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March 22, 2014
2014 NCAA Division I women's basketball championship
First Round · News Conference Day
Bryce Jordan Center · University Park, Pa.
Saturday, March 24
NEWS CONFERENCE QUOTES - Dayton
Jim Jabir, Dayton Head Coach:
Q: Looking at your team, what is it like to have the scoring balance you have?
A: It's reflective of the philosophy we play with. We teach a lot of skill development. We want everyone to be able to handle [the ball], pass it and shoot it. I think it's tougher to defend a team when all five people are threats all the time. You can't key in on one person, so we strive for that balance. We try to play unselfishly so the open person gets the ball. And I think what you see is reflective of the philosophy of how we play. I think Cassie [Sant] touched on the fact that we need to impose our will on people rather than have our opponents impose theirs on us. We're always looking for that advantage.
Q: Tell me a little bit about how you think your tough conference schedule and conference tournament really helps you out now.
A: I think it's proven throughout the course of the year that the A-10 is a really good league. Getting three teams in the NCAA tournament and four more teams in the women's NIT, I think that speaks volumes for the quality of opponents that we've had to go through. We had to play VCU, who is a tough matchup. Their zone is killer. We had a real tough bracket. George Washington was the second game we had to play, so we earned the right to be here. I think we've proven that we can play against some really quality competition. Our problem, if we have one right now, is our youth. Hopefully, after getting through season, we're not as youthful and inexperienced as we were in the beginning of the year when we dropped some very close games to some very good teams. But I'm hopeful that through the nonconference and the conference schedule, it's brought us to the Florida game and that we'll be able to play at our maximum, most efficient level. That's what all that was for - it was to get us to here.
Q: What are your impressions of Florida?
A: They're athletic. They're very capable scorers. They look like an NBA team at times. They're going to spread the floor, use ball screen action, and try to get in the lane. They shoot deep, quickly and with confidence. They attack the glass. They're a very good team.
Q: With two weeks off, how do you keep your team rested and focused?
A: I was worried about that. We left the A-10 tournament with a bad taste in our mouth, so I wanted to use that to motivate the kids and create an edge and a little chip on their shoulder. As the days went by, I found it a challenge to maintain that edge. We kept working on the things we had to do to get better, and so I think that's how we approached it. Then, when we found out who our opponent was, we shifted gears and started working at addressing Florida. The kids have been very focused, we've had great practices, and I think we're a better team now than we were two weeks ago.
Q: You mentioned the tough start, losing four out of five games at one point. How did you see your team get through that, and what was the difference after that that led to the strong finish in the regular season?
A: I think we had a good team all along. I think our inexperience really hurt us when we lost in overtime to Iowa and at Michigan State, losing at the buzzer to Central Michigan. In all those games we were right there. We were winning but we just lost our composure and we made experience-based mistakes. Sometimes, you just have to go through those times and learn from them. A quality team learns from their mistakes and they get better. I feel like we had a quality team but we had to go through those growing pains. The Vanderbilt game was disappointing because we didn't show up. We had lost several games, and I think we were feeling sorry for ourselves, and we just got smacked. That was a good lesson, too. After that, we turned around and that was the beginning of us getting on the right track and becoming the team we are right now.
Q: Is there a sense of comfort in coming back to a place like Penn State where you've been before during the NCAA tournament?
A: I don't know. We have a sports psychologist who travels with us and she could probably answer that better than me. It's hard to read the kids. We're a whole new team, really. I guess I could say no, probably not, because Cassie [Sant] was just saying how much we liked the grilled cheese sandwiches in the locker room. I think when you walk out on the court, it's a new court for our kids and Florida is a new opponent.
Q: This is the fifth consecutive year that Dayton has been in the NCAA tournament. How do you get across to your players that it's more than just getting here? Now, it's about advancing. How do you convey to your players that now it's commonplace for Dayton to make the NCAA tournament?
