March 30, 2009

 

CONNECTICUT QUOTES

Geno Auriemma- Head Coach of UConn
Opening Statement-
It seems like not that long ago we were sitting in this situation last year, getting ready to play Rutgers.  I know how we were going to approach that game and how difficult it was going to be to win that game   The energy level and intensity level required to win that game, and I think it so many ways the same thing is true this year.  The way Arizona State’s been playing since the tournament began has been impressive.  How hard they play and the intensity level that they bring is going to be a great challenge for our guys tomorrow.  I think these five guys are anxious for the test, I think it going to be a great game, the kind of game you’re supposed to have leading to a Final Four. If you’re going to be in a Final Four I think you’re going to have to be tested, and I think tomorrow is going to be one.
How do you feel about having to win the Pac 10 tournament to have to get to the Final Four?  Or even the National Championship game?  How does the style of the Pac 10 compare to what you deal with in the Big East?
I haven’t seen all the teams in the Pac 10 I’ve seen a couple of them.  Up close and personal I’ve seen two, I’ve seen Cal and now Arizona State.  In our league you see a little bit of everything, I don’t think there’s anything you’ve seen after 36 games that you haven’t seen at some point in the season.   I just know Charli from when she was a coach in Northern Arizona.  When Rebecca was playing for us we went out to Hawaii and played them out there and I remember her teams play exactly the way they do right now.  They play hard, they’re an intense group of kids and that’s how she coach’s her teams.   I watched what they did yesterday and I don’t think anyone expected them to be here at this point.  We know who we are, we know what we bring to the table, we know what we’ve done for 36 games and whoever stands in our way that’s who we’re going to play.

Can you compare/contrast Arizona State who use 9-10 kids that all play about 15 minutes.  Have you seen teams that use that type of system?
I don’t know whether they’ve played like that all year long or because they’re playing in a hockey arena, because they look like a hockey team,  They just send you out for two or three minutes, you play your shift, and then they bring out another group in and try to wear you out.  It is kind of unusual but it’s effective if you let it be effective.  It’s going to be a challenge for us because we don’t have a deep bench.  Yesterday we had a couple Pac 10 officials, I don’t know if we’ll have them tomorrow, maybe we will, maybe we wont.  I think the way the game is officiated is going to have a lot to do with it.
Yesterday you said you were proud of Tina for how she handled the game, can you expand on that?
The worst thing that can happen when you get into a situation like this is you get a couple things not go your way, early on you get a couple quick fouls, and now you’re sitting on the bench and you’re kind of helpless. If you’re not careful you’re out of the game. I don’t mean out of the game where you’re sitting on the bench and can’t play for fifteen minutes, I mean out of the game mentally.  And now when it’s time to get back into the game in the second half, you don’t have it.  I think when you’re young you tend to judge a game by the way it starts.  I think as you get older you start to understand that the game is played out over 40 minutes and you can impact the game at anytime.  I think you can overcome a bad start, and you can stay in the game mentally.  I felt she did that mentally and physically and was huge in the second half.  I told her I think she grew up a lot yesterday as a player from it.   She didn’t  score a lot of points, but she blocked shots and rebounded the ball and played defense. Those two big kids were not a factor in the second half. Her and Kalana Green were a good reason for that. Renee started off to be not quite herself and came back to her old self. I think these guys believe in each other and trust each other. They don’t want to let each other down.

