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UConn-USF Post Game Quotes

Jan. 28, 2012

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Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma

What can you say about Tiffany Hayes’ performance?

“[Tiffany Hayes] was just great.  I think she was a huge factor at both ends.  It’s not like she started out great and kept building.  She struggled a little early, then got it back together and made some nice plays.  She played a lot of minutes against a team that’s really difficult to play against.”

How did USF’s style of play impact the game?

“{USF} can do that because they’ve got a big kid that can shoot the ball from the perimeter.  You’ve got to get you big guy out there [to defend] and it opens up a lot of driving lanes.  Jose [Fernandez] has done a pretty good job of recruiting.  [Inga Orekhova] is almost impossible to guard.  Her range is five feet beyond the three-point line.  When they spot her up, there is no way to get back to her.  We made a bunch of mistakes in the first half, but we only made one mistake in the second.”

Have you had a better inside-outside game this year?

“No, probably not.  I know a lot of Stefanie [Dolson’s] points came from jump shots, which is fine with me.  I don’t care where they came from as long as she gets a lot of touches.  She’s a lot more confident right now than she was a month ago.  That was the plan going in [today].  We wanted the ball to go inside and make sure Stef gets a lot of touches and then kick it outside if they double or triple team her.”

Do you need an aggressive start from Dolson every game?

“Yes.  She certainly wasn’t in the first half of the Syracuse game and we let her know about it.  I thought she came out today right from the beginning.  When she starts hitting those 15-footers, that sets her up for everything else she is going to do.”

Senior Guard Tiffany Hayes

Did you know that 68 points is the most ever scored by a UConn player in back-to-back games?

“No I did not.  Pat (McKenna, UConn SID) told me after the game.  That’s another exciting thing for me.”

Are you just playing at a different level right now?

“I think it’s just me doing what the team needs.  Coach always finds the right spots for me to be in.  He knows I score well from the pinch-post, so he finds a way to get me there.  I think definitely that Steph (Dolson) did a good job today.  We had a lot of high-low that was working well for us as well.”

You seem to have a different intensity about your game.  You were battling for rebounds and going hard.  There’s something different than just doing what the team needs…

“Like I said before, coach challenged me and a lot of us a couple weeks back to want more for ourselves and for our team.  I think a lot of us heard that message and we just step up and do what we need to do.”

Every year there’s a player that this team can count on when the team isn’t playing well.  Do you think you’ve become that player and is that a goal for you to be that player?

“I definitely want to be that player that people can look up to and say, ‘ok, she’s gonna get it done for us’.  So I’m definitely going to try to do that down the road and not slack off.”

There were questions about you not being on the Wooden Watch List as one of the top-20 players in the country.  Are you aware of that and how do you feel about that?

“I wasn’t aware, but at the same time, they’ve been there.  They’re on the committee.  They know who the best players are. So, I’m not gonna let that get me down.  I’m gonna continue to play the way I’ve been playing the last couple weeks or so to help my team.”

Are there any external things you use to motivate yourself.  Maybe something that was written or said about you that you use to get you going?

“Not really.  One of my friends that past used to say, ‘play every play like it’s your last’.  It’s his birthday today (Former UConn football player Jasper Howard).  I think I’ve been living by that the last couple of weeks.  I’ve been using that as motivation.  It’s his birthday today.”

Sophomore Center Stefanie Dolson

Was it a conscious decision to come out aggressive today and shoot those mid-range jumpers?

“Yes, I think they were playing off me. That’s just what they gave me on defense, so I took it and shot the ball. Thankfully, they went in.”

How tough was USF?

“They were definitely tough. They came out ready to play. They came out fighting. On defense they pressured us a lot and made us second guess some of the things that we shouldn’t have. They executed on offense. They really came out and played a great game.”

Coach Auriemma said that the team found a couple of new ways to win tonight since you weren’t shooting your three’s well and you weren’t able to press them. Do you feel that is accurate?

“I think we realized our shots weren’t getting in so we had to get into the paint. We had to drive to the basket. Tiffany did a great job of rebounding, getting offensive rebounds and second shots…When one thing is not working, you just have to find another way to win and I think that’s what we did tonight.”

On Tiffany Hayes’ performance:

“Tiffany is amazing. She’s been doing a great job these past couple of games. I am really excited. I hope she keeps it up. She’s been coming out so aggressive, driving to the basket and being that tough, tough player that we need on this team. She’s been leading us out there and just playing great defense. So, I ‘m super excited for Tiffany with the way she’s been playing and I can’t wait for the games to come.”

University of South Florida Head Coach Jose Fernandez

Opening Statement:

“I was proud of our kids’ effort. I thought they battled. I really like this group. This group competes. We had a stretch where we played four Top-25 games in two weeks. Our plan tonight was to play four minutes at a time. You talk to your players and your staff about it, to try to avoid the run when it comes. The runs that turn a three or four point game into 20. Then you start to take bad shots and do things that you don’t practice and it turns into 30, then you put your bench in and it turns into 40-50. I thought we always stayed within striking distance. We avoided that run, that knockout punch. What hurt us was those four free throws that we missed down the stretch that could have made it an eight or nine point ball game with four minutes to go.” 

On what the difference in the game was:

“The difference in the game was the points in the paint and how well UConn rebounded the ball today. I thought they teed off today and absolutely exposed us on the glass. We wanted to take away their transition and make them use some clock on the offensive end. We’ve got to move on. In this league you have to have a short term memory and move on and get ready for West Virginia. I thought Stefanie Dolson had a very, very good game. Hopefully that helps her down the stretch and moving toward the NCAA Tournament.”

What did you do in particular offensively to get the open looks from 3?

“We run a lot of stagger screens and flair stuff and misdirection. We got those looks in the first half, and in the second half they kept (Kelly) Faris, (Caroline) Doty and (Tiffany) Hayes all fresh and guarding Inga (Orekhova). What they were able to do is switch on a lot of the screens and when we used our center as the second screener they did such a great job caboosing Inga and she couldn’t get the looks that she got in the first half. The one look that she got in the second half from the corner was off a help situation. I thought we opened up some driving lanes to the basket because they had to guard her out on the perimeter, but we didn’t shoot particularly well in the second half.”