Women's Basketball

Postgame Quotes - Notre Dame vs. Mercer

Nov. 20, 2012

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Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw

Opening Statement...
"I was pleased with everything tonight. I thought we played really well on both ends of the floor. We rebounded. We took care of the ball. We shot it well from inside. We wanted to establish our inside game and I think we finally had a chance to do that. Natalie Achonwa: that's a remarkable line, that's amazing - 22 points, 10 rebounds and no turnovers in just 18 minutes. That's phenomenal. And I thought Jewell Loyd had a fantastic game off the bench. There was a lot of good stuff. I'm really pleased with where we are right now. "

On how this will help the team prepare for conference...
"It builds some team chemistry. The energy was really good tonight. I thought we got to work on our zone a little in the second half and we worked on the man to man in the first half. I thought we saw a lot of good things, some things we could tighten up and improve on, but overall really good stuff. "

On the defense tonight...
"We started out with the press and then in the second half we really wanted to work on the zones so we changed that up. But our press is a little different this year, so we're still kind of figuring that out.

"I thought in the first half our defense was really tremendous. That was great defense. I thought we had some stretches in the second half where we gave up a couple threes. We ended up giving them five threes which is a little more than we wanted, but overall it was all good stuff."

On the offense...
"I thought the inside game was really good today. I thought the guards were looking in. The posts were doing a great job pinning and sealing. I thought we took advantage of the mismatch of size when we had it and so we really were smart with the way we played. We haven't been able to look in as much as we did and all of our posts had double figures so I think that's really important for us."

On whether she was worried about the upcoming holiday and the UCLA game distracting the players from focusing tonight...
"I was. I thought, 'I wonder what they're thinking?' because we don't have school tomorrow, they're trying to pack and plan for that trip because we have a quick turn around. We've got to be here at 9:45am tomorrow morning, so I was a little worried about that coming out. But the focus was great. The captains did a really good job getting them ready."

On the challenges the team will face when playing UCLA...
"They're really talented and they are well deserved to be into the poll for the first time this year. They're just a great team. I saw them play Oklahoma who was ranked 10th or 11th at the time and they beat them on the boards. They killed them on the boards. Their inside game is tremendous. Brewer we played against when she was at Tennessee. She's a fifth-year senior. Marquel Walker is one of the best players in the Pac-12. They just have a solid point guard. They've got a really talented team. They're very athletic. They're fast and they can rebound so this is going to be the first big challenge of the year."

On what Notre Dame has to do to beat UCLA...
"We have to out rebound them. I think rebounding and defense are going to be the keys to the game."

Notre Dame Players

Natalie Achonwa, Junior, Forward

On her big performance...
"I think our guards did a great job of finding us ... we were trying to take advantage of the height difference inside and I tried to hustle and get up the court and the guards did a great job of seeing the floor and tossing it up in the air."

On the game being a good practice for upcoming conference games...
"I think it's great for us to be able to run some of our stuff against somebody else other than ourselves. We get to run our offense and make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to make sure we know the plays and make sure we're executing the plays. We got to practice our transition and that's what we love and I think it was a great opportunity for us to test some of those things."

Jewell Loyd, Freshman, Guard

On how being so efficient on the floor has done for her confidence...
"The team does really well just pushing the ball. We have a lot of transition. I just let my defense motivate my offense. Shots aren't always going to go in but you just have to stay motivated and stay confident."

On how to stay aggressive with such a big lead, and stepping up to take the shot...
"We made sure that we looked inside first and got a better shot. We didn't want to force anything ... we just wanted to make the right pass."

Mercer Head Coach Susie Gardner

Opening Statement...
"Well I have learned my lesson. We got a phone call from (former Notre Dame associate head coach) Jonathan (Tsipis) last year because Notre Dame had a kid from Atlanta, Ga. and they were looking for a game in the Atlanta area. I think it was Fraderica Miller. They came to us and it sounded like a good idea in April and our program just is not ready for this level. I've coached in the SEC, been at mid-majors, I'm not scared to play anyone, but our program right now was not ready for this. I'm not as disappointed with the score as I was with our team's effort tonight. I just felt like they were playing 'let everybody touch the ball, tip the ball and who could hit the lay-up at the end.' So it was tough, and they didn't press us the whole game, they just worked on their little zone and got easy shots."

On what makes Notre Dame's program so far ahead, the size or the speed...
"Well it's not just Notre Dame, it's the program that I inherited and where we were when I got there. But Notre Dame, obviously the size. Probably the size more than the speed. It's just a different level, it's just apples and oranges right now."

On expectations for Notre Dame to press more...
"Well they pressed us more last year at our place so I was pleased that they chose not to. We prepared for it against guys and that type of thing but we didn't hit shots, the shot clock got down under five a lot and they took us out of what we were trying to do offensively. It was more the effort than the missing shots and that type of thing. Loose balls, we didn't dive on the floor for loose balls, we had chances to take charges in transition and we didn't do that. That's not why we lost by any stretch but those were our sidebar goals, to do the little things, the things we had control over."

On how this year's Notre Dame team compares to last year's...
"We played them more near the end of December last year and they're a little different. It's hard for me to judge because I don't think they put out all of their weapons tonight. I don't think they did everything they would have done in a typical BIG EAST game. They're playing some new players, some young players, players that didn't play much last year. I think some of them are trying to find their way. They're probably not as good as they were in November, December of last year, or as they're going to be come January and February. I think it's going to be a progression, but I'm certain they'll get there with their great coaching staff."

Is losing by that big margin better or worse for the team?
"This game will help us do nothing to prepare for our conference, it will do nothing for Notre Dame to prepare for their conference. It's just one of those things and just one of those games. They are not like anyone in our league nor are we like anyone in their league, so I think it was just a game that was on our schedule, for both of us, in all honesty."



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