With the UConn Huskies women's basketball team getting ready to meet the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA Women's Tournament in the Kingston Region on Sunday, they meet with the media to talk about the game.
Here are the quotes from UConn head coach Geno Auriemma as well as Stefanie Dolson, Tiffany Hayes and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.
Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma
What impresses you about Penn State backcourt
"I think like most good teams you can't pigeon hole them. You can't say they are really good at this and are bad at that. They are pretty versatile. They push the ball up the floor quickly. I remember playing them a few years ago at Madison Square Garden and it was the same mentality. They are trying to get as many possessions as they can. Both their guards do a really good job of attacking you every time they touch it. They can both put it on the floor; they can both shoot the ball. I think most good teams that's why they would get to the regionals because they have a good back court."
On this year compared to the last six or seven
"I don't think it's ever easy. There are just varying degrees of different. It's never as easy as it looks on the outside. It's always difficult when you lose somebody like Diana Taurasi or a Maya Moore because they did so many things for your team it's almost like losing three players. Then you come back and you're hoping that your juniors and your seniors kind of step right in and fill that role. This year we struggled a little with that. They were not here enough to really understand what makes us who we are but we won anyway. Today kids are more about if we win, we are really good and that's the problem because we started off so well, it was inevitable that we would reach a point in February where it was going to be a little bit of a struggle. It took a little longer then the coaching staff was hoping it would take. But there are 300 plus Division I schools that wish they had just one of our problems and I don't think we have any."
On revaluating your life and how much you enjoy your job compared to 10 years ago
"No, I really don't do that. I'm normal in a sense that I'm like everybody else. I think when you get to reflect a little bit about where you are and what you've done and how long you've been doing it I think naturally question if this is still what you want to be doing. Do you still get the same enjoyment out of it that you used to? Are you still having the same impact on the players that you used to have or that you want to have? Do you still get the same response that you want to get? I've never been one to really think that much about the future and I'm not generally one to look at the past and think that that's an indicator of anything that will happen in the future. Other than that I've been lucky and I just continue to think that I'll always be lucky. That's the one thing that I've kind of held on to. I don't get to an age and start to do that self-evaluation thing that people talk about or take stock of my life. I was playing with my grandson the other day and we are looking to buy a plays cape with all these swings and slide and I'm asking myself whatever happened to a tree and a rock and you find a way to amuse yourself all day long. Things have changed a lot in 40 or 50 years for me. Other than that I don't really worry too much about the basketball stuff."
What about a 17 year old freshman girl is different for you as a coach at 58 than it was at 38
"I have less patience for these guys now than I did when I was 30 something. I used to try and see things from their standpoint and now I'm like a lot of old people they don't really give a **** about anybody but themselves. Have you ever been to a place where I'm signing autographs? There will be nine eight year olds in line to get an autograph and some 75 year old will just knock them all over to get an autograph. They will bulldoze the kids thinking, you know what I'm 75 and I don't have much time left, you have the rest of your life to wait for that autograph, so get out of my way. I'm getting to an age where I have less patience. I've been doing this for 30 something years and if I say do something then do it. Don't look at me and ask why. When I was 35 I would say ok here is why we want to do this. So I guess the difference is I have less patience and they have less attention span. Not a good combination. I'm trying to teach them to have better concentration for longer periods of time and they're testing my patients. So that's how I've been spending my year this year."
On Penn State and how they like to push the ball and how pace will play a factor in the game
"Yeah, I think. They have struggled in a lot of half court games where the game has been low scoring. Their strength is their ability to make people play at their pace. I don't think either team wants to walk the ball up the floor. It will be a test of wills. They want to play their way, we want to play our way and our two ways are similar but not exactly. We do a couple of things that they don't do, so hopefully we will take advantage of those things."
What are the keys of establishing a program at the start
"I remember when UConn was just like URI probably 1985 there was very little difference between UConn and URI. I would say their women's program was ahead of ours in those days. I think as a school we were very similar and as an athletic department maybe we were similar. The biggest difference was we were in the BIG EAST and they were not. By us being in the BIG EAST we had a huge advantage over a school like URI. That gave us a platform to work with. So much of it is getting a couple of those kids each year. We got two kids my first year that had a big impact on the program, then we had two more the following year, then we got two more the following year and two more the following year. After about four years we had about eight pretty good players in the program that I could trust and count on and we went from there. It's unfortunate that in the women's game there is no money involved at the beginning so you are not going to get all the things that you want you need all the time until you prove you can win. This is not an easy job here at Rhode Island. Not easy on the men's side or women's side. I think Kathy is a great person and she did a great job at Boston College but this is not an easy place and I'm sure there are built in issues that are difficult to overcome but like I said we had the luxury of the BIG EAST."
