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    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    March 22, 2009

    2009 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship
    First Round
    Evansville vs. Texas A&M
    Sunday, March 22, 2009
    Joyce Center o Notre Dame, Ind.

    Texas A&M Postgame Quotes

    Head Coach Gary Blair

    On today's performance...
    "I thought we really came out ready to play, because of the respect that we have for Evansville and what they have already accomplished. I think it's good for the teams on Sunday that were able to watch the teams on Saturday play; particularly the 2-15 line or the 1-16 line. It was funny. There's not a lot of upsets there, but it's how you play the game. A couple of those teams were not ready to play and Cinderella almost won. We wanted to make sure that we kept it simple. Early on, I felt our shot selection was not very good. We were not converting on turnovers. The second half, at halftime, I told them that I want a 15 foot and under team; I want to shoot from under 15. We don't need threes; we need possessions and we need efficiency. They surprised us by playing as much man as they did. They were going to campfire around Gant, but she is very unselfish player and she still found her shot even in transition or getting to the line. Sometimes it is hard to tell a kid not to shoot a ball. Look where are you on the shot clock. If you're on the shot clock and you have 20 seconds to go, then get a better shot. When we put our three amigos together, they're very patient. Tanisha took over the second half in about a 6 minute period. Starks was putting the shot worse in the first period...She's got an upset stomach before the game and after the game, but still she did the things in the second half that allowed me to keep her in there. She played defense and started getting to the free throw line. I'm just proud of this three some and I'm also proud of our bench that allows me to rest people and rotate people in. That's the strength of our basketball team; when we can play ten players like we did and just get after people."

     

     

    On respect for Evansville's resilience...
    "I said earlier that I used yesterday's games as a motivation. Staying up late last night; watching Maris, watching what Gonzaga's women could do, watching what San Diego State could do on the home court. You have to play off of whatever you can get. The coach at Evansville was on the bench when we went down to Rice and Rice kicked our rear down there. They were doing a good job of taking things away early and it was taking us too long to recognize what we wanted to do on the offensive end. We missed a lot of decent shots early. At the same time we were not recognizing the defense. Evansville was a very good ball club. Novosel and Jennings were inside and I thought there post players played every bit as well as mine, particularly on the boards and in driving. Austin is a load in there and she's a good player. She just needs to create a little bit more. I like her game. The coach has three pretty good kids to build a team with right there."

    On today's defensive effort and the team's toughness...
    "Well there's toughness on some of our kids all of the time. Gant is a four letter word and Gant understands that. I looked at her one time during the second half and she was denying a kid out to the circle when I then looked at 5 player who just sitting there letting a girl go. That's just the mentality that she has. I wish I could tell you that she didn't have it before she got to A&M, but she had that. She's just a hard working 5-10 player and she's one of the best in the country. At the next level she'll play outside which she can do...I have to put Gant inside at forward and bring that freshman Elonu along a little bit slower. She started the majority of the season in non-conference and we brought her back. We will not turnover Notre Dame or Minnesota 30 times. The guards are too good. They are every bit as physical as we are. The difference is that we're quicker. Big Ten basketball is about physical kids and there are going to be bodies flying tomorrow. Hopefully the referees will let the players play because I think that's the type of game that you are going to see. They are both very good. If you have gone through the Big East or the Big Ten, you've seen teams that are every bit as good at Texas A&M. But maybe our style is a little bit different."

    On the crowd and the atmosphere...
    "If Notre Dame was not in this thing, I think the crowd would still be here. This is basketball country up here and they appreciate good basketball. They were applauding good plays by both teams and they showed up early to the first game. I think that's a credit to basketball in the Midwest up here. Sometimes I want to take it back and make it contagious to a lot of Texas fans to make them realize that there are other sports besides football. I really like the atmosphere. It's just a well run operation. It's good to get that feeling in here."

    On Takia Starks setting a school record...
    "I wanted to get it out of the way. I would have loved for Gant to have gotten hers, but its just hard to do in a game like that. Starks can play tired; she can play hurt and after a mistake. She won't make the same mistake a second time. When I had all those freshmen in there with her, I wanted TK to balance them out. I wanted her to take us under control while we were trying to teach the young kids just like what Muffet has to do when she plays her bench. She has some freshmen that are very talented, but she needs a Senior to keep them under control."

    Danielle Gant - Sr - G/F

    On being successful down low...
    "In the first half they were collapsing on me a little more and in the second half they didn't collapse on me down enough and coach told them to get the ball into me. He said I either need to score or get the foul and I think I just got the ball inside and scored."

    On knowing about either Minnesota or Notre Dame...
    "We know a little bit about them, but yesterday we just watched film on the team we had to play today. We were just trying to get through this game today. I think tonight we'll look at film and see what we have to face against Tuesday."

    On playing on the road again on Tuesday...
    "We've been in this position before playing on the road. We know Notre Dame has a very great offense, the motion is very good, but we've been in situations like this before. I think the three seniors are going to have to go out there and step up verbally on the court and take over the team on offense and defense."