How much can a team get strength that’s a little less talented, a little less athletic, from believing thet can play as one?
If you’re talking about us, I think we believe in ourselves a lot.  Once you win a couple games in the NCAA tournament you start to build momentum, and you feel its all going to go your way.  It takes the team coming in to make sure it doesn’t go your way, and hopefully that’s what we’re there for.  Arizona State’s a little more athletic than people give them credit for.  They’re a little tougher than they look.  That’s one of the first things that came out.  When you play really hard, you can overcome whatever the other team has.  I don’t think the game tomorrow is going to be won by the team with the most athletic ability.  That was proven last night by Arizona State.  They played a much more athletic team than them and outplayed them. You don’t get to this point in the NCAA Tournament without having a tremendous amount of confidence, and a belief in each other, and they certainly have that right now.
What has impressed you the most about how this team and how they’ve gotten to this point?
We’ve been pretty consistent throughout the whole season.  We don’t seem to have a lot of peaks and valleys, we pretty much stay on the same plane.  It’s a pretty high plane, but we don’t drop off that much.  We’ve been able to hold onto what we have, because there’s no doubt among these guys up here that anything else is going to happen.  That’s part of them being a little bit older this year, playing together a little bit longer.  I don’t think Renee is going to let us believe in anything other than that.  She believes that if we do what we’re supposed to do, and if we follow her lead, we’re going to keep playing.  We’re fortunate that we have a bunch of other kids on our team that believe that as well.  As long as that’s the case we have a chance to win the games that we’re playing, and we’ve stayed true to that.
The game’s you played against Arizona State in ’03 and ’04, Charlie commented those games were important to her program.  Can you talk about that and also did you think at that time that she could take this program to where they are now. 
When I saw her team play when she was at Northern Arizona I thought the only thing she didn’t have was really good players yet.  I like to go places where somebody’s trying to do something that’s going to help our game and build the game up.  I thought when they came to our place, I knew it was going to be a battle, and we had a really good team.  I think when we went out to their place our guys weren’t really prepared for that.  I don’t remember the final score, but we got beat pretty good.  I’m not at all surprised that they’re where they are.  If they had any luck this year, and they didn’t lose their starting point guard, we wouldn’t be playing them right now.  They would have a higher seed, maybe they would be the two seed.  I’m not at all surprised with what she’s done there.  I’m not at all surprised people approach her every year about leaving Arizona State for other coaching jobs.  I just think she’s one of the best that we have out there.

Maya is getting ready to break Walter’s single season scoring record, can you talk about the season that Walters had with you?
“I don’t think I’ve ever been as confident as a basketball coach for the four years we had Walters. I remember playing golf instead of going to shoot around, and going out to California playing teams out there and we would go to practice the day before and put our game plan together and come game day it was like I didn’t have anything to do. We had the most dominant player. From her sophomore year until the time she graduated I thought she was the most dominating player in the country. She was unique. People used to ask me “What do you do at the end of the shot clock?” and I said “We dribble it over to the wing and give it to Cara, and if she’s not open then we throw it up to the high post and we throw it up to Cara, and then if she’s not open we swing it to the other side and we throw it to Cara.” It was really a finer play for our players. All we had to do was throw the ball in the air somewhere and it just showed you how dominant she was. The year after she graduated we probably threw more passes out of bounds then anytime since I’ve been in Connecticut. It was one of the more fun times that I’ve had coaching. Looking back on it, it was a lot of fun.”
How much were you expecting from your freshmen class this year?
“I spent the whole summer thinking about where everybody would fit in. You think about where all the pieces are, what we have, and what we have coming in. I thought if all the pieces were able to fit together, mentally we were what I thought we could be one of the most amazing teams ever. We slowly began to unravel and I still felt that we had something special going on. Then when Caroline got hurt I thought at this point this is when the margin of error becomes really slim. We kept playing at a hard level. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because from the middle of September to now there hasn’t been any time where I said I don’t think you guys are committed to doing this. I think you’re just all talk. It’s always been they backed it up with everything we’ve said in practice, every one of their goals. That’s not taking into consideration who knew that Tiffany was going to be able to do all this. I thought she’d be really good but  I don’t think anybody expected her to be doing all this. I’ve had teams come together. That’s one thing we do pretty well, and I think we put pretty good teams together year in and year out. I think our coaching staff is really good at that. We have some coaches that are rebuilding or not rebuilding, who are young or not young, injuries or not injuries. We’ve been able to maintain a certain level. This year here we are and I don’t think anyone expected us to be unbeaten, but we’re not surprised that we are.

