March 16, 2012
NCAA First Round Pregame Quotes
Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese
"We are excited to get started now that we know our opponent is Navy. After having some time to watch film I see Coach Pemper does a great job with her team. They are a tremendous three-point shooting team and have an inside presence with Jade Geif. They are an inside-outside team that we have to be prepared for. I want to complement Navy because after these young ladies are done playing basketball they are going to serve our country. I have the upmost respect for them, their team and their program. We are excited to host them here at Comcast and we are ready to play."
On Navy playing a potential different style of basketball:
"We have a game plan for that. You have to do something different when it comes to playing different conferences. We fully expect that out of Navy. As a coaching staff, we have prepared our team and we are expecting anything and everything. We are expecting our players to be ready and prepared for it."
On preparing for Navy:
"We have seen different things throughout the season with our out of conference slate. Our conference prepares us as well. Talking about Navy, they can go four out and everyone on the court can shoot the three. That is unusual from our end because it is a different kind of team. Both teams have to prepare differently for this game."
On the team's health:
"It is tremendous. I told my staff about a month ago that in women's basketball whoever is the healthiest without injury has the best shot in terms of going the distance. We have been healthy relatively all season. We have 12 strong with our roster and that is big. To have that continuity and not have to juggle different lineups has really helped our team."
On Jade Geif:
On scheduling Navy:
"I think typically what you see when you are undersized is you have to outsmart defenders. She has all of the pivots and post moves to do that. She can hit runners and try to get you into foul trouble. She is a tremendous post and energy player for them. She gives them a very solid post presence inside."
"We've tried to schedule Navy and it hasn't worked out, so we are thrilled to play them since we are so close. I'm glad we now have that opportunity."
On the team's excitement:
"I know our team understands the excitement that comes with this time of year. If you just watch the men's bracket you can see it. It shows you can't take anything for granted. We have a lot of respect for Navy, so we have to come out and be ready to play for 40 minutes."
On Navy's defense:
"I think they'll mix up their style of play. It's a sagging type of man, so I think they're going to make us really work for a good shot and step up and shoot the ball with confidence. I also think they will have some wrinkles in terms of what they're doing."
On Navy's possible defense switch:
"We have talked about [them possibly switching from man-to-man defense to zone] and I think they could mix it up in a lot of ways. I think you go with your strength on defense. After you see in the game what is successful and not successful, then you dictate your game plan within the game. I'm sure they are prepared for everything."
On Navy's tempo:
"I think it's imposing your will into the two teams. We're an up-tempo team and we want to get up and down while they want to slow it down and get you to buy into the way they want to play. It's two different styles and you're trying to win out in terms of imposing your will and letting your style be the way to play the game."
On the team's depth:
"What has been to our advantage all season long is our depth and how versatile we are. We can go in a lot of different directions. You want to go to what's your strength and what's your advantage and what has been our strength and advantage all season long has been our depth."
Senior center Lynetta Kizer
On last season's loss to Georgetown in the second round:
"I think our locker room doesn't want to feel that again. That is in the back of our minds and pushes us further. At this point in the season our freshmen from last year are sophomores now. We just want to go out and be ready to go and I think we will be."
On Jade Geif:
"Like Coach [Frese] said, she has the ability to get you off of the ground. It is something that we have been going over in practice. At this point it is just attention to detail. We have to know that we are prepared. Our coaches have prepared us. I know our bigs are just as prepared as our guards. We just have to go out and pay attention to detail"
On the pressure:
"Coming off an ACC Championship, I'm excited and ready to go out and make a strong run in the tournament. I think we're all ready. We've had a couple days off and the practices have been great, so I know we're all excited and just want to get back on the court together."
On what's different about this tournament:
"It's definitely different from the first three years because this is my last time around. I'm just happy to get back in the tournament and have the opportunity to play in front of our home crowd these first two rounds. I think the girls who will play the hardest are the three seniors and they are going to continue to play the hardest as we go through this tournament. As long as everyone stays focused it is going to be a lot of fun. I know me, Anjale [Barrett] and Kim [Rodgers] are excited for this last round."
On the senior's mindset:
"We know what's at stake, especially with the talent in our locker room. The way everyone bought into the system the coaches laid out for us will make it fun to go out there and experience this tournament with these girls, especially with the experience last year."
Sophomore forward Alyssa Thomas
On if this has been the team's goal all season:
"It is everyone's goal to be in the NCAA Tournament. I think we have focused more on what is happening right now rather than what is ahead. We have been focused on our season, our conference and winning the ACC Tournament up until now."
