Postgame Quotes Lady Lions vs. Connecticut (Nov. 17, 2013)

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Nov. 17, 2013

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Head Coach Coquese Washington

Q: What do you think about UConn's head coach?
A: I have a tremendous amount of respect for Geno [Auriemma]. As a coach, certainly he's set the standard for all of us in the profession. He's also been willing to share, with me personally, about coaching and different things. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he's done for the game and what he's done by being willing to schedule us. For him to say positive things about our program, that means a lot.

Q: What did you see out there about your offense and why do you think that might have happened?
A: Well, I saw our inexperience. We just have a lot of new faces and new roles. I think you look at Maggie Lucas and the way she played. She's been there and done that before. Talia East is a senior who has logged a lot of minutes for us and I saw a lot of inexperience. I saw a lot of hesitation and indecisiveness. That leads to inefficiencies and ineffectiveness, especially on the offensive end. As the girls said, we need the experience. So we like playing these kinds of games because it shows a lot about ourselves, where we need to get better at, where we need to be more effective. I saw a lot of inexperience and hopefully as the season goes on we'll see less indecisiveness when we're out there playing.

Q: How much do you attribute the 22 team fouls to Connecticut moving the ball well and how much do you attribute that to the new hands rule that college basketball is trying to implement?
A: I think it's a combination of both. They're an outstanding passing team. They always have been. The new emphasis on calling those grazing fouls are the rules. I'm in favor of those rules. We have to adjust, all of us. All the players and coaches across the country have to adjust. It's frustrating but it's what should be happening, what should be called. We just have to adjust and get better at that and keep our hands off. Coaches are always going to find what we think are calls that could go either way, doesn't matter what the emphasis on the rules are. Every year, every game we're going to find calls that we think could have gone the other way. They're a really good passing team. They're always in the top of the country in assists because they pass the ball very well.

Q: Were you surprised that some of your older players struggled a little bit on the offense?
A: We never really got into a flow offensively. You can definitely attribute some of that to Connecticut and their defense. They're an outstanding defensive team. Just as much I think could be attributed to our decision making and not keeping the ball moving and not making the extra passes. We've got to work on that. I think, again, we're a new team and we haven't gelled. We haven't gelled yet. Our chemistry is not where it was last year when we had four starters that played together for three or four years. We're not there yet. These starters have played together for three games. There's going to be fits and lurches. There's going to be ups and downs. There's going to be zigs when we should have zagged, and zongs when we should have zinged and all that kind of stuff because they're still learning how to play together and play as a unit and play as a team. And on the other end of the floor, their kids have played together a lot. We'll be fine. I'm not worried about any of our players; we'll be fine as the season goes on. We will get our chemistry and get more comfortable and more familiar with each other. We'll be fine.

Q: How important is Talia East to this team?
A: Her and Candice [Agee] are a great 1-2 punch in the middle. Her contributions off the bench are crucial to our team. We don't make some of the runs we made in this game without her being on the floor getting the blocked shots, getting the rebounds, and getting us some opportunities and transitions. I'm very, very happy to have her coming off the bench for us.

Q: What were your thoughts on your defense as a whole today?
A: I thought we played fairly well. You know when you play a zone, you know you're going to give up shots. You know you're going to give up outside shots. We felt like we could defend them a little better in the zone and I thought for the most part we did. They got some open looks late in the game when we really needed some stops but that's the chance you take when you play zones. Overall, I think we did a pretty decent job.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about the positive take aways from this game?
A: There are lots of positives to take away. I definitely feel like our team competed. I think Maggie Lucas showed why she's one of the best shooters in the country and one of the best offensive players in the country. She's relentless. When she gets an open look, she's going to knock it down. She played her heart out against a defense that was really keyed on her and she was still able to get some good looks and knock down some fantastic shots. I think our post play competed against two of the best posts in the country in Stewart and Dolson. I thought they competed and battled. I think we have to get more from our bench overall and you know, they are all freshman besides Talia East. We have to find a way to get them to come along so they can give us a little more. There are a lot of positives that we can take away and the best positive is that it's November 17th and we've got twenty-nine more games to play. So we can take some lessons and we get better and we will be fine.

Q: What did you see from Connecticut being disciplined and effective on defense?
A: They're just a good defensive team. I don't think they played any differently than they normally do. They're just a good, solid defensive team and as I said before I thought we were a little hesitant. And when you're hesitant and make decisions because you're hesitant then they'll take advantage of it.