How dangerous is Arizona State’s mentality going into the game?
“I would be surprised if they didn’t think that the strength of their team was having to play well together. I said all along that in one sense the best team does win the NCAA Championship because that means that they are ready to play the best on 6 nights in a row. That doesn’t mean that the team who was the best regular season team that has the most All-Americans, the most wins. It’s the team that is able to play the best 6 nights in a row. Whoever that team is, is going to be the national champion regardless of where they come from, what seed they are, what league they are. Those things don’t matter anymore. That’s one reason why I think being undefeated and being number one is a non issue at this time of the year. You’re just trying to play really, really well one more night. Tomorrow if we don’t play well I would eventually say we would lose. If we play really well, we’re going to win. That’s kind of how they feel I’m sure. That’s how you’re supposed to feel this time of year.”

How valuable is Maya Moore to the team?
“I’m always torn by when they name a player of the year. Is it the most outstanding player? If it is, then there are things that Maya Moore does that nobody else does. I don’t know if there is anybody out there that in the 2 years that she has been in college basketball who has impacted a team more than she has. Having said all that, it doesn’t matter how good your running back is or how good your wide receiver is, if you don’t have a really, really good quarterback it is going to be very hard for you to win the whole thing. We’ve got the right amount for this particular team, and if we took her out of our lineup or if she is not having a good night then obviously we are a completely different team. It is very difficult for us to win tomorrow and the next couple of games if we are fortunate enough to play those games without Rene playing exceptional well. We saw what happened yesterday when she wasn’t playing well. When she turned it around you saw what happens.”
If there was no UConn would the tournament be more exciting because nobody would know who would win it?
“I would say that one thing that we all want is the sport to be unpredictable in some ways. We want our own teams to be predictable, but for us we want the tournament to be unpredictable like everyone else. So I would say yes. We want there to be upsets in every other region and in our region but we don’t want it to include us. The other thing I think coaches want is that they all want home court advantage. We talk about that a lot because if you’re the higher seed then you should have home court advantages. The reason that the tournament has been so unpredictable is that teams have had a chance to not have to play on the road have been able to play on neutral courts close to home have upset some of the teams. That’s caused a lot of the excitement. There is a lot of discussion that if you’re a number 2 seed and you play on the number 8 seeds home court you should be able to win that game. Coaches are better, players are better; nobody is in awe that you got there anymore. I think that this is just the beginning of what you’re going to see. It’s going to happen more and more. If you look at where Purdue has come from and Arizona State, Iowa State, there are a lot of teams out there that are really good but nobody knew about them.

What impact does it have on this game that Sybil Dotsy has come from Tennessee to Arizona State?
“I think she left after her freshmen year. I’m not sure. I know that she didn’t get a chance to play a lot. I don’t remember what kind of an impact she had or didn’t have at Tennessee; I just don’t remember her playing. Obviously, to be recruited at that level and then come back and be able to do for that program at Arizona State, what she’s helped do. I think you bring a different mindset or a different intensity level, and I find it hard to believe that the intensity level at Tennessee could be higher than it is at Arizona State the way those kids play. It helps you get some other players too. You get someone like that and all of a sudden you’re beating teams. Now you get involved with a couple other players that you haven’t gotten involved with before. It’s a snowball effect. I’ve seen it happen before. There was a kid that left Tennessee and went to Seton Hall and Seton Hall was in the sweet 16 two years in a row. It happens probably more often than you think.
What has Tina done to make her a better player?
“The biggest thing with Tina is she settles for “I want to be good.” Or she’ll say “I want to be great,” but saying it and doing it are two different things. For her it was always much easier to say it, and then expect her natural ability to carry her to where she wanted to be. As time has gone on she realizes that at this level of college basketball your natural ability is one thing but what you do with it is what ultimately decides whether you are a really good player or a great player. I think from Tina’s stand point I would say her first two years at Connecticut she was good. She was good. She wasn’t good in the NCAA Tournament but she was good. This year she was really good. Now she wants to be considered a first team All- American and she wants to be on the same level with Rene and Maya and those guys then she has to play great. The first thing that goes into playing great is you have to compete at a really high level every single day, every single night, every single drill. I think Tina starting to understand that. The other night I think she showed that she’s capable of doing that.

