March 23, 2009


Head Coach Geno Auriemma
Opening Statement:

“I don’t know what the comments are supposed to be.  If you saw both games, then obviously, you know the two teams that are supposed to be playing tomorrow night are playing.  I don’t know that Florida played their best basketball game the other day from what I’ve seen on the films.  What I saw the other day, I thought they’re probably not happy with themselves and the way they played.  I would think they’re going to play a lot better tomorrow night.  It took us a little while to get going but once we did, we played at the pace that we wanted to play at so I’m sure after today’s practice we’ll be anxious and ready to go.”  

Are you going to have to challenge Tina, Kalana and Lorin again prior to this next game, or was it just a Tournament wide challenge the other night?  Do you have to keep on doing it?

 “I guess.  I mean I would think that you probably don’t, but I probably do although I like to give them more credit than that.  Kalana’s been around long enough and Tina’s been around long enough.  Lorin hasn’t but it’s amazing that you may even have to.  Maybe I do.  I don’t know.  There was a point in yesterday’s game at the eight minute mark or somewhere around there and I know Kalana had probably played nine of those 12 minutes, where she didn’t have a rebound, a shot attempt, an assist, a steal, she didn’t have anything.  I asked her, ‘What’s the point of you being out here if that’s what you’re going to contribute?’  Then, she gets 13 points and seven rebounds or something, whatever she got in the next 15 minutes that she played.  I guess you do.  I don’t see why, but I’d rather do it than leave it up to them.  I guess I have to.”

On Sha Brooks and what having a great guard means to a team:

“Well, I’ve always said that in the past that I don’t know if you can be a really good basketball team unless you have a really good point guard.  Sometimes if that’s all you have you can only be so good, but obviously she’s a good player and obviously she’s responsible for them getting to this point.  If they get beyond this point, it will probably be because of her so I would think that when you got somebody that carries that much responsibly for their team like she does – and you know shooting the ball is one thing, but when you make those shots and when you make certain plays, those are the things that make you really invaluable as a player.  I haven’t seen 25 of their games but I’ve seen enough of their games to know that when she has struggled they have struggled.  She’s their leader just like Renee is our leader and you can only go as far as – there’s an old military guy that told me when I first started coaching that said you can never be greater than your leader, so if your leader has a bunch of faults, you’re only going to go so far, whether that’s as a coach or as a point guard.”       

Senior Renee Montgomery

 Are you relieved now that you don’t have to go through Tonya Cardoza in order to get to the Sweet Sixteen?

“Yeah, I guess.  I mean it’s indifferent.  We still have to play somebody to get there so I’m just looking at it in a sense that whoever we had to end up playing tomorrow was going to be our opponent so I would have had to look at it that way.  It’s the same thing as when you have friends that are on other teams.  You can be friends and everything until you play them, and then when you play them, it’s a business affair.  Yeah, I’m kind of indifferent about the situation because we would have had to play somebody.”  

 How do you approach games when the guard on the other side is as good as Sha Brooks?

 “The same way we approach it when there’s not.  I think Coach always harps on that. We have to make sure we approach every game the same way because when you try to turn it on and turn it off, then when you reach in and try to turn it on, it might not be there when you need it.  I think you just have to practice the same way and approach the game the same way so that you can be consistent really.”

What are your thoughts on tomorrow being your last game at Gampel Pavilion and do you think there will be extra emotion?

 “I haven’t really thought much about it, but I’m sure there will be probably excited emotions because, hopefully, it won’t be my last game and then I’m going back to my apartment.  Hopefully, it will be excited emotions because we played well.  I probably won’t be thinking about it as my last game because there are too many other things to focus on right now.”

Can you provide some insight on how this Tournament affects your life (being a student, not really knowing your scheduling)?

 “It is [different] because we’re assigned practice times.  I mean it might conflict with class, but it’s the time we’re given.  As far as how we approach it, I think we had a couple of games where they were a couple of days apart.  We’ve gotten used to how to handle them and how to prepare for them so that we can be the most effective.  I think that kind of helped us when it came to this Sunday/Tuesday games because it’s not anything we’re not used to.  As far as that, I don’t think there’s a difference preparing basketball wise.”  

 Sophomore Maya Moore

On what it means to make it to 15 straight Sweet Sixteen’s:

 “Well, each year you want to try and make it as far as you can.  We’re not really necessarily looking at it as we have to keep the streak alive.  We’re just trying to win and advance, but that is something that we do take pride in.  That’s part of the tradition of coming to Connecticut.  We’re just going to focus on getting a win tomorrow.”

How important does having a guard like Renee in practice help you prepare when you play against some of the best guards in the country?

