don’t know any better.” 

On Katie Ohm’s three-point shooting…
“Katie Ohm is the Big Ten’s best three-point shooter.  If she’s open, she’s most likely going to knock it down.  She’s a deep three-point shooter, and hopefully she’ll be able to utilize that for our team tomorrow.”

On the Notre Dame team…
“They’re a well-coached team.  They’re a disciplined team.  They’re a well-balanced team with not just one or two scorers on the team.” 

On the outlook of Kristen Dockery…
“She’s a very skilled post player who knows the game extremely well.  We as coaches want to get her out on the floor because she is so skilled and talented.  In the future if we can keep her healthy, we’d love to have her out on the floor.”

 

Emily Fox • Senior • Guard

On the role of the guards…
“The guards are very strong on their team. Their goal is to penetrate. One key thing is going to be our guards’ rebounding, which we’ve been working on a lot in practice. Brittany and I have really been working hard on controlling the tempo and taking control.”

On playing away games…
“I think that it gives us a lot of confidence. A lot of people were asking how we were going to play at Notre Dame, against them on their home floor. We have beat Ohio State on the road, we have beat Michigan State on the road, and I think that experience and that confidence is really going to help us out because we know how to handle this situation.  It doesn’t matter where we play, we’re just ready to take them on.”

Brittany McCoy• Junior • Guard

On controlling the tempo of the game…
“We’ve been doing a better job in practice of controlling the tempo, and knowing what to run to keep our team under control and playing half-court. Notre Dame is a team that likes to run. They like to push the ball up the floor. They’re a team we have to get back on defense with but they’re also a team we can run against. If we push the ball like we can and get people running in the lanes like we can, I think we’ll be very successful.”

On Lindsay Schrader…
“She’s a really good player, obviously, playing the three spot and the four spot. She can do a little bit of everything: taking it to the hole and posting up. It’ll be a challenge for our defense, but a challenge we’re very ready for. It helps that we’ve been working a lot on guarding her on our scout team in the post and also keeping her outside the lane because she’s someone that likes to attack the lane and pull up. She’s a great player, but we’re ready.”

Ashley Ellis-Milan • Junior • Forward / Center

On the importance of rebounding in tomorrow’s game…
“Rebounding is going to be the key to the game. Notre Dame is a great rebounding team offensively and defensively. I think not only myself, but my team needs to step up and start rebounding better than we have in the past couple games we’ve had. I think we’ve worked on it in practice and I think we’ll be ready for Sunday.”