Comment on impressions on Briann January?
Renee Montgomery- Right off the bat you can tell she plays hard all the time.  Everything her team does goes through her.  Typically with a point guard that’s how it should be, but you can tell she takes it personal that they get everything right.  She’s always encouraging her team.  She always has a lot of energy.  I think she plays hard on both ends of the floor.

How do you manage to keep yourself insulated from the pressure of having to be perfect every single time you play?  More importantly, how does coach help take the pressure off of you?
Maya- When you come to Connecticut you have to have that mindset yourself.  You want to come out and strive for your perfect game, your best game.  So whenever coach is getting on you about something, if there’s a big game coming up, that’s why you come to Connecticut to play in those big games.  In a way we put that on ourselves as well, it makes you tougher when you are put in those situations.  When you are put in those situations and things aren’t going your way, how do you get out of those holes?  That’s what great teams are about, you get hit, how do you get yourself out of the hole?  That’s the attitude me and Kalana come out with every game. 
Kalana- Being perfect is impossible, but you still strive to be perfect.  It happens in practice first, nothing happens in the game that’s anything different from what we deal with in practice.  It gives you confidence to be able to know what you’re doing, and do it.

 


ARIZONA STATE QUOTES

Charli Turner Thorne
Opening Statement: “When we got here I talked a little bit about how excited we were to be in UConn’s region to possibly earn the opportunity to play what is so far the best team in the country, the team to beat, the team that everyone has picked to win the National Championship. We are extremely excited, and we are not just happy to be here. We are just very, very motivated to show everybody how good we are, and how good west coast basketball is, and the Pac-10 conference is. We’re going to work very hard a prepare ourselves. We’re just thrilled for the opportunity to play against a program like Connecticut in a year where they are undefeated, and up to this point, the best team in this country.
Address the depth of this team and the ability to play so many different players, how much did that play into the fact you guys are still alive in the tournament?
“We’ve always been a team that’s really relied on our depth.  In part because we like o play hard we’re a high energy team. WE use a lot of energy playing defense so we like to transition. We like to outwork teams. I think we’re very good at that, obviously we have our core players that tend to play more minutes. But our bench is huge for us. To allow them to get a blow, get a break, and then get back in the game. If you look across the board in terms of our post play, 1-5 I don’t know if too many teams in the country have that kind of post talent. It’s been incredible for us all year. With our guards, our bench, they’ve just continued to step up. Gabby Fage was probably averaging 5 minutes a game and we’ve just had people work really hard all season to prepare themselves for these opportunities. We’re a team that wants to outwork you and we are going to utilize our bench.
Do you think there is an inherent pressure on UConn’s side because of their undefeated season? If you believe that’s the case, how would you handle it?
“I agree with you. I definitely think the pressure is on them and it’s huge. It just seems like nothing short of a national championship is going to satisfy them or anyone else in the UConn nation. We’re big with that. If the shoe was on the other foot, you learn a lot when you lose. We went through a stretch where we lost 3 one possession games in a row. That’s kind of when people lost track of us. Then we went on a good 15 game winning streak and we just really grew and learned a lot of valuable lessons we took to heart and made us a lot better of a basketball team. UConn hasn’t had that opportunity. Geno’s a great coach. You know he’s got that scout team beating the crud out of that team everyday, so they probably have lost. But just not in an official game. They probably are working hard and improving and getting better. I think diffusing pressure, Geno and that program they know all about that. I think that’s going to be a challenge for them. I think that they’re used to it. Whether they’re 36-0 or 34-2, obviously it’s their expectation every year to win the national championship. They’ll be ready to play.

When going against a player like Moore, what do you try and do?
“Try to limit her. Try to limit her easy looks, her offensive boards, her transition, shots in the paint. You have to test every shot that you can and make her work for the ball. Maybe get her into a little bit of foul trouble if you’re lucky.

What did you do so well yesterday to have such a high powered offense?
“We shot 62%. We didn’t even take that good of care of the ball. We also made our free throws, then we got to the free throw line, which I think was huge. This team is playing just great team basketball. They made the extra pass, we handled the pressure. We got a lot of layups and got shots in the paint. We didn’t have to rely a lot on our perimeter shooting although we do have very good perimeter shooting. We’re one of the top 3 point shooting teams in the country. I think it helped having the week of preparation. That really helped we were able to put in a couple of new alignments and work against pressure a little bit more. The team did a phenomenal job with it.

