Feb. 19, 2011
UConn Head Coach Geno Auriemma
Can you talk about how Maya Moore leads this team even when she is not lighting up the score sheet?
"I would say that's probably the one thing that our team kind of thrives on. I don't know that Maya was much of a leader in the first half, and that's why we struggled so much. We came out and start second half and Maya is more involved. We look like a whole different team when she is playing great. It's not all about the points. It's about the other things that she can do to impact the game, no question about that."
On how Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson stepped up when Maya Moore was not scoring in the first half:
"We noticed that yesterday in practice. We tried to put a couple of different scenarios in, and one of them was the other five guys playing without Maya and not having the benefit of having her on the floor and the attention she draws, all the other things she does. I think its important going forward that we have to become comfortable if Maya is not in the game for whatever reason, or if she's not able to get going and do the things that she normally does. I thought today was a big step forward. I think Tiffany (Hayes), Bria especially and Stefanie made the kind of plays that they needed to make and didn't stand around and feel sorry for themselves because Maya wasn't able to be Maya. That's a good sign going down the road."
Does a game like this really magnify the progress that Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson have made?
"As you get deeper into the season, its how much a part of the offense or defense do you want to make yourself, because some kids take themselves out because they don't feel comfortable. Both Bria and Stefanie are starting more and more to force themselves on the game. If you're Stefanie and you really want the ball and you act like and carry yourself in the lane and demand the ball, we'll get you the ball. That wasn't happening in the first game we played them. If you're Bria Hartley and you can't wait to come off there and shoot it as opposed to maybe I will or maybe I won't, that's a good sign. So as the season goes on and they are more comfortable, they start to just play without thinking should I or shouldn't I. I think the first four, five, seven minutes we played like should we shoot it, should we pass it, our team was very frustrated."
Talk about the defensive effort against Skylar Diggins by Kelly Faris and Tiffany Hayes
"Because we were switching so much against their dribble handoffs and screens, it was hard to say who was primary guarding who. I do know that in the first half Skylar Diggins seemed like she made every shot. For somebody to have 17 on us in the first half we went in and we made a decision to put Kelly on her in the second half. We were allowed to be a little more aggressive on her with Tiffany (Hayes) getting three fouls and Lorin (Dixon) got those two quick fouls. You talk about kids that have gotten better, she (Skylar) has gotten a lot better. I don't know if she could have done what she did today against us, certainly not last year. She was a little overwhelmed, and she looks like a different player."
Was it a good scenario to have the team struggle a bit and have other players have to step up other than Maya Moore?
"It's a real challenging for the rest of the players because if they're not careful, they are going to be viewed as Maya Moore and a bunch of guys that play well when Maya plays well. I think it's important that they establish themselves in their own way whether Maya is playing well and we are winning by 30 or 40 or if Maya is not playing well and they have to impact the game and carry us when they have to. It's a lot to ask."
UConn Player Quotes
On what she was able to take advantage of to get going offensively:
"We just wanted to make sure we concentrated on defense. Our defense, especially in the second half, was able to force them into a lot of turnovers. We were able to score off those turnovers. We got momentum going there which sparked our offense."
On her offensive game today:
"I definitely think we are playing more aggressive. We wanted to go out there and attack the rim a bit. If they come out and try to stop us, we know we can go by and if they step up, we can make the good pass."
"I was just taking advantage of what the defense gave me. If I had the open shot I took it. If they came out on me, I made sure to drive by them."
On production with ankle issues:
"I don't really think it has to do with my ankle. I think I've been getting more work in and making sure that I'm working hard all the time in practice. That's the main thing, just working hard when I'm tired. I've been putting a lot of emphasis on that and it's been working."
On how far they've come today compared to the last time they played Notre Dame:
"I think it's definitely a confidence builder the way we played tonight compared to the last time we played them. Our defense wasn't as good. We came out and had more emphasis on defense today. You can tell how much we've improved from that game. It's a good measuring stick on how much we've improved on the season.
On defensive improvement lately:
"I've been trying to work as hard as I can in practice. Moving my feet has been the biggest thing because I'm playing opponents that are quicker than me. I've been working on moving my feet and not letting them get around me which has been a huge emphasis in practice with the posts. It's just post defense and doing your work before they get the ball. I've been focusing on that lately and I think that's helped."
