Jan. 26, 2014
Box Score |
Head Coach Coquese Washington
Q: Why do you think you guys were better offensively in this ballgame?
A: I thought we did a really good job of making the extra pass and really trying to find the open person. We had a lot of patience on offense and we were content to pass up a good shot for a great shot. We were aggressive and assertive in attacking the paint, even against their zone and I think when we are aggressive and assertive offensively we get pretty good results.
Q: On the defensive side, what allowed you to hold a good three-point shooting team to a bad percentage?
A: As the ladies said, our focus coming into this game was that we needed to guard them. They are a great three-point shooting team and you can't give great shooters easy open looks, so our focus was just to be there when they caught the ball and not give them great looks. I thought we did a great job forcing them off of the three-point line and not giving them open looks so they didn't make that many.
Q: How was your team able to start strong and finish strong?
A: I thought we started pretty strong, especially defensively. I was really pleased with our defensive energy, effort and focus in the first half. When we come out and we are locked in defensively, making the other team take tough shots, then that is a great place for us to be in and I thought we did a good job of that today. I thought our bench came in and allowed us to finish the game strong. They executed and their passing was really good down the stretch of the game and we continued to work for great shots and not settle for good shots. I thought Alex Harris came in and gave us great effort on the backboard. Jenny DeGraaf came in and hit some shots so I was really pleased with our effort all around.
Q: How did you hold defensively against the rest of the team?
A: We really stressed team defense. Certainly, we were concerned about Banham but they have other good players too. We knew that Sari Noga is an outstanding three-point shooter and we didn't want to let her get going. We knew that Zahui B. is really good in the paint so we knew we needed to do a good job on her. It wasn't simply we have to shut down Banham, we needed to have great team defense and everyone needed to know where Banham was and be aware of her but we needed to guard everybody. I thought our defensive intensity and our ball screen defense was really good the first half.
Q: How important is it to get the freshman and the bench in the game?
A: I think it is really important that they start to develop and we develop a little more depth going into the second half of conference play. These games are a grind and the more depth that we can have, that would be good for us as we finish out conference play, so I definitely want to get them more minutes and get them confident and performing.
Q: What does Dara [Taylor] having 10 assists and only having eight [team] turnovers do for you guys?
A: I thought Dara was really in control of the tempo of the game and really had a good handle of our team offensively, so I am not surprised that she got 10 assists. Her control of the game was the best we have seen this year. She is growing in that area and really managing the game and managing the team and making sure that things are flowing on the offensive end. She was able to do that tonight while still exerting a tremendous amount of energy guarding the best scoring guard in the conference. For her to be that affective on the floor is just a testament to how great of a player she is.
Q: How much better are you guys when you have many scoring contributions from everyone?
A: I think we are much better. It opens up the floor for everybody, especially Maggie [Lucas], when everybody is scoring and I think it gives everybody on our team confidence. We have a lot of confidence as a team. As I have been saying all year long, we are a work in progress and where our team is and how we need to execute and how we are developing as the season goes along. I think when we get contributions from everyone and everyone is starting to feel confident in their roles, it is a really good place for us to be in.
Q: What is the focus moving forward this week to Purdue?
A: Certainly the focus has to be on the defensive end of the floor. Purdue came in here a couple of weeks ago and scored 84 points, the most points we have given up in conference play. I haven't watched them play since then but I know the last time they played, they put up 90 points on somebody so they are humming along on the offensive side of the ball. We got a big job ahead of us to guard them and defend them in their building. We haven't started to talk about the specific game plan yet, but whatever it is, I know it is going to be a heavy concentration in guarding them and trying to keep them from scoring 90 points.
Q: I think these guys shot 67% against you guys last year at their place when they won, how satisfying is it to put them down to 53% during this ball game?
A: I mean they're a great team and we just focus on defense, especially the last few games. So it was just great to buckle up and hold their shooting percentage low.
Q: In such a competitive conference, you got this team once this year. How important was it to get that win?
A: I think it was really important; Minnesota's a great team along with everyone in the Big Ten. So just going out and taking it one game at a time and getting as many wins as we can is the teams focus.
Q: Since Purdue, what has been different for you guys?
A: I definitely think it was a wakeup call for us. We've done a much better job of applying what we do in practice to games and executing what our coach wants us to do, so I would say that's the change we have made.
Q:What worked better for you today offensively?
A: I think to start off we had some good stops and outlets that let us transition and get out early. As the game went on I thought we had great ball movement, everyone got involved and we cut down on turnovers. I think that was huge for us.
Q: Defensively, Minnesota is second in the nation in three point field goal percentage. You held them to around 25 percent, what was the difference there?