Talk about the road you had to take to get to the regional finals?
“I would call it a tough road. I think it’s made us better and stronger as a team because we haven’t had an easy game. A lot of times in the past years, I think we got docked with our seeding when we lost Dymond. We got shipped out. We’re generally used to having that maybe easy 20 point win in the first round. Honestly for us I think it’s been a godsend. It’s been fantastic. Nothing’s been easy. We’ve had to work for everything and I think it’s made us tougher and I think it’s made us better.
Talk about tangible and intangible things Sybil has brought to the program?
“Tangible, she’s our leading rebounder. She’s our enforcer and a great defensive player. Great inside presence offensively. She’s one of our team leaders. She is somebody who is just passionate about the game and works extremely hard. She’s everything that we want a sun devil to be. We’re really happy she came home.

Beating UConn the defending national champions they were last time you played them, what kind of impact did it have on your program?
“Absolutely. It was a huge signature win for our program. At the time they were a little bit down. It was a tremendous game at home. There is a huge, probably the most prestigious high school tournament in the country is held and that was going on then. A lot of the members of those teams attended the game. I still hear about it.

Can you highlight points of what you need to do to beat UConn?
“Part of the number one answer is rebounding. You got to limit them to one shot and not allow them to. We need to control the boards. The second would be transition defense. Absolutely need to slow them down and not give them the 3’s and the layups. On our end we’ve got to score. They’re a great defensively team. We have got to take care of the ball and make great decisions, go hard screen. We have to work hard and work together to score the basketball. Those were our emphasis going into this week with Texas A&M. There are some strong similarities. They have their big 3. UConn has a little bit bigger big 3. A little bit of a bigger and better version of what we’ve been preparing for.”
“Who will you have guarding Maya Moore?”
“Kayli Murphy will start on her. As we already eluded to is that we sub, so there will be a host of people. Danielle will guard her at times, but Kayli and Becca Tobin will be the two primary defenders on her.”
“How do you keep your team focused from realizing that UConn is not just another team?”
“We’re working on the x’s on o’s and the physical. Tonight we will probably start transitioning to the mental and emotional approach. We’ll address those things but honestly I don’t think we’ll be that overwhelmed. I’m sure they’re going to be a little nervous, but hopefully we are a little nervous before every game. We’ve played at Oklahoma and at some great venues against great teams. I think that’s the huge key for us, and that is making sure that as coaches this team shows up, and that they have the same attitude that they’ve had this whole tournament which is “why not us, lets just go for it. It’s just a game. Let’s just play, and the worst thing that can happen is that we lose.” That has kind of been our approach since day one. I’m just going to work hard, and our coaching staff is going to work hard to make sure that we stick with that, and just play our hearts out.
“Have you ever looked at Dymond’s injury and thought that it ruined your season?”
“Yeah, in the first 5 seconds I thought “This stinks,” but then you know that you just have to move on. We all know how sports are. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows come really fast. We were on top of things and looking like this time was going to be here - and yet here we are. I didn’t predict it, but we just put our heads down and this group is pretty special in terms of them pulling together and believing in what they can do. I’m not too big on pity points – It’s like “Hey, move on.” Our motto this year is “It’s all good,” so we just try to find the positive in everything. That one was a tough one.
How hard of a team is UConn to match up against when Tiffany Hayes plays the way she did yesterday?
“Well – I guess we’ll she is she can do it again. We’re not necessarily a team that does a triangle and two and says we’re not going to guard you. We’re going to pinch off and maybe focus on other people, but we are going to guard you. In that sense, I think that Cal picked their poison, and had their strategy. I don’t think anybody would have predicted, as great as Hayes is and she has had a phenomenal freshmen year that she’d go for 28. That’s just amazing. That is what we have on our team, just different people stepping up in ways that we never thought they would. They have a team of All-Americans, and we have to guard everybody on the floor. We’re a little more focused on certain people, but I wasn’t overly surprised. Honestly, there are a lot of kids who aren’t even on the floor that could start at a lot of programs on Connecticut.”
“What has Briann January done since Dymond Simon’s injury? How is her defense going to influence tomorrow, and will she guard Rene Montgomery?”
“She will guard her at times for sure. Briann has stepped up since the first game of the season. She has just been our leader in every which way. We have one team captain and that is Briann January, when we are a team with 6 seniors. That says a lot. She has just been in so many ways with her work ethic and with her passion, and with her play, our best player on the court. Her role as she said doesn’t change a lot, but obviously in some ways it does. We do need her to be aggressive and continue to look to score, and we need her to set people up that much more because Dymond isn’t doing it. She was a point guard before she came here. She has played a ton of combo guard. She was a point guard all through high school, and we had to work really hard to get her to shoot the basketball. She just always wanted to pass and get everybody involved. She really has evolved as a player in terms of a scorer. Since her sophomore year, I feel that she single handily beat Louisville. She has just been I feel one of the top players in the country for a couple seasons now, maybe one that a lot of people don’t know about.