On Navy slowing the pace:
"We have had games where teams have tried to slow down the pace of the game and we have just been poised on our offense in terms of executing."
Sophomore Guard Laurin Mincy
On the pressure of the NCAA Tournament:
"I don't think we will have any problem with us being nervous. I think we are all ready to play and when we run out onto the court we will be ready to go."
United States Naval Academy
Head Coach Stefanie Pemper
"Thank you all for being here. We are excited to be playing in the NCAA Tournament after a terrific season including a second consecutive Patriot League championship. We are excited to play the University of Maryland, a terrific program that is right down the road. They are coming off a great ACC Tournament championship themselves. We are looking forward to a great game tomorrow and to see how well we can compete. This will be the most challenging team we have played all year. It will be a tough test for us but we are looking forward to the opportunity."
On the challenge playing Maryland on it's home court:
"We needed to win a few more games to get a better seed. Last year we played the third best team in the Big East, DePaul, as a fourteen seed. Just one different seed made a difference. Maryland had a very strong season and capped it off with a tournament championship, so it is very different. But with 18 wins and some tough losses this is where we are. That being said, I don't know if we would make it here without some of those tough losses and growing from them and improving. I am very happy with the season that we had. These players are very deserving of the attention and playing on this stage. It is always an honor to play one of the best teams on the country. Obviously they are playing in front of their fans and that may be motivation and a comfort zone for them. It is amazing what one seed can do."
"It is a balance of getting your own team ready and getting them ready for the opponent as well. This being the best team we have played all year, I don't think that we could just go status quo this week. We worked on some different things, which takes time. The scouting report on Maryland can be a little briefer than other teams. It's not like this kid can only go left or this team can only shoot the three. They are all versatile, they can shoot and drive and they can go left and right. I am not sure how much film you have to show of that. We have been trying to find the balance with familiarizing ourselves with them and what they look like since we have never played them. We are also working on some new stuff for us. This experience has the potential to help us next year. We have four sophomores in our starting lineup as well as one coming off of the bench. It is a very neat time, and if we weren't here we wouldn't be having that experience. We are putting some things in that we wouldn't otherwise be doing. It is exciting to see how we execute the game plan tomorrow."
On her pre-game speech:
"I have thought about it everyday this week. To some degree I have probably incorporated some of what I'm thinking in practice every day. We will see. I think practice is important and I'm looking forward to it. For our team, I'm hoping this is our best practice of the week. I hope our team is even further to where they want them to be tomorrow. My remarks tomorrow are even going to be impacted even just by today. So no, I don't have anything ready to go. It's going to be more just how I feel at the time. I'm just really looking forward to today's practice and being at the venue for them to be on the game court. There are so many emotions obviously in a game like this for us, so I think just being on the court will allow some of that to come out and for us to all move forward and be better prepared for the game tomorrow."
On switching from man-to-man to zone:
"Without going too much into game plan, yes. I am thinking of everything, so don't be surprised if you see something you've never seen tomorrow. We're thinking of everything."
Sophomore Forward Jade Geif
On the challenge of playing Maryland:
"We did watch some film and we all noticed that they are very tall and athletic. Coach [Pemper] talked about getting our shots off quicker than we normally have to because of their athleticism. I think we can do that and have been practicing that. It is going to be harder to get the inside game that we have been, but I think we will be able to get it in and see what we can do. We will kick it out like we always do and play based off of how they are playing us."
Senior Guard Erin Edwards
On how beating Lehigh compares to playing Maryland:
"The game against Lehigh for us was a game where we all contributed. It was a real team effort, so I think that is the main thing that we take away from that game. We have a bad record playing Lehigh at Lehigh, so that was a big thing to overcome. I think it's moments like that that will contribute to the next game. I don't know how much it will compare to playing Maryland, at Maryland and in the NCAA Tournament, but it will contribute a little at least."
On her Navy assignment:
"I found out in October. I want to be a pilot, so I was thrilled. I was very worried I was going to open my envelope and see something completely different, but I was happy to see wings on the envelope. I look forward to going to flight school in August.
On how her post-school plans:
"When you go to an academy everyone at the school is going to have an opportunity to serve their country in a different way. Being a basketball player you have a lot of different experiences in general and you know your team well so you get to experience leadership in a close setting. So for me to be able to take that with me to a service like Navy is just great and is something that I look forward to and am super excited about. I suppose any other athlete who gets to go on with their career would feel the same way."
Sophomore Forward Audrey Bauer
On offensive changes:
"In practice this week we have been putting in new things on offense. We have been really focusing on putting up shots and not just putting them up but putting them in. So, we have been trying to shorten the game, change some things on offense and make some baskets."
