2010 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship First Round press conference quotes: Texas
March 20, 2010
It is such a great time. You know, you work all year long and prepare and learn and grow so that you're ready for the postseason and the NCAA Tournament. So we're just happy that the time is close at hand.
Brittainey, can you talk about what it means to have one more go around in this deal, having been through it and having played in it. Although obviously you want more than what's happened in the past. What it means to have one more opportunity to go into this event.
What about the thought of playing on -- even though it's an NCAA Tournament type of setting, it's a neutral floor and all that kind of stuff. It's a floor you played on for four years. How do you feel about playing two more games in this building?
This is for Ashleigh and for Brittainey. Obviously, you played this team last year, against both of their guards. Did you see anything on film that you worked on since you met last year's team? And, two, what are your goals as far as defensively? Their best two players are their guards.
Just a little bit more on the matchup. How do you prepare for a team that you have that really is very similar to what you saw last time? Do you prepare any differently considering that they really -- their personnel is very similar to what they were last year?
Brittainey Raven: I think going into this game Coach always says we want to focus on what they do, but it's more about what we're going to do. Of course last year they broke us down on defense. So I think defense is going to be key for us this year. Stopping their guards, penetration, boxing out, and taking care of the ball on the offensive end.
For Kathleen Nash. What goes through your mind as you prepare for this and knowing this is the Tournament and all the emotion that comes with that.
Brittainey, I have a question. Is the fact that you all lost that game to San Diego State last year, does that really matter at this point? Is it more about just taking care of what you have to do and playing well in the tournament?
I was going to ask Kathleen. You can chip in too. How big a loss was that last year? At the time you had an 11-game winning streak. You hadn't lost all year. Was that a deflating kind of loss? Do you even remember that?
You can slightly compare it, but it's a whole different road now.
Kathleen, a followup on that. You said we're a whole different team now. For people who haven't had the opportunity to see you guys day in and day out, describe what exactly makes you guys and one of the things that's really changed for you guys as a team since then.
Brittainey, can you talk about taking it game by game. But do you think this team can make a run? If so, why? You guys can make a run.
For Kathleen. Do you feel like this team has had a chance to refocus after the Big 12 Tournament and really kind of get a mindset that it's a new season and really there for the taking for you guys?
Ashleigh, the game last year against San Diego State, one thing that comes to mind was it was very fast-paced at both ends. There were turnovers in the game as well. Knowing what the coaching staff was talking about, about taking care of the basketball during the second half, it seems you guys have done a much better job of that. Do you see this as a crucial thing with as fast as that team is and as fast as that team likes to push the pace, making sure you stop turnovers and getting fast transitions out in the open court.
Ashleigh, I think it was your last game against A&M you all had 26 turnovers. Is that what it was? Do you feel like you've corrected that? What did you see in practice that you felt like you needed to correct?
Do you guys feel any extra pressure knowing that you're hosting and when you play at home, you're expected to win?
Can you talk about -- because we all noticed since boot camp the change in your team. Can you talk about just the change that came with you guys during conference play and has that prepared you for the Tournament.
So I talked to the team about the fact that now we're coming off the loss with A&M and basically had another week of practice to prepare, and then we needed to go on another winning streak. So I feel very similar this week to the way I felt after that Iowa State game, you know, tough loss and tough practices.
We went two-a-days. We were on spring break, so we had the opportunity to go twice a day. So I feel like we've improved a great deal. We had one of our best practices of the year yesterday. So I think we feel good going into the Tournament.
Can you please reflect on the game against San Diego State last time, what you felt were the challenges of matching up against them?
We had, I think, 22 turnovers in it that game, and most of them led to fastbreak layups. I think San Diego State does a tremendous job with their transition -- with their defense, which leads to their transition game. They caused us a the lot of problems with their quickness and with their defensive pressure and turned us over a good bit.
Paris Johnson was a presence in the post last year. Has she been that presence again?
But she's -- I remember watching her play for the first time last year, and I was extremely impressed. She's very, very skilled, and they're all -- all of their posts run the floor very, very well too. It's not just their guards we have to worry about. It's their overall game.
Coach, describe to us boot camp. We've heard it mentioned here a few times and talked about it before. Tell us what boot camp means in terms of you make them get up at 4:30 in the morning?
We know our Achilles heel has been, when we turn the ball over, we struggle. And the teams that we're getting ready to play, San Diego State, they rely on turnovers, and they do a great job. So one of their strengths is something that is an Achilles heel, has been, for us.
So we've gotten in better shape because we've been doing a lot of running. Hopefully, we've gotten the point across.
