March 22, 2009

DARTMOUTH QUOTES

2009 NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP Comcast Center • College Park, Md. (Saturday, March 21, 2009)

Dartmouth HC Chris Wielgus 25 Darcy Rose, 6-2, Sr. 33 Koren Schram, 5-7, Sr. 20 Brittney Smith, 6-1, So.

Opening Statement: "We're delighted to be here, representing the Ivy League. We know we have a formidable opponent. We're very cognizant of their abilities, but we also know that we have a great tradition in basketball ourselves. As basketball players and coaches, we're delighted to be on the national stage against such a prominent opponent. This is what we work for all year long. This is what these student-athletes have been practicing for since they were little girls, so they could play against the best, in the best, so this is why we're here. I do know that when they told me we were playing Maryland I said, `Playing Maryland at the Comcast Center is like playing Notre Dame at the Vatican.'"

Reporter: "For the athletes, can you give us your first impressions of Comcast Center?" Rose: "We're really excited to be here. It's a great arena, it's brand new and it's huge. It's a lot bigger than Leede Arena. We're just really excited to be here." Schram: "Yeah, definitely. This is a great facility and being able to play against a great team like Maryland in a facility like this means a lot to our team and our program. We're just really excited to be here."

Reporter: "What are your challenges in playing and staying competitive with Maryland?" Smith: "Well, our team is already nationally competitive, so I don't think that will be a problem. One of our main goals is to try and stop Kristi Toliver. She's one of the best point guards, so we're just going to try and contain her."

Reporter: "Do you think your team has been overlooked by some in certain situations?" Wielgus: "It's hard for me to say. I can only coach one team at a time, but I think it's probably natural. We're sitting here as perennial underdogs. We've never been anything but an underdog, even though this is our seventh NCAA appearance, but we're kind of, sort of used to that. They're going for a national championship. Their motivation is really not my concern. If they're basketball players, the game still has to be played. I'm sure everybody has a tendency to overlook us, but that's not really my business."

Reporter: "Do you think it's somewhat unfair that you have to play a one-seed on its home floor?" Wielgus: "To be honest with you, I don't look at this as a fairness issue. I've been in this business for a long time, and I've been in this predicament before and it is what it is. I want to make something really clear from my athletes as well as from my coaching staff, we're happy to be here. I mean, we're competitors. This is on a big stage against a great program and that's what we want. It doesn't matter to me - they've sent me everywhere. There's not going to be a home game in Leede Arena for us, so they've sent us everywhere and we'll be ready to play. We're basketball players, here, this weekend, this is what we do and this is a dream come true, so we're delighted to be here. We're delighted to be playing in a facility like the Comcast Center and going up against opponents like Maryland, so I'm thankful for who puts me wherever they put me."

Reporter: "Has the economy affected the ability of friends and family to travel?" Smith: "Personally, my mother would love to be here, but her money situation is kind of tight because of the economical status. But my dad flies free, so he'll be able to come." Wielgus: "I do think it affects a lot of people, it has to."

MARYLAND QUOTES

Maryland Terrapins
HC-Brenda Frese
20-Kristi Toliver, 5-7, Sr.
25-Marissa Coleman,6-1, Sr.

Opening Statement:  “Well, obviously it’s real good to get started. We’ve waited quite a while for this the past two weeks, and its great to be able to come in here as the home team for our fans who support this team to really be coming into the tournament playing our best basketball.  We’ve been able to remain healthy and strong and we feel very confident getting ready to come into the tournament. Obviously we are very aware of Dartmouth; what they’ve been able to do, the successes they’ve been able to have. Their a very talented team. They go inside out, very patient, very deliberate so we definitely need to be ready to play.  We’re just anxious, excited, and ready to get going for tomorrow.”

