Women's Basketball

NCAA Tournament - Vermont Second Round Quotes

March 22, 2010

NCAA 1st/2nd Rounds at ND Central
Press Conference Photo Gallery

2010 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship
First and Second Rounds
Purcell Pavilion - Notre Dame, Ind.

Vermont Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Sharon Dawley

On advancing to the second round...
"We're very excited to be here; we all packed enough stuff for Wednesday. We knew if we played very good defense we had a shot at winning against Wisconsin. I'm very proud of our ladies. They played so hard, so strong, so intense. Our experience at the (America East) championship game prepared us, because we had a lead, Wisconsin came roaring back and we came roaring back and were able to maintain that lead."

On what the first round win meant for the program...
"It was huge and obviously a historic day for us. I was just proud of the execution. I sat back after the game and realized how important that non-conference schedule was because it didn't feel like a first for anybody. We've seen pressure like that, we've seen play like that, we've seen rebounding like that, so I think that's why we were able to with stand (Wisconsin's) comeback."

On what a win in the second round would mean for the program...
"Another win would be another historic thing for the University of Vermont and for women's basketball (at Vermont). We're very excited to be here. We sat back and enjoyed the win until about 9 o'clock last night and then it was right back to business. Our mentality is not to come here just to be here but to come here and battle."

On Notre Dame's depth...
"They're a very deep team, but we're a deep team as well. I'm looking at it as they're very deep and it's only 40 minutes. How deep we go will depend on how the game goes. We're well conditioned athletes, we'll rest them as need be, but if May (Kotsopoulos) and Courtney (Pilypaitis) have to go the distance, they'll manage it. We talk a lot about depth with the America East tournament where it's back-to-back (games). We know that we are going to gut it out for 40 minutes and that's it. If we stay alive, we get some recovery time. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing. At this point, sometimes, adrenaline will overcome fatigue."

On what she expects from her team tomorrow...
"If you ask our girls, they'll tell you they're preparing to win. I don't think we can look at it any other way. We don't want to come in with the mindset that we're an underdog and that we've done what we're going to do and be happy with that. Every step you take, you think you're going to be happy with it, but as soon as you achieve that step you want the next step. We all said if we can just win (the America East) championship and go to the NCAA (Tournament), we'll be happy. We did that, then we said if we can win the first round game, we'll be happy. Then last night, we said if we can make the Sweet 16, we'll be happy. I think that's what competitors do. Right now, we will only be happy going to Kansas City."

On how the coaching staff encourages the team to stay loose...
"I think we just have a very good rapport (with the team). We have always encouraged our girls to have fun. When things get too tight, we all remind each other that we have to go back to who we are. Our personality is just that. Every team and coach has it's own personality and you have to figure out what that personality is and run with it. This class and the class that graduated last year, the team reflects their personality. They have to be high-fiving and they have to be dancing. It sounds crazy but when you find something that works, you have to go with it. It's a lot more fun for everybody. Coaches, sometimes, we have to fake it. We're not exactly as loose and carefree, but we have to make sure that the girls are carefree."

May Kotsopoulos - Sr. - G

On dealing with Notre Dame's transition game...
"We've been fortunate enough to play a team that does a great job transition-wise with UConn this year and last year. Also Nebraska has a very strong transition game. We're used to it. We focus on transition offense ourselves, so we're used to practicing against it every single day in practice. We pride ourselves on being a very strong transition offense team and we try to be a very good transition defense team, so we hope to focus on that because Notre Dame does like to push the ball."

On the response from friends in Vermont and her native Canada about the first round win...
"Obviously everyone in Vermont is very excited. Friends, students, teachers, alums, everyone is very excited for us and happy for us. For us, this is the first time in women's basketball at Vermont that we've won a game (in the NCAA Tournament), so our alumni are very happy for us. Those back home (in Canada) who were lucky enough to get the game were very excited. Some of my friends don't really understand it, but they know it's some kind of a big deal."

On what beating Notre Dame and advancing to the Sweet 16 would mean for Vermont basketball...
"It would be huge, obviously. It would show the strength and promise of our program, as well as our conference. For America East this year, it was the first time to have two teams ranked in the top-25. For Vermont basketball it would be huge, as well as for our conference. At the end of the day, it would be very big for our university."

On the keys against Notre Dame...
"Definitely one of our keys is rebounding, as it has been for us lately. They have very strong post players and do an amazing job with second-chance opportunities, so we need to limit them to one shot. They have very strong guard play and have a very strong freshman guard (Skylar Diggins) who has done very well for herself her freshman year. Rebounding is a huge key, defense and limiting their transition offense. At the end of the day, we have to play our game as much as we can."

Courtney Pilypaitis - Sr. - G

On how the team stayed loose during the first round game...
"That's just part of our team identity. We know if we've got smiles and we're dancing that we play better. We just try to enjoy it. We just try to have fun, enjoy it and go from there."

On Notre Dame's guards...
"I've watched them play UConn twice, so I don't know if that's a true testament to them. They have terrific guards. They're probably going to be about the toughest guards that we've seen this year. They all do the little things well and don't have any flaws. It's something that is going to be a challenge for our guards but we're up for it and I think it's going to be a really good battle."

Alissa Sheftic - Sr. - F

On keeping their loose style as they move to the second round...
"Our team identity shouldn't change just because we won a first round game. We're going to stay strong, do the dancing in the locker room beforehand and on the court. We're going to carry on today at practice like we normally have. We're of course going to address some Notre Dame issues, but it's really about us. It's about what we're going to do to be successful tomorrow night."

On what a win in the second round would mean for the program...
"It would be huge for our program, but it's not so much putting it on the map, but it would expand (Vermont's) horizons in women's basketball. Men's hockey and men's basketball have done very well for themselves over the past five or ten years. We've been to the NCAA Tournament before but this is a new experience for us, playing the second round. It's really about moving forward, moving up and growing up as a team and a program."

On the importance of protecting the basketball against Notre Dame...
"No one wants to go out there and play with a turnover mentality. We're going to go out there and play to win and play to score. It's going to come down to knowing what we do well. We transition well and we also operate in the half court very well. Knowing that Notre Dame has very consistently shown very strong transition offense and knowing that they are able to change it up when they have a different lineup on the floor means that we have to be versatile on the floor. I'm really excited to see the type of pressure that May (Kotsopoulos) and Courtney (Pilypaitis) will see because they handle it so well and they have great guard play. It's not so much protecting the basketball as executing our game plan as well as we can."



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