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    FIGHTING IRISH

    March 24, 2009

    Texas A&M Quotes

    Head Coach Gary Blair

    Opening statement...
    "Minnesota extended a lot of energy Sunday beating Notre Dame and I think that had a lot to do with their play. But we were able to run the ball, keep it in transition, we made a little bit more turnovers than we want, but those were hustle turnovers. I don't mind those when you throw them away on a break. We played well. The jump shots were off early. [Tanisha] Smith starts with three in a row and all of the sudden we hadn't even gone inside to [Danielle] Gant yet. I think they were so worried about her that it opened it up for everybody else. I've got those three [Gant, Smith, Starks] that know when to share the spotlight. When it's their time, they're going to get their shots. But they never, never over shoot. When we have three amigos like that, you can do a whole lot. I had the luxury of having two very, very good point guards."

    On defending Minnesota's (Katie) Ohm...
    "That's a stat that we take a lot of pride in. We're fourth in the nation in not allowing 3-pointers. When you extend the defense as far as we extend it, you're not going to have a whole lot open looks unless you penetrate and have kicks or shoot 3's off of transition. We put a lot of emphasis on guarding [Katie] Ohm and what we were going to do with her and I think she made 1-3 and other than that she just didn't have the looks and we were playing pretty good defense and getting out on her."

    On all the upsets in the women's NCAA tournament thus far...
    "This is what's good for the game. This is what's good for kids in recruiting, looking to realize that there's other great programs in the country and building programs. Look at the coach at Ball State, just tremendous. She may not have a lot of WNBA players, but she's got a win over Tennessee that the rest of us don't have in the play-offs. And you can build off of that and I really believe that parity is coming in the game of women's basketball. Connecticut and Tennessee, they're the idols for all of us coaches and what they've done. We need to have other people step-up and its going to be hard to do because those two are two of the greatest coaches that have been in the women's game. But more and more kids need to go and establish their own identity. You may even have some more upsets tonight. The Big 12 has played very well in the tournament so far, so has the Big Ten."

     

     

    On Danielle Gant's play...
    "Wasn't that the quietest 20 points you've ever seen out of Danielle Gant? All of the sudden we weren't even giving her the ball in the first half and she still had about 8 or 9. She gets out on the break from the post position because she can anticipate steals and she starts her engine just a little bit quicker than a lot of our kids and we find her. When she's playing at the four position, there's not too many four's that can run with her. Gosh, she's unselfish. Just a great kid. She's going to make somebody a good player at the next level."

    On the set-up of the offense...
    "I'm a little bit of an unorthodox coach, I don't run a lot of motion. We run a lot of sets and set plays and we run transition. It's just what I have to do with the material I have. My sets are working pretty good for me right now."

    On the team's defense...
    "There's no way, as I said yesterday in the press conference, that we're not going to turn this team over 20-30 times, but tonight we were hooked up and like I said again, Minnesota had used a lot of energy on Sunday. I also said yesterday that the game would be decided in the 1 and 2 position. Look at the stats at those positions, we were able to create a lot of turnovers off of [Brittany] McCoy and off of [Emily] Fox. She [Fox] was so good the other night, she didn't have much left in her tank. And [Takia] Starks had her a majority of the night. And you win with guards. And those two guards are very special for Minnesota. And those are the two guards that we were trying to stop. And [Ashley] Ellis-Milan, she's the most physical thing we've guarded since Courtney Paris, she's really good."

    Sydney Carter • Freshman • Guard

    On defending the three...
    "In the Notre Dame game that we watched, (Katie) Ohm had five threes, so we were really focused on not letting her go out and shoot and not have open looks. That means if she caught it, somebody was going to be there to make her put it on the floor. We were trying to be as intense as possible and to disrupt their offense."

    On avoiding an upset...
    "We have to go out there and play a Texas A&M game anytime we go out there. We're not concerned with what their ranking is, what their seed is. We've got to go out there and be intense on the defensive end. We've seen a lot of upsets happen, and we definitely don't want it to be us. We go out there and play hard, focusing on every aspect of the game. As long as we play our game, I don't think anyone can stop us."

