March 20, 2009

VCU Rams
Head Coach and Student Athlete Quotes

Head Coach Beth Cunningham

“We’re excited; we had a long bus trip.  We went through a couple of things at an off-site practice facility.  Our kids are excited.  This is a great opportunity for them.  It’s certainly something they deserve and have worked extremely hard for.  I can’t be prouder for them to have the opportunity to play Rutgers. 

(Is this Rutgers team different from the ones you played against when you were a player?) “I have a ton of respect for Coach Stringer and what she’s been able to do.  At every institution that she’s been able to build a rich tradition and history, especially here.  I haven’t really looked (this year’s team) like that.  It’s been a while since I’ve played.  I played here on a number of occasions and am familiar with the building and the facility.  I think the bottom line is Coach Stringer has always been very successful, and that’s one thing that hasn’t changed over the years. 

(On her being the only one in her program with any NCAA tournament experience) “We have been a team of firsts the last two years.  Last year was the first year in a long, long time that VCU went to the post season.  I think that experience really helped us building for this year.  I think the kids on our roster are aware of building a tradition and building a history at VCU.  They came to VCU to be a part of something special and doing something different and taking our program to a whole new level.  When they signed on to come to VCU, the goal was to be a part of a team that was doing a lot of firsts.  I think this is just one step in the process.  I can tell them a lot of things, but until they experience it for themselves, it’s hard for them to really relate and understand what it’s all about.  I always talk about focus and intensity and preparing the same way.  I think it’s sticking with what got you here. 

(What are your biggest strengths as a team?) “Our defense and rebounding are two things that we preach from day 1.  We have been a team that defensively has been able to get after our opponents.  We probably emphasize rebounding this year more so.  Both of those things have put us in a position to be successful.  We finished 12th in scoring defense in the country and 20th in rebounding.  To me, those are two of the biggest things that we’ve focused on.  Offensively we’ve had tremendous balance.  Q (Quanitra Hollingsworth) has been the focal point of everyone’s scouting report.  Our coaching staff has focused on bringing in talent around her.  Raddie (Radoslava Bachvarova) has the ability to score and stretch a defense.   The games that we’ve been successful, we’ve had four and five people in double figures scoring.  They’ve been very unselfish and played the entire year with one purpose, to play together. 

Student Athletes Radoslava Bachvarova & Quanitra Hollingsworth

Quanitra Hollingsworth
(On their first tournament experience) “I can’t really talk about playing in it, since it is our first game.  We are all anxious.  We know it is an opportunity and a privilege, but with that there’s an obligation to go out there and play our best basketball.  We won’t do anything different, just go out and play our game.  We are prepared for a fight.

(On Rutgers’ Kia Vaughn) “She’s a talented player, she’s going to look to be physical and post hard and run the floor.  It’s nothing that I haven’t seen before.  I won’t have to go in and create a whole new game plan.  I’m going to go out there and play the same defense that I always play.  On the offensive end, I’m going to try to do the same things that I always do.  I respect her as a player, like I respect anyone else, but it won’t be any different. 

Radoslava Bachvavrova
(On their first tournament experience) “We are happy to come and compete with some of the best teams in the country.”

(On playing on Rutgers’ home floor)  “We’re excited to be playing in the NCAA tournament, but we are approaching this game the same way as the other 32 games this year.  We’re going to try and have one of our best games and hope for the best.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Head Coach and Student Athlete Quotes

Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer
(Opening statement about being in the NCAA Tournament)
“One, we’re happy to have the opportunity to participate again, I think as most of you may know we were struggling but we’re in a place now where we have the opportunity to participate in the postseason and we look forward to playing VCU.”

(On playing at home in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament)
“I’ve been walking around amongst all of you and this blue carpet and I’ve been stunned. It feels like we are in a different place. It doesn’t matter what the seed is. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a one or 16, it’s going to depend on who we are on that day. We’re going to have to work hard to be the best team we can be on that day. It’s good to be home playing on our own home floor, but you should also know, it can have its distractions as well. We try and take away (cell)phones so that the kids aren’t distracted, we want the kids to be in the best peace of mind. We have been playing well recently, closer to the way that we’re capable of playing.”

(On the finality of the NCAA Tournament)
“There’s no time for us to have conversations that are late because late turns into never now. We need to play as a team and everyone needs to contribute. I don’t want us to get out of character. We’ve got to be a great defensive team. If we play together and are relaxed, and we appreciate and trust each other, it will help when things get tight. Kia and Epiphanny know what their presence means and I know that at times these two will go to work. One of our techniques is to look to our senior leadership.”

(On VCU)
“We just have to try and keep them off tempo and pressure them.”

Epiphanny Prince
(Reflecting on their first NCAA experience)
“I don’t think I was that nervous because Matee (Ajavon) scored about 11 straight points to start the game and we got the lead. For (VCU), they might be a little nervous, but in the tournament anything can happen.”

Kia Vaughn
(On playing at home, familiar site, as opposed to an away site)“It’s nice to be home still, for myself being a senior, but we still have to pick it up as if we were anywhere else and handle our business. Just as well as being anywhere else, anything can happen.”

(Reflecting on their first NCAA experience)
“I was wide eyed my first game in the tournament but after the lights go on and you miss a few shots, the jitters are gone. At the end, it’s a basketball game and we’re going to go out and play 40 minutes.”