Going back to boot camp, just compare boot camp one to two and where your team was coming off that loss, that Iowa loss, the Iowa State loss, and then the Texas A&M loss. Your team has grown tremendously, so obviously those two opportunities were very different in terms of what your focus was during the two different boot camps. Can you talk about that a little bit?
During the course of the season, sometimes you can only run so much and push them so hard because you know you've got a game the next day. So when you get that bye week, it's your chance to really break things down, go back to the basics. You know, from your basic ball pressure to denying help side, all the little things that over the course of the season sometimes the players get away from doing exactly right. Because you're so focused on the big picture stuff and on the opponent's offense and defense and things you have to do.
Coach, just following up on that, knowing the results that you got from that the first time, how confident are you with accomplishing the same result than you did last time?
But I also -- and I also understand we're playing at home. So we feel -- there's a level of comfort and confidence that comes with that as well. I think, like Kat said, we feel good about how the Big 12 has prepared us. So we're excited to be playing somebody new. And I think we're also excited to be playing San Diego State because they did beat us last year.
You know, you forget about it to a degree, but you always remember those tough losses that you have, and you want to redeem yourself.
In a nutshell -- again, it's hard asking. Kind of tell me what you did in boot camp this time, those two-a-days, what kind of necessitated -- what did they have to do to earn laps or whatever to run?
So boot camp is about helping my players become mentally and physically tougher. And to do that, they have got to be disciplined when they make mistakes. So a turnover is a mistake. Allowing an offensive rebound is a mistake. So when those things happen, I mean, I wasn't screaming and yelling at the top of my lungs. I just said get on the line, and we start running.
Is that the reason for the turnovers, you think? It's just a matter of mental toughness?
Coach, I know that you're focusing on the team in the here and now and what you're going to do against San Diego State. Is there any conversation, when you do have these long breaks, about the program as a whole and the future of the program and being able to carry that on, or is that something you save for maybe preseason or another time?
Have you eased up on them yet? What do you say to them the day before you guys came out here?
Now we need our focus and our toughness, but we also need our energy.
This is your third year here, and you obviously came to resuscitate, or revive, or bring women's basketball back to the promised land. Do you feel pressure as an individual? And if you do, which I'm sure you do, how do you deal with it?
And so as I said, I love this team. I feel like we turned a corner really in the preseason. I feel like the team is on board and they understand what I want, what I need, and what our expectations are as well. Of course I feel pressure to continue to grow this team and this program every year, but I don't see it as a negative pressure. I thrive on competition and pushing myself and learning and growing as well with my team.
Coach, just kind of to sum it all up, with the pressure of playing in a program with a tradition that Texas has in the Big 12 and the regular season and the ups and downs you've had, how do you get this team mentally, I guess, up for the NCAA Tournament and remind them, yes, there are pressures there, but this is supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be an exciting time of year and kind of put the spring in their step so they don't feel the weight of the world is on them.
Coach, you've had a lot of success in the NCAA Tournament. You've been very deep. Leaving the personnel out of it, what are some of the intangibles or coach's intuition or feelings that you use this time of year about your team that you think give you that extra special push? Do you feel that with your team? And in your experience going deeper in the tournament, what has that felt like?
Coach, is there any one player, maybe Ashleigh being the point guard, you're kind of looking to kind of take over some leadership in running your team and handling the ball?
And sometimes seniors feel the stress of understanding that it truly is the end of their career, and sometimes seniors play the best ball they've ever played, and sometimes they feel that stress and they don't play as well. She has the opportunity, because she's an underclassman, to play with a little bit more freedom because she knows she's coming back. So she needs to help our seniors feel good and confidence, and when things aren't going their way or our way, she needs to maintain her poise and positive attitude to everybody because, if she's not -- if she's worried or she's stressed or frustrated, our entire team will be.
Coach, you mentioned the letter from alums read before games. Can you tell us who are some of the name people that sent letters? Any one or two that were particularly poignant?
Did they say anything?
LOCKER ROOM QUOTES
On the time off since the Big 12 Tournament: Basically we went into boot camp, kind of like two-a-days the whole week so we feel like we're really prepared.
P Ashley Gayle
On this team being capable of making a run: I think it's going to take a lot on the offensive and the defensive end, rebounding and making shots and playing really good defense will be key to us staying in the tournament.
On playing each game like it could be your last: You never know what can happen. Lauren Flores tore her ACL and you never know from day to day what can happen, you could not be playing the next day so you have to play every game like it could be your last.
On Gail Goestenkors having confidence in the team: I think that we have to go out and make a statement and make people realize we're here to stay. It makes us feel good that our coaches are behind us and that they believe in us.