University of Louisville
Head Coach Jeff Walz
"I want to start off and say we are excited with the opportunity to play. Being able to extend your season and play in the NCAA Tournament is what every player and coach dreams of. Now we have to make sure we are ready to play tomorrow against a very good Michigan State team."
On returning to Maryland:
"This is my first time playing here. I think I have been back when they held a tournament to recruit. I spend five years here. It is still just a basketball arena though. We spend a lot of time going from one gym to the next. I have a lot of fond memories from the success that we had here. When it comes down to playing a basketball game, the floors are the same length and the rims are the same height. I am excited to be back playing."
On injury problems:
"We lost Tia Gibbs during the first game of the year and Monique Reid midway through December. But I have been really pleased with the players we have. We are down to ten but it's a talented ten. They have bonded together and have worked extremely hard. It is fun to watch them. They are great to coach. They work for me. You can tell that they enjoy playing the game together. That's what it is all about right now. We are going to have to use all of our strengths as a team to advance in this tournament."
On Asia Taylor's high school injury:
"She's done a great job. It was a serious injury that broke her ankle and tore every ligament in it. There was about 8 months where she was out. She really lost a year. She came in as a freshman and was cleared Oct. 15 or 16 to start doing full court basketball play. She actually missed most of her senior year and missed all of her senior summer, but came in and has done a great job. I'm really impressed with the work she has been able to do on the basketball court and the results are showing right now."
On what to expect from Michigan State:
"We're going to have our hands full. They are a very talented team. Suzie does a great job with them, they defend extremely well, they have a very talented post player and their guard play is strong. It's going to be a challenge, but it's one I know our players are excited to get back out and play. You get tired of practicing against each other so I know we will mix up our preparation today and then tomorrow they will finally get the chance to go out and play."
On being at a school with success in men's and women's basketball:
"Rick [Pitino] has been great to me. I got a text from him this morning wishing us luck tomorrow. The men's team supports our program and we go down and support theirs. I'm very fortunate to work at a place where the men and women's basketball teams can get along as well as we do as coaches. When Rick goes out and speaks he always tries to help us with our season ticket sales. That's one of the reasons we are at 1,150 in attendance. It's something we are very proud of to have the support of our men's team that we have and Rick [Patino] knows we're very supportive of his program. Our entire team was watching their game yesterday and we'll watch them again tomorrow. It's a great place to work. All of our coaches, not just basketball but softball and volleyball too, are very supportive of each other."
On the possibility of playing Maryland:
"We have played [Maryland] in the Elite 8 game and of course you're always trying to advance to the next game, but now we're talking about a game to get the Sweet 16 instead of the Final Four, so we'll worry about that when the time comes. It is one that would be fun to play, but we have a very talented Michigan State team that we have to worry about first and if we can get past them then we'll start preparing to play Maryland.."
Junior Forward Asia Taylor
On her ankle injury in high school:
"My senior year of high school, February 2, 2009, I broke my ankle and tore some ligaments around that. I have had two surgeries on it. I called my coaches and told them about it and they told me everything would be fine. I have been working with our trainer and it has gotten better. I am more confident on it now."
"I was coming up the sideline and a girl pushed me out of bounds. I tried to stay in bounds and I fell and my ankle fell underneath me and my ankle broke. A lot went through my mind when it happened. I didn't even know if I would be able to play at first because it was bad. My coaches reassured me that it would be alright and that made me feel better."
Senior Guard Becky Burke
On advice to the younger players:
"We just have to take it one game at a time. You can't take anyone's seed too far into consideration at this point. It doesn't matter the number next to a team's name. You have to take it one game at a time. We just have to survive and advance."
Sophomore Guard Shoni Schimmel
On what to expect from Michigan State:
"We're just excited to get back out there and play. For the most part we know that they're big and that a couple of them shoot the ball, but they're all drivers. We're just ready to play."
Michigan State University
Coach Suzy Merchant
"We are excited to be here. I think this is what you play your season for. I feel good about our team. We have been playing some pretty good basketball and I look forward to the challenge of Louisville ahead."
On Louisville's play:
"I think they have tremendous guard play, there is no question about that. I think it starts with Shoni Schimmel. She is just a fantastic guard. Not only can she score, but she can also create for those around her. I think she really is a tremendous catalyst. They have a slasher and a shooter in [Becky] Burke. Their inside play also does a very good job. They are long, mean and athletic, so they can do a lot of different things. I have been very impressed by how they have faired through the Big East."
