March 23, 2009

TEXAS A&M QUOTES

Head Coach Gary Blair

Opening statement ... "It feels good to be here and you've seen with some of the first round upsets that it was important for us to take the Evansville game seriously and I feel we game planed accordingly and we took care of business. Evansville did a great job of game planning for us and they did some things on the defensive end that we were not quite ready for but I feel we adjusted accordingly as the game went on.

The Minnesota-Notre Dame game was a great game with two teams that were evenly matched. At first you start pulling for the team without the home crowd, which was Minnesota, and then as the game went on you started pulling for Notre Dame, thinking you're not sure if you can handle the inside players that Minnesota has or their guard play. You know that we will have trouble with either team because of their physical nature of play. The kids in the Midwest are built different then the kids we have and they like to establish their physical presence with their style of play. We are going to have a hard time tomorrow stopping (Emily) Fox and (Brittany) McCoy but I think we have the players, (Sydney) Colson and (Takia) Starks to give their guards some trouble."

On the different style of play they will face... "Well, a transition game sounds good, but the game will be won with half-court defense and half-court offense. It is going to be won on execution and half-court sets. Being able to run when the opportunity is there and get easy baskets will be key for us. We're not the greatest offensive team playing right now because we don't have that dominant down low player so we have to score by slashing, by shooting, and by getting out on the break and getting transition buckets. We have to score a lot of ways. We have to get to the free throw line, we have to get people in foul trouble. Minnesota does a great job of using their arms and bodies in sealing people off. They understand the game. They're not going to jump higher than us, they're not going to block a lot of shots, they're not going to out run us, but that can still out play us by playing a different style. There is a lot of different ways to play and win in the game of basketball. James Naismith didn't say you had to play this game a certain way.

There are so many different ways to play and the Big Ten style of basketball is so much different than any other style of basketball in the country. What scares me so much about Minnesota is their ability to rebound the ball and how they have the roll players that accept their individual roll off the bench. They have players that do certain things very well and they execute their rolls very well. Tomorrow's game will be a game of runs and whoever makes the last run will come out on top and hopefully that will be us."

On Minnesota's ability to rebound... "Their strengths is that our offensive rebounders will have to find ways to get around their inside players. Their kids are so good at rebounding the fundamental way; boxing out and getting great position. (Danielle) Gant is one of those players that has the mentality of that ball is hers when it comes off the rim, so we will see tomorrow which style will be more effective."

On building his plan on building his program... "I look to get kids from winning programs, getting kids with character and that can take coaching. Getting kids that do not necessarily think they have to shoot the ball to be effective. I wasn't getting high school All-American's, but I have really good, solid basketball players that were heavily recruited regionally. If you look back at September 11, 2001, since then kids have started to stay closer to home and you have to know that when you recruit today. It is important to sell your school and your program to kids that you think will not only fit what you're looking for, but also kids that will want to come to your school. That's how I've been building my programs over the years."

On the crowd tomorrow night... "I encourage the fans to come out even though the home team has lost, basketball is still the winner. Whether it is Minnesota or Texas A&M, pick a team and come out and support women's basketball. Now I'm sure that Muffet (McGraw) would say the same thing because she has worked very hard on getting this tournament there and the crowds have been excellent for the first two games and I hope people come out to and watch the game tomorrow night."

Sydney Colson • Soph. •G

On Minnesota's guard play and the challenges they expect to face... "They come off of a lot of high-low screens and they girls like to come off of that and drive to the basket. They're really aggressive, the girls are always moving to try to get the ball, they're constantly in motion and we're going to have to step-up and play a more aggressive defense than we did yesterday. I think its going to be a battle all the way through."

On Minnesota being reminiscent of any other teams A&M has played this year... "They're a little bit like the Kansas State guards, a lot of their girls can shoot it. They're better off the dribble I think, but like Takia said, if we keep it to a transition game, just keep pushing the ball, and it'll definitely be in our favor. We like to get out and run and we're going to push them on defense, try to force some turnovers. Just come out and be really aggressive and get back to the way we play."

Takia Starks • Sr. • G

On Minnesota's guard play... "They are very physical players, they are great drivers and they're also great shooters. Its kind of like, if you play off they're going to hit the shot and if you're up too close they're going to drive to the basket. It's like giving them a little bit of space at the right times."

