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Nov. 11, 2012
Penn State Head Coach Coquese WashingtonQ: What's your general assessment of your team's play in this game?
A: I think we have to play a lot more disciplined than we played tonight on both ends of the floor. We've got to show a lot more discipline.
Q: Last year you guys struggled early against Washington State. Is it just early season jitters?
A: I think it's early season. If you look at a lot of teams coming out of the gate, they've got to still find their identity. We have a lot of players returning, but we're a different team this year. We've got to find our rhythm with the way we're playing. When you're integrating two new players that are going to play a lot of minutes for us, it's going to take some time to figure that our in game situation. I think a lot of it is beginning of the season rust, so to speak.
Q: What did you emphasize in that last timeout you called before the 14-0 run to end the first half?
A: We talked about defense. We wanted to get up and pressure, and try to create some turnovers, and get some easy baskets and transition. I think we finished the half with maybe nine or 10 stops in a row. That kind of gave us a spark going into the half.
Q: Why did you abandon man-to-man defense and go to zone defense today?
A: We were struggling to contain the ball for a few possessions. We went a few possessions of zone to try to give them a different look. They hit a couple threes, so we went back to man-to-man.
Q: How big was the defense by Alex (Bentley) and Maggie (Lucas) at the end of the first half?
A: Anytime you can get some live turnovers, it gives you a chance to go out there and transition. We're pretty good when we can transition. I think that was a big confidence boost for us. It gave us some breathing room, and allowed us to start the second half with a little bit more confidence.
Q: Without Mia (Nickson), there were nine points combined from the forwards, and none from the field. What can you say about that?
A: Well we played four guards quite a bit of the game. I think that contributed to them not getting the touches and production that we wanted out of them. Howard is a very good defensive team. They play their matchup zone, and one of the things they were giving us is they wanted us to shoot from the outside. They did a pretty good job of fronting our post, and sandwiching our post. It was tough to get the ball in to them. We did get opportunities and we didn't always take advantage of it. We'll be better. Our post play will definitely improve as the season goes on.
Q: Do you play with those four guards at times so you can get steals?
A: When we play with four guards we're definitely faster and more athletic defensively. We can do more things defensively in terms of matchups and switching. Playing four guards really gives us an advantage at times.
Q: What do you have to do in the half court to improve the rest of the year?
A: I think we have to do a better job of spying the opportunities. Our perimeter players just didn't do as good of a job that they will do later in the season of finding the openings and gaps in the zone. We'll definitely improve in that.
Q: How surprised are you that they didn't come out with more discipline given the experience that is on this team?
A: I'm not surprised because even though we have a lot of experience we are doing a few things differently, and we're integrating two new pieces. Our bench players are playing a lot more minutes than they played last year, and some are playing different roles. Experience is one thing, but you still have to find your chemistry and rhythm every year with a new team. We're still finding that chemistry, and we're still finding that rhythm.
Q: What were your thoughts of Candice Agee the few minutes she was in tonight?
A: Candice is going to be fantastic. Right now she has no clue of whether she's coming or going. The game is just way too fast for her. Sometimes she still looks like she's at Silverado High School running around playing. She's a very quick study. She's got a very good basketball IQ. As she gets more experience playing in games, she's definitely going to be a big impact player for us.
Q: What made Saadia Doyle such a difficult guard for you guys?
A: Number one she's aggressive. She's a guard size with a post game, so when you put the guard on her she does a good job of posting and being physical. When you put a post on her, she's very quick to face up and drive by you. She's a very good player and has great skills. We put her on the free throw line 23 times. When somebody's aggressive like that and they're attacking the basket, and you put them on the free throw line they get comfortable and confident that they can do whatever they want. Then she was able to hit a couple contested shots, probably because of her confidence level being so high.
Q: What's the mood coming out of this game? Does it give them something to work on?