A: I thought Ariel [Edwards] and Dara [Taylor] did a great job on Banham. I thought we contested a lot, contested every shot. We know how good of a three point shooting team they are and we know they're going to make some. So our goal was to go in there and contest.
Q: A stress point for Coquese [Washington] has been starting games strong and finishing games strong. It seems like you did that today. What allowed you to do that?
A: I think like Ariel said, we've been really focused on the game plan going into every one of these games and I think that when we do that our focus is there and we get off to a great start.
Q: When you're facing another one of the league's top scorer, is your approach any different at all?
A: It was a focus of the team to know where she was, she's that great of a player. But my focus in this game was nothing about a matchup between me and her. I think that what played in our favor was that we are a great team and we play well together when everyone gets involved. That's when we are most successful.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the defense you guys played against Banham specifically?
A: She's a really talented player. She can score a bunch of different ways. She hits a lot of tough shots so you really have to chase her off of the three point line and contest all of those difficult shots. She's still going to hit some but I think that Ariel did a good job with her length making it hard for her to make shots over her.
Q: How satisfying is it to look down on the stat sheet and see 10 assists by your name?
A: Credit to my teammates, they got open and set great screens. We ran all of our plays through and hit shots. Jenny DeGraaf came in and hit some shots, Maggie was on fire, post-players finished and without them I can't get any assists, so they all did a great job.
Q: Continuing off of that, how much better are you guys when you spread the wealth offensively?
A: I think everybody came in very focused and very confident. Like you said we executed our game plan. Our game plan was to exploit the defense where we could. I think we had some transition opportunities early and we had an opportunity to exploit later in the game. Everybody came in ready to play and everyone hit shots.
Minnesota Head Coach Pam Borton
Q: You had three players who scored for the first 35 minutes of the game. What were the problems you were having on offense?
A: I think one of the big problems coming into the game was not having our point guard. Shane Mullaney was out with concussion symptoms and that obviously changed everything in the last two days. We have a great point guard in Rachel Banham. She's handling the ball for 94 feet and scoring the whole game but we had to change a lot of our offensive sets and put people in different spots. We played a couple players who haven't played in about a month. It just puts especially our guards in other positions. That's not an excuse for our post players. I thought our post players had a very poor night. I thought Amanda [Zahul] got off to a really slow start. She didn't start playing until the second half. I wasn't sure if it was her being a freshman and intimidated and not really seeing kids of this size before. She's been extremely successful throughout the course of the season, but this is the first time she's seen kids of this size. I thought she really turned it up in the second half and played a little bit better but we just needed a little more consistent post play from Kayla Hirt and from our senior Micaella [Riche], who needs to play like a senior.
Q: How much did the foul troubles hurt you early on top of all the other things you were trying to do?
A: I thought it really changed the game. We had to play differently. We had to stay in a zone, which I thought they were really exposing us in the zone. We didn't have any choice but to play a zone other than if we wanted Rachel [Banham] to come sit on the bench and I know Micaella [Riche] had two [fouls] and Sari [Noga] had three [fouls]. We just needed to go into halftime being okay with fouls. We had to change the way we were playing and it gave them a lot of open looks.
Q: Rachel Banham was able to get a lot of looks today. What helped her to do that?
A: I just think she's s great player. I think she creates a lot of stuff on her own. She gets in space and I thought she hit some great shots. Rachel is just a great player.
Q: Is Penn State noticeably different on defense? This is now four teams in a row they have held below 55 points.
A: I just think they are big. I don't think they are a whole lot different defensively as far as the perimeter at all. They've always had fast guards and been aggressive. I just think that they're bigger. I think [Talia] East is a lot better than she was last year. They are just big and they protect the rim and they don't give you a lot of easy shots inside and a lot of penetration to the basket. They go 6-5 and 6-3 across the front line; that's just a big lineup.
Q: What makes Maggie Lucas so difficult to guard and such a great scorer?
A: I think she's even better than she was last year. This is obviously the first time I've seen her this year live. I've seen her a lot on film. The way she plays, she stops and starts and she's able to get her shot off. She's so consistent. If she's open she's going to hit a shot. She's got a nice step back move. If you leave her open, you're like, "That's in." You're really surprised when she misses her shots.
Q: Did you think Dara Taylor controlled the pace of this ball game?
A: I thought that with the zone she had a lot of open looks. She probably scored a lot of her points in the first half because we were in a zone and she got loose in the lane and had some pull ups. I don't know if she controlled the tempo of the game. I thought we did a good job getting back and not giving them easy layups once we got through the first five or six minutes of the game. She plays 94 feet and does a great job running offense and so forth. She had a good game tonight.