Second Round · Maryland vs. Texas
Comcast Center · College Park, Md.
Monday, March 24
PREGAME PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES – Maryland
Brenda Frese, Maryland Head Coach:
“Obviously we are thrilled to be moving on. We’re going to have our hands full tomorrow night when you’re talking about playing against a very good Texas team. They’re big, they’re strong and really, really deep. They go about 10 players deep so they have the depth to be able to come in and wear teams out.
“They are extremely up-tempo and obviously they rebound extremely hard so it’s going to take a tremendous team effort. Obviously, our bigs are going to be key as far as defending their bigs and the depth that they have. But all around, in terms of our guard play and really playing great Maryland team defense.
“Karen Aston has done a tremendous job turning things around at Texas. I can’t say enough in terms of when you talk about Texas and in the past having players leave for the powerhouses like UConn and Tennessee, and now Karen has done a tremendous job when you look at the roster and being able to keep the best talent home. You can definitely see where their program has turned and just what a tremendous job she’s done with that team.
“We’re excited and ready to get started for tomorrow.”
On trying to force Texas turnovers:
“That would be key, to be able to play great Maryland defense. You saw from our end us being able to run. I’m sure Texas will try to combat that in some way. We love to be able to get out and be able to transition.”
On how much they have watched Texas:
“First and foremost our staff does a tremendous job. We have a staff that is working behind the scenes. They are all assigned different opponents, when we led up into last week’s practice we had a snapshot of every team moving forward. I am a coach that prepares. I have great confidence in our team. I spend as much time preparing on our present opponent as well as who could possibly be our future opponents. I was fully prepared and ready for the second round.”
On what they learned about Texas from yesterday’s game:
“I think it continues to reinforce how much [Karen Aston] uses her bench. I know they were thrown into a lot of foul trouble yesterday. She was able to go to their bench. It is kind of two teams that mirror each other when it comes to depth that both teams have. When you get into some foul trouble you are able to go to your bench. That is a luxury that we have been able to have this season as well.”
On who Texas reminds her of:
“The first team would be [North] Carolina, or Duke. I feel like our conference prepares us for these battles come tournament time. Notre Dame, we have had great battles when it comes to games that we have faced in our nonconference, UConn, onto the conference season to help us. But they [Texas] are big. They are really big. They have tremendous size inside. We have to be able to do some things to combat that.”
On starting fast against Texas:
"When you are in tournament both teams are coming with their best shot early. When you talk about the intensity, its not like you are playing a non-conference opponent that you can sometimes get those spreads easily. It takes time throughout the course of the game. I am not so much concerned about that as us just playing our best basketball. Not being in foul trouble. Being able to put our best lineup on the floor, our strongest lineup to play a great 40-minute game."
Alicia DeVaughn, Maryland Center
On the emotions of playing her final game at Comcast Center:
“Just a little bit with this being the last home game. You just don’t want to get those emotions mixed up, you want to stay focused, and you want to win this game. You just can’t worry about that right now.”
On combating Texas' size inside:
"You just got to battle on the inside. They are a big, huge team compared to us. We just can't fall mentally for that. We've just got to come out and play and be physical."
Alyssa Thomas, Maryland Forward
On playing her final game at Comcast Center
“You have to stay focused. You can’t let the emotions get to you. You have to come out and play basketball.”
Lexie Brown, Maryland Guard
On sending the seniors out with a win in their final home game:
"That's a huge part about this. You want to send them out the right way. Of course, if we lose we are all done. But we don't want to send the seniors out with an L or an L on their home court. It's really important for us to win as a team, but it’s even more important for us to win for the seniors."
On hitting outside shots in order to open things up inside:
"Any game our outside shooting is so important. They are big, but their big girl doesn't really leave the paint. Our outside shooting isn't going to have her come out. We still have to get our bigs involved. Our goal is pretty much to get Imani [McGee-Stafford] in foul trouble. But our 3-ball is going to be so important because if they are worried about us then we can get the ball inside and pound it in there and get her out of the game.
Karen Aston, Texas Head Coach:
“Good morning everyone. I’m excited for our basketball team and the opportunity that we have tomorrow. I’m happy that we’ve reached this round. Reflecting back on yesterday, you look back at this team and definitely think that we’re in the growing process with our program. I look at the first half and think that some of it, just looking back at the way we’ve played, may have been some first game jitters. I feel very fortunate that we won against a good Penn team. I like our resiliency and when you look at this basketball team, that’s where we’ve grown so much. We got down and in the past we may have really checked out. This team has been fairly resilient all year and I’m really pleased with how we finished the game. Looking forward to Maryland, obviously a very tough assignment for our team on their home court. They’re a physically opposing team we are going to have to be prepared mentally and physically. I think they challenge teams in so many areas but I do think we have some similarities with some teams in our league that we can reflect back on and say, ‘This is how we’re going to have to defend and play against them.’ So it should be a fun game.”
