Women's Basketball

Texas A&M Press Conference Quotes

March 23, 2009

Head Coach Gary Blair

Opening statement ...
"It feels good to be here and you've seen with some of the first round upsets that it was important for us to take the Evansville game seriously and I feel we game planed accordingly and we took care of business. Evansville did a great job of game planning for us and they did some things on the defensive end that we were not quite ready for but I feel we adjusted accordingly as the game went on. The Minnesota-Notre Dame game was a great game with two teams that were evenly matched. At first you start pulling for the team without the home crowd, which was Minnesota, and then as the game went on you started pulling for Notre Dame, thinking you're not sure if you can handle the inside players that Minnesota has or their guard play. You know that we will have trouble with either team because of their physical nature of play. The kids in the Midwest are built different then the kids we have and they like to establish their physical presence with their style of play. We are going to have a hard time tomorrow stopping (Emily) Fox and (Brittany) McCoy but I think we have the players, (Sydney) Colson and (Takia) Starks to give their guards some trouble."

On the different style of play they will face...
"Well, a transition game sounds good, but the game will be won with half-court defense and half-court offense. It is going to be won on execution and half-court sets. Being able to run when the opportunity is there and get easy baskets will be key for us. We're not the greatest offensive team playing right now because we don't have that dominant down low player so we have to score by slashing, by shooting, and by getting out on the break and getting transition buckets. We have to score a lot of ways. We have to get to the free throw line, we have to get people in foul trouble. Minnesota does a great job of using their arms and bodies in sealing people off. They understand the game. They're not going to jump higher than us, they're not going to block a lot of shots, they're not going to out run us, but that can still out play us by playing a different style. There is a lot of different ways to play and win in the game of basketball. James Naismith didn't say you had to play this game a certain way. There are so many different ways to play and the Big Ten style of basketball is so much different than any other style of basketball in the country. What scares me so much about Minnesota is their ability to rebound the ball and how they have the roll players that accept their individual roll off the bench. They have players that do certain things very well and they execute their rolls very well. Tomorrow's game will be a game of runs and whoever makes the last run will come out on top and hopefully that will be us."



On Minnesota's ability to rebound...
"Their strengths is that our offensive rebounders will have to find ways to get around their inside players. Their kids are so good at rebounding the fundamental way; boxing out and getting great position. (Danielle) Gant is one of those players that has the mentality of that ball is hers when it comes off the rim, so we will see tomorrow which style will be more effective."

On building his plan on building his program...
"I look to get kids from winning programs, getting kids with character and that can take coaching. Getting kids that do not necessarily think they have to shoot the ball to be effective. I wasn't getting high school All-American's, but I have really good, solid basketball players that were heavily recruited regionally. If you look back at September 11, 2001, since then kids have started to stay closer to home and you have to know that when you recruit today. It is important to sell your school and your program to kids that you think will not only fit what you're looking for, but also kids that will want to come to your school. That's how I've been building my programs over the years."

On the crowd tomorrow night...
"I encourage the fans to come out even though the home team has lost, basketball is still the winner. Whether it is Minnesota or Texas A&M, pick a team and come out and support women's basketball. Now I'm sure that Muffet (McGraw) would say the same thing because she has worked very hard on getting this tournament there and the crowds have been excellent for the first two games and I hope people come out to and watch the game tomorrow night."

Sydney Colson - Soph. - G

On Minnesota's guard play and the challenges they expect to face...
"They come off of a lot of high-low screens and they girls like to come off of that and drive to the basket. They're really aggressive, the girls are always moving to try to get the ball, they're constantly in motion and we're going to have to step-up and play a more aggressive defense than we did yesterday. I think its going to be a battle all the way through."

On Minnesota being reminiscent of any other teams A&M has played this year...
"They're a little bit like the Kansas State guards, a lot of their girls can shoot it. They're better off the dribble I think, but like Takia said, if we keep it to a transition game, just keep pushing the ball, and it'll definitely be in our favor. We like to get out and run and we're going to push them on defense, try to force some turnovers. Just come out and be really aggressive and get back to the way we play."

Takia Starks - Sr. - G

On Minnesota's guard play...
"They are very physical players, they are great drivers and they're also great shooters. Its kind of like, if you play off they're going to hit the shot and if you're up too close they're going to drive to the basket. It's like giving them a little bit of space at the right times."

On the Big Ten being a different style of basketball than what Texas A&M is used to...
"Our conference is...the other team is going to play hard, you're going to play hard, whoever has the most runs is going to win. The Big Ten, they play hard, smart and definitely the body type is a lot different. Here we are, we're kind of a slender body [type] and we're quick and they're a lot bigger and stronger. We're both just two conferences and tomorrow its going to be whoever plays the best is going to win, that's what its going to come down to."

On A&M's quickness...
"Speed is our game and as long as we keep it fast, I believe it'll be in our favor. Getting transition baskets...we definitely don't want it to be a half-court game."

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