 “We have an advantage getting to compete against and to play with Renee in practice.  She’s one of those players – she’s one of the most competitive teammates that I’ve ever had and that forces you to get better every day.  I think it’s one of those things that over time just made us a better team.  Having to guard her in one-on-one lines, I get embarrassed sometimes, but at the end of the day it makes me better and more confident for all of us to guard great guards across the country.”

Can you provide some insight on how this Tournament affects your life (being a student, not really knowing your scheduling)?

 “This past weekend for me was a little tough.  I had a test today and missed class today because of the scheduled practice time so it’s a little extra pressure if your schedule falls that way.  Like Renee said, we were used to during the season having several weekends where we played one day, had a day off, and played again.  Basketball wise, it’s great.  This is what we’ve been used to.  We love playing so we love how fast it comes up.”   


Head Coach Amanda Butler

 Opening Statement:

“We are excited to be one day closer to playing again, we had so much practice the last month that we are excited at the opportunity to play games again. We had a good day of condensed preparation; we just finished practicing and have more film to watch and a few more things to get right before we are ready to take the floor. We are excited about this opportunity and I think that is how you have to look at it. You have a choice when playing a team like Connecticut, it can either be an opportunity or a challenge and we are focused on the opportunity.”

Can you compare Sha (Brooks) and Renee (Montgomery) and what does Sha bring to your team?

“When you look at the two players there are a lot of similarities because they are both capable of making plays and impacting the success of their teams on both ends of the court, offensively and defensively. They are both undoubtedly the floor leaders for their teams, because the teams go as they go. That is not meant to diminish the importance of the other players on the floor, but they are the ones that have the ball in their hands the most and the first opportunity to defend the ball as well. Therefore, they are responsible for setting the tone for their teams. When you look at what Connecticut has accomplished this year and what Florida has accomplished this year you have to look at the tone-setters, so I think they are very similar in that regard. I have never practiced with Renee, but Sha’s practice and work ethic is another reason why we have experienced the success that we have had.”

Can you talk about the number of issues you will face playing UConn because they can score from anywhere, they have a deep bench, and home-court advantage and how are you going to overcome those?

“You can focus on all of those mini things or the three or four most important things we have to focus on the next day and a half that we have to prepare. There are obvious personnel challenges, but I also think we have some great answers for some of those challenges. Renee Montgomery is a fantastic player and point guard, but so is Sha Brooks, so I think that will be an interesting match-up. The same goes for Tina Charles who had an awesome game yesterday, but I think it will be another great match-up when her and Marshae (Dotson) go head-to-head on the block. So there are a million things we can sit here and look at, like ‘how are we going to defend this?’ or ‘how our we going to overcome that?’ and my answer is same the it has been all year long, we are going to play Florida basketball. We are going to try to do the things that have gotten us here to this point and with the same pride and intensity we have practiced with and take confidence in the way we play.”

Senior Marshae Dotson

Can you talk about how playing with Sha Brooks helps you to prepare for a player like Renee Montgomery in the way she goes about practice and having a guard like that on your team?

“Sha is smart and very competitive. She gives us a lot of energy and she gets frustrated in practice when we don’t perform well but she also makes everyone else play harder.”

Can you talk about your coach a little bit, obviously the results have changed in the last couple of years and can you talk about the attitude and what she has brought to the program?

“She is very competitive and I think we feed off her energy a lot in practice. She challenges us everyday and I believe that is a very big part which trickles down to our point guard who leads us out there on the court night in and night out. She is pretty goofy but she gets on us to give 100 percent because if you don’t, you are going to get kicked out and your going home because she wants to bring the best out of everyone on the team.”

Junior Steffi Sorensen

Can you talk about how playing with Sha Brooks helps you to prepare for a player like Renee Montgomery in the way she goes about practice and having a guard like that on your team?

“She does it all. From a point guard’s standpoint, that’s want you want. She can shoot the three, she can drive, she dishes the ball, she plays excellent defense and that is how Renee Montgomery is. We deal with that and guard her everyday in practice and she is relentless and competitive. I love playing with her and I think it has helped us to play against someone like Renee Montgomery and we are excited for it.”

Can you talk about your coach a little bit, obviously the results have changed in the last couple of years and can you talk about the attitude and what she has brought to the program?

“The other day one of my friends called me and said that the biggest thing she noticed about Coach Butler was how passionate she was on the sideline. As a player you want that from your coach, you don’t want them to just sit there and kind of nod their head, you want them to be a part of the game with you. I know all of us out there feed off her stomping her heel on the ground. She has so much energy and that’s how our team plays and it is definitely a direct result of how she coaches.”