Pittsburgh-Gonzaga Quotes, March 22
March 22, 2009
Head Coach Agnus Berenato
On the matchup with Gonzaga: "I think it will be a great matchup. I think Gonzaga is a great program. They've got a really nice little point guard. They have, obviously, a pretty good post. Both of their posts are good. They have three players that were first team all conference and their point guard was the MVP of their conference. Anytime you have accolades like that, they're a strong team. They're well coached. They like to push the ball in transition. They play tall. They're lean. I think they play athletic. They have great outside shooters. Their post will head inward and take the jump shot or she will shoot from the 17-foot range. I think it's going to be an exciting game. They play a lot of zone and they play sagging man-to-man and they press. They sound like us."
On whether Gonzaga is a dangerous team after upsetting Xavier: "I don't think it was a big upset. I think Gonzaga is a great program and Xavier is a great program and Gonzaga was on their home court. So I don't think it was a huge upset. We were really prepared to play either team and often times when you're in a tournament you'll have a scout for one team and a pseudo scout for another team, but not with this. We're really looking forward to playing Gonzaga. When you get in the NCAA [Tournament] there are 64 teams and all 64 teams are really good and they warrant their spot in the NCAA. They're here for a reason. Look at their stats. Look at their win-loss record. They won their conference. They played some great, really nice teams. I think every single team in the tournament, at this point, they're good teams. So I don' t know how people say, `That was such an upset.' Sometimes people come out and play great and sometimes people don't have it that day. It doesn't mean that they're a great team. It just means that on that day they didn't have it."
On Gonzaga being a supposed mid-major: "I didn't know they had that tag. I'm not really good with tags. I'm a no-frills girl. So I don't really know labels and tags. That's out of my league. I know that they're D-1 and we never, ever talk about, what's the tag, mid-major. We never talk about that. They're D-1. We respect everybody. It doesn't matter if they're in the Big East or if they're in the West Coast Conference. I just think that teams are teams and players are players and it's five-on-five and when you get to this point, we've believed that since our exhibition game. Every time you step on that court you better give it 40 minutes. The teams that are still here, that's how they play. I mean, I hope people aren't tagging us. What's our label? It would be interesting."
Senior Guard Xenia Stewart
On being expected to advance in this year's NCAA Tournament: "I would say there's a difference. As you said, we were not expected to win and make it to the Sweet-16. We went against Baylor and that was a pivotal win. But we always feel like we have people doubting us that we weren't going to go far this year anyway. So we're always thinking this year that we have a chip on our shoulder. Gonzaga is a really good team but we're also a good team and we want to prove that to everybody."
On the matchup with Gonzaga: "Their defense, I think they have a lot of energy. They play our style of basketball, a lot of transition, a lot of inside-outside. So I think it's going to be a great game on Monday.
Senior Guard - Shavonte Zellous
On the matchup with Gonzaga: "From watching the game, I think Gonzaga is a great team. They like to get the ball up the court and push it in transition. They have a great power forward and a great point guard who runs the team. I think it was a great game for us to watch and to see their style of play.
On getting into an up-and-down game with Gonzaga: "We're going to be ready to play any team and any game. Montana was a slow-it-down team, so I think it's going to be a different scenario Monday with Gonzaga. They're similar to us. They like to push the ball up the court and get easy transition baskets.
Freshman Center Pepper Wilson
On the matchup with Gonzaga: "I really think they have a crafty point guard, a good inside game and some great shooters. And they have a lot of energy and they play team defense. So I think they're a really good team and that it'll be a good matchup tomorrow night."
(Locker Room Quotes) Sophomore Forward Chelsea Cole
On how it feels to get out of the first round: "It definitely is a weight off of our shoulders and it brings us one step closer to the place where we ultimately want to be."
On Gonzaga: "They play really tough and they are always moving so we have to be ready to get back on defense because their team and especially their posts run the floor really well."
On how they will carry their second half momentum over to the Gonzaga game: "I think the biggest thing we have to do is just play our game."
On how their press will affect the game: "I think that our press is going to work really well for us, because we have been working really hard on that in practice. But I think that overall we just need to stay focused and play our game."
On Gonzaga forward Heather Bowman: "She is a very good player and we are going to have to play her straight up. We have to respect her, but we have to play her hard and physical the entire time."
Sophomore Guard Shayla Scott
On carrying over momentum from Saturday: "It is definitely important that we come out against Gonzaga the way we came out in the second half. We always say that we are a second-half team and I think that we need to start taking our second half abilities and using them in the first half to really settle things early."
On playing their tempo against Gonzaga: "It definitely is a big focus for us. I think we need to be able to run and get our up and down game going. Those are the things we do well and I think we need to do those things to be successful against Gonzaga."
On how playing in the Big East prepared Pittsburgh for the Tournament: "It definitely does. We all go hard in the Big East all year and the Big East Tournament just finished up before we came here so I think it is a great way to prepare for the NCAA tournament."