On teammates carrying the load offensively today:
"It's a great feeling. I see them do it in practice. I know we have talented players offensively and when we play team defense, it's hard to stop us in transition one-through-five. It makes me proud to know that if I don't have a lane, I can kick It out to Bria and she'll knock it in or I can find Stef and she's gonna score if I find her inside and has good position. That's what we're going to need if we're going to be a team that can win a National Championship."
On Bria Hartley stepping up today:
"It's been a tough road for Bria because she's a point guard. Being a freshman, things are new and there's a lot that's thrown at you to run this team. If you can play basketball, then you can play basketball. I think she's come in and not let that wear her down. Just looking at our team, she doesn't really have a choice. I think it's been a great situation for her where she's been allowed to give everything she's got and not hold back. She's played great. It's not as easy as we make it look sometimes - the way she gets 30 points tonight. It's the extra shots. It's getting yelled at in practice and making mistakes. She's fought through it and we're going to continue to depend on her taking ownership. Especially on the offensive end because that's where she can really contribute."
Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
"We just completely got overwhelmed. I think not having Becca and Devereaux hurt us earlier, but we were still within striking distance at the half. Hartley had a great game, she was somebody that we were trying to guard and I was disappointed in our defense on her. When Maya has almost human numbers you hope that you can win the game like that. It was disappointing. I thought Skylar played well, she kept us in the game, didn't shoot as well in the second half because she probably got tired."
What did you do defensively on Maya Moore?
"I don't know, I thought Brittany did a pretty good job on her but, I'm not sure with Hartley playing so well she got a lot of the shots that Maya would have normally gotten."
How did Devereaux react to her two quick fouls?
"I think it affected her game, the first time that she didn't score. They did a great job defensively on her and I think mentally those two quick fouls really took her out of her game. She has been mentally tough all year and she just didn't have that game tonight."
Can you talk about Skylar's performance?
"She really was the only thing going well for us. Becca and Skylar were the only ways we were scoring early in the game. She had some pretty amazing shots in the first half and she really carried us in the first half."
Can you talk about the UConn freshmen?
"On a night when Maya is playing like a human, I think Hartley got a lot of the shots that Maya would have gotten because she was wide open. She really shot well tonight and that is the best that I have seen her play. She shot extremely well and even after she started scoring we still didn't guard her."
What was the biggest difference between the two games this season?
"Devereaux had a huge game in South Bend and we all just played better in the first game. We really just couldn't get anything going offensively and UConn's defense was outstanding today. I thought they really played well defensively, Dolson has improved since we played last, we kept forgetting to double team her and she was too much for us one-on-one."
Did they do anything different on defense this game?
"No I don't think they did anything different, we just shot better in South Bend, we were a little more confident because we had our crowd. We looked young today and immature."
Can you talk about the stretch of BIG EAST games you have coming up?
"This will be the toughest stretch of games for us and we have a lot to improve on before we get to West Virginia on Tuesday. When you look at the standings it is a jumble and it's disappointing that we are probably out of contention for the tie for first place. We need to figure out how to beat Cincinnati, West Virginia and DePaul."
What were they doing defensively today that gave you problems?
"I don't really think they did anything differently, they started to face guard Skylar but that didn't stop her. I thought we just took some bad shots and tried to shoot over Dolson a little more then we wanted to."
What happened when you came out after halftime?
"It was really ugly for us. That really did it, we had a chance to stay in the game and there were a couple times when we had multiple possessions in a row, we just couldn't get to the line. We weren't attacking as much and they started to hit three's."
How do you deal with losing to Connecticut?
"I have tremendous respect for their program, for Maya and their players. They are a great team and they have done great things for the BIG EAST so I have nothing but respect for them."
Is Maya the best player you have seen?
"Oh yes. Easily the best player in the country."
Is that a worse case scenario when two veteran players get two quick fouls?
"I think just like Connecticut we are a team that needs to play our best players for long stretches and when you get some of your starters in foul trouble that hurts. Those two quick fouls impacted us mentally because we now have younger players on the floor. But I didn't think the veterans played particularly well either."
You were held to eight assists today, why was that?
"I thought we used the ball screen well, I don't think we had the post game today though. We get a lot of assists throwing it to the post and we didn't get any of that today."
Can you talk about Stefanie Dolson's improvement?
"I think they are looking for her more and she is delivering. She is a big player and she is hard to guard when she gets in the paint and she is able to just turn and shoot. It is hard to double team her because you can't get there fast enough. I think she has improved quite a bit since the beginning of the year.