“With each passing victory, does the “why not us” attitude seem to get more pressure?”
“Hopefully not. I think that’s the goal to keep it diffused. I think the further you go the more character you get in some ways. It’s like nobody expected us to be here and here we are. I think we’re going to be pretty relaxed, and in the moment Tuesday night.”
“How did you use your team getting “shipped out” as a positive?”
“Well like we say “It’s all good.” And that’s what we say “It’s all good.” Here we go, we’ll get away from distractions. I always take the mentality when you get to the NCAA Tournament that you get what you get. You don’t throw a fit, and you just look at the positives. We did really like our draw. Once we finally got a chance to look at the teams, they were teams that we thought we matched up well with. I’ll have to admit I only looked as far as the first and second round, then after winning the second round I was able to say “Okay, who’s left?” I knew Texas A&M was up next.  We call it “PMA” Positive Mental Attitude, and we just try to focus on the well done and stay positive. I don’t know what our team thought we just started preparing for who we were playing. I think it’s exciting for the players to go some place different, but I don’t know if they know any better.”
“Have you had a chance to talk to Coach Boyle yet and has she revealed anything insightful to you as fat as facing UConn?”
“I talked to her on the bus a little bit coming back from the gym yesterday and she shared some insights that she had in terms of preparing for UConn. Cal has been fantastic. They have said anything that we need and support us. Our staff pretty much had a report done and watched some film, but it definitely helped. It helped me because I don’t look ahead. I just take it one day at a time. I did start picking her brain and getting me to start thinking about things. It was great.”
“Do you think Briann January can be a factor in the WNBA?”
“Absolutely. I think she will be on a team and I think that she will be an impact player. We’ve had incredible, overwhelming interest in her from a lot of WNBA coaches. I’ve had at least 3 coaches tell me that they absolutely want her, and then I have had a lot of others that were definitely interested in her, and that was before the tournament started. I think people have gotten out and have seen her and really appreciate what she does. Obviously she is a great defensive player; she is not just a great point guard. A lot of the coaches really appreciate that.
“What is Briann January’s impact on defense?”
“We call it Bri-ify.” She just locks people down. Her whole career we have put her on the top player, and like I said when we played Louisville, that was the difference in the game.  She always drew Candice Williams, and every top match up her whole career. It probably has taken a little away from her offensive game, but Bri doesn’t even think of it that way. In terms of numbers, national accolades, and all-american stuff, she would never sit around and go “Man, if I didn’t have to guard the best player all the time I could of scored 6 or 8 more points,” which is probably true. To me, that is what makes her one of the best players in the country because she is such a team player and she just wants to win, and will do anything that she needs to do to win. She is a great on ball defender and just digs in as well as anybody. Her quickness and lateral speed is just amazing. Most people don’t know that she is a black belt, and her agility and her quickness – hands and feet are exceptional. She has guarded everybody from 6’ 2’’ to the point guards with a lot of success. She’s also a great off ball defender, and usually takes at least one charge a game.”
“Talk about the outdoor game, and how have you marketed Arizona State to become a premiere women’s basketball program?”
“Kevin White is the A.D. who hired me and he was just really helpful in working with me and saying we know we are going to build this program up and we know we are going to build a great team. What can we do to put us on the national stage? My program did that with help from friends of mine in the community and our athletic department. It took about 2 and a half years to plan, and the strategy was that hopefully at that point we would be good enough to be Tennessee. I think we ended up losing by 4. It was a great game. We drew 17,000 fans in Bank One Ballpark. It was the first ever outdoor college women’s basketball game. I think it kind of showed people that “Hey, ASU they’re not bad.” We just kind of grew it from there. Certainly in our community we’ve created a lot of awareness, but we’ve also created awareness nationally. We did a second game on a smaller scale. We’ve continued doing things at least in our community. I haven’t figured out my next out of the box idea for us, but we have been thinking about it. We want to do something fun really just to grow the game of women’s basketball.
“Do you have any fond memories of playing UConn while you were at Northern Arizona?”
“When I was in Northern Arizona we played them in Hawaii. We actually played them pretty tough in the first half. I think we got them pretty frazzled in that game to be honest. They were not happy. They eventually put us away in the middle of the second half. That was my first time coaching against Gino. It was a great introduction, and I will share this with you. When I was at NAU, UConn was kind of like our model. UConn is kind of in the middle of nowhere and I would try to sell to everybody we could be the next UConn. We can build this program up, just like Gino had done with UConn. That is what I was trying to sell to my recruits and everybody in little Flagstaff, Arizona. That game was awesome for us to talk about with the players and build off of that.”


