March 21, 2009

Head Coach Misty Murphy

On playing in the NCAA Tournament…
“We’re extremely excited to have this opportunity.  We’re extremely proud of these young ladies and our university and our community.  We struggled in our regular conference but to get the automatic bid was exciting for us, and we always believed the whole time.  We’re on a mission to continue playing the type of basketball we have been playing.”

On what they need to do to win against Texas A & M…
“We know we’re going to face a lot of defense pressure and it will be key for us to handle that pressure.  We need to get back in transition and rebound the ball very well.”

On how the team worked to keep believing in themselves…
“It could have been easy for them to fold and wait for the season to be over.  There were only a couple of games in the conference that we were not in.  Our team gained a lot of confidence from our losses, and we learned a lot.  We’ve always had a lot of fight, a lot of heart, and a lot of guts.  Our team chemistry off the court is amazing.  We’ve wanted to do well for each other.  The coaching staff wasn’t about to give up on everything.  The week before the conference tournament things started coming together on the court.”

On the changes made before the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament…
“We put a few new twists in our offense and defense just to try to give the element of surprise.  To see the focus and intensity level in our practice was really in tune with what we were doing.  They were working hard and competing with each other like it was the first day of practice.  They were so focused and determined, and they were on a mission.  They had an excitement for a new season and in no way were they ready to hang [the season] up.”


Ashley Austin • Senior • Guard

On the team coming together…
“Obviously we didn’t really have the season that we wanted to, especially during conference. It was really hard for us to get on the same page, to get the whole team together. Everyone wasn’t really understanding their roles yet. Then finally when we got to the tournament, it kind of just all came together. Everyone was picking each other up, and it seemed like everyone was really on the same page with what we were trying to do offensively and defensively. When you have that, and you finally have twelve players clicking and having the right kind of chemistry on the court, good things happen.”

On a home-state advantage…
“We are still a part of the state of Indiana, and I think that a lot of people, especially alumni who have talked to me, who are from Indiana and played at the University of Evansville, are going to come and watch. So I think we’ll have an advantage with the crowd.”

On Texas A&M…
“They’re a number two seed for a reason. It’s going to be a really tough game. I think one of the most important things is to come out and match their intensity. They’re a great ball team, and they know they’re a great ball team. They’re going to come out hungry- they expect to win the game. We have to come out and show them we’re here and show that we’re ready to play. We’re representing the Missouri Valley Conference when we go out there. For the sake of our conference, we need to earn a little bit of respect in this game and let everyone know what the Missouri Valley’s all about.”


Robyn Jennings • Senior • Forward

On a home-state advantage…
“I think it helps a lot playing in Indiana because our parents are able to travel and make it up to this game we have tomorrow. And a lot of the fans are also able to make it, so I think it helps a lot.”


Shannon Novosel • Senior • Center

On the advantage of the Notre Dame connection…
“It’s nice to have a little bit of comfort knowing we’re used to the court and the atmosphere also. Just having a little bit of a connection with the Notre Dame team. My sister’s trying to round up as many fans as possible for us. I think it will give us a little bit of advantage. I visited with her last night and she said she’s trying to get people to come out in purple just to support us for a little bit. We’ll see- I don’t know about the whole purple thing but at least they’ll be out there cheering for us. “

On Texas A&M…
 “I think they’re a very athletic team. But we don’t match up well, so we’re looking to play different zone defenses that we’ve been practicing. We’re going to have to limit their touches.”

On the bracket announcement…
“I could barely understand what my parents were saying- they were so excited and screaming into the phone when they found out. They were like, ‘Man, did we luck out.’  Natalie called a couple of minutes later and said, “You’re coming to Notre Dame!” It was a pretty joyous time.”


Head Coach Gary Blair

On being in the tournament…
“This is our sixth NCAA tournament, four with me.  It’s good to be back, I haven’t been here [Notre Dame] since 1982-83 when I was at Louisiana Tech.  We’re happy to be here, we’re excited to be the second seed.  I think we’ve earned our way because of our strength of schedule, because of our two wins against Oklahoma, and how we challenge the country playing coast to coast.  Our team is playing well right now.”

On the necessity for leadership…
“In the NCAA tournament, talent does not win for you.  Basketball players and senior leadership will win for you.  This is something we implore to our older kids everyday, to lead by example, to lead by your words, even though you’re not a verbal person, but find a way to lead.”

