March 25, 2013
Geno Auriemma, Connecticut Head Coach: Opening Statement: "One of the things we talked about before the game, at this point in the season, generally you're going to be playing teams from pretty good conferences that play really good basketball and have beaten some pretty good teams. This Vanderbilt team beat Texas A&M. So we're going to have to really play. I thought Vanderbilt did a great job of taking us out of some stuff early on and the whole first half, there were a couple of runs, but we just couldn't find our footing. But our defense was so good that it never felt like we were struggling to keep the lead or struggling in the game period. I thought our defense was as good as it was at any time this year. That's exactly what you need at this time of the year."
How important is Caroline Doty to this team? "We've won a lot of games with Caroline Doty as our starting point guard over the years. We've won a national championship with her as our starting point guard. It's just been recently that she's the worst player ever to play at Connecticut if you listen to the outside coaches. But when you get in the NCAA tournament, there's really nothing like having been there before and having experienced what it feels like and knowing that you have something that you can provide for the team. I'm not surprised by how she played today. I just truly think that if Caroline can play significant minutes in this tournament, we're going to be a difficult team to beat.
Is Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis the person who needs to take the big shot? "My thing with Kaleena is, like a lot of a lot of young players, they tend to speed up. As they get older the game slows down for them. I think every player, at every level, they'll tell you the game was in slow motion for them. They'll tell you they can see everything happening before it actually happens and the opposite is true. Things are sometimes going so fast that they can't keep up with the game. That's usually a function of where their mind is. Kaleena wants to be great, she wants to be the best player in the country, and she's awfully competitive. I thought there were a couple of times today where she was in a hurry. I think playing so many minutes, because for a large part of the season, she was the one constant threat out on the floor, was a little bit of a disadvantage for her. But we just didn't have anybody else in those big games."
What are your thoughts on Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis? "Shooters are kind of funny people. They are very fragile. But I'm hoping that as she grows throughout this tournament, and if we're lucky enough to play a few more games, you watch her now as she's shooting shots other than threes, there's calmness about her. That didn't exist before. There might be a lot of great players in the country, a lot of great one on one players, a lot of great shooters and offensive players, but I don't know if I'd trade her for anyone else."
Caroline Doty, Connecticut Guard: How much confidence do you have in your defense? "It's great because when we come out and trap and get steals, that kind of rolls over into our offense. So when we get transition points, those are easy buckets, so we can get into our press to try and force more turnovers. It's a lot of fun to play when you're up in their face and reading the defense. I think that's really what set the tone in the beginning of the game to let us be successful."
How would you evaluate Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' ability to shoot the three-point shot? "Numbers don't lie. I know when the ball is in her hands good things are going to happen. If I come off a screen or if we're in transition, I'm always looking for her setting up. The fact that she's able to get in the lane and post up on the block, she's just able to score from any spot. That's great and makes my job easier."
How important is it to start off well in the second half? "Coach fires us up. We kind of have a mentality that the way we start the games, the way we start the halves, is generally how the game is going to play out. So we want to come out as on fire as we can to set the tone."
Breanna Stewart, Connecticut Forward: How was your first NCAA Tournament experience? "I just enjoyed being out there and being able to play. It's been awhile since I've played a game personally. I think there were a little bit of nerves because it was the first tournament game for me, but I got comfortable pretty quickly."
Why were you so successful in the second half? "I think our defense really forced a lot of turnovers and allowed us to get out in transition. When we get out in transition like that it's more fun for us, and easier to get layups and other shots."
How would you evaluate Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis' ability to shoot the three-point shot?
"I just think that the fact that Kaleena is so versatile, it's hard for the defense to guard her one way. She can hit shots. That's what she does in practice, and she turns it over into the game."