Do you think there is an inherent pressure on UConn’s side because of their undefeated season? If you believe that’s the case, how would you handle it?
Briann January- Charli kind of said it. They are used to that kind of pressure. They’re used to maintaining their winning record. There’s definitely pressure on their side just to maintain that. If I was in their position, I don’t know. I’ve never really been in that situation, but I’m assuming they’re going to stick with what’s been working for them and see how far that takes them.

How have you change your approach to the game since taking over for Dymond. Are you a little more aggressive offensively?
Briann January- Not really. I don’t think my role has changed that much since we lost Dymond. That goes for the rest of the team. Our roles have stayed the same. With losing her, I definitely had to play a little more point guard. That’s my original position, so I’m going to be handling the ball a little bit more, which has been great. I’m trying to do the best for my team and we have been getting it done.

Talk about your experience playing at Tennessee? Playing in the rivalry against UConn then?
Sybil Dosty- Playing at Tennessee will help me out in this game because I look at UConn maybe a little bit differently just coming from the Tennessee program because there it was a rival game. It’s going to be a rival game tomorrow night. Playing at Tennessee we just go out there and leave it all on the floor. Being at Tennessee, you look at UConn a little bit differently. We’re going to approach it like any other game and go out there and try to get the win.

Is there anything to be gained from having to deal with Stanford on a regular basis? Or are their styles so distinct there’s nothing to translate over?
Kayli Murphy- I think there’s a lot to take. They’re both big games for us. I think they’re both really good on the rebounds and really fast teams. It’s just been nice having to play Stanford. We’re used to the fast paced games and I think that come in handy.
Danielle Orsillo- Stanford is also a big team. They put Peterson at the 3 and I’m guarding her and I’m 5’8. They’re a big team. UConns a big team. I think rebounding is a huge emphasis that Stanford does well. They crash really hard and we have to make a point to box them out. The same goes for Connecticut and that’s going to be a huge point and a big reason why they’re similar.

Your team beat Cal by basically the same margins that Connecticut did. What can you drawl on from that going into this game?
Sybil Dosty- That game was a good confidence builder for us and we felt good about ourselves on that night. But, every game is different. We aren’t going to look back at that game and be like ‘look at that score. We can also beat UConn cause of what we did to Cal.’ I don’t think we can really look at that. We can’t pull for that for our confidence for tomorrow. We need to pull from our preparation and each other and just really look within the team and not at other games for tomorrow’s game.