On playing Evansville…
“We need to give respect to our opponent, particularly with the run they’ve made in the Missouri Valley Tournament.  This is not just some up and coming team, they’ve won 21 ballgames last year.  I do know the coach very well and for a first year coach to get here to the NCAA tournament, she’s done a great job.”

On the logic behind the lunchbox mentality…
“This season is long, it’s become a long season for women’s college basketball.  Coaches don’t have another life, this is what we do 24/7, 12 months a year.  How many games do we need to play to get a champion?  The lunch pale mentality started from the idea that we have everything now, the per diem, the scholarship, everything you could want.  It’s so much easier to be an athlete that we forget about those who are losing their jobs that carry a lunch pale to work everyday.   Because now, you don’t appreciate what hard work is all about, yes it’s a game that we’re playing, but it’s what we love to do.  I wanted to get that back into our team.  And I wanted to get our kids, whether it was a little hokey or not, it worked.  And it’s continued to work because we practice very well, and the games are a lot easier than practice.  I wanted the kids to understand that life is precious, jobs are precious and the scholarships at this level are very precious.  And to live each day like you never know if it’s going to be your last.  It’s work, W-O-R-K.  We’re going to try out work the other teams.”

On the seniors style…
“This is a very quiet group of seniors.  They lead through example and through their play.”

On what it would mean for the program to advance past the first round…
“I never like to get past one more game.  There are a lot of great teams.  We have to overcome some of things that happened to us at the Big 12 tournament on how we didn’t finish Baylor off.  We have to figure out those things before we even think about the Connecticuts and the Tennessees and the Dukes of the world.  There’s a pretty good field here [at Notre Dame] and this field is so much harder than what we had last year.”


On the Notre Dame home court advantage…
“This will be harder for us here.  We are not the favorite here.  When you’re on somebody else’s field, throw the seeds out.  Notre Dame is the favorite because they have the home site and we have the seed.  Would I rather be in College Station right now as the seventh seed?  You’re right. ”

On the team preparing for the game tomorrow…
“I like what I’ve seen, but you have to forget about the Big 12 and you have to think about the competition that’s here.  Evansville knows how to win and they have an excellent coach.  We will play them like we would play Minnesota or Notre Dame.  We will give them the respect that they’ve earned and we will go out after them and hopefully we can get off to a good start.”

Danielle Gant, Sr., G/F

On being the favorite at the site…
“Everyone is after us, but even though we are the two seed, we can’t take anything for granted. It is March Madness, and everyone is hungry. We can’t just go out and think that just because we are the number two seed, we are going to win the game.”

On winning more games in the tournament then last season…
“Everyone’s goal is to win the championship, but our goal is to go a step further. If we go a step further, it means we have done our jobs in practice and have come to work extra hard. We won’t be satisfied going just one more round, but I think it will give the coaches a lot of respect knowing that we did advance to another level.”

Takia Starks, Sr., G

On not looking past Evansville…
“I’ve been watching a lot of men’s NCAA games, and I’m seeing a lot of games where the two seed is playing the fifteen seed, and the fifteen seed is playing them really close. That alone tells you that every team is coming to play, and anybody can win on any given night. You always have to be ready to play.”

On Evansville’s strengths…
“Just watching film on them, we saw that they have a couple of great shooters. They can get out on a break if you let them and get easy baskets. They have height inside as well, so we are going to have to play aggressive, not passive and timid, and definitely battle inside. They are a solid team, and we just have to go out tomorrow and carry out our game plan.”

La Toya Micheaux, Sr., C

On preparing for the matchup against Evansville…
“We’re just doing the same thing that we always do, watching film and taking games one by one. We haven’t changed anything other than just trying to play hard. As seniors we are trying to lead and have the rest of the team follow. Of course we want to get back to where we did last year (Elite Eight), but that year is over and we are trying to make our own statement this year.”

On coach Gary Blair motivating the team by bringing in lunch boxes…
“When we first came in and saw the lunch boxes, the team didn’t understand what that meant. Now I believe the team realizes what coach (Blair) was trying to say, and that’s that we go to work every day, just like everyone else does. We have the ‘lunch pail’ mentality now, and every day we take them to practice and back to the locker room. We’re going to work, and that’s what we’re here to do, to be student-athletes and win championships.”