Compare the current Penn State team to 2004's
"It's completely different but it's still Penn State. When you grow up in Pennsylvania, and you're a Catholic growing up in Philadelphia, two things you really get sick of hearing about are Notre Dame and Penn State. It's just shoved down your throat every day. The fact that Coach Washington played at Notre Dame and coaches at Penn State, she has major issues with me right now. There is a big difference in Penn State between now and 2004. There is a much more balanced approach that they have right now. Kelly when she was there took an inordinate amount of shots to get what she got. God bless her, she made most of them. We felt going into that game that if we were able to shut her out that it would be very difficult for Penn State to beat us. I don't know that that's the case today. I don't know that they are just Maggie Lucas. I think there is a little more to this team than that. I watch her play a little bit and she seems to do a little more than catch and shoot, catch and shoot. Even though they are similar, they go about it in a different way which makes this team a little more dangerous than that one."
To see the quotes from the players, please click on the read more button below if you're on the home page.
NCAA Kingston Regional
March 24, 2012
Sophomore Stefanie Dolson
On what the defense needs to do to stop Penn State
"Penn State is a great offensive team, they score a lot of points in their games. They all know how to score in the paint and behind the 3-point line. We just need to do a really good job of focusing on our defense in practice today. We need to buckle down and know what a good offensive team they are in order to shut them down. Maggie (Lucas) and their team are good shooters and they are going to make shots, so we have to do a really good job of getting through screens, calling out screens and talking on defense. With that, we will get defensive stops which will hopefully transition to our offense."
On The Ryan Center and the surrounding area of Kingston, R.I.
"I've never been here before, so it was really cool driving over the bridge. It's really nice here and the arena is great. We are all just excited to be here and excited to play."
On playing so close to Connecticut
"Being in Bridgeport (for the first and second rounds), it was awesome how close we were to our school and our fans. Being able to be this close in Rhode Island is awesome because we know that our fans are the best in the country and they will travel here to see us play. It feels great to know that they will come here to support us."
On watching other tournament games
"We have all been keeping up with the whole tournament, on the women's side and the men's side. It is a fun experience for all the teams to be able to watch each other play and then go out and play yourselves. We have watched a lot of games, and there are a lot of good games. It is just an exciting time of year."
Senior Tiffany Hayes
On the difference between each round of the tournament
"It definitely gets a little bit harder each time. Sometimes it may look easy because of the outcome, but there is never an easy game in the NCAA tournament. Once you go from the Sweet 16 to the Elite 8 to the Final 4, the competition definitely gets harder."
On stopping Penn State's Maggie Lucas and Alex Bentley
"I'm pretty sure it's going to be hard. Stefanie (Dolson) played with Lucas at the McDonald's All America Game and Caroline (Doty) played with her in high school. They both said she was good. We will need to buckle down on defense if we want to win the game."
On playing so close to Connecticut
"It's very nice to be playing here so close to home. It makes it easy for our fans to come and travel. Even though it is technically not a home game, I feel like it is because we are so close. And I know our fans are definitely going to come out and support us, so it is definitely a good thing."
Freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
On the experience and the notoriety of being a UConn basketball player
"It's been different. When you go to McDonalds, you think you're going to get your food and no one is going to try to get a picture taken with you. But when you go to Connecticut it's different. It's cool to have fans like that and have people that support you as much as the people in Connecticut support us. We just go down the street or to McDonald's and there is someone who wants a picture or says 'you guys had a great game last night, good luck in the next round'. It feels nice to have supporters like that and to know that the people in Connecticut are rooting for us all the time."
On playing so close to Connecticut
"We have a great fan base and we are lucky to be so close to campus and have our student body be able to come out and support us. If we were to play anywhere else, it would be harder for them to come. But because we are an hour and a half away, they can come and make a weekend out of it."
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