NCAA Second Round press conference quotes: March 24
On being relaxed as a No. 8 seed after several years as a top seed at Duke: We were ecstatic to get into the tournament. In years past, we knew we were a No. 1 seed. We knew where we were going. As soon as the brackets were announced, we were trying to look at our path to the National Championship. This year, we truly have only looked one game at a time. It's been that way all year long, because we weren't good enough to look ahead, quite honestly.
On selling her team on being able to beat Connecticut: I don't know that it changes much at this point in the year. You are who you are -- as a team, as a coach. For us, as a group of young ladies, I've discovered that we're best when we put it all out on the line. It's not necessarily about X's and O's. We talk about it and we have a good game plan. However, for this team to be successful, we have to rely on our emotion, our energy, and our defense in particular. That's when we're best.
On personal success at Arena at Harbor Yard: I love playing here. There's a level of comfort. There's a level of confidence when you have success somewhere. My hope is that my team will sense the confidence and comfort that I feel and it will allow them to feel confident as well.
On the differences between building and maintaining a program: The pressures change. There is a pressure to win and be successful. Whether external or internal, if you're a competitor, you want to be successful. It is a great deal of fun and there is much joy in seeing your team have certain successes for the first time, whether it be winning a conference championship or making a Final Four. It's a lot of joy to watch a team experience those things. And then, when you get to the top, everybody wants to pull you down. It is hard, and Pat Summitt said, `it's a lot harder to stay at the top than it is to get to the top.' And I agree with that.
REDSHIRT SOPHOMORE Earnesia Williams
Does the success of the Big 12 help boost your confidence? The Big 12 has been competitive this year. To play against (that competition) has made us better as a team. To play against athletic teams with different styles will only help us tomorrow.
What do you know about UConn and what do you have to do to beat them? They're a very disciplined team. They're a good team. I think we play teams in the Big 12 Conference like them. To beat them, we have to put our heart on the line and play like this is our last game. We need to compete with them and not be intimidated by them because they are UConn or because they're the No. 1 team. Just bring your `A' game and play basketball.
SOPHOMORE Brittainey Raven
How does the Big 12's early success give you confidence and prepare you for UConn? It prepared us in the conference season to get where we are now. We have a lot of teams in the NCAA Tournament. Playing a lot of Top 25 teams in our conference helped prepare for the No. 1 team.
On playing loose, but confident: It's going to be a really tough game.We're going to try to have fun and play with confidence at the same time.
On Texas players having less experience than their head coach: I think it goes both ways. Obviously, if you've been somewhere before, you should have a pretty good idea of how to get back there. There is something to be said for young players who are experiencing this for the first time. The excitement that they feel and the energy level that they have is because it's new and they don't take it for granted. I think you have to gauge your team. Based on what I saw yesterday, I don't think the Texas players played as if they had never been in a basketball game before. I think Gail (Goestenkors)'s job probably entails more of convincing them that it's just playing basketball like they have done all year long. The problem is the kids going to Texas thought they were elite players who were going to an elite program. There's a lot that Gail can teach them. Sometimes you just have to have trust in your coaching staff. Players that do can be really successful. Gail's probably spent a lot of time to get them to trust her and her staff and it seems it's coming at the right time. They have the ability to win tomorrow and whenever the next game is, so I hope they stop listening to her.
On convincing players who are supposed to win to not take anything for granted: I would much rather be coaching my team in this tournament than anyone else's team. The reason I say that, and this is just my view, it's a lot easier to convince somebody to do something they've already done than to convince someone to do something they haven't done. It's not that difficult for me at all to coach my team and get them to play their `A' game, because if we play our 'A' game we're going to win.
If you don't have that reference, you can still plan you're `A' game and still lose. I would like to think we've done as good a job as anyone in the country at being good when we're supposed to be.
On taking on a new challenge: I think there's always a point in time in a coach's life where they start to look at the situation they have and start to question whether or not it's not as rewarding as it used to be. I don't know any coach that doesn't go through that. There also comes a point in time when you get past that, and you realize the obligation you have is to make whatever you think is out there happen over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and find a way to enjoy it. It would be virtually impossible for me to go some place and have it better than I have it here.
On conference pride for the Big East and Big 12: I don't know how many schools in our conference recruit against schools in the Big 12. Last year the Big 12 really, really struggled. This year they had a great year. The SEC is way down. The Big Ten is way down. The trick is, as a league and as a school, is to be good every year. There's no reason why conferences like the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 10 and SEC shouldn't be dominant in women's basketball. It's a little bit harder for our schools to be dominant. We probably don't have enough schools that have all the resources that those conferences have. So, I think for us to be where we are as a league, given where we've come from, is pretty impressive. I hope we win every game against the Big 12. I really do.
On Goestenkors as a coach at Texas: I think you have to change as a coach. I don't think she is coaching this Texas team like she was coaching her last couple of Duke teams. She has surrounded herself with some pretty good people. I don't see a different person. Maybe a little more relaxed. But five years from now when she is in the top-five and they're supposed to go to the Final Four every year, she'll be like she used to be and like the rest of us agonizing over a team that's supposed to go to the Final Four and win a National Championship -- and being miserable all the time. She should enjoy this happy time in her life, because once they get really good all that other stuff comes back.
On the small number of first round upsets: That's never going to change, ever, ever, ever. As long as players in women's basketball stay in school for four years, it's never going to change. It happens in men's basketball because players leave. In some ways it's harder to win, because as you go farther into the tournament everybody you're playing against has everyone back. When you get to the final eight, the best eight teams are going to be there. I would prefer upsets. I would like to see some of the really good teams that we see in the brackets get beat, so we can just skate through. That would be every coach's dream, but it's never going to happen. It is what it is.
SENIOR GUARD KETIA SWANIER
JUNIOR GUARD RENEE MONTGOMERY
On playing alongside Ketia Swanier: I love playing with Ketia, because she makes it easier for me. I don't have to worry about anything but scoring, because she controls the game.
On the Big East/Big 12 match-ups in the second round: I kept on hearing on ESPN how the Big 12 was undefeated. That's really good. I know I'm always rooting for the Big East teams. I hope we win in the second round. You build relationships with the other players and begin to root for them, especially when they play someone else.
On being prepared for whatever you face: Coach always says: No one can do anything that we haven't seen before at some point in our basketball career. And it's true. If we play hard, whatever we do will determine what happens in the game.