A: I would hope, and I believe that no one is satisfied with being in the NCAA tournament because that was the expectation. Now, I think it would be disappointing if we don't have at least a chance of getting through this weekend and playing another weekend. That's been the goal of the program. That's the next logical step to take. We'll find out whether we can do that or not, but that's the goal. This is the best seed we've ever had and we want to take advantage of it. It's a tough road because we have great opponents here, and we'll have to play very well to achieve that goal.
NEWS CONFERENCE QUOTES - Dayton
Cassie Sant, Dayton #33, Position: Center
Q: Cassie, you were on the team that was last here. Can you talk about what your memories are of playing here?
A: Yes, I was on the team my freshman year when we played here versus Penn State, and unfortunately we lost that game so the memories aren't very fond, but we're definitely planning on changing that. It's kind of cool that I started my NCAA career here and this is going to be my last. So, finishing it here is going to be awesome.
Ally Malott, Dayton #11, Position: Forward
Q: Talking about the beginning of this year and the rough start you had with the tough schedule that you had. How do you think the team has grown since then and come to the point that it's at now?
A: I think having the tough schedule in the beginning of the year prepares us for right now, the NCAA tournament, for our seeding, and also just so we can play against really high competition. I think we've grown a lot not just our non-conference schedule, but based on played. We are a really young team, and I think it's given a lot of experience and an opportunity to learn from our losses and our wins.
Q: What did you do with the two weeks since your last game? Was there any time off or time to go home and think about non-basketball stuff?
A: We got a few days off, but the NCAA tournament is really important to us. Coach Jabir was nice enough to give us a couple days off, but after that we really got into it and focused in on making sure we're getting better every day at practice, and until we figured out who we were playing, we were really just focusing on ourselves and how we could get better.
Q: Can you all talk about the loss of Kelly Austria at the beginning of the conference season, and how you had to readjust as a team, and what your role has been with the team since her ACL surgery?
A: Obviously Kelly (Austria) is such an instrumental part of our team. Losing your point guard in the middle of the season for any team is tough, but especially losing Kelly, she kind of does everything for us on the court defensively and offensively. I do think Celeste (Edwards) and Tiffany (Johnson) have stepped up big time for us. I know being a freshman point guard coming in your first year can't be easy, and I hope that we helped her out in playing that role. Also, Kelly is working really hard in rehab, she's in there right now. So, she's just being that positive moral support from the bench.
Andrea Hoover, Dayton #24, Position: Guard
Q: What have you specifically been focusing on?
A: Well, we made a lot of mistakes in the Fordham game. So, we just went back and watched a lot of film, and worked on rebounding a lot. We just kind of found it within ourselves to play harder, and our word is relentless, and so we're just working on that. We are just finding our hearts and playing our type of basketball, not really letting other teams dictate what we are doing.
LOCKER ROOM QUOTES - Dayton
Andrea Hoover, Dayton #24, Position: Guard
Q: What has brought you guys so much success this season?
A: I think a lot has to do with our conference schedule. We didn't do very well in it, but it taught us a lot. We learned a lot of lessons. We are a young team, so going through that adversity helped us come along.
Q: What did you learn from the loss at Florida?
A: I think a lot of thing. We cannot pick and choose which games to play hard. We can't play hard then not play hard. We are such a young team, and we have to grow up fast. One of our best players went down with an ACL injury. We have to grow up fast. We can't pick and choose when to play hard and not to play hard. We have to have leaders like myself, Ally (#11) and Cassie (#33) and be accountable for the mistakes
Q: What have you learned from your past NCAA tournament experience that you are using here?
A: I think really enjoying the process. Not a lot of teams get here. It is really hard to get here. I think as this is my third one, it is sort of surreal for me to be here a few times in a row. Also, I am really blessed to have the opportunity to play here makes me not take it for granted. We are going to go out there and work as hard as we can.
Q: What do you know or have you seen about Florida?
A: They are a great team. They have a lot of players who are shooters. They drive then kick out threes. We both like to drive the court. It's going to be a really