A: They wanted to play better. They wanted to have a better performance. But it is what it is. We know the things that we have to work on, but we can be confident in the things that we did well. It's November and it's our first game. We didn't play as well as maybe we wanted to play, but it gives us feedback on things we know we need to get better on. We've got to turn it around quickly because going into Texas A&M is going to be a big challenge for us.
#33 Maggie LucasQ: How do you feel about the way you guys played today?
A: We're happy that we got the win. We need to play more disciplined. We need to finish plays defensively, we sent them to the free throw line way too much, and that's not what we do. That's not in our game plan.
Q: How did the defense turn into offense for the team?
A: I think we just picked up a lot harder on their ball handlers and we were able to pick up a few steals and that gave us some good momentum and were just happy we were able to get that done.
Q: Describe how you came out in the first half.
A: It's just focus and discipline, just focus and discipline. We need to work on it in practice and that will carry over into games.
Q: What were your emotions like from the banner raising before the game and how it did it affect your focus going into the game.
A: I don't think that affected our focus. If anything it got us more hype. We're proud of that, but it's this year now. That championship came last year and we're focused on taking one game at a time this year.
#20 Alex BentleyQ: With the run late in the first half can you talk about how much you wanted to provide the defensive spark after how Howard was hanging around?
A: We want to provide that spark throughout the entire game. That's something that we're going to have to work on. That defense that everyone saw at the end of the first half is our defense and we have to stay tuned in and we have to focus up and play that defense for 40 minutes.
Q: What was your attitude during this game?
A: We came into this game knowing Howard was a good team, so we're just going to take what we learned from tonight and run with it. We need to get better every day and we have a lot to work on and I look forward to working on our weaknesses in practice coming up. Right now we need to rest up and have a couple good practices and get ready for Texas A&M.
#24 Mia NicksonQ: What made Saadia Doyle a tough guard for you guys tonight?
A: I think she just worked extremely hard. She didn't take a play off. What we need to do is play more of a team defense on her instead of just having one player try to shut her down and usually we will rely on our team to help, and we just did not get that done collectively today. She was just a hard worker
Q: How important were your points down low considering the rest of the post scored nine and they all came from the free throw line?
A: I think I just took advantage of my opportunities. When I got the ball I tried to make a positive play, whether it was passing or trying to finish lay-ups or things of that nature. They were really physical down low so we tried to do what we could.
Howard Head Coach Nicki GeckelerQ: What did you think of your team's effort today?
A: I'm very pleased with the effort of our young ladies. You're coming out, playing the number eight team in the country, they have the banner that they bring into the gym and talk about their accomplishments from last year, so I'm very excited with the effort from top to bottom for 40 full minutes. I felt like our girls played hard.
Q: Where did you feel it got away from you a little bit at the first half?
A: We had our point guard in foul trouble and she's basically playing with a broken finger, so I think those last couple minutes of the first half hurt us and gave Penn State the momentum. We were very poised up until that time, executed play, played tough defense and really just did what Howard normally comes to do, play tough defense and execute.
Q: What was the strategy behind leaving nobody there to get rebounds during free throws?
A: Well we know Penn State is a heavy transition team, so in an effort to not give up easy baskets we wanted to take everybody off of the free throw line. If we would have shot better from the free throw line I think we would have felt a lot better about that. I don't have a final stat, but I'd imagine a good 10 points were left on the free throw line this evening.
Q: You had a pretty big size disadvantage today, what did you do to try to combat that?
A: You can kind of see the size that I am, and size really doesn't matter that much to me, it's just how big your heart is. I think our kids are very physical, they're very confident, and this is a squad who finished 24-9 last year. So we've got a lot to continue to build on. The size wasn't really an issue, we just wanted to be physical, stay on top and play our game.
Q: Can you talk about Doyle's (Saadia Doyle #13) efforts this ball game?
A: Doyle, ever since she has been here for the last couple of years, if you've followed her career, she's been 19th in the country in double doubles, she's been player of the year, she's been rookie of the year, so Saadia is really our strength at the end. She's our rock and we go to her and she produces.