    On Texas A&M's defense...
    "I think we're constantly moving, the guards are constantly up at the line so the pressure's on the point guard and that's very important for us and I think that's our main goal to get pressure on the point guard so that the post cannot see the ball or the wing entry cannot be passed to the side."

    Tanisha Smith - Jr - G/F

    On the team's defensive mentality...
    "We deny the wings, help side, it's a team defense, there's no 'I' in our defense. Basically we just have to help each other and know to get offensive looks, we have to play defense."

    On playing another road game Tuesday with an expected large crowd...
    "We had plenty of road games this year and if we play our defense, our offense will come. We can't worry about what Notre Dame is going to do, we just have to worry about ourselves."

    Evansville Postgame Quotes

    Head Coach Misty Murphy

    On the overall NCAA experience...
    "I'm extremely proud of my team to make the run to get here in the first place. They're a tremendous group of young women that worked very hard, that believed in what we were trying to accomplish, and have certainly elevated UE women's basketball. I can't be more proud of them for that. A&M's a tremendous ball club- no question. We were outmatched in just about every category and I give them a lot of credit. They dictated what we did out there. It was a great experience for our program, and it gives us something to build on."

    On staying focused...
    "We certainly didn't want to let the greatest thing that's happened to our ball club slip away without being recognized. At the same time, we weren't satisfied with just being here. We wanted to be here and play our best while we were here. Of course, we had a great challenge against us, facing that A&M ball club. They were very focused in practice. It was challenging for our ball club; we're not used to having media around all the time. There were a lot of distractions that a top-20, top-25 program faces day-to-day that were new to our ball club. We struggled a little bit early with just being focused. But after a day or two of that, then that's exactly what they were: focused. They wanted more than anything to give themselves the opportunity to win. That's what they play for."

    On A&M's defense...
    "The first half, we were right there. In the second half, A&M increased that defensive intensity that we knew we were going to face, and credit them- they took us out of our momentum and scored 43 points off of our turnovers. That was the difference of the game- their amazing defensive pressure."

    On staying tenacious...
    "That's one thing that I've loved about our ball club all year long is that they will not lay down. They're going to fight and scratch and claw and do whatever they do. We did have a little run there but it didn't take long for A&M to make a couple of big plays. There's nothing like doing your best to contain a great player and they just elevate over you and make a shot right in your face. There's nothing like sucking the life out of you like that. It was hard for our kids to know at times they were doing their best. We had a couple of good moments, just not quite enough to make a difference."

    On this season being a transition year...
    "I will remember this team forever. This is my first Division I head coaching job, so that's special in itself. But to have five individuals, the seniors that we have, it's their year. They did nothing but embrace our coaching staff from the moment we came in. They jumped on board. There were a lot of adjustments, compared to what they were used to. To their credit, they expected a game plan and they helped us accomplish what we were trying to. With any change, there's obviously growing pains. And those growing pains came in our conference tournament. To their credit, they stuck through it and we put it all together towards the end to make the run to get here. I know their first three years were extremely successful while they were here. But I also know this will be the most memorable part because that's what you hope for is to get to the dance."

    On the lasting impact of the NCAA experience for UE...
    "I think it will certainly help us with recruiting. I think it will make our returning players that much more hungry. They knew what it took to get here, and now that they've been here I'm sure they want to be more successful when they get here. You can expect our returners to stay focused, to work hard, to know that we need to improve to become a better program. Anytime you get that national exposure with recruiting, now when we say "Evansville Aces," people will recognize that and it does nothing but help our university, our athletics department, and everybody."

    Robyn Jenningso Senior - Forward

    On ending her senior season with an NCAA Tournament bid...
    "It's been a great experience. A couple of months ago during our season we would have never thought we would have made it this far to the NCAA Tournament. Winning the conference tournament four games in a row and then getting this experience and getting to be on this floor and seeing all the NCAA things that go on, it's just been amazing. I couldn't ask for anything more."

    Shannon Novoselo Senior - Center

    On Texas A & M's defense...
    "They were so quick, and it was easy for them to get into the passing lanes. It is obviously very difficult to run an offense when you can't make a pass. The full court [pressure] was difficult. They kept up with us speed-wise, so it was very difficult to get our transition going because they did a great job of shutting us down."

    On ending her senior season with an NCAA Tournament bid...
    "It was a great way to end our senior season. It was icing on the cake for the four years where it just all paid off. It doesn't get any sweeter than this. These are the best 64 teams in the country, and to be included in that is a pretty nice honor."

    On being at the same NCAA Tournament site as her sister, Natalie Novosel, of Notre Dame...
    "It's pretty neat. When I saw Notre Dame's name flash up before us in the selection show a big rush of happiness came over me. I'm excited to be able to watch her play next game. To be a part of her first tournament and she's part of my first tournament, it couldn't have ended better."

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