Quotes following Maryland 74-49 win over Michigan State

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March 25, 2013

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Brenda Frese, Maryland Coach:

Opening statement:

“We’re excited to win and advance to the Sweet 16. Like I told the team in the locker room, I thought, start to finish, probably one of our best games we’ve played all season long. When you talk about how we were able to defend and rebound, and obviously push tempo, just from start to finish I thought we set the tone of being aggressive. I know all tournament long they talk about the three players to see. Maybe at some point there’ll be four to see, and people will start talking about what Alyssa Thomas has done. To be able to allow her versatility and really help up I thought in the first half when we were a little bit stagnant. I thought she really set the tone, and like we do, I thought we really fed off of her. Tianna [Hawkins] was dominating and being aggressive and Katie [Rutan] was stepping up and shooting the ball and defending. We played tremendous team basketball tonight.”

On forward Alyssa Thomas:

“We were talking about it as a staff, just talking about how dominating she’s been here in postseason play. I think it speaks volumes to Alyssa. The bigger the game, the bigger the stage and the moment, she just rises to the occasion. I’ve said this before: the most competitive player I’ve ever coached. You see her will our team into her mindset, and you continue to see that time and time again. With out limited numbers this year and what we’ve asked her to do, she continues to rise to the occasion and do even more for us.”

On the team’s play:

“I thought our guards did a tremendous job in terms of keeping their athleticism in front of them with the quickness that Michigan State had. That was an area that was important. I thought our bigs did a heck of a job. There was a lot of physicality inside and really having to protect our guards with their attack mentality. Great team defense. You could see the energy there tonight, what we were playing for. It was a solid 40-minute effort.”

On playing No. 1 Connecticut:

“[The last time the teams played] it was a game where it was early, it was in the nonconference. Both team, I think, are a lot different now than they were then. I think we’re thinner in terms of our depth compared to where they’re at. We have to go in like we did with the mindset, with great confidence [in] a 40-minute game. We have to be better. We didn’t come out with the win the first time. There’s a lot of things we have to do against the numerous All-Americans they have on their roster.”

On forward Tianna Hawkins:

“Tianna is the type of player, when you talk about a coach’s dream. Four years to see what it should look like for a student-athlete. The development, the progression; seeing her grow into this mature young woman that is going to go out and tackle whatever she chooses to do and be extremely successful. I couldn’t be more proud of what Tianna has accomplished. She’s left her mark and her legacy — it’s not finished yet —in this program. When you can come into a program and make it better by the time you leave, you have definitely made an impact."

Junior Forward Alyssa Thomas

On shooting three pointers:

“I was just feeling confidence and they were stepping back. Everything was going in for me so I just started shooting threes.”

On why the team was so successful in transition:

“A lot of people talk about how they’re going to stop our transition, but once they get out there they realize how hard it really is to stop us. Once we get going, there’s no stopping our transition.”

On if she remembers another time shooting this well:

“I joke with coach [Frese] that it’s the Wilson balls. It’s tournament time and you don’t wan to go home, so you just have to bring your best game every night.”

On how important it was to get off to a hot start:

“We thought it was really important to throw the knockout punch early and take their confidence. I feel like we really did that. They got down on themselves early, and we just capitalized on that.

Senior Forward Tianna Hawkins 

On what playing at the Comcast Center has meant to her:

“Just being here has meant a lot. I came here and built great relationships with my coaches and also my teammates. I will never forget Comcast and the stories that are left here, but I’m really looking forward to what’s next.”

Junior Guard Katie Rutan

On shooting the three pointer:

“They really focused on our inside game, and Alyssa was driving so that opened up opportunities for Chloe and me especially. I guess she wants to take some too, but it’s great to have an inside out game. I thought our guards really stepped up to help the bigs open inside.”