Reporter: “How hard have you had to sell to your players to not overlook Dartmouth? Does the Coppin State game in the first round last year affect that?”
Coach Frese: “Well obviously the two players to my right played through that game.  You know the voice in the locker room the players listen to, and that’s the voice of Kristi and Marissa, to my right, so they understand each and every game.  We’ve been watching some of the games that are going on now.  They understand how important every game is.  And they understand that they are playing at home, and the importance of playing at home, and in order to do that, you have to take care of business in the first round.“
 
Reporter:  “How important is it that you are playing at home where you’ve won 34 straight games, and other teams have had to travel to get here?”
Coach Frese:   You know every school has the opportunity to host and we feel fortunate that we’ve been able to host the past two years.  For us, we have great confidence and comfort at home.  I am thrilled for our fans, and our seniors.  It is what it is in the NCAA Tournament. We’ve had to go on the road too, so we feel lucky to be the ones who host.”

Reporter:  “Kristi, you have had the opportunity to play in this tourney, how does the mentality change from regular season to post season?”
Toliver:  “You’ve got to have toughness, and everybody has to bring it. It’s one and done, and we’re happy to be playing at home.  It’s going to be a battle, it’s going to be a great tournament, and we are happy to be a part of it.” 

Reporter:  “And Marissa, for you, do you think the team understands the finality of the situation, and have you talked to the younger players about that?”
Coleman: “We tried to bend their ears before the ACC Tournament and I think they are starting to understand.  We try to talk about how each game is important.”

Reporter:  “Marissa and Kristi, can you talk a little bit about in high school, have you ever overlooked an opponent and how do you get the right mind set going into a game like this?”
Toliver: “I think the closest to that would be the game against Virginia Tech last year. We were down 20-2 and we had to fight our way back in to that game.  I don’t want to say we necessarily overlooked them because every ACC opponent is such a huge threat, but we came out too lackadaisical and we expected to win and we thought the name on our chest was going to get it done.  Fortunately, we battled back, that’s one that comes to mind.”

Reporter:  “How much do you think pace is going to be a key, especially when they bring a half court game?”
Coach Frese:  “I think it’s going to be important. I think its going to be a battle of wills.  They utilize the shot clock, and make you really have to defend.  From our end, we want up-tempo, we want high scoring, and it’s going to definitely be an opportunity on our end to dictate what we want to accomplish.  Fortunately, we have played a team like this, Rutgers, who has a similar style of play, so we have had teams like this on our schedule.  This will help us in terms of how this game will look.”
 
Reporter:  “For the players, what’s the best player about playing at Comcast? Is it the fact that you can go from the dorm to gym? What’s the best part? Can you explain why that has made you so successful?”
Toliver:  “I think it’s a combination of all that you said.  Our fans are the best in the country, they come out to support us, and they are loud and they heckle the other teams.  It’s great to have that sixth man behind us.”
Coleman:  “No doubt about it.  It’s also being familiar with the rims, to get that perception. It’s difficult to get that perception when you are playing on the road.  It’s definitely to our advantage.”

Reporter:  “For the student athletes, do you ever take a step back and ask yourself, ‘man this has been a good run’ and what a special time it has been?”
Coleman:  “I think we will wait until we are cutting down the nets in St. Louis. Right now we are focused on this tournament. We are focused on Dartmouth. We are not looking too far ahead.”
Toliver: “I think for me, I thought all year long, about the different things have been going on throughout the year, and how this is our last NCAA Tournament, and how we just want to take advantage of every moment, so right now, we are totally focused on Dartmouth tomorrow afternoon.  We will go from there.”

Reporter:  “Coach, with all the attention on UConn this year, do you feel your team is almost coming in a little bit under the radar?”
Coach Frese:  “Yes, absolutely.  It reminds me of a very familiar year, 2006.  You know, the less they want to talk about us, the better.  And you know, we will just quietly go about our business and working hard, it is amazing to me, given what this program has accomplished.  From our end, we are going to keep doing what we do best, and show up and work hard at practice, work hard at games, and let everything else control itself.”