Q: Is there anything else you do as a coach to try and mold a young team?
A: We do some things in practice to try and mold and build the chemistry but there's nothing like games. There's nothing like games. In practice you can always stop and start and you can try again but in games, you get one shot. There's nothing too similar to the game day emotion, the game day anxiety. We've got a couple kids that play great in practice but they get nervous when fans show up. I can't simulate that in practice. I guess I could put the Fathead people in the stands. It's just playing in games. You got to be able to do it when the lights are on and we just need more experience in that.

Q: Is this series with UConn something you'd like to continue?
A: Definitely, yes. I think it's just a matter of finding dates.

Q: Now that you've played UConn three years in a row, what are they doing differently, what's better, any regression?
A: I definitely wouldn't say anything's regressed. They do different things offensively based on their personnel. They tweak things here and there, run different sets maybe. The constants are the discipline in which they play with, the effort on defense, the efficiency on offense. That stems from the culture they created for however long Geno's [Auriemma] been there. I don't think you can underestimate that, the culture that's been built over time.

Maggie Lucas

Q: What made their defense so difficult to deal with?
A: UConn is a very smart team, the best team in the nation. I thought it was more about what we did offensively. We tried to make things happen but they weren't there. It was more about what we were doing.

Q: This is the second year in a row that you guys have played UConn, do you feel the Penn State team as a whole is on the trajectory to become a UConn type of team?
A: You have to get better day-to-day, that's our focus. You can't look long term like that. This team has been built up for so many years. We want to get better everyday and be able to compete at a very high level.

Q: You guys shot 30% from the field, how much of that was UConn's defense or forcing bad shots?
A: Like I said before, UConn is a really great team but we got away from our offense because it was not at our best. It is early in the season, so we take these experiences and learn from them. My team fought today. We are going to keep fighting to get better every day.

Q: When it is so hard to get a shot, do you tend to rush in order to make one?
A: I got shots today. I got looks early in the first half but didn't hit. No excuses, but I thought in the second half we started to execute and shots started to become more available when we ran our offense through. Shots were there.

Q: You guys had 17 turnovers, you with 5. What were your thoughts on your defense today?
A: I actually thought our defense was decent today. We moved pretty well in the zone. We got our hands up. We have to do better than that but I thought we did well today.

Q: What makes Hartley a good defender?
A: I have been playing against Bria since I was in high school, even middle school. She is just a tough girl and a tough competitor, always has been that way. She is a great player.

Q: What does a game like this do for you guys? How do you move forward? It is early in the season to be playing a No. 1 team but what is your perspective now?
A: Like every game, it is a learning experience. Like I said before, I thought we fought in the second half. When you get yourself in a hole like that against a great team, it is hard to get out of it. We really feel like they are a great team but executing wise we need to better. This is why you play a good team like this early in the season. It gets you prepared for later down the line when you see a good team like this again.

Tori Waldner

Q: What did you guys learn about yourselves today?
A: We have to run the offense and we have to stay poised. We have to play like how we know we can play.

Q: How were you able to position yourselves on a very physical UConn team?
A: Rebounding is a focus every day in practice. It was a special focus for UConn. We have been preparing before this game to get rebounds.

Q: Can you guys talk about the crowd support today and what it means to have these fans come out in huge numbers?
A: I hope it is a consistent showing for our fans to come out and support us like that.

Talia East

Q: What do you guys say to yourselves to be able to get a run toward the end of the game and have a shot at actually winning this game?
A: I think we zeroed in on things we should have been doing consistently throughout the game but definitely zeroing in on what we do well. When we did that, the score was cut. Some untimely turnovers got us out of it but sticking to what we did well helped cut the lead.

Q: How were you able to position yourselves on a very physical UConn team?
A: I think it got a little bit easier toward the end of the game because they started to not send Stefanie [Dolson] in for certain things. I think she was getting taken out because she was in foul trouble. We were getting in front of people and preparing for the ball to come off.

Q: Can you guys talk about the crowd support today and what it means to have these fans come out in huge numbers?
A: I thought it was amazing. I was so happy to see our community come out and be loud. When we got to cut that lead down, they were hyped. We were so appreciative and look forward to seeing that for the rest of the season.

Q: UConn caused 20 turnovers. Did you feel like at times the offense was too much under pressure or out of sync?
A: I wouldn't say that. We did certain things that caused us to get out of our offense at the beginning. They are a great defensive team but I think that it fell a little more on us, as we got out of what we normally do.

Q: You have been the first one off the bench this season. What is your mindset going into the game to be able to impact it like you have?
A: I am just thinking run the floor hard, defend and rebound. If I can do those three things amongst others, then I am good for the most part.

Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma

Q: Where does Penn State basketball fit into college basketball as a whole, and what do you like about their program?
A: Since I can remember, they've always had a women's basketball tradition. They took a little bit of a downturn there for a while, but I think Coquese [Washington] has done a great job of recruiting and with their style of play. That's probably one of the reasons why fans love coming to their games. This is one of those places where you can be really good and create a lot of excitement and get a lot of people from the community involved. I think that they've done that. There are probably twenty schools in the country that people think are really, really good and they're probably one of them.

Q: What did you tell your girls at halftime?
A: The first ten minutes of the game were sort of disjointed. Neither team could find any kind of offensive rhythm or flow but then we were able to find some in the last seven or eight minutes of the half. I looked up at one point in the second half and thought we only had seventeen points. I think the whole game, both teams were trying to find something that would work and work consistently but we couldn't. We were able to get out in transition a little bit and when Saniya [Chong] and Bria [Hartley] started knocking down some shots, which changed everything for us. When they cut it to nine points, I loved the way we responded. I expect Bria [Hartley] to make those shots because she's a senior, but Saniya [Chong] made some great shots on the road and as a freshman that says a lot about her.

Q: What does it take to make that next step to the Sweet Sixteen and Final Four?
A: I think the teams that consistently are competing for Final Fours and national championships are the teams that get the best players. Recruiting is a huge component of those teams, year in and year out. The recruiting part is the first part of it but I think the expectation level is another. Some schools expect to be in the Final Four and expect to win championships and others are happy if they get there. I think it's a mindset and it takes a while to obtain that mindset. You have to be really successful for a while that you start to expect it. I think that's where we are now that we've been doing this for so long. We've had so much success. I expect Bria [Hartley] to make the shots she made today because she's a senior and has been in the Final Four every year she's been at Connecticut but for Saniya [Chong] to come in and make those plays, that's what gets you to where you want to go. To have freshmen understand what is expected of them is very fortunate, and I respect them.

Q: What did you think of Penn State's defense?
A: I thought last year and this year that they are one of the more physical teams we play. They've got big girls up front and it was difficult both years to establish something in the lane because they do a good job of clogging that up. We knew we had to win the game making three's. You can't think you're going to outscore teams, and we had some trouble with that today.

Q: When you're in the home stretch is it harder to play aggressive defense?
A: It is much more difficult, especially on the emphasis on the contact. You have to be really intelligent and make good decisions out on the floor and you can't get caught up in doing mindless stuff. We usually don't foul that much. When you're down to seven players, you're counting on them to be focused and intelligent. Some people are always in foul trouble because they're not the brightest bulbs in the room.

Q: What chance does a "mere mortal" program have against UConn?
A: I think the thing that has always been key for us it that we always try to approach every game the same way, regardless of who or where we're playing. If we keep getting better, it's going to be harder to beat us, whether on the road or at home. If we stay stagnant and don't move forward from here, we're setting ourselves up to get beat. The fact that we've beaten three really good teams this week is great for the players and their confidence. When we go back to school we have a lot of things to work on but we don't take anything for granted and we don't disrespect any team.

Q: How do you see Coquese's [Washington] contributions as a player to the league?
A: I think there is a direct correlation from what kind of player you were, like how hard you worked, and she certainly was a good player and she's brought that attitude to Penn State. We need more people like that. We need more former players who really played hard to take over programs and be successful. She coaches to her personality, which is great. It's getting harder to find those people but she's one of those people you enjoy being around and she's done a lot for the game and I hope she does a lot more.

Q: Is this the kind of series you would like to see continued?
A: We have a long history with Penn State. When I got the job at Connecticut, it was 1985 and Penn State was one of those premiere teams in the country and that's who I wanted to compete with. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Penn State had a certain image around the country that is pristine when it comes to how good they are and how they do things. I always wanted to be a part of that and getting them on our schedule after such a long time is definitely something I want to keep going.

Bria Hartley

Q: How tiring is it guarding Maggie Lucas?
A: She's great player and she uses screens well, so it's hard to get around the screens. Your mindset going into the game has to be not to let her catch the ball because if she gets it she's a threat. You need to do your work early by making sure she doesn't catch it. My teammates also did a good job of helping me get around the screens.

Q: Was today a fresh start for you offensively?
A: I usually try not to think about bad shooting games, like Maryland. Coach always tells me I have to be ready to hit the next shot and I think I've been working on that since I was a freshman. When I take a shot, I have to think that it's going in and my teammates have done a good job of finding me.

 

 

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