March 25, 2012
Box Score |
Penn State Head Coach Coquese Washington
On UConn's balance
"I don't think it's a matter of us not focusing but like I said yesterday they've got a lot of weapons and they play very well together. They execute their offense very well, they move well without the ball and they're just a pretty tough team."
On Nikki Greene getting into foul trouble early on
"I thought in the first half the foul trouble kept her out of the game and she never really got into a rhythm. She never really got into a flow and I thought Talia [East] kind of got into a better rhythm because she got to play the first half. When Nikki Greene doesn't play a lot of minutes for us it's tough for us to be as good as we can be when she's not on the floor for us."
On Kelly Faris' 15-point performance
"[It didn't surprise me] at all. I mean these kids are good. You guys are asking me questions like we didn't know that they're good. They're a number one seed for a reason, because they've got a lot of players who can play. We didn't come into this game without respecting each and every person on their team. That was a mismatch that worked in their favor - Kelly Faris being guarded by our [power forward], and she played well. At times in the game, it worked in our favor. Mia Nickson had a good game, but there were other times where she got free. I'm not surprised that she had the game that she had."
On Penn State's season as a whole
"I think it's a very good step for us. We wanted to improved every single season and I think we've done that. When I look at the game, one of the things that I saw with this game is Connecticut played like a team that has everybody on their team that's played in the Sweet 16 before, played in the Final Four and understood how long the game is. They understood the patience that you need to execute with and I thought we played too fast. We just played too fast. We shot a lot of quick shots and didn't show enough patience on the offensive end and when you do that it gives a team like Connecticut that's so good in transition, you end up giving up a lot of points in transition and then they get on a roll and once they get on a roll it's tough to stop. But overall I like the way that our kids competed. We hung in there, there were stretches of the game where we played hard and we made plays and I feel very confident that we'll be a better team next year from this experience. I have no doubt about that."
On lack of parody in women's basketball game
"I think probably across the board we have more guys who are playing basketball overall then you do young ladies, girls playing basketball, when you talk about middle school and high school and all that. But I do think, even though maybe it's not playing out in terms of games in the NCAA Tournament there's certainly more parody, there are a lot more good players coming down the pike then there were ten, fifteen years ago and some of that I think can be attributed to the WNBA because you have these girls growing up and they want to be professionals so they're working on their games more. They're taller, faster, quicker, more engaged in developing their games so even though we don't have the Lehigh-level upsets, I do think the game is growing, I think the game is more exciting, fun to watch because you have a lot more better players out there playing the game. I think our game is in good shape. We've got good young coaches at the high school ranks, club coaches that are helping the kids come to college more polished and more developed. If you just look at the players, if you take the score out of it, there are some exciting players out there who can make a lot of good plays so I think our game is in great shape."
On what you told team after the game
"I told them what I just told you guys. UConn played like a team that had experience playing at this level and our kids came into this game ready, they were prepared, I think they were probably a little too prepared, too eager for the game and played uncharacteristically fast. Because sometimes when you want the win so much you can play too hard and I thought UConn played relaxed because they've been here before so next year, when we get into this situation next year, we'll be better for it. We'll be a lot better for it. It's a great experience that we've had. You don't want to lose any games but there's a lot that we can take from this and grow as a program and they can grow as players."
On UConn's defense
"I definitely think that the intensity with which they played caused us to play fast. I also think that nerves, jitters, especially at the start of the game, I thought we played a little nervous, a little jittery. Then I thought we settled down and UConn's defense, certainly, they do a great job of taking you out of what you want to do and making it hard for you to get the looks you want to get and they certainly did that at times."
Junior Alex Bentley
On UConn's defense
"We knew going into the game that UConn was a good defensive team. They gave great effort and they played good team defense."
On the offensive troubles
"You just got to keep executing your offense the best you can. I think we were quick shooting a little bit and we probably should have been a lot more patient in our offensive sets."
On the season as a whole and advancing farther than last year
"Yeah it's something positive but it hurts right now. You never want to go home. You never want to lose. Our team's very competitive. I'm proud of my teammates and I'm proud of the season that we had. I think we fought hard and we put a lot of work in."
Junior Mia Nickson
On difficulty of stopping UConn
"I think they're just patient on offense. They work the ball around. They move the ball side-to-side and you just look up and their cutting to the basket and things like that. They just worked really well together throughout the game so that's pretty difficult to guard."
Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma
"I'll tell you what I told the players in the locker room before and after the game. We wanted to make sure this was a team thing rather than look around for somebody to have a big night. Our team was going to have to play great defense and our team was going to have to execute offensively. I was really happy after the game to sit back and say that's exactly what it was. When you look at the stat sheet it tells some of the story but this is one of the more complete games we played in a while and it couldn't have come at a better time."