On first game jitters:
“Well we can’t have any jitters in this round, there’s no question about that. Again, no disrespect to Penn because I really think they are a good team. We will have to play from the tip. We can’t have six or seven minutes of a scoring drought and have possessions where we don’t feel like rebounding or getting back on defense. This is a possession game against a team like Maryland. Again, we’ve played teams like them in our league. Every game is a possession game in the Big 12 and we understand that.”
On playing on neutral sites:
“Well first of all, I don’t think we are at the place of having neutral sites in the first and second rounds. I think women’s basketball has its own unique opportunities. Part of that is playing on home sites in the first rounds. I think we are in the process of still learning about our game. It is evolving. I think we’ve tried that and are solid in our thought process that we need to stay at home sites in first rounds. Maryland is fortunate enough to have had a great year and earn the position that they’re in. This is not much different from our team going to Iowa State, Oklahoma or Baylor. So that’s how we have to approach it from a mental standpoint. I do think that the home sites right now is what’s best for the women’s game.”
On scouting Maryland/comparing Alyssa Thomas:
“Once Maryland got ahead [against Army], they became very comfortable yesterday. Anytime you find a team that is on their home court and gets comfortable with the flow of their offense, their shooting is really good. There are some similarities between our teams. When we get in a flow, and our confidence is up, we also shoot really well; sometimes uncharacteristically well from the perimeter. Everyone starts getting involved and I see Maryland like that. I think they’re really streaky and those are one of the things defensively we have to be careful about. We might look at numbers and say ‘this person can’t shoot’ then all the sudden, they hit a couple of them then you forget the statistics. Our team is very similar to that. When talking about comparisons in the Big 12, I don’t think there is anyone in the country that is similar to Alyssa Thomas. She is a phenomenal basketball player and it’s all because of her competitive spirit. A lot of players can score. We played some of the most remarkable scorers that I’ve ever seen. Beginning with Odyssey Sims, she is a remarkable scorer, but the intangibles add some special things to Thomas. Her rebounding ability and the fact that she can begin to break off of the backboard is really special because she has her teammates that can get out on transition. So we’ve played a couple of players that we can reflect back on. Oklahoma has a player that I wouldn’t say is close, but has some similarities and tendencies.”
On depth similarity of both teams:
“We can reflect back on West Virginia and Baylor in particular in terms of teams that we’ve played that have a lot of depth, and a lot of athleticism that can keep coming at you. I think the depth allows for a team to not be so wrapped up in foul trouble. I think that in the last couple games we have had some players emerge to give us a feeling that no matter who is in the game we are still solid. I would really mention the freshmen; it’s like a light has been turned on for some of them and that has really helped our team. The ones that have gotten a bulk of the minutes in the season don’t have to feel like they can’t get in foul trouble or make a mistake; it allows for our team to play a little freer.”
On overcoming turnovers:
“We can’t turn the ball over at a high rate, that’s the bottom line. We talked about this in our film session today, they [Maryland] are so good out in transition. You can try to battle with them on the boards and try to not let them have every rebound but the other piece to that is what they create off of turnovers. We are just going to really need to take care of the basketball which has been a challenge for this team. We can’t let them get in a track meet with us, they really feed off of transition.”
Imani McGee-Stafford, Texas Center
On her personal game evolution:
“I have been blessed with a great coaching staff that push me every day in practice. I’m a much more physical player than I was in high school.”
On Maryland’s goal to get her into foul trouble:
“Well I’m flattered that I’m a target but I’m not really sure that I’m the only person that they should be worried about. A lot of teams have said that. So just like coach said, we are a similar team so we are just going to have to battle and it’s going to be a game of wills. But with Maryland’s goal being said, I’m going to try not to get into foul trouble tomorrow and I would hope that they are worried about more than me because we have a lot of player that can do a lot of things.”
On being self-motivated:
“I think earlier in the year I was out of shape and struggling with my role on the team, especially coming off the season I had last year. Now I know what my role is, I know what I have to do every day. Just as Chassidy [Fussell] said, we are playing for each other and I don’t want her to go out with a loss at the end of her senior year. We are playing for all of our seniors and every day we have to come in and play for each other and that is what I’m motived by.”
On the future of the Texas program:
“As much as I want to focus on the future, I’m really just trying to focus on tomorrow. Hopefully this is just a starting point for this program. But as of right now, I’m not thinking about next season because this season is still here.”
On her hair style:
“Last season I was known for having a big afro. In the summer I cut it off and since then I change my hair color like every month. So if we make it out of this round I’ll probably have a different hair color for the Sweet 16. I never described it as tropical blaze. I’m so Longhorn, my hair matches.”
Chassidy Fussell, Texas Guard
On getting her first NCAA tournament win:
“It was really just a great feeling knowing my team has my back. Imani [McGee-Stafford] told me she had my back after the West Virginia game and that she wasn’t going to let me lose again.”
On playing in a hostile environment on the road:
“I think we learned that we just have to stick together through everything. We are going against the team and the fans that are yelling at us; we just have to communicate and stick together.”