Head Coach Kelly Graves
General Comments: “Well first of all I want to say we’re really thrilled and excited to be playing. It’s our first in school history. I guess yesterday I was just really proud of our team. I thought we handled ourselves with composure, especially after they made their run. Just a thrill for us and obviously excited to play Pittsburgh, but we know it will be a challenge. They’re a great team and I think they showed in the second half yesterday what they’re capable of doing.”
On Gonzaga’s style: “I think we’re at our best when we can run the transition because we have a lot of players who can make plays that way. It seems like the second half of the season we became more of a half court team and teams played us more physically and we handled that okay. I think we’ve showed the ability to play a half court game, an execution game. I think if you ask my team they’d probably prefer getting up and down; that’s always their first choice.”
On playing against Xavier’s Ta’Shia Phillips last night and Pitt’s Shavonte Zellous tomorrow: “It’s kind of interesting. I guess this is what happens in a tournament like this. We see one style one night then another the next. She’s an amazing player and we’ve had some experience with a player like this. We played Virginia earlier in the year. And Monica Wright who is just tremendous kind of reminds us a lot of Zellous. On that given night she scored 26 or 28 against us, but she also shot about 27 or 28. We’ll take that kind of efficiency. It’s not frightening, but you watch her play, Shavonte, she’s just a tremendous player. She can do it a whole bunch of different ways. What I’m most impressed with is her ability on the backboards and to get to the free throw line. Not only does she have the shooting and one-on-one game, but she can beat you on the boards and she can beat you on the free throw line. So just a great player and all we can do is contain her, contest her shots and try and keep her off the boards. That’s going to be our game plan.”
On junior Vivian Frieson: “Vivian is just what we like to call a stat-filler. She just plays a great forward game and that’s what we need. Obviously Courtney does her thing and Heather seems to always to do 18-25 every game. I don’t care who we’re playing, when we’re playing, or how she’s playing she just always seems to get that done. I think Vivian has been our unsung hero in the key. On those games we need her to get 15 rebounds she seems to come up with 15 rebounds. She’s had games where she’s had seven or eight blocks. In fact in this gym against Washington she had 10 steals. Whatever we need she seems to do it for us. That’s what a team player does and that’s what Vivian is. The great thing about Vivian is that she’s kind of a matchup headache for a lot of people. If they put a smaller player on her she has the ability to post up and if they put a taller player, a slower player, she has the ability to create off the dribble. What she’s become for us is a point-forward. If Courtney needs a break or is getting extra pressure or trapped she’s a great outlet to have. She has the ability to bring it up and get us into what we want to do. She’s a coach’s dream. She can do everything that we ask her to do.”
Senior Guard Jami Schaeffer
On Monday’s game: “We come ready to win every game and that’s why we’re here - to play games and win. We’re preparing today for that and we’re excited for tomorrow and we’re going to go in with that same mentality.”
On Pitt’s Shavonte Zellous: “I think that we have a lot of good defensive players on our team. We can rotate and do great on her. We’re going to need breaks because she plays the entire game. I think that it will benefit us that we have that depth. Contain her and keep her in front because she’s a good player and she’s good at getting to the line so just keeping her in front, contesting her shots, and blocking her out just like coach said.”
Junior Forward Vivian Frieson:
On Pittsburgh’s slow start: “I think one thing that we do a really good job of is not comparing how other teams do against the teams we’re going to play. I think one of the big things about us is that we have to play within our own team to win. I think as long as we do that we’ll win and I’m confident we will.”
Sophomore Guard Courtney Vandersloot
On yesterday’s upset: “It felt good; we’re happy where we are, but at the same time we weren’t surprised last night. We’re proud of ourselves for the way we played, but we came in there expecting to win that game. It feels good to accomplish that and show everyone that we’re here for a reason.”
On if their approach changes in round two: “I think it’s the same because we have to worry about ourselves in these games. We’re up against good competition from here on out so we know that Pitt’s a very good team. All of their players are good, but we have to focus on ourselves playing well together, especially. I think that’s what helped us in our win yesterday, playing together. Going in there, we have confidence from winning that game. We proved to ourselves as much as anybody else that we should be here, so we have confidence going into this game. We will be prepared to play a good Pitt team.”
On preparing for Pitt’s Shavonte Zellous: “She’s a phenomenal player. I saw her for just a little bit yesterday and I was impressed because she’s one of those players that will make a huge impact for her team and the game, so we have to do as much as we can to contain her.”
On playing the tournament near her home town: “It’s great. The support was so fun yesterday. I’ve got so many people here to support the team.”
Junior Forward Heather Bowman
On yesterday’s upset: “I’m still really pumped about it, honestly. I think today it’s more back-to-business.”
On the Pitt matchup: “We know they’re a different team. They have their similarities to Xavier like their athleticism and all that. We also saw they’re very guard-oriented players with some big players, so it will be different matchup.”
On Pitt’s size: “I think it’s going to be similar to what we had to do last night against Xavier—be fundamental, outwork them and just try to do our work early on the post and get them out of position.”
On the tournament experience: “It’s turned out real well so far. Freshman year, we were in the tournament, but this year is a completely different feeling. We feel like we belong here more, and that we know what we’re doing a lot more.”