Jan. 26, 2014
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Head Coach Geno Auriemma
On Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart leading the team in the future:
“They are certainly capable of bringing the team where it needs to go. If you watch the way they have played, I don't think there is another player playing the way Bria is right now. It would be difficult to find anybody that can play better then her right now. And Stewie is Stewie...she gets in that zone and that's the great thing about the regular season being so long. You have a chance to go through some ups and downs, to find yourself again, to put yourself in a position to do things once the postseason comes around. I've goat lot of confidence in those two and if they play like they played today, we are a really hard team to play against."
On your biggest concerns for the remainder of the season:
“I think fatigue is the big concern. Obviously, foul trouble and not being able to predict injuries, people getting sick. Going forward, you try to manage it, there is not much you can do about it. Practices can change all of the sudden and you can't do as much in practice. How you play defensively has to change, you just have to have a completely different approach to the season then when the season started. Unfortunately we had some experience with this in November, so it is not anything new. At the same time, that was fresh, we were fresh, it was November...we hadn't done anything, now all of the sudden your getting into February and the season catches up to you."
On the changing strategy of having less players on the bench:
“I think it changes everything. There is teams that we think we can get out and pressure a little more...create the tempo that we want. All of the sudden you can't do anything like that...you have to play a half court game. That is what a lot of teams want to do against us, to play a half court game. We have to get better, our half court defense, our half court offense have to get better. Everything that has to get better for postseason play anyway. When the postseason comes, all that matters is half court stuff, on offense and defense, but it is not the way we want to play, but the way we have to play."
On coaching aggressive play:
“You just tell them to be smart and make good decisions. Conserve some energy whenever you can. When Moriah Jefferson went into the stands, that was just a bad play by Moriah, I don't even mean the part about jumping over the scorer's table, just going in that direction. The team we played today was a pretty good team, they have a lot of good pieces to the puzzle. Jose coaches them, they've been in the postseason ten of the past eleven years, he knows what he's doing with those guys...and he's got a lot of young guys. They will get better and better, there was not thinking going in that we would win by fifty. Teams like that, that can run a lot of players, can come and win if your not careful."
On being short-handed the rest of the season:
I don’t really worry about it. We’ve gone through this type of stuff before, even last season, and earlier this season I thought we did a really good job when we only had six players. People are going to have to step up, and you can’t really complain about or dwell on it, you just have to play confidently.
On minimizing turnovers:
I thought that was really good for us today. In practice we didn’t have a good run on our offense, so it was cool to come out in the game today and not see many turnovers.
On hitting shots early:
I think when you are hitting them and you’re open, you just want to shoot every time you get the ball. You have to still work on getting a balance of shooting the ball inside and outside. Some games you shoot really well, and some you don’t, so you still need to be able to do other things well when you’re not shooting the ball well.
On the reaction to Morgan Tuck’s surgery:
I found out a little earlier on, and anytime something like this happens it’s hard. Morgan’s a competitive player, and she wants to be out on the court so the fact that she has to get surgery and be out for the rest of the season, we all really feel for her. We will all help her get through this season and she’s a strong person, she’ll be back when she’s healed.
On three point shooting:
We went out playing aggressive, and the shots were falling which was good, so we were wanting to shoot threes the rest of the game. Then when they stopped falling for a little bit, we needed to get a little more inside-outside awareness, and that made our team play well. I need to not settle for jump shots and also get points inside the paint as well.
On whether or not undefeated Notre Dame is a concern down the stretch:
I think we know we’re in a new conference with new teams, and obviously we aren’t playing Notre Dame anymore or other teams in the old Big East. We’re just going to take things one game at a time and if we do meet them in the Final Four or in the tournament, we’ll be ready.
USF Head Coach Jose Fernandez
The team has been on such a good run lately, how does this game affect their mindset?
"I don't think it's going to affect their mindset. We had the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country. I think for the most part, those first 10 minutes we played pretty well. The way they (UConn) shot the ball tonight, no one in the country had a shot to beat them. At one point they were 10-of-11 from 3. Let me tell you right now, if Connecticut plays their best and anybody in the country plays their best, they (UConn) are going to win. Bottom line. For an upset or somebody to beat them, you've got to catch them on a night when things don't go well. They get into foul trouble, they don't shoot it well from the floor, and tonight wasn't one of those nights."
You have been giving up just 59 points per game, what is it about UConn that makes them so different and difficult to defend?
"They've got different guys that can create off the dribble and they can shoot it. Five guys on their team are All-Americans. They're very good. Moriah Jefferson has improved so much for them, but you've got (Breanna) Stewart, (Stefanie) Dolson, (Kaleena) Mosqueda-Lewis and (Bria) Hartley is back to where she was. He's got a lot of options."
There seems to be a huge gap between UConn and everyone else in the new conference. How long do you expect it to take for another few teams to at least challenge?
"There's a huge gap between UConn and the rest of the country right now. I think you have to prepare and play differently and do things, but I think it will also take some teams in our league to develop the players we have and make them better. Also, to really increase recruiting."
What do you have to do the rest of the way to make a case for getting into the tournament?
"December hurt us. We have to win all of the games in our league, to be honest with you. I think we've got to win out, get Louisville at Louisville and Rutgers at Rutgers. Right now I think we are projected as a two-bid league with Connecticut and Louisville. If we're going to get three teams in, we're going to have to finish third and then do some damage in the conference tournament. Right now it's a game at a time for us.”