On what happened during their losing stretch:
"We were struggling to put the ball in the basket. We went through a phase where we were getting open looks, but we weren't putting them down. I think we were just struggling to score and then we adjusted some things. We played some good teams as well, which is obviously challenging, and some of those games were on the road as well so that was hard. I feel good. I think we made some adjustments. Porshe' started to emerge in the Illinois game as someone who is our go-to guy. She was not only creating for herself, but for other people. That opened some things up as we moved Taylor [Alton] from the three to the two and inserted Porshe' into the starting lineup. I think that has helped us defensively to start really guarding people on the perimeter. It's put Taylor in a different position, so she can now play the four and the three as a shooter, which is a little bit of a challenge for defenses to know who is going to check her. It has created some more offensive opportunities for us since that time."
On meeting with the team:
"I think there are always team meetings. We have had meetings, they (the players) have had meetings and sometimes they have met with me. It's one of those things that you want to get to a better place. I don't think it is anything except we weren't putting the ball into the basket. We played Ohio State during that time and it was our first loss in the league. That was the first time we really struggled and we lost our confidence. Really good things can happen but when you question and doubt yourself it can go the other way. To their credit they put their nose to the grindstone and really got after it on the other end of the floor.'
On if they made any changes since their last game:
"I think there are always things you can do. With some teams you may throw in different sets and things people haven't seen. But you shouldn't stray too far from the ship that got you here either. I don't think you change your style of play a whole lot but maybe you change some things offensively. We have a different situation than some other teams. Maybe the ACC is in the same situation but we had a 10 or 12 day window where we didn't even know who we were going to play. In those ten days we had a chance to look at ourselves and sure some things up. Wither it was ball screen defense or some offensive execution and really just focus on your team. Maybe that wasn't so refreshing for those girls sitting over there but it was really refreshing as a coach to just worry about yourself for a while. That was a fun opportunity for us. I think we made some individual improvements and some team improvements. Hopefully we carry those onto the floor on Saturday."
On their defense:
"That is certainly something that we have been proud of at Michigan State. When you look at the past and this year we have always been at the top of the Big 10 in defensive categories and rebounding. We might not be the biggest team out there but I think our kids are fighters and physical. They have an expectation to do that. I think everyone of them knows that. I think in that time we had to work on ourselves we fixed some things up. I think we are a team that can morph itself into the team we are playing. We can make adjustments on the fly wither it is ball screens we can do some things differently if we have to. I do like our versatility, defensively we can go really big or we can get long and athletic and play more guards. I think our defense is based off of what we have been able to accomplish in the Big 10 but equally how we have adjust. We have a group of kids who can do that."
On going on a losing streak:
"The last loss was in overtime and it could have gone either way. We weren't in the depths of despair. We really came together as a group. We were fighting and scrapping and different people stepped up as a group. All three of these girls are seniors and I have said it all along in any sport as your seniors go so goes your team. I think these three [Porsche' Poole, Lykendra Johnson, Taylor Alton] really stepped up to the challenges that were in front of them. Those were some tough games down the stretch and we really had to put ourselves in a situation to be successful. I credit them because it wasn't a lot of difference in what we were doing but rather how we were doing it. That is the part where success comes from. You can have a game plan but you have to execute it. You have to be able to do it at a high energy level. I credit the three of them for putting us where we are now."
Senior Guard Taylor Alton
On approaching the tournament:
"The NCAA [Tournament] has obviously been our goal since day one. Not just getting here, but making a strong run. For [the seniors] this is obviously our last time in a Spartan uniform so we are just here to do everything we can to put us in the best position to win. Of course we want to do the best we can and leave it all out there on the floor so that's definitely the goal."
On switching positions:
"I think my perspective is that whatever this team needs I will do. Being at the four defensively it is more banging and physical which I love. But I can also defend the perimeter. That is what we needed and I am willing to do that for this team. That's my role and I will go wherever I am needed."
Senior Guard Porsche' Poole
On her improvements:
"It started in the off season. That's basically the most important time in your career, especially the summer, because you have so much time on your hands. I try to spend that in the gym as much as possible."
On advice to younger players:
"I think it starts with the seniors. Akyah [Taylor] is a freshman and has never been here before. If she gets rattled or down it is our job to lift her up, let her know she has been doing this all season and we have her back.
Senior Forward Lykendra Johnson
On receiving a low seed:
"In the field there are pretty good teams. Some of them deserve the seeds and others may not. We got the seed and we only cared who our next opponent was. It doesn't affect our game and we have to prove to people that we are a good team."