On the Big Ten being a different style of basketball than what Texas A&M is used to... "Our conference is...the other team is going to play hard, you're going to play hard, whoever has the most runs is going to win. The Big Ten, they play hard, smart and definitely the body type is a lot different. Here we are, we're kind of a slender body [type] and we're quick and they're a lot bigger and stronger. We're both just two conferences and tomorrow its going to be whoever plays the best is going to win, that's what its going to come down to."

On A&M's quickness... "Speed is our game and as long as we keep it fast, I believe it'll be in our favor. Getting transition baskets...we definitely don't want it to be a half-court game."

MINNESOTA QUOTES

Head Coach Pam Borton

On the differences of style between the Big 10 and Big 12 Conferences... "I think there are a lot of differences within the Big 12. In the Big 10, we've got more athletes and athleticism. I think a lot more teams are pushing tempo. We do have a couple of big kids on our team, and we use their strengths such as their power and strength. If you look at our perimeter players, most of our kids are athletic and we do play an up tempo style and aggressive defense. They do have more athleticism than we do, but we play to our style and our advantages to win basketball games."

On Texas A & M's defense... "They pressure the ball, they deny the passing lanes, and they deny the high post. These are things you can take advantage of and that's our job as coaches to find those advantages. There are strengths and there are weaknesses, and we're going to work to take advantage of what we can. We have to use their pressure defense to our advantage. There are some things we can exploit, and hopefully we do that tomorrow. We're going to have to set great screens and execute at half court."

On senior guard Emily Fox... "She's put a lot of pressure and expectations upon herself. I think [Emily] has grown her senior year as a person and as a player. I think she's become a more well-rounded player. She's had a great season, and she's made sure her team had a great season this year. She's playing more under control. She's taking what the defense is giving her and learning when to slow things down and execute at half court. She's more understanding of what we need to do out there on the court to take control of the game. She's making shots and stepping up and playing like a senior."

On playing three freshman in an NCAA Tournament game... "They're freshman, and they have no idea where they are at. They played absolutely outstanding. At first, I just put them in for a minute, minute and a half to get their feet wet and see what happens. I think they came out and played with poise and played with confidence. I give all the credit to our veterans. I talked to our freshman about just going out there and having fun. They need to learn everything they can right now and pack it away for next year.

Emily Fox • Sr. • G

On the possibility that tomorrow's game will be Fox's last... "It's a weird feeling being a senior and knowing that my next game could be my last. Just for this team, for Kay [Sylva], the other senior, we just want to keep playing as long as we can. We're really excited to have another opportunity to do that tomorrow night."

On Texas A&M... "We need to take control, we can't get out of control out there because they are a very athletic team. We can't get in a track meet with them because they are too fast for us. We're just going to work on making sure we're in control of the game and settling things down and not getting out of control."

On the two teams' different styles... "It's a very different style of play I feel like so we're going to have to adjust to that. They're obviously very quick and fast, an athletic team. We saw them get their hands on a lot of balls. We're just going to have to balance it out with our power. We're a strong team; we've got some quick kids too. I think it'll be a good match-up."

On Fox's view of Minnesota's year... "Right now, I feel really good how we're ending the season. Honestly there were some ups and downs as a team the whole season, especially how we ended the year. But, as I said before, it's a new life, it's a second chance for us and I think we've already taken great advantage of that in our game yesterday and I just want to keep going, our season's not over. But overall, I feel really good, we've put ourselves in a great position to be in the NCAA tournament and its just been a fun year with the team and we're excited to keep it going...I never thought winning a game in the NCAA tournament feels this good."

Brittany McCoy • Jr. • G

On Texas A&M... "They're a good team, obviously they're the two seed. They're very athletic, very strong so it's going to be a good challenge for us. We're up for the challenge, we matched up well against Notre Dame, pulled out the win and I think we'll be able to match-up well. We'll just have to focus on closing down the gaps, closing down the lane because I know they're a very good team at penetrating, getting in the lane, and that's kind of where they get their mojo."

On the two teams' different styles... "We have played against quick teams...they're very similar to Penn State who we've played twice this year, they're just really into penetrating the gaps. We're just going to have to make the focus on working on our defense. We played good defense against Penn State and we were able to close down the lane and I expect nothing less tomorrow."

Ashley Ellis-Milan • Jr. • F/C

On the two teams' different styles... "We're big, but we're not that big. I think that Texas A&M is really fast and I think that if we control the tempo and we do what we're supposed to do and follow the game plan, we'll be just fine."