Thoughts on Kelly Faris
"I get asked more questions about Kelly and it usually has to do about what she can't do and how relative to other players. You can't win with four guards but she's not really a guard and she's not really a post player. Her day usually revolves around the what's the focus of the other team and what they are trying to do. When she plays within herself like she did tonight she can guard the other team's best player. She can guard a guard, a forward, it doesn't matter. She expends an awful lot of energy for us. She has a lot of confidence right now in her offense. If you're playing us and saying I got to guard Bria Hartley or I got to guard Tiffany Hayes, Kelly is the odd man out, what they don't know is that Kelly makes so many plays that may not reflect on her ability to score, but they help our team score. Those first two possessions today where she found Caroline Doty for layups. The best thing I can say about Kelly and I've said it to other coaches in the profession and others in Connecticut is that last year when we lost to Notre Dame was the first time she lost a game in the post season since eighth grade. The kid has lost one game in seven years in the post season, that's pretty good. I love having guys like that on my team. She finds things to do to help our team."
On execution of today's game plan
"We are starting to find, a certain comfort level with each other. We made a few tweaks to our offense when the BIG EAST tournament came around, because I didn't like the direction we were going. A couple little changes made all the defense in the world. People started to see where exactly there shots were going to come from on a regular basis as opposed to wondering around trying to figure out where it's going to come from. Going into today we had a couple things in our offense that they hadn't seen before, it's never been on tapes so we knew once we got them a few times early on we would get them later on again. The kids just feel right that there is a certain comfort level in the offense. Nobody is forcing anything. For us to get five players in double figures, that makes up for getting someone not getting 30. Not having Maya is a huge loss from that standpoint but we've had to replace her with four players instead of just one."
Compare what you do offensively with some offenses in the men's game
"I know Bo Ryan pretty well, he is from Chester, Pa. He has one of the best offensive schemes in the country. He moves his people around so they are getting the right shot at the right time. I think it illustrates how difficult it is to score against the Syracuse zone because of how big they are. They do a really good job of identifying what you're trying to do. Having said that I think it's really hard to get a men's basketball player to move, especially when that son of bitch knows the shot not for him. He will cut and go wherever you want him to go if he knows he is going to get a shot, but if he has to cut and cut again and go screen and go set another one and the shots not for him he might do it once or twice or three times but that's not happening the whole game. I know I coached my son's AAU team for a few years and we had two pros on the team. Ones playing for the Patriots, Aaron Hernandez and the other signed with the Rockets Damien Saunders and son of a gun those guys will only do what they have to do to get themselves a shot. One of the beauties of women's basketball, they know it's very difficult for them to get their own shot so they need to help each other and because they know that they will do what you ask them to do because they know it helps them and their teammate. If you want to get a shot then you need to help your teammate get a shot. Not sure that works so well with the one and done guys. Not a lot of guys offer you contracts when your best attribute is cutting and screening."
What did you say to the team and the timeout in the second half to cause the big run?
"I told them that if we want to win by more than ten points then you were going to give me that hat. That timeout was because we started becoming pass it twice and shoot jump shots. That's what a team like Penn State will do to you. They will run down and take a quick shot and if you're not careful you will go back and do the same. If you keep them on defense a little bit longer it makes it harder for them to keep up that transition game. They are expending a lot of energy on the defensive end guarding you. I think that changed the game no question."
What changed through the course of the season to get you here today?
"The players don't read anything anymore. I don't try to talk to them through the media. What I was responding to at the beginning of the season was are we good enough to win the national championship and I said No, I don't think we have what it takes to win the National Championship because I know what national championship teams are built like. I said but if these other guys who I think have a legitimate chance to win, if they screw up and open the door for us we are going to be right there. I didn't know if we would be able to play defense like this. I had no idea where our leadership was going to come from. There were to many unanswered questions at the beginning of the year. Am I surprised that we are here right now, no, not really. I think I said this to someone the other day. I won't be surprised if we lost to Penn State and I won't be surprised if we win the National Championship because I've seen this team do both during the course of the season. I want us to play really well on Tuesday night and if we are fortunate enough to win on Tuesday night then anything can happen after that."
On why the elite eight game is the toughest of them all
"Coaches and kids talk about the final four. The thing in their mind is the Final Four. That one game means your 40 minutes away from the final four, it's a bitch. That's when it starts to hit the kids that this is it. You don't know how kids will react in that situation. Some rise to the occasion and own the moment some are beaten down by the pressure of it. Tuesday night somebody needs to step up and be big for us. Starting Tuesday and whatever happens beyond that if were fortunate enough this is when somebody or somebodies really need to step it up and make it happen. That's why it's so hard."
What does Pat Summitt mean to the game of women's basketball?
"You like to have those conversations when someone's career is over. The fact that it's not over you don't ever want to talk like its past tense. I know there are struggles professionally with her team and how there trying to handle her personal life and her family. I don't know that there is anything that I can say that would make it more meaningful. Those last 30 years are so for a majority of that time up until today, she is recognized as the face of women's basketball. Her team's consistency year after year. The always being there and her teams always being in the conversation about winning national championships. I think since 1985 when I got the job at Connecticut, playing Tennessee and watching her work you really start to realize if more women's basketball coaches took that approach there would be more good programs and a lot of programs in America would be better. She is one of the few coaches in America; I can count them on my hand that coaches those players like they are basketball players and not girls. The game can use a lot more people like that for sure."