    Danielle Gant • Senior • Guard / Forward

    On defending the three...
    "It was very important [to keep Minnesota off the perimeter], because threes can be a lot more than twos. Coach said he wanted us to deny the wing so they couldn't get a lot of three-point shots off."

    On Minnesota's size...
    "I don't think we were concerned [about Minnesota's size]. I think Coach Blair was more concerned than we were. We knew that we could go inside against them."

    On confusing Minnesota with the guard rotation...
    "Tanisha (Smith) got off to a great start, and I don't think they were concerned too much about her in the beginning. I think they were more concerned about me and TK [Takia Starks]. But bringing her in and having her make shots got them a little confused, not knowing who to come at first."

    Takia Starks • Senior • Guard

    On preparing for, and executing in, the game...
    "If you were going to tell me that we were going to play this great tonight, I would have told you that you were lying. We came out and did everything right. We haven't played this well, since I don't know, non-conference? This is just what we do. We worked hard and prepared for it, and we executed in the game. That's what going to practice is all about, and that's what the game's all about. We executed it."


    Minnesota Quotes

    Head Coach Pam Borton

    On her team's play in the NCAA tournament...
    "I'm really proud of our players for improving this season and getting ourselves to the second round of the tournament. What happened out here is a learning experience for our younger kids. This team gained confidence that we won our first game and really believed we could get to the Sweet Sixteen if we came out and did some things. We didn't do those things. With most of our team coming back this year we can us this as motivation. I'm proud of our seniors for taking us this far. They've had great leadership this year and work ethic. They've really showed the others what it means to be a Gopher."

    On rebounding in tonight's game...
    "I don't think [the rebounding outcome] was surprising. That was the main focus of us coming in the last two games. I felt like we didn't have a body on them. They're athleticism played a role in that. They were active on the boards. We should have done a better job, and we didn't."

    On her freshmen's play...
    "It was important for us to get all our freshman some NCAA tournament experience because they are the future of our program. [Brianna Mastey] especially took advantage of that with her athleticism. Hopefully, they can learn from the freshman things they did out there and work on that in the offseason. Our three freshmen got great experience this year."

    On Texas A & M's defense...
    "I think it was more them being aggressive than their speed. They have a great defensive system. They have great personnel that can play that type of defense. They were a very physical, very aggressive, and a very tough basketball team."

    On the differences in their opponents in the tournament games...
    "They were two completely different teams with two completely different styles. We got a lot of open looks the other night, and we didn't get a lot of open looks tonight. I think with the open looks we got tonight, we were surprised that we were that open, and they didn't go in."

    On senior Emily Fox's play
    "Emily has had a great four years in her career. She's really developed herself into an all-around player. She's really helped us bring this program back into the second round of the NCAA tournament and move it in the right direction."

    Emily Fox • Senior • Guard

    On Texas A&M's perimeter defense...
    "Against Notre Dame, Katie (Ohm) got a lot of threes off and I got a couple of threes off so they were obviously keying on that. They didn't give us very many open looks. Their guards were very quick and very aggressive and they forced us into a lot of turnovers and they were the more aggressive team tonight."

    On what made the Aggies' defense tough...
    "They were just all over the place. When we tried to get it into the posts they fronted them and got around and getting a lot of steals. Their hands were always getting on the ball and we didn't adjust and we didn't take care of the ball."

    On playing against the speed of the Aggies...
    "It was definitely different from watching them on film to actually being out there. We keep saying they were tough and quick and it was very different out there. We tried to get into a rhythm and flow because we couldn't get our offense going, but we had a great season and I'm glad we made it this far."

    On the frustration of playing the Aggies...
    "Yea, I was definitely frustrated. My shots weren't falling and it happens some games. It was tough but you've got to move on."

    Ashley Ellis-Milan • Junior • Forward

    On using the loss to improve into the off-season...
    "I think this is a huge reality check for our team. We have to take our game to the next level because Texas A&M really brought it tonight and I think we will bring this home and really remember it and remember it in all our off-season work outs and we will really work hard to improve our game for next season."

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