On what’s it like to play with Alyssa when she’s having a big game:

“I mean we all spread the floor. Alyssa is great at creating for herself, but she’s also great at creating for others. When she’s creating for herself we’re going to have to space out. When they collapse she’s always going to find the open person. She’s a great scorer, but she’s also a great facilitator.” 

Suzy Merchant, Michigan State Head Coach:

Opening Statement:

“Obviously, we’re disappointed. We didn’t play the way we’ve been playing up until this point. I really just feel bad for our group. It’s not an easy way to lose. We just didn’t play the way we’ve been playing. It’s disappointing, but give Maryland a lot of credit. Alyssa Thomas was impossible for us to stop at any point and they just steamrolled from there. I feel bad for this group because they’ve endured so much and I’m really proud of this team. We just didn’t have it today.” 

On Klarissa Bell:

“Klarrisa’s going on about four games not [of not scoring]. Against Penn State and Purdue, I don’t think she made a basket, and then she made one basket against Marist and nothing tonight. I don’t understand it, it’s the same offense. I felt like she was intimidated tonight by Alyssa Thomas guarding her for sure, you could just see it. She didn’t process things I felt like she was very nervous about the speed and athleticism guarding her. For four games her offense went away. I wish I knew, because we could’ve used it.”

On how the team competed:

“That’s probably what was so disappointing, because that was just not the competitive team we’ve had. We were just whipped. Mentally, we were tired and just not that attacking team we’ve been. That part was disappointing. We were better than what we showed tonight.”

On Maryland’s end of shot clock makes:

“That was deflating. A couple offensive rebounds or late clock fouls it was deflating. It just seemed like we just couldn’t get over the hump. Even little things like tie-ups late in the game. It was disappointing.”

On whether their lack of depth caught up to them:

“For us, we started the season with basically five scholarship kids. Annalise Pickral was the fifth, but she could only play 20 minutes and couldn’t rebound or go for loose balls. That was a starter. I mean to see where this group is at is inspiring. That’s why I’m emotional for this group because I’m just so proud of them. I really am. I’m disappointed about how it ended for this group because we’re a better team than we showed. I know they know that, I know Brenda [Frese] knows that, but unfortunately everybody out there didn’t see that tonight. I’m sad today, probably more than for any team I’ve ever played. I wish it had ended better.”

Sophomore Forward Becca Mills

On Alyssa Thomas:

“A lot of it was similar to what we saw on film. A lot of the clips were of her scoring. I think we haven’t seen that many in a row in a game on film. She came right at us and we couldn’t find a way to stop her.”

On the Terps rebounding:

“It was a lot like Penn State in our league with the big girls, and we have gone against them. I think they just go at it a little quicker and have maneuvers to go around us. You have to box them out a couple of times and move with them. For a lot of us we focused more on boxing out and not rebounding as bigs, and having the guards go in and rebound. I know that was one of our main focuses.”

On building off this game:

“When you look at who we lost this year it was a lot of our big players, with Madison Williams, Brandy [Branndais] Agee, and Aerial Powers. Those of us who were more role players in the past really stepped up became and played a lot of minutes. Next year when we get them back in the mix we will be even stronger. The people who played through it this year are tougher and we know what we have to do to win games down the stretch. It will help us for next year.”

Junior Forward Annalise Pickrel

On the team’s difficulty scoring:

“It can be discouraging, especially down the stretch. I think that we are a team that doesn’t pay attention to the shot clock. In shot clock situations I think we handle them pretty well. Down the stretch it can get mentally draining.”

On the lack of free throws:

“I think we have seen a lot of games like that before. Our game plan was to get to the free throw line a lot, and we didn’t do that. I think we did an okay job attacking. I think we were looking for fouls and not finishing first. That played a role in it.”

On cutting the gap in the second half:

“I think we picked up some momentum and it started with our defensive stops. We had trouble with this before, cutting gaps and letting it slip back out. I don’t think we did a very good job of that tonight. There was a couple of momentum shifts though.”