March 16, 2001
NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship
First and Second Rounds
Notre Dame, Ind.
March 16, 2001
Alcorn State head coach Shirley Walker
Opening Statement . . .
"I feel very honored to be here with this team in the (NCAA) tournament. Last year, we had basically the same team and they worked hard and took us to the tournament. I feel great about this team because all year they've shown a great deal of leadership on and off the court and I think that's one reason why we are here today. They played real well all season. What we did was just take one team at a time. Occasionally some of the players would start talking about a team that we were going to play in the future and I would just tell them to concentrate on the team we are playing next. I can't say enough about these young ladies. I'm very proud of the team. They feel very confident and that makes me feel very confident. With them trying to do things for me, I just have to take my hat off to my five seniors. I'm wondering if I am going to be able to fill their shoes next year. Hopefully things will work out in this tournament, but I just feel really good about it."
On playing Notre Dame . . .
"I know we're the underdog. I realize they have players that are 6-4 and 6-5 and Alcorn has not been fortunate enough to get a player at that height, but we play good basketball."
"Because of the height, we are going to have to play very well, but we have a strategy. We're going to show up. There is only so much a coach can do on the sidelines, but I like the way these kids have performed against some of the top teams in Maui. We've been in this situation before. I take my hat off to Notre Dame. They are a good basketball team that is a tall team and a smart team It's going to be a challenge, but the Alcorn State Lady Braves are looking forward to it. We're here so why not? Let's turn it on!"
On Alcorn State's performance against other bigger teams this season . . .
"If you go back to the Thanksgiving tournament in Maui, I thought Alcorn State played well there against some big players on Illinois and Clemson. That was Cherea Wood's first game because she had gotten hurt in the preseason and she played much better than I expected her to play. She was just coming off an injury and she had a mature attitude about it."
On whether the success of lower-seeded teams in the men's tournament will carry over . . .
"When I was watching that, it did cross my mind. When you look at the women's tournament, I'm not saying there is not enough weight on the women's side because we've had an NCAA tournament for 21 years. I'm not going to say anything concrete, but it's very possible (that there could be some upsets)."
Alcorn State senior forward Cherea Wood
On playing Notre Dame . . .
"I don't think we have any added weight on our shoulders due to the fact that if we win tomorrow, it's going to blow the whole world away because we're not expected to win. So we're just going to go out and play our best basketball and work as hard as we can and do what we can to come out on top."
Alcorn State senior guard Queriston Haynes
On Notre Dame's size advantage . . .
"I feel like Division I basketball is Division I basketball, whether you're 6-2, 6-3 or 5-4 -- it really doesn't matter if you go out, work hard and execute on both ends. Division I basketball is Division I basketball."
On defending Notre Dame center Ruth Riley . . .
"When you talk about a player that is 6-5 and over 200 pounds, you have to outsmart a player like that. You can't play her game. You have to play your own game and being smaller than somebody, you have to outsmart them. I think our low-post people, led by Cherea Wood, are smart. I think she's a real smart player and that's going to be an advantage since she is 5-10. She's going to play real smart."
"Everybody's saying that they (Notre Dame) have more talent. Who's to say they have more talent than we do? I don't feel like that. I feel we're all on the same level. It goes back to Division I basketball. We are Division I basketball. Everybody underestimates the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Why? I don't know. But we're going to come out and play tomorrow."
Alcorn State junior guard Taresha Coleman
On playing so close to her hometown of Benton Harbor, Mich. . . .
"This is exciting. This is the first time since going to school at Alcorn that I have gotten this close to playing at home. Playing Notre Dame is going to be interesting. We've been having some very good practices. Since the preseason, I've believed we deserve to be where we are now."
"This means a lot to me. I have a lot of people, friends as well as family, coming to the game tomorrow. This is like a homecoming to me. All I'm going to do is show up to play."